Ok, so in my previous post I discussed flexible dieting, so it seemed only right to do some coverage on what reverse dieting means and how you can get in on the action!
Reverse dieting involves slowly and mindfully adding in macros and calories into your diet, generally on a weekly basis to build up your metabolism back to its pre- dieting glory, and hopefully make it even stronger than before.
Why would I want to do this?
My question is, why on earth would you not! More food, minimal fat gain with maximum lean mass gains? It may sound too good to be true but it works!
This is a sure fire way to hit those physique goals you are working towards, especially if you are a competitor coming out of a dieting phase for a show.
We have all seen the stacks upon stacks of sweets many competitors hoard for a post show scoff. The problem here is that after a tough dieting phase, your body simply isn’t ready to take on an ass load of calories in one sitting out of the blues. What also happens here in many cases is that things can get slightly out of control post show, sometimes for weeks after. Now, hopefully if you have been utilising flexible dieting (within reason) throughout your competition prep, you may not be as vulnerable to a binge session post competition. Still, you need to keep your wits about you. While your natural instinct is to shove your face into a chocolate biscuit cake and eat the whole thing alongside any small children nearby, pull your horns in and try not to go too crazy because right now, you body is super vulnerable to a whole lot of fat gain. Reverse dieting is a great solution to this problem as by taking things nice and slow post show with your calories, you are less likely to gain an excessive amount of fluff, and avoid rolling around the bathroom floor with cramps to rival child birth. My advice to you is, avoid rebounding post show like the plague and reverse diet your way through your off season!
How do I reverse diet?
As mentioned above, slowly adding calories is key and slowly reducing cardio. If you have been doing an hour on the bike three times a week you do not under any circumstances want to drop down to no cardio straight away. Drop it nice and slowly to allow your body to adjust and do the same with adding in calories. Add in your macros in small increments and keep an eye on your body to see how it responds. If you gain weight, let things settle before you add in any more. If your weight stays the same, it’s a green light for you to add some more in. Reverse dieting is super easy to do and it’s simply a matter of not putting the cart before the horse. Air on the side of caution and make adjustments based on your body’s response.
Do I need to include refeeds as I reverse diet?
Generally not, as you increase your calories and carbohydrates in particular, the need for refeed days becomes less necessary. If you are a flexible dieter, you also probably won’t care much for ‘cheat meals’ per say as no foods are off bounds or considered off limits to start with, and so once you are consistent with your macro intake, nothing is really a cheat! Of course, I will drum home the point that you still need to have a balanced diet with all the necessary nutrients in abundance to stay fit and healthy, especially if you are running low on macros.
Is there a limit to how far I can take a reverse diet?
Yes there is, I am sorry to say! Most people will eventually come to a point where they will begin to gain unnecessary weight if they go beyond a particular amount of macros. The aim of the game is to get yours as high as comfortably possible without gaining unnecessary fluff in the process. If it comes to a point where you simply feel you are not enjoying your food and are happy at the level you are at macro wise to maintain your physique, that perfectly fine too. Just always bear in mind, especially when considering prepping for a future show that the stronger your metabolism is, the nicer a process cutting will be when the time comes.