Reverse Dieting

Here is an unfamiliar topic– reverse dieting. What is that?! Reverse dieting is pretty well known with physique competitors.  It is what I am currently doing now that my show has past.  Everyone knows that one goes on a “diet” in order to lose body fat/weight, but what about when you have successfully lost the weight you wanted?  There is a point where you need to understand that enough is enough–one cannot diet forever.  It is fatiguing mentally and physically.  But what comes after the diet?  A rebound back to old ways? Gaining back every ounce you had lost over the past few months?  This doesn’t have to be the case.


Once you are at that realistic goal weight you can then reverse diet to a higher calorie “diet” to maintain this weight or a weight close to it.  The goal is to increase your calories SLOWLY so your body doesn’t go into shock and gain the weight you worked so hard to get off right back–basically building back your metabolism speed.  When your body is in a calorie deficit it does everything it can to have enough to burn for energy–your metabolism slows down so it can utilize what you feed it over longer periods, it may even begin to burn muscle mass and store fat for later use.  If you were to jump right back into the maintenance calories from your calorie deficit, your metabolism is still at a slow speed and it would hold onto those calories thinking that it needs to be storing them for the next calorie deficit it has been used to.

Found a new favorite Mrs. Dash Seasoning— Fiesta Lime! Yummy addition to my meal preps and keeping myself on track!

To help you understand with numbers, here is MY example of what I am talking about.  Based on my BMR and TDEE (found by calculators online such as: This One!) I know that with my body weight, height, and activity level my maintenance calorie level is 2250-2300 cals/day.   “Maintenance” is the point were you will not gain, nor lose any weight.  For my bikini competition, I cut my calories down, slowly, until I was sitting at about 1950 cal/day.  This allowed for weight loss (be careful, because WEIGHT loss can include muscle mass too, especially if you drop TOO low)  Be careful not to drop calories too drastically, approximately 100 calories per week is a good drop until you reach your goal for calories per day for weight loss.   Show time was Saturday!  I was a lean mean bikini competing machine!

NOW, back to the real world!  I am completely aware that I am unable to stay that lean forever.  I am bringing up my calories 100 calories per week until I reach my goal maintenance calories of 2250/day.  I am NOT binging on all you can eat buffets, cookies, chips, you name it–  like some competitors do post-competition.  My reverse diet will take a total of three weeks, it is a process too, just like dieting!  But if it is done correctly, you should not gain an absurd amount of weight, or send you into the yo-yo dieting roller coaster of weight loss, gain, and water retention.

1 week post competition! 

This type of dieting should be considered if you have been strict dieting for a while and your fat loss has plateaued.  Your bodys’ metabolism could use a restart!  You actually may be surprised that you could still lose body fat while increasing your calories.  Especially if your workouts have been affected by your calorie deficit!   I would recommend trying a reverse diet if you have reached the point of exhaustion during all workouts– you’ll end up burning those few extra calories and then some if you are able to get back into a higher intensity and higher paced workout.  If this is the case,  I would also recommend looking for your BMR/TDEE.

I have many girls come to me for advice on nutrition–asking why they aren’t losing weight or seeing any sort of muscle definition– 9/10 they are not eating enough!  You are NOT doing your body any good eating 900 calories BELOW your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). At this huge of a deficit your body is burning off your muscle and storing fat for later use.  You’re body is essentially in crisis mode and your metabolism is moving at a snail slow pace trying to save every little bit of fuel it can.  Find your BMR/TDEE Here  And work from there.

This is were reverse dieting comes into the picture.  Begin increasing your calories at a slow rate to build your metabolism back up.

I hope this article has helped!


5 thoughts on “Reverse Dieting

  1. Rachel, this is an well written and factual post. So many of my weight loss clients and weekend warriors do not get that extremely low calorie nutrition plans backfire! A body that is starved will store the glucose as fat faster than they binge eat! A calorie is not always a calorie either; below our eyes, our bodies are chemistry labs. Eyes see fat-free, fibreless low calorie snack — our bodies see and store fat! Love your blog


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