Today we go right into an article about an advanced dieting technique called Reverse Dieting.
It’s deemed advanced because it’s a method a coach would utilise if the situation deems it for the individual, and not specifically something everyone needs to incorporate into their nutrition as a start. That aside, reverse dieting does have something for everyone that will help to drive your goals but let’s get into it.
In short, reverse dieting is a method used to slowly increase your calories over time in order to return your body to maintenance levels (ie. the amount of calories you consume daily match the amount of calories expended). We achieve this by making small increments in calories and macros over a prolonged period of time but is something generally only done with people tracking their macros as utilising macros is the same as a fine-tuning dial with the ability to dictate what happens more to your body composition as a result of your diet. It’s my opinion anyone wanting to further advance their diet move away from a calorie specific diet and into tracking macros before attempting reverse dieting.
The increments should come in the order of a 2-5% increase in carbs and fat every week if you’re eager to avoid adding excess bodyfat through increasing calories, this will be the more conservative route. OR you can increase carbs and fat by 6-10% a week if you’re not SO fussed about storing a bit of excess fat and looking for a quick ‘reverse’.
This method works wonders with a workout regime where over the time you’re progressing with your reverse diet, we slowly reduce the amount of intense cardio over time, in order to allow you access for more calories to fuel your body growth. However this isn’t absolutely necessary and there’s some brilliant results coming out the extreme CrossFit intensity as a result of reverse dieting and cardio existing together.
Why would you want to reverse diet?
So why in the hell would you want to do this you’re probably asking? You’ve put so much mental effort to resisting storing more fat so why embrace this? It’s a new outlook on dieting but it works.
Often to lose weight, people will start removing food groups or types from their diet in order to restrict calories and lower consumption. At the lowest I’ve seen I’ve met clients who came to me eating 1100 calories a day and training 6 days a week, and they’re actually REALLY surprised why they can’t lose weight. You end up making bread, treats and desserts forbidden and it’s not a nice place to be, physically or mentally, so it’s really no surprise people relapse back to junk food binging every, single, time.
Sure you may have a good assessment of where you’re possibly going wrong and adjust to some success, but often relapses occur and this should highlight to you that the diets that don’t work are often the ones that aren’t actually sustainable for a long period of time. As a result of under-eating, an intense workout schedule and huge calorie deficit, you actually end up surpressing your energy systems, immune system and hormones, supressing the beneficial hormones such as Human Growth Hormone, testosterone, leptin, grehlin and instead increasing cortisol, the infamous stress hormone.
In such an aggressive nutritional environment it’s no wonder that as a result of the lowered functionality of your energy systems that the body will not want to burn fat, even as a last resort. Instead, any excess energy your body can get it’s hand on in this situation is more likely than not stored as fat in an effort to conserve energy. This is why relapses of even small frequencies can sometimes show increased weight gain.
The exact OPPOSITE of what we all wanted.
Instead, when you start giving your body more calories necessary to function on a maintenence level, providing an environment where you allow your hormones to function normally, and your immune system and nervous system don’thave to fight an energy shortage, you actually start allowing your natural hormone levels take over, assisting with and helping recover with regards to growth and energy output and metabolic processes such as fat burning.
With this restored hormone output your body over time will return to a healthier maintenance level, restoring your natural calories burnt daily through functioning and muscle non-exercise-activity-thermogenesis (NEAT – the energy burnt during basic functions such as moving, walking, or high workload). This increased maintenance level of calories then provides the most ideal environment to start weight loss as your body is more and more adapting to the increased calorie intake, something less extreme (maybe something like than that intiial 1100 calories for instance. At this point when you start restricting calories again will you start to notice the effects of fat loss more profoundly as you’re operating froma MUCH healthier baseline than in your huge calorie deficit when we started. The objective is to naturally increase your emtabolism over time with slow increases in calories in order to sit at as high a calorie intake as possible without storing excess fat. From here, your amazing weight loss dreams can start to happen, but more likely than not – you’ll see some weight loss as a result of hormones returning to a healthy functioning level, aiding fat loss over time.
OOF. That’s a lot. Catch a breath.
So, how can you implement this, and is this right for you?
Reverse dieting is actually appropriate for a lot of people, but especially for those currently restrcting their diet in order to lose bodyfat, or even trying to perform in their sport.
It will possibly be even more benefical for you if you find that you’re constantly relapsing into binges of food as a result of being so restrictive on yourself and dieting, being held hostage by a low calorie diet.
The process you will go through will take you from a low amount of calories aat the start up to something possibly higher than you’ve consumed before. Doing so in a controlled manner can definitely help your body come into a healthier hormonal and energy level but can be done so without storing so much fat, if you’re patient. So that is a trait you’ll need to have, patience and the willingness to trust and be open minded… Where the magic will truly happen is the ability to do this over again if need be, refining your desired physique further each reverse diet you progress through. So you’ll have to have the willpower to not let the increased amount of food towards the end just result in binges of food and the discipline required to keep consistent day in an day out.
