What’s the best way to end a cut once you’ve reached your body fat goal? Should you slowly ramp up calories and reap the purported benefits of a reverse diet, or is that a waste of time or worse, potentially negative? Is it better to increase your calorie intake right to maintenance, or will that result in gaining back the fat you lost due to metabolic adaptation?
There’s been a bit of controversy in the fitness space in recent years over reverse dieting. In fact, it’s something I’ve changed my mind about over the years as the research panned out. In this interview, I chat with Cody McBroom about the science of reverse dieting and when it makes sense for everyday fitness folks.
Because while there’s no denying the usefulness of science and fitness research, real life isn’t a laboratory. Unscientific methods can still prove useful, and sometimes for surprising reasons. So what does the science say about reverse dieting, and how does that compare with the practical utility of slowly increasing calories after a cut?
Cody is a repeat–guest on my show, but in case you’re not familiar with him, he’s the CEO and founder of the Tailored Coaching Method, a lifestyle training and nutrition coaching company (that also coaches how to coach), and host of the Tailored Life podcast. In other words, Cody not only has a background in evidence-based fitness, but also years of in-the-trenches experience working with clients and figuring out what works and what doesn’t in the real world.
In this interview, Cody and I talk about . . .
- What reverse dieting is, the purported benefits, and what science says about it
- How a slow increase in calories can affect dietary compliance and self control when ending a cut
- How people respond differently to eating more food
- Who can benefit from a reverse diet, why, and whether you should do one
- Reverse diets versus recovery diets
- The negative effects of calorie deficits and how to know if it’s time to reverse diet
- And more . . .
So, if you want to learn what science says about reverse dieting, how reverse dieting pans out in the real world, whether you should reverse diet, and a lot more, don’t skip this episode!
0:00 – Try Triton today! Go to https://buylegion.com/triton and use coupon code MUSCLE to save 20% or get double reward points!
12:15 – What are your thoughts on reverse dieting?
43:02 – How lean do you need to get before you start running into issues?
51:58 – Have you worked with people that can slowly increase their maintenance calories over time and maintain their body composition?
Mentioned on the Show:
Try Triton today! Go to https://buylegion.com/triton and use coupon code MUSCLE to save 20% or get double reward points!
The Tailored Life Podcast: https://tailoredcoachingmethod.com/podcast/
Cody McBroom’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cody.boomboom/
Cody’s website: https://tailoredcoachingmethod.com/
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Hey there, and welcome to Muscle For Life. I am Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for an episode on reverse dieting, which is the opposite of dieting for fat loss. So with dieting for fat loss, you restrict your calories, you create that calorie deficit, and if you have a fair amount of fat to lose, if it’s going to take a fair amount of time, you are going to have to progressively reduce those calories throughout the duration of your cutting phase.
Almost certainly, you are not going to be able to create that initial calorie deficit and just leave your calories there for months and months, continue to just lose fat in a nice linear fashion. There are going to be plateaus, and sometimes, especially as you get deeper into a cut, the only way to break through a plateau is to eat a bit less food.
With reverse dieting, you are doing the opposite. You are now at the end of a cutting phase. You have achieved your body composition goal, or you are just sick of cutting and you want to now. Move back to maintenance calories. How do you do that? With reverse dieting, you slowly get back to maintenance calories, or at least you don’t immediately jump back to maintenance calories.
Some reverse dieting protocols are quite slow. You might only increase your daily calories by 50 or 100 calories every two weeks, for example. That’s pretty slow. Sometimes it’s a little bit faster. It might be increasing your daily calories by 100 calories for one week and then another 100 calories, but that still can be slow.
That can be a month plus four to six weeks depending on what you’ve been doing to get back to maintenance calories and the reverse diet. Advocates, at least many reverse dieting advocates claim that doing it their way is far superior to just increasing your calories back up to your new maintenance, calculated newly at your new lower body weight after you are done cutting.
People who are bullish on reverse dieting will often say that if you do it their way, you are going to speed up your metabolism more than if you were to just increase your calories back to maintenance. You are going to gain no body fat on the way back up to maintenance. Whereas jumping right back to maintenance can cause you to gain body fat because of.
Metabolic adaptations that occurred when you were cutting that you have to slowly rectify, slowly undo by slowly increasing your calories. And some people even say that if you reverse diet back to maintenance, you can continue the process of slowly increasing your calories beyond your calculated maintenance at that body weight and continue to maintain your body composition.
Not gain any additional fat by continuing to increase your calories. And so this is a topic that I have written about and spoken about over the years. I have also changed my position on it over the years. Many years ago when I first heard about reverse dieting and looked into some of the research that was being used to support the theory, I could understand the argument and I thought that it was possible that slowly increasing your calories from your end of your cut back to maintenance might be a little bit better than just going right back to maintenance right away.
I never did get on board with the claims that you could continue beyond that point, significantly beyond that point by reverse dieting and. Instead of now having a maintenance caloric intake of let’s say 2,500 calories per day, you now can eat 3000, 3,500, 4,000 calories per day without explicitly moving more.
That was a big part of the claim. You don’t have to work out more. You don’t have to even go out for more walks. If you do it right, you basically will be living exactly as you normally do, and you’ll maintain your ideal body composition, but you’ll just be eating a lot more food. And that sounded great, but I was very skeptical of those claims.
However, again, coming back to you finished a cut, your calories are low. You want to get back to maintenance calories. I thought it’s possible that doing it a little bit slower rather than a little bit faster might be better. And if it were not better, it is not going to be harmful, so why not? However more recently in the last couple of years, more research has come out and more smart people in the evidence based fitness space have looked at that research and thought about that research, and we have.
Also gotten more anecdotal evidence with reverse dieting because it has become popular, at least in the body composition space over the last few years. And when I looked at all of that objectively, I changed my mind. I said, Hey, I, I think I was wrong. I think it’s probably best actually to just recalculate your maintenance calories at the end of your cut.
Don’t go back to your maintenance calories at the beginning of the cut because your new maintenance is going to be lower. So calculate it newly and just go right back to that when you are done cutting, if you want to be very careful, okay, subtract 100 calories from that calculated maintenance. Go up to that.
Eat there for a week or two. Let your weight stabilize, see what’s happening, and then see if you can go a little bit. Although I don’t think that’s necessary. I’m just mentioning that because I have gotten a bit of pushback from people over the years who were very uncomfortable adding 500 calories, 600 calories to their total daily intake in one go, and they did want to do it in maybe two steps.
I said, Okay, so then let’s do three to 400 and let’s wait a week. We can see how you feel. Maybe two weeks. You can watch your body weight go up and then stabilize. And then let’s finish it. Let’s just get back to maintenance. Let’s not drag this out. And so that is basically my current position on reverse dieting.
And so that is just some context for today’s interview with Cody Macroom, who has a lot of experience working one on one with all kinds of people, and who, as you will hear in this interview, agrees with what I just said. However, he also is going to explain some of the exceptions to the rule because every rule has exceptions and exceptions do not disprove rules, right?
Cody’s position, as you’ll hear, is that most people probably don’t need to do any sort of reverse dieting. However, some people can benefit from it, and he is gonna talk about who those people tend to be and how they benefit. From it and why they benefit from it. And of course, Cody is gonna talk about how to do it effectively, how he has done it with many of his clients effectively, what he has seen work well firsthand before we sink our teeth into it.
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Cody. Hey, thanks for taking the time to do this.
Cody: Yeah, man. I’m excited to get back on. Finally, between our two busy schedules finally made it happen, .
