Typically, with my programs, whether that be a macro coaching program, the full 8 week coaching or a challenge, I will utilize the reverse dieting method on my clients. For some, the increase in calories can be a scary thing as most people believe that the only way to lose weight is to reduce calories but this is simply not true, in fact, reducing calories all the time can lead to metabolic damage and fat loss plateaus. If you want to learn how you can eat more and lose body fat at the same time, keep reading! WHAT IS REVERSE DIETING. Reverse dieting (RD) is the consistent and incremental increase of a person’s caloric intake. The idea behind RD is that you are gradually able to consume more food without gaining body fat. Essentially, reverse dieting is a progressive overload in calories rather than just overwhelming the body with huge surge of calories all at once, instead, you just consistently eat a little more over a period of time. I prefer to increase calories fortnightly, progress permitting, as this allows more time for the body and metabolic rate to adjust. By assessing progress fortnightly and tracking changes to body composition (reduction of body fat, increased muscle etc), clients are able to reboot and restore their metabolisms and increase daily caloric intake without gaining body fat. WHY WE USE IT. The most common reason we want to reverse diet is to bring the clients calories and strength up to a more sustainable level. For example, often when clients come to me, they are drastically undereating – this is not sustainable for health, happiness or correct daily functioning. Their bodies are set at such a low metabolic rate that whenever they eat slightly out of this range or have a weekend of abnormal eating they increase body fat percent as their bodies just cannot cope. So, by slowly increasing their calories and metabolic rate they are able to get to a point where they can consume normal amounts of food and not store body fat. Secondly, A reverse diet is implemented to help quicken fat loss and avoid plateaus when dieting. Reverse dieting can salvage potentially damaged metabolic hormones which generally occurs when one diets to hard or restricts calories and certain macronutrients (eg keto diets) for too long. Hormones that can be recovered are T3, testosterone, and leptin. By making small incremental, calculated caloric increases the metabolism is able to adapt to the increase with a paralleled surge in metabolic output and thermogenesis. It is important to remember that it does takes time for your fat burning and hunger hormones as well as your metabolism to catch when you start eating more. So it is important to go slow, your body will not reach a new equilibrium overnight. HOW TO REVERSE DIET. Although it sounds easy, reverse dieting is an intricate and in-depth process:
- Start with a baseline; This will be your starting macros and calories. You will increase form this point.
- It is important to ascertain whether or not you (or the client) responds better to carbohydrates or higher fats. Generally, you would start by increasing your carb and fat intake by just 2-5 percent per week or fortnight based on progress.
- Introduce a small calorie increases in the chosen form of macronutrient.
- Assess progress fortnightly or weekly. Take assessments approximately seven days after your last calorie increase. Remain consistent with the timing. It is also very important to note that reverse dieting will only work if the client is consistent with their macros.
- Make increases fortnightly or weekly, progress permitting. If body fat increases by more than 1% each week, the I would suggest that you do not increase calories until the body adjusts.
- When you reach your desired caloric intake, stop increasing. Obviously, you cannot increase calories for ever, eating 10 000 calories a day won’t work and isn’t really possible or maintainable. Once you're satisfied with the amount of food you're eating, stop adding calories and decide on your next plan of attack.