Most people are preoccupied with trying to lose weight, but here’s something they don’t know:
It’s only the first step to getting the body they really want.
Because once you’ve lost the weight, you have to keep it off, and that can be just hard, if not harder.
That’s why research shows that dieting simply doesn’t work for most people. Sure, they can step into the breach and lose weight, but many regain it all afterward.
If you’ve dieted before, you probably know how it goes.
And it’s just a little horrifying to see just how quickly you can undo months of hard work when you do.
It’s also hard to forget that experience the next time you consider dieting. Why bother if you know you’re just going to tumble back to square one?
Well, that’s where reverse dieting can help.
You see, losing weight changes more than your appearance in the mirror.
It also produces a host of physiological adaptations that, in short, encourage you to move less and eat more, and prime your body to rapidly regain the fat that you lost.
This is why many people find it so hard to smoothly transition from weight loss to weight maintenance.
The good news, though, is if you navigate this treacherous post-diet period skillfully, you can come out unscathed, and poised for long-term success.
Reverse dieting is a powerful tool to help you with this, and it boils down to three simple steps:
- Do a lot of heavy compound weightlifting.
- Eat a high-protein diet.
- Gradually increase your caloric intake.
Let’s take a look at each.
- 1. Do a lot of heavy compound weightlifting.
- 2. Eat a high protein diet
- 3. Gradually increase your caloric intake.
- The Bottom Line on Reverse Dieting
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Heavy compound weightlifting speeds up your metabolic rate in the short term by burning a significant amount of post-workout calories, and speeds it up in the long term by building muscle, which increases how many calories your body burns at rest.
What is “heavy compound weightlifting,” though?
And by “heavy,” I mean lifting weights that are equal to or greater than 75% of your one-rep max (the 8-to-10 rep range and heavier).
The reason I’m a big proponent of this style of resistance training is it’s the most effective way to progressively overload your muscles, which is the primary driver of muscle growth.
The bottom line is if you want to get the most bang for your buck in the gym, you want to focus on this style of training.
Want to know more about how to build effective muscle-building workouts? Check out this article.
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When you want to improve your body composition, you need to pay close attention to your protein intake.
This is true regardless of what type of diet you’re following, and it’s especially important when reverse dieting.
The normal post-diet temptation is to eat yourself out of house and home, gorging on all the fatty and carby delights that you’ve been craving, like doughnuts, ice cream, cookies, pizza, and all rest of it
And protein? Who wants to eat chicken when you can eat pasta instead?
Well, this is how you stunt muscle growth and regain the fat you lost as quickly as possible.
But how much is enough, you’re wondering?
Simple: while reverse dieting, eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day.
Want to know more about how much protein you should eat and why? Check out this article.
And now we get to the fun part of reverse dieting: eating more food.
The goal here is to increase your daily caloric intake every week until we reach your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which is the amount of calories that you’re burning every day.
This is the crux of the reverse diet, and the simplest way of doing it is increasing your daily caloric intake by about 150 calories every 5 to 7 days.
You can accomplish this through any combination of protein, carbs, and fat, but if you want the best results, focus on increasing just your carbohydrate and fat intake.
So, for example, I generally finish my cuts eating around 2,000 calories per day, and thus start my reverse diet by increasing to 2,150 calories per day. I do this by adding 40 grams of carbs to my meal plan (~160 calories).
Then, 5 to 7 days later, I bump my calories up to about 2,300 per day, this time by increasing my daily fat intake by 15 grams (~135 calories).
Then, 5 to 7 days later, I go up to about 2,500 calories per day, usually through increase carbs more than fats, and so on, until I reach my “maintenance calories” (TDEE) of about 2,800 per day, leaving my protein at 1 gram per pound per day.
That’s all there is to it.
Want to know more about how to calculate your calories and macros? Check out this article.
Losing weight is pretty straightforward.
There’s structure and clear guidelines and boundaries to follow, and you’re in the right mindset.
Maintaining your new weight can be trickier.
After losing a significant amount of fat, you’re physiologically primed to overeat and quickly regain what you lost, and you’re psychologically inclined to loosen the reins and stop paying as much attention to how you’re eating.
That’s why simply “going with the flow” after a period of dieting is the easiest way to undo all of your progress, and why reverse dieting can be so beneficial.
What’s your take on reverse dieting? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
+ Scientific References
- Halton, T. L., & Hu, F. B. (2004). The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: A critical review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(5), 373–385. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2004.10719381
- Krieger, J. W., Sitren, H. S., Daniels, M. J., & Langkamp-Henken, B. (2006). Effects of variation in protein and carbohydrate intake on body mass and composition during energy restriction: A meta-regression. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83(2), 260–274. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/83.2.260
- Bosse, J. D., & Dixon, B. M. (2012). Dietary protein to maximize resistance training: a review and examination of protein spread and change theories. In Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (Vol. 9, p. 42). BioMed Central. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-9-42
- Fatouros, I. G., Chatzinikolaou, A., Tournis, S., Nikolaidis, M. G., Jamurtas, A. Z., Douroudos, I. I., Papassotiriou, I., Thomakos, P. M., Taxildaris, K., Mastorakos, G., & Mitrakou, A. (2009). Intensity of resistance exercise determines adipokine and resting energy expenditure responses in overweight elderly individuals. Diabetes Care, 32(12), 2161–2167. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc08-1994
- Bosy-Westphal, A., Braun, W., Schautz, B., & Müller, M. J. (2013). Issues in characterizing resting energy expenditure in obesity and after weight loss. Frontiers in Physiology, 4 MAR. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2013.00047
- Mann, T., Tomiyama, A. J., Westling, E., Lew, A. M., Samuels, B., & Chatman, J. (2007). Medicare’s Search for Effective Obesity Treatments: Diets Are Not the Answer. American Psychologist, 62(3), 220–233. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.62.3.220