Essential Details for Reverse Dieting Success
To learn how best to reach goals and achieve success with reverse dieting, you have to start with a very simple definition of just what it is. To keep it as simple as possible, take a moment, close your eyes and paint a mental portrait of what it means to “diet.”
What do you see? Plates full of low calorie foods? Probably. For most of us, dieting is an exercise in restrictive eating and much more conscientious food choices.
For some, the word “diet” doesn’t mean a necessarily bad experience, though. A lot of people follow a diet because they realize they aren’t eating an adequate amount of healthy and nutritious food. Others diet because they need to shed weight.
Generally speaking, though, when most people are asked to picture the word diet in their mind’s eye, it usually means low calorie, and probably low fat foods.
Why are diets supposed to be about low calories and fat? It is in order to create what is technically known as a “deficit,” or a caloric deficit. This has to be based on your specific caloric needs, and so there is no magic number of calories that can be used as the figure needed to shed some weight.
How do you know your specific calorie needs? You have to do some very basic math and get to a figure known as the BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate. When you have this figure it can be used as the “maintenance” level of calories you require to maintain your current weight.
A simple formula for women is: 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )= BMR; and for men it is 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in years) = BMR.
Eat that number of calories each day and you will neither gain nor lose weight. However, that holds true only if you do not exercise and don’t move much. This is due to the fact that it is the amount of energy your body uses when at rest.
Eat the BMR and do a weight-lifting workout or an hour of cardio, and you are going to create that deficit that most people aim for when they are dieting. This is because you will have burned more calories than you have taken in, and that means your body taps into stored fat to burn, causing you to shed a bit of weight.
Obviously, if you do that for a few weeks or months you are going to lose a lot of weight. If you intentionally eat far fewer calories than you need for your BMR, it will speed up the weight loss, but it also does something fairly unexpected to the body.
The Starvation Mode
The human body is remarkably adaptable, and when the body recognizes that too few calories are consumed, and that you might actually be starving, it slows down the metabolism. It lowers the number of calories needed to keep itself functional, and that means you could be entering into a horrible cycle.
You eat too few calories and burn up what you consume in an hour of intense workouts each day and soon the body recognizes this and lowers the number of calories needed to maintain itself. That would mean you have to eat less and less to continue shedding weight or remaining lean. As one writer says, extreme dieting of this kind leads to “making weight loss efforts extremely difficult, despite high levels of exercise and starvation-level carbohydrate and calorie intakes.”
The Reverse Diet
Is there a way to break out of the problems this would create? Yes, it is known as reverse dieting, and what it does is slowly increase caloric intake to the maintenance amount, the BMR, without triggering a lot of weight gain. Typically, you might gain weight because you would have been eating low amounts of carbohydrate, fat, and calories. However, reverse dieting is not meant to immediately return you to your pre-dieting ways of eating.
The goal of reverse dieting is always to gradually increase calories in the form of fat and carbs over the course of a few months. This prevents fat gain while also cueing your metabolism to start returning to a normal and healthy level.
How is it done?
Usually it requires the following basics to ensure the best results:
- Start immediately – Because the goal of reverse dieting is to prevent the rapid gaining of weight, you cannot allow yourself to stop dieting for even a few days. As soon as you are ready to begin the process of changing the way you are eating, make sure it is with reverse dieting. Why? Your metabolism is always responsive, and if you allow it to shift gears and start putting fat back on your body over the course of a week or more, you will have lost the chance for metabolic adjustments.
- Design the diet based on your needs – Where were you in your original diet? What sort of calorie count were you taking in each day? What is your BMR? Follow the BMR and fill in the gaps accordingly. You always want to boost carbs by 10% of the current intake (i.e. if you ate 100g of carb each day, increase it the first two weeks to 110%), and do the same with fat but keep it at 5% of intake.
- Adjust based on progress – In the first four weeks you will probably adjust only once or twice. Track your weight weekly and only increase if you are showing minor weight gain (less than 2-4 pounds over two weeks).
If you begin reverse dieting with these facts, you will enjoy much greater results.