Reverse dieting is the single greatest way to restore your metabolism to its fullest potential. Below you will find everything you need for incorporating reverse dieting into your nutrition program so that you can prime your metabolism for long-term fat loss.
Why Should You Be Reverse Dieting?
Tell me if this sounds like you: You’ve been trying to lose weight for a while now, and the weight loss starts off going really well. Eventually though, it slows down or stops altogether. So you decide to cut your calories further or do more cardio, and while that works for a little while, your progress plateaus yet again.
This cycle is repeated until you are likely eating an absurdly low amount of calories and doing quite a bit of cardio. You probably feel worn down, hungry, achy, and have little energy in the gym. Both your workout progress and weight loss have stalled. The thought of cutting calories even further sounds like a nightmare. But you still have quite a bit of weight to lose.
None of this makes sense to you because eating less and exercising more is supposed to result in weight loss. So then, why is all this hard work not getting you results?
The Case for Reverse Dieting
The reason for your stalled progress is quite simple, actually. When you cut calories, however small your deficit might be, your metabolism begins to down-regulate. In an effort to conserve its energy for survival, your body begins to manufacture less metabolism-friendly hormones like thyroid, testosterone, and leptin so that your body can reach homeostasis.
For a simple picture of how this happens, take a 500 calorie daily deficit. This is supposed to result in about a pound of weight loss per week. But that is not going to happen forever, or you would obviously wilt to nothing.
Along the way in the weight loss process your body begins to slow down its metabolism to conserve valuable energy (fat, glycogen). Eat at that original 500 calorie deficit long enough, and your weight loss will eventually level out and then stagnate.
Reverse dieting helps you restore your metabolism to a much higher level so that you have a better “base” to cut calories from. Starting your weight loss at 2500 calories is going to leave you a lot more room to cut calories as compared to if you started off at 1800 calories.
The former will result in slower, yet more sustained weight loss over time. The latter will likely result in fast weight loss, quickly followed by stagnation, frustration, and then a falling into the yo-yo dieting trap.
How to Reverse Diet
The idea is simple and the name explains it all. What you do is slowly start adding calories back into your diet. I would recommend adding in about 5% more calories on a weekly basis. This equates to about 50-100 calories more per week.
Many people immediately cringe at the thought of adding calories into their weight loss diet. They are flat out afraid of putting on weight. These people are usually the ones who are already eating very low calories, and the concept of reverse dieting (eating more to lose more) just doesn’t “click” with them.
But let me tell you what you can expect, and this comes from my own personal experience as well as seeing hundreds of other people implement reverse dieting into their own nutrition.
You immediately notice a boost in energy. Your motivation returns and you start looking forward to your workouts again. Your hunger decreases, and all the feelings of extreme restriction start to moderate. Your weight, surprisingly, starts to slowly decrease again – completely flying in the face of all logic.
You feel warmer as you stoke your metabolic flame, and your sleep quality greatly improves. You seem to handle stress better, your mental well-being is improved, and life in general just seems a little easier to handle.
Sounds pretty great, huh? The problem is that most people don’t have the patience or the courage to give reverse dieting a try. They fear weight gain and they want their results to keep moving forward. Adding calories into their diet seems to go against their goals.
However, time and time again I have seen people add calories back into their diet only to see their weight loss pick right back up again. It’s one of the most exciting moments in a dieter’s life when he eats more and sees the scale tick downward. You too could share in this excitement.
More Thoughts on Reverse Dieting
You likely have many questions about implementing reverse dieting, and I’ll be more than happy to answer your questions in the comment section, but before I end this article, I want to touch on a few of the intricacies of reverse dieting.
Reverse dieting is a slow and methodical process. You must be patient, and you must understand that weight and fat are not always one-in-the-same. Extra calories can result in modest weight gain, but you are not going to gain fat eating under your maintenance calories. Instead, this added weight gain, if any, will be intracellular water retention – otherwise known as muscle glycogen.
This is good weight. It is fuel for your muscles. It will boost your energy in the gym and help increase your strength, and it will make your muscles feel fuller. If there is an increase in weight, it usually happens the first couple of days after increasing your calories and then levels off and starts decreasing again towards the end of the week. Weigh yourself, but pay closer attention to the way you look and feel.
I recommend you continue with the reverse dieting process for as long as you can handle it. Continue adding in calories (5% per week) until you notice a true weight gain over two weeks. When you finally get to that point, you will have found your true maintenance calories. You will be shocked at just how high you can go.
From there, you can cut your calories by 15% and have a great starting point for weight loss – one that will enable you to eat as many calories as possible and still lose weight. One that will provide you with a great high base to cut calories from so that you can achieve sustainable long-term weight loss.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Why not give reverse dieting a try? You really have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Still not sure? Why not take it one step at a time and just try adding in 100 calories to your diet this week and see what happens. I think you’ll be surprised with the results!
If you’re ready to give it a try I’ve created a 4-step checklist to ensure you’re getting started right. It will walk you through the entire reverse dieting process and will let you know when and how much you should increase your calories in order to optimize your metabolism. You can download that checklist right here.