Mike: I know. Here we are. Every few months the stars align and yeah, I was looking forward to this one too because this is a topic. Reverse dieting is what I wanted to start with.
We’ll see if we have enough time to get to some low calorie dieting. If not, we’ll pick it up in a, in another interview. But reverse dieting is something that I first heard about many years ago and at the time, the consensus, so to speak, in the evidence based fitness space was that this is an interesting concept.
There might be something to it. It might be better to at the end of a cut, for example, slowly work your calories back up to your maintenance as opposed to just jumping right back to maintenance. Or if you’re maintaining, there might be some value to slowly trying to increase those calories over time above what is your normal maintenance level.
And so there was a time when I was. Intrigued by the potential for better results, really with body composition and just an easier experience cutting and maintaining. And if you can get your maintenance calories higher, that makes for easier cutting when you do want to cut and so forth. And fast forward to today, let’s say in the last year or so, I updated an article that I wrote on reverse dieting some years ago to better reflect my new position on it, which was, and I would say still is, which is why I haven’t touched on this topic in some time that it looks like.
The scientific evidence didn’t quite pan out in the way that maybe some of the more zealous reverse dieters would’ve liked, and it doesn’t seem to be as beneficial as many people thought it might be, or even it was. So basically do it if you wanna do it or don’t. If you don’t, if you’re at the end of a cut and you just wanna jump back to what is your new maintenance as calculated, with your current body composition and physical activity level, you can do that.
If you do wanna jump up by one to 200 calories per week or every other week until you’re at maintenance, you can do that as well. If you’re at maintenance and you try to slowly increase your calories over time, if you do not also increase your activity level, even if subconsciously you are probably going to get fatter let’s actually say you are going to get fatter and that’s where I left it.
And A lot of preamble, but I wanted to just give that context to you for this discussion. I’d love to hear your thoughts on both the scientific side and also in the trenches actually working with people and having done it with many people, because I haven’t done that in some time. There was a time when I was spending hours and hours a day emailing people, and in a, even though I wasn’t officially their coach, I, they would send me updates and we would work through things.
And I’m gonna say, personally, I don’t have the hands on experience running reverse dieting with many people like you do. So I’m gonna stop there.
Cody: Yeah, I think it’s a, I think it’s a good topic because first and foremost, there’s just. Much, if any at all, actual research on reverse dieting specifically that we can really pull from.
A lot of it is just metabolic research. Exactly. I was gonna say, it’s similar to puration for hypertrophy research. Really it’s puritization for strength and sport and all these other things that we’re trying to pull hypertrophy suggestions from it. And I had Dr. Bill Campbell who I know you know really well as well on my podcast.
And before we aired, he actually asked me if I would be interested in doing a case study next time I die it down because he wanted to do something more structured with a reverse diet, which would be cool because I think there isn’t much. But I think there’s a few situations here where it can be applicable to go slow and then a few situations where it’s just absolutely pointless and can probably be worse than if you didn’t, and a few situations that I can think of is, Getting to know how the client’s body’s gonna respond, right?
Cause sometimes we don’t know. I think there’s some metabolic phenotypes would be the term of these different types of metabolisms. I’ve always called it just a, there’s a highly adaptive metabolism, far less adaptive metabolism. And what I mean by this really, and this is where I think people make the mistake, they assume, like we were talking about prior that.
You can build your maintenance calories beyond what they were and be leaner without having to have a higher energy expenditure through activity. And I think that’s where people make the big mistake. Because what we see often with these transformations, and this is why a lot of people get confused, is cuz they see people who go through a reverse diet and get leaner.
But you have to figure out. Also happened when they were increasing those calories. What I’ve seen happen to see some kind of recomposition actually occur during a reverse diet is typically when we manipulate carbs up and down throughout the diet. And what I mean by that is protein and fat might have protein on the higher end, fat on the lower end, and they stay static.
The carbs drop through the diet and then we increase carbs back up. But we don’t really play with that. And as they are bringing their carbs back up, their activity is slowly but surely increasing, right? Their steps are going up higher, their fidgeting is probably going up. Obviously things like the thermic effective food, which are really minor, but all these little things play a role and they start to build up as we increase the carbohydrates and the calories overall of the diet.
And what I’ve also done to try and actually nudge this even further, I don’t program more steps or anything like that, but I definitely don’t encourage them to not move as much if that’s what they’re after, but actually increasing training volume. So for example, if somebody’s doing a three or four day a week training split while dieting, and we can increase training volume to four or five or even six days a week going towards like a push pull leg split.
If they’re more advanced while increasing calories and carbohydrates, then yeah, we might be able to see some of this recomposition happen cuz we’re storing a lot of those carbs as gagen and helping us do more volume, perform heavier, progressively overload and build muscle. But there’s no magic here, right?
There’s no metabolic mystery or magic Here we are increasing volume of training, we’re increasing activity through non-exercise activity thermogenesis. And we’re doing so while we’re increasing calories, more likely because of the calories specifically. And I think that’s usually the biggest reason why people see this, it.
It’s good for people to hear this because a lot of people assume. That if we start, let’s say for easy mass, somebody starts at 2,500 calories and they diet down, and by the end of the diet they’re at 1500 calories. So there’s huge swing calories by the end of their diet and they lost a bunch of weight.
When they go to, and this is where people get it wrong with the reverse diet, they go to bring their calories back up to maintenance, they immediately go to 2,500. And that’s the biggest mistake because as we know, metabolic adaptation did occur.
Mike: They also weigh a lot less. They don’t realize that their MA new maintenance might be several hundred calories lower.
Cody: Yeah, they, you have less mass on your body. So just to stand there and survive, you need less calories and energy coming in. So again, for easy math, their new maintenance might actually be 2000. So they go right up to 2,500 and they gain a bunch of weight. So I like to prescribe a way of kind of meeting in the middle ground and then moving slow.
So I think there is a value in. Jumping to that midpoint and then trying to build it up to see if they’re gonna have some of this hypers responder activity where NEAT goes up, training volume goes up, they’re pushing it harder, maybe they’re sleeping better. And some of those things do allow them to have a, I guess we could call it a higher capacity for more calories, right?
A, a faster metabolism quote, unquote. But not everybody’s like that. Some people, you can increase your calories and they don’t move anymore. They just don’t have that adaptive nature. And that’s why I think sometimes there can be an argument to go slow, or if we are calculating their new maintenance, one, we use their current weight and their current stats, not their old stats.
And then when we find out that their new maintenance is 2000, if the person is in a place where they’re a little worried about it, there’s nothing wrong with going slow to get there if that makes them feel safe. Now, as the coach, we have to understand there’s probably gonna be no difference if I bring over 2000, or I go 1600, 1700, 1800, 1900, 2000, Either way, we’re gonna get to the same end point, and it’s not gonna be any different really.
They’re gonna put on the same amount of weight, which should just really be glycogen and water and food volume. But for some people that mentally is better. And I think part of the. Process or the art of coaching is understanding that, is understanding the personality of the person, understanding how to coach that process to ensure that they feel confident, ensure of themselves as they’re going through it.
This could take us in a different direction with it, but the psychological aspect of this is such a huge factor in coaching. And there’s a lot of people who, for example, if I brought them to 2000 right away, if that 500 calorie jump just for easy math was the amount we needed to increase during this reverse diet.
If I brought them up right away, their initial thought is I can be more flexible with my diet. And now they play the, if it fits your macros game and they fit in highly palatable foods and processed junk, and that one is inaccurate from a calorie and macro label perspective, but then it also might trigger more cravings, more food, Maybe they fit alcohol in more easily and then they end up having the drunken munchies or whatever it is.
