So you’ve dieted down, you’ve reached your target weight and you’re looking and feeling great.
Enter reverse dieting! In today’s post I wanted to discuss this often talked about topic and give you everything you need to know, from what it is, to its practical applications. Without further ado let’s get to it!
What Is It?
So what is it? Reverse dieting is a term often used within the competitive bodybuilding and weightlifting community, it does also however have applications for you and I. It’s used to describe a period after calorie restricted eating during which you gradually increase your calories back up to a new maintenance level. Notice I used the word gradually? The key here really is gradually! If you do it too rapidly and “overcook” it, you could end up gaining much of the weight you’ve just worked hard to lose.
The benefits of reverse dieting stretch far beyond the obvious – bring calories back up to a healthy and sustainable level after a prolonged period in a deficit. For the majority of individuals, a low calorie diet isn’t sustainable for long term health and happiness.
Long periods spent in a calorie deficit can also negatively impact various hormones such as the thyroid hormones and consequently the metabolism. By increasing your calorie intake gradually, a reverse diet allows these to return back a normal, efficient function.
There is also a psychological benefit which often gets overlooked, this is improved control. By having a post-dieting plan in place it can minimise the occurrence of rapid weight gain due to binge eating that very commonly occurs in the window after following a diet.
How And When Should You Use It?
I wont over complicate this, you should use it once you’ve reached your weight loss goal and want to now get back to a more sustainable way of eating. The gradual increases should be weekly and around 3% of total deficit calories for females and 5% of total deficit calories for males. As an example, you might be a male and your goal was to lose 5kg. You’ve reached your goal and are currently eating 1900kcal per day. So your reverse diet might look like this:
Daily intake with goal weight reached – 1900kcal per day
Week 1 of reverse diet – +5% (1995kcal)
Week 2 of reverse diet – +5% (2090kcal)
Week 3 of reverse diet – +5% (2185kcal)
Week 4 of reverse diet – +5% (2280kcal)
Week 5 of reverse diet – Weight gain noted!
Calorie maintenance now becomes – 2280kcal per day
Remember this increment percentage is only a guide as it’s going to be trial and error for each of you as individuals. And let me just clarify, once weight starts to increase again STOP your reverse dieting, as you’ve reached your maintenance level. The amount of weeks this may take will differ from person to person.
Any questions, please drop them in the comments below!