Should You Reverse Diet?
Have you thought about doing a reverse diet?
Do you even know what a reverse diet is?
Before we discuss whether you should reverse diet, let’s discuss what it is and why it’s important.
Reverse diets 101
I want to start by saying that reverse dieting is essential because you can’t diet forever.
Constant dieting is hard on your body and your mind. Eventually, you’ll give up, and that’s where the cycle of yo-yo dieting begins.
A reverse diet is a slow and strategic increase of food intake (and often a decrease in cardio) following a dieting phase or chronic undereating.
The purpose of the reverse diet is to “reverse out” of the negative implications from dieting, such as:
- Downregulation of your metabolism
- Hormonal adaptations
- Psychological burnout
- A lack of energy
- In extreme cases, underactive or nonfunctioning thyroid, loss of menstrual cycle, or osteoporosis
With reverse dieting, the idea is to relieve your body of those negative symptoms, downregulations, and adaptations from dieting or undereating. Keep in mind, some degree of adaptation is normal when you’re dieting. That’s why you’ll need to continue decreasing your calories and increasing your energy expenditure as you progress through a diet.
By slowly increasing your calories, as opposed to increasing them all at once, You minimize your fat gain. A slow increase is extra important because your body will be predisposed to store fat and energy from dieting or undereating. Keep in mind, in some cases, fat gain is necessary to restore functioning.
Beyond reversing the negative effects of dieting, there are even more benefits of this process!
As your body is relieved of the stress from dieting or undereating, you might even lose weight as you increase your food and decrease your cardio (aka the reverse diet process). While that may sound hard to believe, I can guarantee that it’s possible because that has been my own experience (and I’ve seen it in our clients too!). Of course, it won’t happen that way for everyone because our bodies are different, but you’ll never know if that’s the case for you unless you try it for yourself.
Because you will be eating more food, you’ll also have better training sessions, get stronger, and build more muscle thanks to the increased energy. You might even hit some new PRs!
Some people are afraid to reverse diet because they think they’ll have to do endless hours of cardio to maintain their weight if they’re eating more. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that you don’t need tons of cardio to maintain your weight.
While reverse dieting, it will be easier for you to fit in treats and eat more in general without gaining weight. The ability to fit in treats is especially beneficial if you’ve been feeling deprived of your favorite foods because of your diet.
Overall, by reverse dieting, you’ll be happier, healthier, and more energetic. Woo!
Is reverse dieting for you?
By now, you’re probably wondering how you know if you’re a good candidate for reverse dieting.
First off, you should know that you don’t have to be a bodybuilding competitor, be extremely lean, or have tons of muscle mass to benefit from a reverse diet.
Next, take this quiz:
- Do you feel like you’re always dieting and not really seeing much change?
- Have you lost some weight, but for a while now, you’ve been plateaued despite low calories and increased exercise?
- Do you find yourself “not that hungry,” even though your calories are low (that damn 1200 number comes to mind here)?
- Have you stopped seeing performance improvements in strength or endurance?
- Do you feel your physique is at the *skinny fat* stage (not high body weight, but high body fat & not much muscle mass), and you want to look more *toned*?
- Are you are often fatigued, more sore, experiencing aches, and maybe just overall “blah”?
- Do you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep?
- Has your period gotten shorter, spotty, or disappeared altogether?
- Do you have to rely on cardio several times per week to maintain your weight?
- Have you ever not focused on getting smaller and instead focused on building strength and/or finding your true, healthy maintenance?
If you answered YES to at least 6 out of 10 of the above questions, you’re likely a good reverse diet candidate.
Of course, there’s no perfect quiz to determine what you and your body needs. Self-experiment, hire a GOOD coach, learn about yourself, and learn about how dieting affects the body, as well as the purpose of reverse dieting.
The above questions are based on what I’ve seen from the hundreds of clients I’ve worked with over the years, and reverse dieting did both their BODIES AND MINDS some good.
Learn more from the KJO Coaches in our FREE Reverse Diet Coaches Chat .
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