And actually for them, even though there’s no physical. Magic or even data to prove the slow process would work better if I was to jump calories up by a hundred or 200 at a time, they simply would not be able to be that flexible and they would have to use satiating more whole food based choices, bro foods to do that process.
And that would allow us to cure or fix that biofeedback. So if they have diet fatigue, we’re actually fixing and helping that diet fatigue through that kind of food. So by the time they can fit in those flexible foods, they’re in a much better place mentally to control themselves and not go crazy with it.
And I think that’s something that a lot of people don’t think about is the food selection during reverse diet. But that can make a big role because some people do not have the self-control that others do. And if you open the reins and go, Let’s just do a recovery diet and bump your calories up right away, that could open the.
For that as well. Yeah.
Mike: So something I personally do is I just eat more of what I was eating when I was dieting. Just take something, a meal that I like and I was eating that much rice in that meal or oatmeal, whatever it is. And I’ll just increase that. I’ll increase this. Okay, good. That’s the extra whatever, three to 500 calories that I need.
And I tend to eat the same stuff for long periods of time because I don’t really care and it’s stuff I like anyway. However, I’ve seen that work well with people who just to this point, If they have an extra 500 calories they’re at, they’ve been cutting for a couple of months, they really would like to start eating some of this stuff they haven’t been eating.
And although they’re, like you’ve said, there’s nothing technically wrong with taking 500 calories and giving it over to that stuff, it might be a bit much, actually 500 might be a bit much if it’s all junk. But yes, it can tend to encourage overeating. And something else I’ll add to that is let’s say you have 500 to get to your maintenance, especially at the end of a diet with most people, if they’re gonna make a mistake, it’s gonna be in the direction of eating too much, not too little, that it’s gonna be in the direction of it’s actually extra 7, 8, 900 calories.
Not, I got to 400, I got to 300, I didn’t quite get to 500. And so that also could be a scenario, right? Where easing back into normal eating could help just avoid a
Cody: rebound. And that’s a problem if we just look at. Research and we just look at paper and we don’t factor in people’s real experiences.
That’s where that becomes a difficult part. And I think, something that, and this is not any shot against 3D MJ for creating the recovery diet because I’ve been a huge fan of their work. They’ve been all on my podcast actually, and mentors from afar for years and years. But I think when they came out with the recovery diet, which is completely geared towards bodybuilders who get absolutely shredded and who wreck
Bodies in the process.
Cody: Exactly. Yeah. And so a lot of people assumed that meant after a diet, your hormones are crashed, your body is in an unhealthy place. You’re not supposed to maintain this level of leanness and I have to do a recovery diet and immediately get up. But then it just puts you right back where you were at the beginning.
And I think there’s a big problem with that because coaches who work with gen pop people take those principles and apply it to them and I’ve seen this happen many times, and those are the exact people who. Can absolutely do reverse diet, totally fine and go slow. In fact, this is where sometimes I think, and this is where the whole low calorie thing is probably tied to it, I think that they can actually probably push it further and be totally fine as well.
A lot of people assume that as soon as they have low energy or like maybe libidos down, they’re a little bit stressed, a little bit of hunger, they’re hunger, they’re craving something, they’re like, Oh, this diet is unhealthy. Now I have dive fatigue. My hormones are messed up. It’s no, that’s just, you’re in a deficit.
That’s just part of it. That’s part of the game you have to play. And so something I like to do as well in these situations if somebody’s in. Let’s say we’re eight weeks into a diet and they’re feeling these symptoms and they’re worried and they think and I’ve had this question many times, Do I need to start reverse dieting cause I’m feeling this way?
The answer is no, typically, but we can put them into a diet break, for example, and ask those questions again. Do you have libido? Do you have less stress? Are you craving less? Is your performance by the gym? If the answer is yes. Nothing’s wrong with. You just we’re in a diet, so now we can take this diet break, let’s get right back to business and go into it.
Just to prove to them you don’t need to do a recovery diet extremely fast, or you haven’t even got lean enough to warrant that fast of a reverse diet. Because most of the time, and from what I’m aware of with most research, a lot of those serious negative symptoms that come from a diet, it’s primarily tied to body fat levels more than anything else.
The temporary symptoms are typically from chloric restriction, but anything from caloric restriction can be reversed really easily. When we bring our calories out, whether we do it fast or slow, obviously going slow, just prolongs that, which oftentimes is unnecessary. But I think there’s a lot of people that aren’t in.
If they’re not in the evidence based space, simply because they don’t do this for a profession, or they’re just a gen pop person, they’re not a bodybuilder, a physique athlete, kidney athlete, or anything like that. They make that mistake quite often because they don’t understand that there are hard periods of a diet, like they’re, it’s not gonna be great all the time.
And most of those symptoms are purely just from clerk restriction, which can be easily fixed in a short period of time, really, of just bringing your calories back up and you will feel totally fine again, which is where I typically like to, like you said, keep foods I know it’s a bad word in the industry, but clean foods and so that we can avoid binging, avoid a rebound, avoid too much highly palatable foods and just try to get the cues from their body and build their body awareness and learn.
Are you feeling better? Are these symptoms improving from increasing our calories and doing so with foods that are accurate enough for us to know that we are actually increasing our calories properly rather than having some extra food and going to Chipotle to fill those calories? And the guy behind the counter is giving us one scoop.
Mike: like our one scoop of peanut butter, right? ? No, that, that was like three tablespoons,
Cody: my friend. Yeah, that’s exactly right. So I think a big problem with it all too, to be honest with you, is the flexible dieting world just got a little too outta hand. I think that it turned, it went from, hey, like you can actually eat.
Everything has AIC value. We can fit these things in on occasion to you’re wrong, stupid. And I’m gonna shame you if you are eating clean foods. If you’re eating like a bro, like you said, you eat the same thing basically all the time. I’m the same way. And now that’s like a negative almost because flexible diet went so far.
When in the reality when you eat that way, it’s actually much easier to control this whole reverse dieting process.
Mike: And there are multiple reasons why I, I. Another one. I’m sure it’s the same thing. And also I’ll say that for people listening, if you talk to enough fit people, let’s say really fit people who stay that way pretty much year round, who are not at least obviously on drugs, sometimes you can’t know.
But if you’re like, Oh, they look pretty natural and they’re always in good shape, 80% of them or more are gonna eat like this, are going to have this more kind of food as a fuel mentality. And that’s not to say that food can’t be more than that for people. And that’s not to say that you shouldn’t be eating foods you like.
I’m sure it’s the same for you, Cody, but I enjoy every meal that I eat every day, even though it’s the same stuff for months on end before I’ll make little changes. And then when I do make little changes, they’re often little changes. Like I’ve been eating a salad for lunch for years and. It’s just not the exact same salad every six months or so.
I just feel like changing it. And so I change it, but it’s still a salad. And I still like to eat a bunch of vegetables at dinner and I just, sometimes it’s stir fry type stuff and sometimes it’s other little recipes, but it’s still fundamentally the same type of food. And I also like that there’s no cognitive overhead in eating that way.
I don’t have to think about what am I gonna buy? What am I gonna eat? What, how much time do I need to cook this? And I even like making, it’s not that I don’t like cooking, but it’s just a time I have too many other things to do and think about these days. And so just like how I don’t think about the clothing that I wear, I don’t care.
I don’t think about the food in until I get to the point where I’m eating a. And I’m not enjoying it at all, or I’m just like that’s when I change.