The implementation in Reverse Dieting is pretty key too:
Figuring out your starting position:
- Track everything you eat for a week, and don’t even necessarily change your diet too much in this, we want an accurate current snapshot. Establish your average calorie consumpotion a day by totalling the amount of calories and dividing by 7. You may find it comes out like 1800-2500 a day, there’s a big range. Let’s use 2500 in my example.
- You then need to go trough a process on figuring out what your daily macros should be. I;m very concious about putting some basic calculations down to figure it out, but I will, but I warn and disclaim that you need to consider your curernt lfiestyle habits, workload, mental state and past history with dieting before attempting to figure out your amcros yourself. I will always have a deep chat with every client to ensure I’m giving them what they need and not applying a basic formula to each potential client – we’re all unique! Either wa
- Start at prescribing yourself 1g protein per poound of bodyweight. 1kg = 2.2lbs so an 80kg male like me will need 176g protein a day. 1g of protein =- 4 calories so this is 704 calories.
- Next you ned to figure out your fat and carbohydrate intake. Generally a great place to start is prescribing around 30% of remaining calories from fat and the rest made up of carbs. This is brilliant if you’re in a high intensity sport such as crossfit or cardio related but generally if you have more weight to lose, sit closer to 40% fat in order to restrict the amount of carbs avaialble for your workouts, driving more weight loss.
- So from your daily average you found in step 1 subtract your protein calorie you need (704 calories). 2500 – 704 = 1796 remaining. I don’t have much fat to lose so i’m giving myself 30% remaining calories from fat. Therefore 0.3 x 1796 = 539 calories from fat. There are 9 calories in a gram of fat so 539/9 = 60g fat a day.
- Subtract 539 from remaining calories (1796 – 539 = 1257 from carbohydrates). There are 4 calories in every gram of carbs so 1257/4 = 314g carbs.
- Here we have our starting Macro profile: 176g Protein, 60g Fat, 314g carbs, and this is something we’ll enter into myfitnespal and hit these numbers daily!
Starting the Reverse Diet:
- You now need to assess how quickly you want to progress with the reverse diet, ask these questions:
- Do I care about reaching more calorie intake more than I care about holding some excess fat?
- Am I trying to overcome a bad relationship with food or bad binging habits?
- Am I planning to hit the weights hard and add muscle whilst reversing?
- If yes to any of these, then this indicates you should look for a more aggresive reverse diet and make bigger weekly increments, to get to your calorie target.
- If you’re concerened about storing fat then a more conservative, smaller weekly increase will be more beneficial to you. For example if you’re coming off a diet where you reached your weight goal you may want to increase carbs and fat SLOWLY in order to maintain ohysique as much as possible.
- Then it’s just the matter of doing the weekly increments:
- Raise carbs and fat compariable to your goals!!
- If you decided a more conservative approach was better for you, increase your carbs and fat intake by 2-5% a week, with where you choose in the range based on how concerned you are with adding weight.
- If you’ve decided you want to opt for the more aggresive approach, opt for weekly increases in carb and fat intake of 6-10% a week. It may even be beneficial if you believe you’re starting from a drastically low calorie amount to increase by 15-25% the first week to kick start your reverse diet, not for everyone!!
- Choose 2-3 days a week and weigh yourself in the morning, after the toilet and no water drank. This will be so consistent for you that you can tell when you’re shifting weight.
- If you see a large jump on the scale one week it may be an indicator that you’re going quite aggresive so you may want to take the weekly incremements down a few percentage points.
- On the other hand if you’re not adding weight like you want to or even lose any weight, it’s a great indicator to increase a bit more!
As an optional step you can choose the more you progress with your reverse diet to start adding more weight resistance training and reducing cardio along a sliding scale. Building muscle will aid to increase your natural caloric expendature and cardio does little to grow much muscle, as such you may not increase your metabolism AS effectively as with building more muscle.
Then the final step is deciding when and where you’re happy with stopping. I stopped when my body reached a threshold for the training I did. I got to 3700 calories a day, built some GREAT muscle but it was getting too high for my training and started storing fat. I stopped at this point and went back down to 2800 calories and am curerntly going through the process again! 🙂 Bring it on! Just simply, stop when the amount you’re eating is enough for you, mentally or physically, no need to keep going!
So, this is a really basic instruction manual on how to implement a reverse diet in your nutrition. I will say this over and over again but if you want to do this properly and the most efficiently you should reach out to me and have a chat about either working together or at the least having a chat about what macros you should be on based on your current lifestyle, training history and previous dieting. Following this route won’t be for everyone and following generic examples is unadvised.
I will happily help you figure out your macros for free after having a chat, but if we decide we’d be a great fit to work together we can always work together… That being said give it a go if you’re interested and if you need a hand along the way, give us a shout and I’ll help when I can.
If you want to join up we have a 12 week onset where we walk you through the steps above, if appropriate for you, and we only have a couple spots left before the end of the month. Give us a click below, leave your email and fill out the form if you’re interested. A the end of the day if you’ve not made the progress so far to this point there may be some underlying issues holding you back, so let’s take charge of that.
Click the picture below to apply today!!
Let’s charge up your goals for summer. But most of all, let’s move you from somewhere if you’re not progressing to a place where we can start driving your goals today, either together or through giving reverse dieting a go!!
Charge up team,
Catch you on the flip side.