What is Reverse Dieting (is it really a diet?)

Reverse Dieting. You’ve heard it before, and you have no idea what it is.

What is it?

First and foremost, the Reverse Diet process is not another “diet” fad. It does not include little “hacks” to get you the results that you want and IS NOT the same as a cheat day.

Reverse dieting is a term that has blown up largely in the health and fitness industry over the past several years. Reverse dieting is merely the process in which an individual strategically increases their caloric intake in order to help their body reach metabolic homeostasis.

For a testimonial of reverse dieting, check out this client’s story from the Nutritional Coaching Institute.

Understanding Metabolic Homeostasis

If the words ‘metabolic homeostasis’ are new to you, I understand. Metabolic homeostasis is getting your body’s metabolic rate back to its natural set point. Everybody has a natural set point at which their body will thrive with a flexible diet and moderate exercise. It is at this set point in which YOUR individual health can be optimized. Any time that you go on a physical transformation journey, you’re always going to be pushing your body out of its natural homeostatic balance. There is nothing wrong with doing that UNLESS you remain out of balance for an overly extended period of time.

Now, another important fact to note is that your natural set point CAN CHANGE. Examples of this is how your weight slowly goes up as you grow up and then hovers around a spot after puberty until you do something to stimulate it to move again, either up or down. Your set point can change based off of lean tissue gains/losses or fat tissue gain/losses.

When Should I Reverse Diet?

If you have been dieting down to lose weight or body fat for an overly extended period of time, consuming around 1000-1400 calories or even fewer, and you have stalled with the weight/fat loss, your body is most likely metabolically adapted. This is when a reverse diet protocol is needed.

The reverse diet should be used as a means of healing and restoring the body and not be viewed as an excuse to binge on foods. This mentality will wind up getting you in a place where you will re-gain all of the weight you worked so hard to lose. The reverse diet protocol is again, a systematic and strategic caloric surplus protocol. This means for a time, food tracking is necessary.

Why Do You Need to Track Food in Reverse Dieting?

You want to track your food, because you will want to increase your calories primarily through carbohydrate foods. This includes: fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, breads and pastas. Why?? Because carbohydrates have the most impact on our physiologies. They can up-regulate hunger hormones, turn off adrenals, open cells to allow for more efficient amino acid entry for muscle building, and essentially help the body to rest! (Disclaimer: I am a nutrition coach, not a dietitian. These are all suggestions I give to my clients; however, I don’t give meal plans).

Starting a Reverse Diet

The rate at which you jump calories largely depends on how big of a deficit you are from your metabolic set point. How long have you been metabolically adapted, and how much do you care about potentially gaining SOME weight back? The answers to these questions will determine how much you should jump up in calories. After this, you would simply begin with an initial 10-12% jump in calories, sustain for 10-12 days, then make another increase in calories anywhere from 50-150+/week in calories, depending on how conservative you want to be with preventing excessive weight gain.

Now, depending on your genetics YOU will respond in 1 of 3 ways:

  • Hyper-respond = you start losing weight while increasing your calories
  • Moderately respond = you won’t gain weight while increasing your calories
  • Hypo-respond = you will gain some weight while increasing your calories

It is important for you to know that gaining weight in a reverse diet protocol is not a bad thing. This weight gain is a positive sign of your body’s healing and your metabolism returning to homeostasis.

Does the Increase in Calories End?

After you reach a metabolic set-point (aka, the number of calories where your body maintains weight), that is when you can begin to slowly decrease intake into a fat loss protocol.

Some of you might be asking, “How can we trust you that this works?”

The answer: I have walked through this process! I have coached clients through this process as well, and they wound up in a healthy place again, ready and able to lose more weight! Some had to gain a little before they could lose weight. If you have a lot of weight to lose, you might need to perform more than one reverse diet period, before you get to your final goal weight.

No matter what, trust the process!! You will get where you want to go. I promise!

In MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT stay anchored my friends!

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