Cody: Even with variety, if we look at there’s actually some really interesting research. Mental Hessman came out the book on self-control and there’s a lot of sided research on willpower and self-control and stuff.
It’s really cool. But there’s quite a bit of interesting research on just boredom and like stimulating your mind, which helps your consistency and your willpower and all those kind of things. So for example, if I have a meal that has raspberries and then in two weeks I change it. Blueberries, virtually the same exact thing, calories, macros wise, but that mental stimulation of change actually cures some of that boredom I would suggest.
So there’s sometimes where all swap help clients swap the simplest thing, and that alone can actually help them stay consistent. And we don’t have to, like you said, it’s not more draining energy and thought process or stress of, how do I track this, how to measure it. It’s basically the same thing, hundred grams of strawberries or blackberries or blueberries or raspberries.
It’s all the same shit. It’s basically just the same exact amount of calories, carbs, fiber and nutrients. So little things like that I think help a lot with a lot of people in, And to your point too, there’s, I saw some research on this and I wanna say they used mac and cheese in the in the study.
And I think they did one on a buffet too. But if you apply the concept to this it, it’ll be helpful. But essentially what they found is, The more you increase the frequency of said food, the less likely you are to overeat in calories. And they saw it tapere down and satiety signals got regulated stuff.
Whereas, and this is why cheat meals are so much worse off than having flexible diet, having a little bit here and there is actually really helpful to avoid those binges. Cuz if you’re saving it up, then you have a cheat meal. You’re going in and it’s probably gonna lead to overeating. But I think there’s a lot of people who maintain lean physiques year round.
Usually they all. Very similar food groups, and they eat the same things every day. Like you said, I’m the same exact way, and I think this is part of it. If you’re not bored and you enjoy the food and you’re able to repeat it over and over again, you’re far less likely to overeat. And I’ve experienced that.
But it was cool to see some research, actually just recently, I don’t know if the study was done recently, but I I was shared this research from j and PIOs, I think was the guy I originally saw.
Mike: Yeah. I’d love to see it. I haven’t come across this.
Cody: Yeah. He shared on his Instagram and I picked his brain on it.
And essentially, from what I remember, they basically had two groups. One group had this mac and cheese five days in a row, versus a group had it once a week for five weeks. Just within the five periods. The calories decreased because their satiety signals decreased. As you ate the food over and over again, you got less likely to overeat it, even when it was like, you can have as much as you want.
Mike: The novelty wears off. Okay. It’s just mac and cheese again.
Cody: Exactly. Yeah. And in the group that had it once a week ended up, Actually just eating more and more. They never really slowed down. They just kept eating a lot and overeating. Now obviously we just have to take that with a grain of salt because it’s researched on a mac and cheese.
It was only five times.
Mike: It rings true though, like if you do tend to eat things a little bit more often, you tend it. To regulate your intake of them better than if it’s every so often. And like you said, you’ve been saving it up and now you’re so horny for this cheat meal
Cody: and Exactly. Yeah. And a big piece of this too, and there’s plenty of research to prove this, I’m sure as well.
This is why food prep is so helpful. And I don’t always mean like you have to have all these Tupperwares full of food that you carry around in some big cooler, like back in the day. But more than anything is just tonight I’m preparing my meals for tomorrow, like in my head or on my fitness power on Google Sheet, however you wanna do it, or if it’s in Tupperwares, great, but when you know what you’re going to do, it’s there.
And it even better if it is in a Tupperware because you have this amount, you can eat that amount and stop and then move on and you’re less likely. So using tools like this, So much into reverse diet. One of the biggest problems with most people is as soon as the diet is done and we’re going into reverse diet, it’s okay, now I don’t have to eat those foods.
I’m just gonna eat whatever I want. And although flexible dieting is 100% backed by research, it’s effective. I’m all for it. I think there’s a lot of value in doing exactly what you said at the beginning, and I’ve told so many people this, eat the same foods that you were eating during the diet.
Just increase the portions because it’s gonna keep accuracy. Way more dialed in. Your satiety is gonna be great. You’re gonna be able to just listen to your body and see how you’re feeling and how these biofeedback signals are improving based on your caloric intake, increasing versus anything else.
And then on top of that, again, if we are. Trying to prove any type of recomposition happening. It’s really only gonna happen if you increase, and I would say recomposition, as in you’re burning more fat as you increase calories, which is only going to happen if when you increase calories, you are literally doing more things, walking, more training, more volume, doing more reps, you’re adding in conditioning, whatever it may be.
And a lot of people aren’t in that position.
Mike: And I’ll interject there just to say that this is something I know that other people have commented on and I agree with is, let’s remember though, if you are going to keep losing fat, that means you are still in a calorie deficit. You can’t get around that, right?
Because remember, for some time, reverse dieting was, I saw some people selling it almost as like a hack, an energy balance hack, right? And that somehow you’re, In a calorie deficit or you’re not, Let’s just say you are not going to experience any of the downsides of being in a calorie deficit. You’re gonna burn fat and build muscle and an so no.
If you are still wanting to lose fat in any capacity, that is going to require a calorie deficit. And if you have been in a calorie deficit for three months now, four months now, whatever it has taken to get to your goal and you are sick of being in a calorie deficit and you’re not feeling so great, this is where I’ve seen reverse dieting in that sense that you just mentioned fail actually, because they’re not coming out of a deficit.
They just don’t wanna come out of the deficit. They’re, they’re, Okay, I’ll eat more food, but then I’m gonna move more. I still don’t feel. A
Cody: hundred percent. I think that sometimes, like you could probably make an argument for it being possible, but the situation would just have to be so meticulous and it would be so rare because you would have to say let’s say you are in a 400 calorie deficit and then you reversed diet by 200 calories, but this person has a very adaptive metabolism, so that increase of 200 calories actually nudged them to step way more, train way harder, do some more cardio, whatever.
And the net chloric expenditure exceeded the caloric increase. Then you could say, yeah, you would lose some fat, but it still proves your point of you’re still in a deficit. If anything, you’re in just as much, if not more. You just added some calories and it and encouraged you to create a bigger ex energy expenditure through exercise, and that’s not gonna fix the diet fatigue at all.
The diet fatigue continues. It’s just gonna give you a little more food.
Mike: You might psychologically enjoy a bit more food and you might even feel a little bit better. That gets into the energy flux argument. However, you’re not going to really feel back to normal until you are out of that consistent calorie deficit.
Now, of course, maintenance is always, you’re either a little bit higher, you’re a little bit lower. We never can eat exactly the calories we’re burning, obviously. But to feel normal again, you have to get out of that several hundred, daily calorie deficit, consistently operation or mode of operation, and you gotta get something.
You gotta get into a maintenance mode or a surplus mode.
Cody: Yeah. A good example of this too, and I think this is why I ended up getting a lot of questions on this topic because I wrote a blog about a client. It’s a case study blog. I wrote this years ago. If you search Google.
Performs really well with seo. So if you search Google images like or reverse diet case study, reverse diet transformation, reverse diet before and after, it’s like the first image every time. It’s one of the first articles on that page. And it’s a client of mine named Meredith, and I took her through a 13 month reverse diet process and I documented on the blog, it’s really good.
And she is one pound heavier in the after picture. The looks dramatically different way leaner, but she has a significantly higher amount of muscle. The problem with most pieces of content that we see like this and what people see is they will see that Google image and they go, Oh, more food equals leaner body.
But I didn’t do it as an Instagram post, I did it as a blog. So you have to read the 5,000 word article that takes you through the 13 months, because what you’ll see is that she was following a paleo diet, which was probably low carb, high fat, moderate protein, and she was filling her whole week with nothing against these people, but like Orange Dairy, Fitness and Soul cycle and just.
