Updated: Mar 8
It’s not a trick.
If you’ve subjected yourself to years of yo-yo dieting, under-eating, avoiding carbs, not eating past 6pm, and other extreme diets, this may be the one thing you haven’t tried that will actually work.
But keep in mind that it’s not as simple as indulging in endless amounts of all of your favorite foods.
It’s a strategic and sustainable method to building the body you want.
What is Reverse Dieting?
A reverse diet involves slowly consuming more food to restore metabolic and hormonal functions. Doing so slowly and with appropriate protein intake will minimize fat gain and often aid with fat loss!
Because your metabolism is unique to YOU, reverse dieting helps you to find your personal metabolic sweet spot.
In short, your body needs a certain number of calories to survive and function optimally. These calories give your body energy to do all of the amazing things it does! This goes beyond the energy required to be active. Your body also requires energy for necessary brain functions, breathing, digestion, and so much more!
When you’re chronically eating below that threshold, your body has to compensate.
Your body may hold onto fat for energy.
Your metabolism may slow down to conserve energy.
Your hormones may become unbalanced.
You may lack energy.
You may not sleep well.
You may be more stressed.
Starving your body only hurts you.
On the contrary, fueling your body appropriately restores your body’s metabolic functions and gives you your life back.
Why does Reverse Dieting work for fat loss?
Reverse dieting sets the foundation for a successful fat loss phase.
Let’s say you’ve reverse dieted to your estimated TDEE of 2,200 and strength train 3 times a week to build some muscle. Because your body has been in a maintenance phase for some time, metabolic function has been restored, and your calories are at a higher starting point, you are ready to begin a fat loss phase of 1,800 calories for a few weeks and successfully lose some body fat.
After a few weeks, your body inevitably adapts to that calorie amount, and your weight loss stalls. But because you’ve increased your starting calories through a reverse diet, you can lower your calories to 1,700 safely and sustainably continue to lose body fat.
After a fat loss phase of only a few weeks or months, you can then reverse diet back to your maintenance calories to retain your fat loss progress while enjoying eating more food.
However, let’s say you were only eating 1,200 calories and doing cardio workouts. Initially, you may have lost some weight (likely more muscle than fat). But what happens when you stop losing weight and you have more to lose? Do you eat even less and increase cardio everyday? That’s not healthy or sustainable.
Just like a plane cannot take off on a short runway, your fat loss cannot take off if you don’t give yourself enough caloric “room” to create a deficit.
How to get started with a Reverse Diet?
As I mentioned earlier, a reverse diet is strategic. So you will have to learn, calculate, and plan out ways to make this sustainable for you.
Remember, too, that a reverse diet shouldn’t go on endlessly, eating more and more until you explode.
There will be an end date. But the more consistent you are, the better your results will be. So it’s important to find methods and tips that work for you!
STEP 1: Track your calories for 1-2 weeks to determine your average caloric intake. Don’t change anything about the way you eat.
STEP 2: Calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). This is the amount of calories your body expends, or burns throughout the day. An easy way to do this is by using a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) calculator, unless you want to calculate the formula by hand. I prefer using the Revised Harris-Benedict Formula.
STEP 3: Increase your calories by 10-15% to create your first macro goal. If your protein is adequate, only your carbs and fats should increase. If you were under-eating protein, that would increase as well.
STEP 4: Increase your calories at a sustainable rate. I like to increase either ~50 calories weekly or ~100 calories biweekly. Continue doing so until you reach your TDEE!
Depending on your goal, you may decide to ditch the tracking and begin intuitively eating. Or, you may want to continue tracking for a possible fat loss phase in the near future. Regardless, you will experience amazing results just by increasing your calories and your protein intake.
This is just the first step in my “3 Phase Protocol” with clients seeking fat loss. While I’ve outlined the reverse dieting process, I strongly suggest working with a nutrition coach to help you stay accountable, navigate plateaus, and find solutions to obstacles along the way.
Reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your free consult!