Reverse Dieting: Why, How & When To Do It (Includes Calculator)
Reverse dieting is most commonly used among bodybuilders and professional athletes. There is a method to the madness and here you will find out why. Further down this article you will also find a reverse diet calculator.
Ultimately, this approach to dieting is used to speed up your metabolism and increase your energy levels after periods of restriction. The objective is to maintain your body composition and reduce your risk of rapid weight gain.
Female bodybuilders who have been through this process a few times, will have fine tuned it for maximum results.
The beginner will need to accept a process of trial and error.
What exactly is reverse dieting?
Put simply; reverse dieting is a strategic approach to eating more and doing less.
On this diet you will gradually increase your daily caloric intake week on week. At the same time, you will pull back the intensity of your workouts.
Why do it?
Because your metabolism slows down when you consume a low calorie diet for a long period of time. As a result, your body burns less overall calories, including when you workout.
This is why managing a weight loss plateau with a further reduction in calories and an increase in aerobic activity is a bad idea.
Reverse dieting works because it builds your metabolism back up gradually, by reintroducing quality calories at staged intervals. At the same time, you are encouraged to pull back on your ‘fat burning’ workouts.
Who is reverse dieting for?
As mentioned above, reverse dieting was designed for professional athletes. Though this method can also be used by anyone who has hit a weight loss plateau as a result of a reduced calorie diet.
However it is worth noting that reverse dieting is NOT for somebody who has been through long periods of multiple restrictive diets. It is probably best to avoid jumping into yet another ‘diet’ in this instance.
How to plan for your reverse diet
You need to have a good idea of where you calories are at currently before you tuck into any more.
It will serve you to spend a few days tracking your current diet, if you don’t already know your daily calories/macros. This will give you a base to move forward on.
Your daily caloric increase can be anywhere between 3-20% and you should increase at this level week on week until you reach maintenance calories.
The additional calories should come mainly from carbohydrates and some fats. You should leave your protein alone for now.
Note that the higher % you increase your calories by, the higher your chances of weight gain.
Reverse diet calculator
This reverse diet calculator will give you a baseline to move forward on. It has been set to four different levels:
- Average (recommended)
- Reckless (use only if you know what you’re doing)
Once you have chosen your level of increase. Split your additional calories between carbohydrates and fat.
Remember that 1g of fat is equal to 9 calories and 1g of carbs is equal to 4 calories.
You will need to do your own math here because we can’t predict this for everyone.
Don’t forget to come back next week to calculate your next caloric increase.
Finally, remember that these numbers aren’t a foregone conclusion. You should expect to have to play around with these. But avoid tweaking the numbers week on week. Rather complete the process and monitor your results so that you have a record to refer to next time.
What about exercise
When you are reverse dieting, you should pull back on the fat burning cardiovascular workouts and switch your focus back to lifting.
This stall in cardio also plays a part in setting you up for more efficient fat burning later on.
What to do when you reach your maintenance calories
You get to decide what you want to do when you have reached maintenance calories. Perhaps you could enjoy some time in maintenance before you decide what to do next?
A final note about reverse dieting
There are pros and cons to reverse dieting and as with everything, you should carefully consider if it is right for you.
Keep in mind that when it comes to shifting your body out of a slow metabolism, reverse dieting isn’t the be all and end all. Some people choose to use ‘cheat days’ as a way to yield similar results. Ultimately, you should take this as a guide and choose what’s best for you.
For more details and some success stories, check out this ultimate guide from bodybuilding.com.