Circuit training, high intensity. She came on board with me. We started lifting on an upper lower split, doing low intensity cardio a couple days a week and reverse dieting her carbs up fats, just to a middle ground. And we weren’t focused on fat loss. She really just built muscle over time and she probably burned a little bit of fat at the beginning cuz it was such a new thing for her.
But she wasn’t obese. So after she probably lost the first maybe three to five pounds of fat, she really was just building muscle and it just made her look leaner. And I think that’s where recomposition, during a reverse diet can be possible. And I’ve seen it happen more so with women than anybody else.
But I’ve worked with a lot of women who come to me doing. Circuit classes, high intensity, this like low carb dieting. And alls we really are trying to accomplish is finding a maintenance and we’re probably pushing a little bit more carbs for them, which is gonna, I’ve seen it help with a lot of people’s stress levels and just training properly cause they have the right fuel source to train hard.
And then we strength train and I get ’em lifting heavier, progressively overloading for those listening, doing nothing crazy whatsoever. Doing just like the simple basic science proven shit. And we just, were patient. And these people are typically skinny fat at the beginning is what they would call it.
And they build muscle so they look like they recom. And I would still look at it and think, Oh, that’s a great recom, but realistically if we truly wanna look at it, they’re probably not losing a pound of fat. Their body fat percentage might go. But it’s purely because their muscle tissue increases and that drops the percentage of total fat compared to muscle, which lowers their body fat percentage.
And I think that’s a misconception as well. A lot of times reverse dieting can cause lean gains, but it’s not a recom it, I mean it, I guess in one way it is body fat percentage drops, but in one way it’s not. Cuz body fat pounds don’t drop.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. When a lot of people hear recom, they think losing fat, building muscle at the same time.
And so this is a little bit different even though it seems to also be a type of reco. What else do you call it, kind of thing. Yeah, exactly. There’s just a visual kind of trick to it, even though it’s not meant to be tricky, of course, but to your point, and just to drive it home, and I’ve seen this many times particularly with women who are starting out with, in an absolute sense, not that much body fat, to your point, they probably wouldn’t even qualify as overweight.
Maybe. Maybe they’re skewing toward the overweight end of the normal spectrum, but they’re not even overweight. They just have so little muscle that all you really see is like jiggly skin and that’s about it. And then when they take a year or however long it takes to add enough muscle to the right places on their body, they’re now filling out their frame a lot better.
And now they have some shape and they have some curves because of course muscle is what gives us that, that same amount of fat on. More muscular body looks
Cody: totally different. Yeah, that’s 100%. I would say that’s probably the vast majority of the cases. Even for me I, I did a photo shoot for some marketing stuff we did just not that long ago, and I would say the first month afterwards it looked like I reed.
But people and I, people even thought like I maintained leans or got a lo leaner, but I increased my carbo. Pretty rapidly. All’s that happened is I just filled up, I just replenished muscle glycogen, and I was still training hard, And that created this illusion, right? But if you looked at the scale, like I was definitely a few pounds heavier.
I didn’t gain muscle. I just, it’s like muscle memory. If anything, it’s just, Muscle filling out with more glycogen cuz I’m increasing my carbs again. And I think that’s part of it as well. People forget, I believe it’s every one gram of carb holds three to four grams of water or something like that.
And then there’s also food volume. So if you’re filling your diet with produce, vegetables, fruit, things like that. If you’re eating lean meats, if you’re consuming sweet potatoes and whole grains and rice and things like that, not only does that water in your muscles store water, I’m sorry the carbs in your muscle store water, but also your gut is gonna pull water and food volume is gonna be in your gut as well.
So now we have water and extra food in our gut. And typically another thing people don’t remember, and there’s nothing wrong with this, but when we increase calories, we typically naturally increase sodium because we have more food to put salt on or more food to have sodium in it already, or more food to use condiments on.
And that’s gonna increase sodium. Sodium pulls water as well. So there’s all these factors that kind of play in a role of weight gain during it, some of which can actually make you look better. But. It’s not any crazy magic or re or anything like that. It’s just the fact that you are gaining some water weight.
So I think that there is a lot of things that make people think. There’s like some trickery and there’s some, unfortunately some people that do try to play that card and have this click bait style stuff. It’s why I appreciate content creators like us. Cuz instead of me doing it before and after on Instagram and just saying reverse diet recon and then just do a bunch of hashtags, it’s a long form blog that breaks down the process what’s actually happening.
And for coaches and business owners listening, that actually does way more for my business long term anyway. Cause that blog’s been up for three years and it’s still producing a lot of leads and traffic to our website versus an Instagram post that would be gone. Nobody would remember anymore. Cuz the newsfeed is, has evolved since then and it’s not a real it’s not gonna work.
But point being, I think that there’s just a lot of confusion with reverse dieting, specifically in the gem pop space. But I personally don’t think that there’s anything wrong with going slow. I don’t think there’s anything wrong going fast. I think typically you’re gonna get to the same end point.
It’s most likely gonna be a personal preference for the person. If somebody does get lean enough to where. Their body fat levels are potentially causing issues specifically with women mahea and things like that, which you gotta be pretty damn lean for. But I’ve seen it specifically seen it a few times with competitors or CrossFitters that I’ve worked with.
But typically, most gem pop people don’t get lean enough to experience seriously negative symptoms from dieting because their body fat levels don’t get low enough. So you can reverse diet slow. However, some people just can’t adhere to it, especially if they get too flexible during the reverse diet process.
I personally still go pretty slow. I’ll take an initial little bump up if they’re experiencing too much stress or cravings or anything like that. And then I typically like to be gradual only because I see adherence be a little bit better and I think that the Gem Pop client it’s not that I’m trying to trick them into it, but they’re a little bit more bought in and they feel a little bit safer, and that leads to better results from an adherence perspective, not because a slow process is gonna be more metabolically advantageous for some reason.
Mike: Hey there. If you are hearing this, you are still listening, which is awesome. Thank you. And if you are enjoying this podcast, or if you just like my podcast in general and you are getting at least something out of it, would you mind sharing it with a friend or a loved one or a not so loved one even who might want to learn something new?
Word of mouth helps really big in growing the show, so if you think of someone who might like this episode or another one, please do tell them about it. And as far as how lean you need to get to really start to run into issues can you speak a little bit to that? Because I’m sure some people listening are wondering, cuz you know, you mentioned earlier that sometimes toward the end of a diet you’re not feeling so great.
Is this just because you’ve been restricting your calories for however long you’ve been doing it? Or is this just a matter of body fat and you’re never really gonna feel that great until you gain some fat?
Cody: Yeah, so I, I look at this in a few different ways. There’s certain tall tale signs, obviously, like I said, in men.
So when the female lifter athlete loses their period that’s a pretty good sign that you’re probably dieting pretty aggressively or pretty low. Some women can get that happening without getting too lean. But usually I only see that happen with women who don’t have a lot of muscle tissue, cuz it’s harder to see for them, it’s harder for them to see that they’ve gotten that lean because they don’t have a lot of muscle tissue, so they have that skin fat look, I’m not big on body fat percentages simply because I think they’re pretty inaccurate pretty much no matter how you spin it unless you’re a cadaver.
But for the most part, like what I always tell people, if you have. Fully visible abs, you could probably show concern. That’s when you’re like, Okay, I’m getting to the point where I’m so lean that I can start considering that as a possibility. And would you
Mike: say that is that men
Cody: and women? Definitely women.
