The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Metabolism Talk: Part 2 - Reverse Dieting

If any of you have ever gone full potato on a diet, meaning you've gone from eating crazy amounts of binging calories on a fairly regular basis, then either slowly removed them or jumped down to an aggressive calorie deficit, you may have experienced some pretty aggressive metabolic adaptation. ESPECIALLY if you were supplementing this with lots of cardio and weight training. 

My Experience with the Crash.

At one point I was doing 2 a day workout sessions with cardio sessions on both, at least 15 minutes of cardio with an hour of weight lifting. My cardio was extremely aggressive and my calorie deficit was down to 1700 calories a day with a big cheat day at the end of the week. I had a few options, I could either quit doing cheat days (it wasn't going to happen), add more exercise (when and where? I was doing everything!) or...I could implement this thing called reverse dieting.


Reverse Dieting is when you slowly back yourself out of a calorie deficit by adding calories to your current limit periodically. The amount and how often is determined by the individual's comfort level with potential weight gain. In most instances, the slower it is implemented the less likely for drastic fluctuations on the scale. In some instances, it can even facilitate continued weight loss.

I stumbled upon Reverse Dieting via the YouTube fitness community that I've come to love and cherish. They talked about the basics of how to implement it and how it could benefit. The information I have learned and practiced on myself I will now share with you.

Oh, YouTube. How I love thee.

Reverse Dieting works, But in what capacity?


Basically, reverse dieting is the perfect way to fix the stupid you've put yourself into. 

Some would argue that you shouldn't ever put yourself in a position to need a reverse diet, but desperation and addiction does crazy things to a person's psyche. I've lived in that reality a lot, and I like to visit it for life and experience sakes. Plus I'm an addict to self afflicted torture when it comes to diet and training and I'm deathly afraid of fat gain. Fucked up, right?

So, (IMO) reverse dieting is how one appeases the body and the mind.

1.) Mental.


You're getting more calories everyday, but not in significant amounts, thusly you're not all of a sudden going from starving to binging. Binging has initial pleasure that is usually followed by immense guilt. (Cheat day much?) So, this idea of slowly adding more food feels like a little reward given daily for your dietary efforts. Mentally you're coming to grips with eating more and your weight won't spike and send you into a panic

2.) Added Energy

Suddenly you have a little more energy every day with your increased calorie consumption. Where does that energy go? Well, some of it might go into your performance in the gym, but it can also leak into your every day random energy expenditure. You may have more energy to do another lap around the block while walking your dog, you don't park as close to the entrance of the grocery store, you take the stairs instead of the elevator, and suddenly this adds up to an incredible calorie deficit, even though you are still dieting.

3.) Food Thermosis

With added food comes added energy which will help you burn more calories in the gym, but we know that increased food does have the ability to boost your metabolism. The degree of it varies from individual to individual, but we know that it has these capabilities. This is why people who start reverse diets often times actually start to lose more weight (as it did with me and continues to do so!)

But your capacity for calories without excessive fat gain is still limited to your muscle mass, your BMR, and more importantly your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure.)

4.) Metabolic Capacity


One of the added benefits that has been theorized is this increase of metabolic capacity. That by slowly adding calories you can build up a very large calorie pool with very limited weight gain. Theoretically (according to this practice) you can raise your maintenance calories to a substantial amount that will allow you to start your next diet at a much larger calorie count.

This of course has it's limitations. If food alone raised metabolism, then every person that ate 10 cheeseburgers with every meal would be a super human instead of morbidly obese. At a certain point you're going to surpass your energy expenditure enough to start putting on excessive amounts of fat instead of just muscle, a bit of fat and some tasty water weight.

My experience with The Reverse Diet in it's Entirety

I hit a sticking point around 220lbs around July of 2013. It was then that I started to implement the reverse diet. I had just started figuring out how to calculate my macros and I was still struggling getting in protein, but I was consistently adding about 15 calories a day, an average of 50 to 100 a week. And, it worked. I began to lose weight again. I continued this for months until I reached around 203lbs. That's when I stopped implementing cheat days and went to cheat meals. I was starting to become satiated in my everyday diet, but felt the need to over extend every once in a while. I then slowly transitioned into what I called a slow bulk. I got back up to 208lbs and then decided to cut back down for Street Scene, which is when I began using carb cycling.

You're hilarious, Ol' Yeargain.

However, after street scene, I found myself in another hole. Energy levels way down, my workouts sucked, my food life was complete shit. I began doing another semi reverse diet into a "lean bulk." However, I was still maintaining a very aggressive cardio and lifting schedule throughout.

Guess which one does less cardio but squats more frequently with heavier weight?

It is only recently that I began applying recomposition techniques that include slowly removing regular cardio from my workouts, some minor carb cycling, an additional day of "rest" and much more heavy compound movements. Currently I'm eating around 3,200 on high days, 2,500 on low days and I'm maintaining a body weight between 188 and 193lbs. (I hit as low as 176.4 on June 16th.)

Anecdotally, I think I have proven that this practice works, and it works well.

Who Should Use a Reverse Diet?

  • If you have been dieting for a long period of time. 
  • If your calories are insufferable. 
  • If you're finding that it's difficult to do your workouts.
  • If you have no motivation to complete your workouts.
  • If you're losing your sex drive.
  • (For women) If you've lost your period due to excessive exercise/diet.

How to Reverse Diet.

I think the best way to describe the method would be to give an example:

Male, 24. You're eating 1700 calories and doing 45 minutes of cardio a day.

You should add between 5 grams of carbs and 1 gram of fat per week and monitor your weight daily, always replicating the circumstance you are weighing yourself (fasted, first thing in the morning after...uh, poopin.) You should monitor your body composition and the way you look in the mirror as well. Additionally, you should be slowly removing the amount of cardio you are doing. I would remove about a minute per cardio session weekly. Meaning if you do 45 minutes a day this week, do 44 minutes next week. It will be slow, but it will help with the mental adjustment. Continue this until you're no longer thinking about food 24 hours a day, you've got a strong libido, and you feel great about your workouts. Then, you can either choose to maintain the body weight you like, or transition into a bulk, or give yourself a time you'd like to begin losing weight again.

Ideally at the end of this reverse diet you will be maintaining your weight at a high caloric intake with little to no cardio (other than just some you do for your general health.) You've now created an amazing means to begin a fat loss phase that will be initiated by any additional cardio and calorie deficit.

The inconvenient part is that YOU MUST TRACK YOUR MACROS! I'm not gonna preach anymore about this shit, because you're gonna do whatever the fuck you wanna do regardless, but don't expect to get results. You can't half ass a reverse diet or it won't work as effectively as it can and you'll end up being sloppy and gaining fat because of it. Frankly, everyone should know how to do this because its a powerful and effective tool and the perfect tool to implement for insure weight loss (assuming you're being accurate about your measuring and counting.)

I hope none of you guys are in a position to have to implement a reverse diet, because it requires a great deal of control, discipline, and patience. The three worst things in the fuckin world.

But, if you are in a position to need such a tool, God speed, and feel free to send me a message telling me your plight. I'm a good listener.

Until then, stay sane, eat enough so your dick, ovaries, and brain keeps working, and as always...

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It.

The Opera Bro

1 comment:

  1. The creator has so delightfully enchanted the thought of group by this brilliant blog.
    find more