I’ve been asked many times in the last year what exactly is reverse dieting and what does it entail. Reverse dieting is the methodological process of training your metabolism to speed up by slowly increasing food on a weekly basis. When we reverse diet, we are giving our bodies the green light to use the food we are eating as energy by allowing it to come out of fight or flight mode.
Here’s the deal:
When we restrict food, our bodies and metabolisms slow down to that snail rate in which we are eating. Why? To put it simply, adaptation. You’re body is a work of art and is very, very intelligent. It’s doing it’s job at protecting you by storing those little calories that you are eating, as fat because it doesn’t want you to go starving! Thus, whatever little food you are eating is being put on the back burner (love handles, ass, belly, etc) and stored as fat to keep you ALIVE (Thanks body! You’re much too sweet! Gosh I love you.<3 ).
It seems many women and men are in need of reverse dieting after extreme dieting and caloric deficit for many years. On top of that, they are often times we are over-training, to try and counter the lack of changes we are seeing in our bodies. Some may even find they begin to put on weight while making no changes to their current diet and workouts. People often come to me hopeless and frustrated. I feel for them because some been prescribed this “diet” from their own doctor’s who prescribe them these horrific starvation diets of less than 1000 calories a day! Initially, this will work if you need to lose weight. But then what? A couple of years down the line the scale starts to creep back up and they panic because they have literally changed nothing. That’s when I come in.
So what’s my story?
Well, you should know that I am NOT a registered dietician and I do not have decades of experience when it comes to coaching people in nutrition. Yes, I graduated college with a public health degree and took basic nutrition courses. However you should know, I am not a registered or certified dietician and only have my own personal experience and my clients to testify that reverse dieting works.
I first came across reverse dieting a few years back after competing in my first Bikini Bodybuilding Show. After going through the extreme dieting process, meticulously tracking macros and calories and working out two times a day or more, after my show I felt like a deer in headlights. I was lost. My coach left me high and dry post show and I had no idea what I was going to do to get myself and my body back to normal.
I was eating around 1500 calories a day which I knew was not sustainable. I was terrified because I read and saw so many women after competing go back to their “normal” eating habits and some claimed to have put on 10-20 pounds of weight in two weeks or less! Although I loved the way I looked, living my life in such a restrictive manner was not only unrealistic for me but was excruciatingly boring. I was miserable and fighting demons daily in my head. This was not my idea of healthy living. I knew I had to slowly go back to eating more food and working out less. But I was terrified. So I researched and studied how to re-introduce my own normal healthy eating back into my life.
I began to slowly increase calories week to week and slowly scale back the time I was spending in the gym. I needed to be happy and mentally get out of the food fixation and obsession competing instilled in me. I knew this was not the way I wanted to live my life. I had been an athlete all my life and prior to bodybuilding I was never one who fixated much on food. Not only were there physical obstacles I knew I had to overcome but there were mental obstacles too. I was a perfect candidate for reverse dieting.
You may not have competed in a bodybuilding show or you may not have even stepped foot in a gym in a year. That doesn’t mean you aren’t a good candidate for Reverse Dieting!
Below I highlight some obvious signs I have found in the last few years from working with over dozens of women who all were in need of reverse dieting due to their own individual circumstances.
- You have come off of an extreme weight loss diet and never changed anything after the initial weight loss. (AKA never slowly started to eat more)
- You have a history of yo-yo dieting
- You have hit a plateau and nothing you do seems to work or make a change in your body
- You don’t eat a lot... at all (1200 calories or less a day) and you are often not even hungry
- You have lost your period or it’s spotty month to month
- You don’t really have regular BM’s
- You work out a TON (everyday or close to everyday)
- You do cardio 5x a week or more
- You are often tired, sore, achy and overall just blah
- You worry about your next meals or often feel guilty for eating certain foods
- You don’t feel good about your body despite how much you diet and how much you workout
If you have answered yes to eight out of eleven of those questions, you should consider reverse dieting. I know the idea of eating more food is terrifying. Seriously. I know because I was there! Know that you are not alone and that there is hope. Ask yourself what you are going to do going forward. Do you want to continue living your life as a slave to the gym and constantly putting up rules and restrictions around food? How many days a week would you workout in an ideal world if you felt like you didn’t “need” to? Now imagine you were doing that and getting the results you desired. Well, guess what? It is possible! Reverse dieting is a long term investment in your body and in your overall LIFE. Not only can it change your physical appearance but it will have a positive impact on your entire life on a much larger scale.
I hope this helps you if you find yourself stuck and without any hope for change. You are not alone and there are MANY women in your exact situation. Know and believe that change is possible and It starts with you.
Have a Reverse Dieting Question? Ask me below!