Men. It is not. There’s a lot more men who can maintain that. Totally fine. These apply to women too. So I guess both. If progress in gym is pretty bad, if sleep is really bad, if for lack of better terms, you’re just an asshole or bitch all the time. You’re very irritable constantly.
Like you’re just snapping easily or you’re getting frustrated really quickly with people you love and normally don’t get frustrated with. That’s a good sign. Progress in the gym is low. You’re not getting pumps in the gym at all. There’s even some evidence to show that if your fingertips the tip of your nose, your toes, things like that are really cold.
Quite often you might have some thyroid things going on, which usually just means your thyroid’s slowing down a bit, which is a metabolic regulator. So that’s a good sign that you might be slowing things down too much. Those can be signs that you’ve probably gone a little too far and you might want to reverse diet quicker.
But I also look at three different. Things within the history of the diet itself that help me project this as a coach. So I look at intensity, duration, and frequency as kinda like the dials, like how you have training, volume, intensity, and frequency. I look at it like intensity would be how aggressive did you diet?
If you went into a deficit that is five to 10% of your maintenance calories. It’s really just not an aggressive deficit. I actually encourage people to nudge it way harder at the beginning because like you said, maintenance isn’t a set point. It’s usually like a moving target. So it is a moving target.
Let’s say we have 5% wiggle room on both ends, and we adjust by 5%. We’re probably not even gonna lose weight. And then we’re just frustrated. So now we are in a deficit. So it’s stressful, especially mentally, but we’re not going anywhere and there’s nothing worse than that. 10% might nudge you a little bit, but not enough to give you a lot of intrinsic motivation.
And if we look at most research done on fat loss, whether it’s the die break research the intermittent chloric restriction research or just general, the obesity, fat loss research is even crazier cuz those deficits are even huge, bigger, but a lot of ’em are 25, 35. There’s even some research that shows rapid fat loss approaches up to 50, 65% calorie deficit, which is massive.
So I think people see, Oh, Matador study, I can do this. Intermittent caloric restriction or the ice cap trial, or Bill Campbell’s five two where it’s five days on, two days off, like that’s all I gotta do. All those studies had a 25 to 35% deficit on those deficit days, which means that you can’t really warrant a diet break unless you’re making an aggressive approach.
It’s also why these studies can be an eight week long study and actually show significant results. Because they do make a big deficit, which is hard to adhere to. I think five to 10% is more of an adjustment after the initial diet has already been progressing and you hit a plateau, now you can bump it 5%.
But point being, I’ll look at that first. How aggressive did the person actually go? Because that’s gonna dictate a lot of how quickly and how significant the diet fatigue and the symptoms they’re getting are, like how soon they’re gonna show up and how much they’re hitting them. The other thing is duration.
How long has this person been dieting? Maybe they only did a 15 to 20% deficit. They felt great, but they’ve been dieting for six months straight. So 24 week deficit. That’s gonna linger and that’s gonna cause greater, that’s gonna tell me how quickly I need to get their calories up as well.
And then the other one would be frequency. So we have people that will come to us and they’re like, maybe they need a reverse diet, but they’ve only been dieting for eight weeks and it sounds oh, this will be piece of cake. But little do you know that, they took six weeks off and they dieted for 12 weeks before that and they fell off for a few weeks and then they dieted that they’ve really been dieting on off for the last 12 months.
Just unsuccessfully yelling back and forth. So looking at the duration, the frequency and intensity does two things. One, it allows us to program a diet because now we can go into the deficit going, Okay, which dial do we wanna crank up for this person, which is totally person dependent. For me, the intensity is really high.
You gotta be careful there cause you don’t obviously wanna sacrifice muscle tissue and stuff, which I do think you have to be pretty, pretty aggressive with. Or just dumb by having really low protein or not strain training to lose muscle tissue. But I’m the type of person who would rather just get it done.
I don’t need DI breaks, I don’t need a long duration. I don’t want a long duration. Just turn the intensity up. Let’s just. Do the job and then I’m not gonna die it again for a year. Like I just, I don’t have the interest. Other people might do better with six weeks of a moderate approach and then taking like a three die break and then another six weeks, and then a die break and another six weeks and their frequency is high and we’re just chipping away at it because they just can’t adhere to an aggressive deficit.
And the same thing applies to somebody who would want a long diet. So maybe they do diet for 24 weeks, but it’s a very small deficit and we’re just chipping away at the lowest possible amount, weight loss per week. But all of these things let me know first and foremost, one, how to program diet, but also how hard are those symptoms gonna hit the person.
And then it’s just a matter of asking about those symptoms usually as the weeks go on so you can see them coming. Because we’re asking our clients, How’s your stress? How’s your hunger? How’s your performance? We’re looking for these things. Most of us, we’re tracking progress in and out the gym.
And those symptoms are all just bio feedback signals that are essentially gonna tell us how much diet you has accumulated and how fast do you need? To reverse diet because at the end of the day, there’s no formula for this, but the greater the diet fatigue then the more severe those symptoms are for you, probably the faster you should reverse diet to get out of it.
And again, I think when you do it faster, you just gotta control the food group, so you’re not going to the highly processed foods. And then, I think the last thing really is just the personality type matters quite a bit with all of this, a as far as what kind of diet we approach, but how fast we’re gonna reverse diet as well.
And there the personality type also dictates the perception of that stress. So there was even some research, I can’t remember who I wanna say it was lane. It might have been on my podcast, but I think it was him. But he was talking about the negative things that happened because of stress is more qualitative to our perception of it.
So for example, somebody could be in your exact position with your responsibilities as a family, man, husband, business owner, marketer, content creator, all these things. They could like chip years away at their life because the stress causes their immune system crash. They get sick more often. They can’t handle it, they can’t recover, they can’t build as much muscle as you because the stress is so great from the work stuff where somebody like you is born for this kind of stuff.
You thrive on it so you can handle it. So it’s the same load of stress, but it just doesn’t eat at you as much. And the reason I say that is because I think people’s stress capacity is different and their ability to handle stress is different. So when it comes to the reverse diet, we can go slower with somebody who just handles stress really well.
I say a lot more with guys to be honest, but if the stress is like, Yeah, I mean I’m ready for more calories, but it’s not the end of the world. Let’s just do the smart thing. Cool. We don’t have to overthink this. We can be a little more rigid with our food groups while we reverse diet up so that we can avoid these highly processed foods where somebody else.
We need to implement like a structured free meal or something because they’re going to, they’re gonna kill themselves that they can’t just eat normal cuz they hate this diet process, which it should never get to that point. But a little bit of a rant. But I think all these things play a role in the coaching process and some of it you can lean on research and some of it you just have to understand some of the evidence and scientific research and then just, just extrapolate what you can from it to try to make your best judgment call.
Because real world situations can be different.
Mike: You mentioned earlier that some people respond differently to more food. So you take one person, you feed ’em more food and they naturally just start moving around more. They start burning more energy outside of their formal exercise. So they may not even be particularly aware of it, but they feel more energetic and that just turns into more movement.
And they take the stairs all of a sudden when normally they would take the elevator, stuff like that way. And some people they just don’t respond that way. Have you worked with people who have found. They can slowly increase their maintenance calories over time to a higher point than they were at.
It doesn’t go on forever, while basically maintaining the same body composition, simply because that’s just how their body responds. Again, there’s, as you mentioned, there’s nothing magical to it, but they just tend to move around more and they have more energy. And so maybe they even consciously are like, You know what?
