Get Yourself Out Of A Diet Dilemma With Reverse Dieting
Been dieting for what feels like eternity and hitting that dreaded plateau? Any time you diet for extended periods of time, there are going to be adaptations that occur. First, your metabolic rate will slow down. This will then cause fat loss to come to a halt. In addition to that, you’ll start to notice other unwanted side effects of that slow metabolism such as feeling cold all the time, suffering from low energy levels, the loss of your libido, as well as decreases in physical performance. For any athlete training hard, this is clearly all bad news. If you’re at this point, you may be scared to change though. You feel like just looking at food causes you to gain weight. If you want to avoid gaining back 10-20 pounds that you’ve just lost through your diet, you need to have a smart game plan in place. Enter reverse dieting. Let’s go over what this concept is all about and how you can apply it to your program.
What Is Reverse Dieting
Reverse dieting is basically just as the name suggests – the same thing as dieting, just in reverse. Chances are when you first started your diet, you didn’t go from your normal calorie intake all the way down to where you ended up at overnight. Instead, you slowly inched your way down. Perhaps before you began your diet, you were taking in 3000 calories a day. Then the first month, this dropped down to 2500 calories. A month later, you took it down to 2200 calories. From there, it went down to 1900. Finally, you finished up at your all-time low of 1700 calories a day. Now your mission is to go from that 1700 calorie per day intake back up to 3000. Sure, you could just go eat 3000 calories, but with your metabolic rate sluggish as it is, that’ll lead to unwanted fat gain. With reverse dieting, you’ll do the process slowly. The first week, you might bump up to 1800 calories. A week after that, you try 1900 calories. While this is all happening, you’ll continue to monitor your body and any changes taking place. If you start noticing fat gain, you’ve bumped up too much and should return a bit lower until your body adapts. Slowly but surely, your body will begin to adjust to the increased fuel coming in and your metabolism will start to speed up again.
The Benefits Of Reverse Dieting
So what are the benefits of reverse dieting? First, you avoid unwanted fat gain as just noted. If you’ve ever seen a fitness competitor or bodybuilder walk off stage and a month later they’re 30 pounds heavier, you know what taking your calorie intake too high too quickly can do. Second, reverse dieting will help you avoid unwanted bloating and digestive strain. When you go from eating fewer than 100 grams of carbs per day to eating 200 grams or more, your body isn’t going to like it. Your digestive enzymes for carbohydrates will have down-regulated, meaning your body isn’t as competent to carry out the process any longer. This sudden surge in carb consumption can lead to gas, bloating, and a severe stomachache. Reverse dieting allows your body to slowly build back up those enzymes as you get used to the higher intake. Reverse dieting is also going to benefit you psychologically as well. Few people will like going from their most lean state to a much softer version of themselves. In fact, for some, this could quickly send them right back onto the strict diet they just came off of. Reverse dieting allows you to take things slowly, experiencing minimal changes to your physique in the process. This will help keep you mentally sane.
Making Reverse Dieting Work For You
So now that you know the benefits of reverse dieting, how do you go about doing this in your program? Here are the steps to take.
Carbohydrates increase the hormone Leptin more than proteins and fats and at this point, your suppressed metabolic rate will be heavily due to lowered Leptin levels.
- Increase your carbohydrate intake slightly for the first week. Note that the lower your calorie intake was, the more moderate this increase needs to be. A good starting point is to increase your calorie intake by around 5%, with those calories coming strictly from carbohydrates.
If you don’t have access to an accurate body composition assessment tool, you’ll have to simply go by the bathroom scale, measurements, as well as how you look in the mirror. Do keep in mind however this process can lead to some water retention, so be sure it’s actual fat you’re gaining and not just water weight. So there you have the details you need to know about reverse dieting. If you want to dig yourself out of the hole of strict dieting without gaining fat in the process, this is the strategy to use.
- Evaluate. After the first week is up, look at your results. Chances are you have not seen any body fat gain – although you may have experienced slight water weight gain.
- Increase your calorie intake another 5%. This time, focus on adding a mixture of fats and carbs. Your protein was likely high enough earlier that you need not worry about this macronutrient as you increase your calories.
- Evaluate once again. After the second week, check your weight and body fat again. Have any changes taken place? If not, increase further.
- Continue alternating these steps, week by week until you see your body fat increase. If it increases, stop adding more calories and hold your intake constant for another week.
- If you now remain stable, you can increase again the next week. If you saw an increase in body fat once again while holding your calories, pull back slightly and consider this your new maintenance calorie intake.