I feel great. I’m gonna go for a walk. I don’t normally go for a walk. I’m going for a walk now every day. And that’s an extra a hundred calories. And you add up enough of those things and all of a sudden now you actually are eating another three to 500 calories per day and still maintaining the exact same.
I haven’t because that’s, that is part of the reverse diet pitch.
Cody: The appeal, Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s two situations here. One is not necessarily anybody I can think of as clients. And if they are, they just don’t realize it, They’re not that aware. But even for myself, like I notice the mail piles up in my mailbox when I’m dieting down
Cause I just don’t walk to get the mail when I’m not, when I’m at maintenance or anything, I’m, I enjoy walks. I’m like, Oh, this is a chance to listen to music. I’ll mow the lawn. I’m glad that, that’s just my personality type. I like to move, so I’ve dieted down enough times for I did fatigue competition years ago, and then photo shoots and stuff like that I’ve just.
I’ve done it enough times and noticed oh yeah, I get pretty let lethargic when I diet down. But to your point, when I diet back up, I don’t go beyond what my normal is. I have my normal, which is active, and then I have my diet self, which is just lazy, and I think that’s usually what it is.
I typically find that you have to program people to move more beyond what their natural desire is. And so I have seen the result you’re talking about, but not naturally. And the reason I say it is because I’ve had people go through this process with me to hire us. We dye ’em down, we bring them back up and they do get to their normal, but their normal wasn’t really that active.
So I’m like, Hey, it actually wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to increase your steps cuz it’s healthy for you. And that ends up fueling more calories because normally they’re 5,000 steps stay at best. And we’re like, Hey, let’s shoot for 10,000 cause that’s a good marker. You’re gonna be able to eat a little more food and it’s healthy for you.
And so they add a couple walks throughout the day and they easily hit 10,000. But again, that’s, that wasn’t their norm. It’s actually intentional. So to an extent you can even argue that’s not neat because I’m. Physically telling them to go do it. So it’s not really. Yeah, so we still count it towards steps but they know what they’re doing.
So I think that I’ve had some, like some guys that were skinnier guys that it’s only happened a few times where I actually had to program less steps, for example, because when we increase our calories, they just keep moving and I’m like, Dude, we’re trying to gain weight. You need to just chill out more.
So we actually program them down. It’s okay, let’s do less steps. Don’t go beyond this point because they do naturally just move. They weren’t aware of it. It was like, Hey, I want you to put a speedometer in your pocket cause I think this is what’s going on. Sure enough, it was I had to like really teach them what was happening.
But yeah I really don’t think it happens much outside of the case study situation. I explained where we did change their lifestyle to less circuit class, high intensity stuff, less paleo stuff. Again, this isn’t just natural, it’s more methodical, but carbohydrates are more thermogenic. So there’s plenty of low carb fans and some people feel great eating low carbs.
And at the end of the day you can eat low carb and lose weight and there’s nothing wrong with it. But most research proves that. When you increase carbohydrates, you’re more likely to utilize that for more movement than you are through fats. And you’re gonna be able to build more muscle. And because your training volume and intensity can typically go up.
So I have seen this, not to like anything spectacular levels, but I’ve seen some of these reish results, but we didn’t really increase calories beyond what they were. It’s just that they were having too much fat, not enough carb. And then I’m just flip flopping those and hey, let’s like lower those fats, increase those carbs, and because of that, their calories actually stay the same.
And this is another thing that people get confused by. Some people would hear that and go, Oh, so they were able to lose fat at maintenance? That’s re And it’s no, because technically I lowered their fat, increase their carbs, kept calories the same. But their energy expenditure increased because the macros were more thermogenic.
They naturally moved more so they burned more calories through movement. So technically, no I changed their macros
Mike: and probably trained harder in the gym. Even if they’re the exact same workouts on paper, they’re not exactly the same. When if you were in there with them on the low carb and then versus the high carb and just looking at how hard they’re working.
Cody: Yeah. And that creates a deficit. So again, we, and this is where I think people have such a hard time, cuz more and more science keeps coming out. It just goes calorie deficit. Calorie deficit. Calorie deficit. And it’s frustrating cause I’m like, .
Mike: It’s unfortunate, at this point I’m gonna say that the weight of the evidence is insurmountable.
If you want a quibble, you can go, Oh, science doesn’t prove anything. Okay, fine. But there are some questions that are not worth asking anymore. And what is the physiological mechanism that, that is responsible for fat loss? That’s just not a question worth asking. We don’t need to investigate that further.
Cody: Yeah. So I think the only way that you can hang your hat on the idea of reverse dieting, creating a recomposition effect is if you were skinny fat and it helps you build more muscle. Therefore, technically your body fat percentage drops or you do exactly what I just said. We change training and or macros in a favorable way that creates.
Bigger energy expenditure through your activity and that causes fat loss. And sometimes that can happen naturally because your intensity in the gym goes up and maybe you’re just, cuz there’s certain things we can’t track. Maybe their steps didn’t go up, but maybe they move more with their hands when they talk.
Maybe they’re fidgeting more, maybe they’re standing up now, they’re at a standup desk or whatever it may be. There’s things that add up and those can play a role. Carbohydrates are more likely to, they are gonna store as muscle compared. Fat’s not gonna store as muscle, but they’re harder to store as body fat compared to fat.
And people don’t like to hear that, but it’s true. And it doesn’t mean that carbs can’t store as fat. You need a surplus. But nonetheless, if you’re at maintenance, Having more carbs might be advantageous for this idea, but not because it defies the law thermodynamics. It just makes it you in a more favorable equation of thermodynamics, if that makes sense.
Mike: If you’re in a consistent calorie surplus, unfortunately your body’s gonna figure out how to get fatter. That is what is going to happen regardless of how those macros are broken down. I know there’s some research that indicates if all of the excess calories come from pure protein, that might not be the case.
I will say in my personal experience and just having heard from and worked with so many people over the years, I don’t know of any practical way to put that little factoid into practice. I. Rarely are you just gonna get pure protein? If you’re eating food, it’s usually gonna come with some fat, for example.
But even if it were just pure protein one, I would ask you if that’s really enjoyable. Do you really like protein powder that much? Do you wanna have four protein shakes a day instead of two? Maybe then you could do that without getting fatter. But what’s the point? And again I think there are a couple of studies, I’m sure you’ve seen ’em, that, that suggest what I just said, that you can create a surplus strictly from protein and not get fatter, but we know that is probably not going to help you build muscle faster or better than just a standard high protein diet.
And unless it’s just pure protein it’s probably gonna come with some additional non-pro calories that will contribute toward body fatness. And we know that when you get into a consistent calorie surplus, you mentioned that carbohydrates are not generally stored as fat, but if you eat enough of them and you’re in a calorie surplus, they can be converted into body fat.
And of course then all of with an asterisk, but most of the dietary fat you’re eating is also going to be very efficiently converted into body fat. You’re not gonna be burning much, if any of it.
Cody: Yeah, exactly. And I think that, I’ve, I have been a fan of higher protein diets, like going above the recommended amount of 0.8 to one gram.
But I’m talking like 1.1 grams. Yeah. I’ll go up to 1.2. Exactly. Yeah. I’m usually in the range of one to 1.2. And that’s mainly for reasons of somebody is dieting and their hunger level is going up. That research to me was cool because it allows us to go, Oh, cool. We’re actually safe to increase protein a little bit.
When their hunger is up, it’s gonna keep them more satiated. It’s not gonna source fat, so it’s not gonna negatively impact anything. But like you said, if you’re going into a surplus to build muscle, don’t do it with protein. It’s not gonna do anything except make you sweat. And if you actually read the research like by Jose Antonio I think he’s done two or three of them now.
One of the biggest complaints was that there’s no negative health outcomes, but the participants complained about overheating at night. And so they’re just sweating through their sleep, which is extremely uncomfortable, which is probably not gonna help your recovery. So I wouldn’t recommend it.
And. In order to do it, they had to do what you said. They drank a lot of protein shakes because that’s the only way they could do it. So I, it’s just, it’s unpractical, but it’s cool. Research lets us know that we can probably have a little extra and not stress about it. Not worry about it. And yeah, some people like, like I have a smoker at my house, so I love smoking.
Meat. And when you spend all day smoking some meat, I’m going to eat way more protein than I need to because I just spent all day smoking this expensive meat . So like I want to eat it. It warrants that sometimes. That’s why you get the meat, sweat. Interesting research nonetheless. And I agree with you on the carbon fat piece too.
Usually I think people actually don’t need as much fat as they believe. There was this thing where, and it’s true fats are important for your hormones, so people assume, oh, like fats are important for your hormones. So if I eat more fat, my testosterone increases more and more.
And it’s just not the case. You’re just gonna get fatter and fatter, which is actually gonna lower your testosterones. You
Mike: probably shouldn’t. And even if you control your calories, I’m sure familiar. This is research. It’s. Probably at least 10 years old at this point. But there are a number of studies, I’m thinking of one or two where off the top of my head, that show sure, if you go from 15% of daily calories from fat to 30 to 40%, you will see an increase in your testosterone.
But even that is not all that significant. If I remember off the top of my head, it was like 17 or 18% or so. That was the increase in total testosterone, which is something it’s significant. In terms of, it’s a number that sounds statistically significant. Ooh, it’s up 16, 17, 18, 19%. But what does that really mean in the context of anything?
So you’re a dude, you’re naturally at five to 700 and you add, Let’s just be generous and say you add 20% on top of that. Are you gonna gain muscle faster? No. Are you gonna have more energy? Probably not. Are you gonna have more sex drive? Probably not. If so, it’s gonna be minor. It’s not going to be anything that is blatantly obvious.
And your workouts. Wow, those are probably gonna be worse. Cause now you cut your carbs in half to get all those fats in. So I wish these little hacks worked. I would do
Cody: it. Yeah, They just don’t. And that’s the thing too, is like even with that, like you could increase your testosterone that little bit with fat, but then if you put yourself in a deficit and kept, even if you kept your fats there, it’s gonna go right back down because the calories are gonna play a bigger role in your hormone fluctuations anyway.
And there was a, I wanna say, I don’t know if it was a meta-analysis or just like a case study physique, It was Dr. Brennan Roberts, who’s our Chief Science Officer. And I wanna say maybe Peter Fish, I don’t know if Alan. Eric Helms was on it, or Drexler, There was a group of guys that did this, and they basically came to the conclusion that, I wanna say it was like 0.2 grams per pound is like the bare minimum of what you need in fat, which is really low.
And that’s just that’s the bare minimum you need to support, like hormonal function stuff, which is far lower than I recommend because the flexibility of your diet would just suck. You’re just eating white rice all day. Especially
Mike: if you’re a woman. You’re like, What? How do I survive on, How do I do 30 grams of fat a day or 25 grams of fat a day?
Cody: Literally. Yeah. So there’s no reason to, But the point is people assume they need way more than they actually do. And I think that’s, that’s obviously a different topic than reverse diet. I used to
Mike: get a lot of shit for that when I, 10 years ago, when I first published Bigger Leaners, Stronger the first edition, at that time, I was recommending when cutting, I was saying, you could, you.
Be somewhere in the range of 0.2 lowest to 0.3 grams per pound of, fat per day. And then when you’re at maintenance or lean bulking, probably don’t need more than 0.3 to 0.4. Somewhere around 30% of your daily calories. You can eat more if you want, but you don’t need to.
And I remember a lot of people criticizing me on that, saying that’s way too little fat, as if that’s going to just destroy your body. It’s gonna crash everything. And I was like I don’t think so. And here’s the the limited, There’s more research now that I can actually point to. But at the time there wasn’t that much.
And I was saying, Here’s my understanding of what I have found. And I also will say after a year or two of hearing from a lot of people, like a lot of people are doing quite well with this, I’m not seeing anybody, I’ve not heard from one person who said, I ate 0.25 grams of fat per pound of body weight per day.
And I landed in the hospital. Some people were implying, I did hear from some women who found it challenging to go below, maybe 0.3 grams per pound boic day and eat stuff. They like, there was a point where they were like, So what am I, do I have to eat? Do I have to drink six protein shakes a day?
And everything has to be low fat. Can’t I just. Bring my carbs down so I can enjoy my food. Yes, absolutely. Yeah.
Cody: I think and I agree a hundred percent and I think there’s plenty of research to prove it. I think that my general recommendations are usually like 0.2 to 0.4, and that’s not, it’s just in general dieting, maintenance or ing whatever, just 0.2 to 0.4.
And then for women, like 0.3 to 0.5 for women, cuz I agree they usually need more. But I think even if you just look at anecdotally, every shredded bodybuilder, every physique athlete, every person has impressive physique. They typically eat lower fat and then all the people who are arguing against you and they against me, I’m like, you just don’t have an impressive physique.
You can’t lift heavy weights. I’m not, Yeah. I’m not convinced just by Yeah.
Mike: And you never, you’ve never gotten there. And that’s not like trying to dunk on them just to make fun of them. No, there, there actually is a point to what you just said there success leaves, clue. Yep.
Cody: Exactly. I could not agree more.
Mike: This was a fun discussion as always. Is there anything else that is still in the back of your head that we haven’t talked about yet in the context of reverse dieting, everything we’ve been discussing that you think we should say before we wrap up?
Cody: I don’t think so. I think we covered it was a really fun discussion.
We covered quite a bit. And it, I think it’s good that we were able to bounce back and forth between the research and like what happens in the practical setting. But at the end of the day, I think, like we said, it’s, there’s no magic here. There is ways that could seem as if some magic re is happening, but it always comes back to, energy balance at the end of the day.
And your energy balance changes when you lose weight. So we just have to factor in those things. It’s like
Mike: magic in the sense of the magician . It looks like. It’s super natural, but no it’s just a
Cody: clever mechanism. Yeah, and I think there’s a lot of room I’m hoping for more like case studies and research to come out, like Bill was talking to me about just with it, to just show how it should be done in the practical world.
And I think more coaches need to tune into the the psychology behind an individual while they’re coaching them, because I think that plays the biggest role in how this process is gonna work best.
Mike: Yep. Yeah, Totally agree. Then with that, why don’t we wrap up, Let’s let people know where they can find you and your work and your coaching services and anything else that you might wanna tell them about.
Cody: First and foremost, thank you for having me on, man. It’s, it was a blast again to come on and talk about this topic, But on Instagram at Cody McBroom, I post there pretty frequently. Our podcast, The Tailored Life Podcast, which Mike has been on multiple times as well as many guests.
We just hit episode 800 which was, yeah, it was pretty cool to, We’ve been doing it for a while. So the podcast has grown a lot over 3 million downloads, so we’re having fun there. There’s a lot of free content there. And the website has guides, blogs, videos, all kinds of stuff. That’s where our coaching is too, and that’s tailored coaching method dot.
Mike: Thanks again for taking the time to do this and I look forward to the next one. We talked a little bit about low calorie dieting, but maybe we should deep dive into that next time.
Cody: Yeah, I would love to. I think that’s a great topic.
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