8 Tips for Successful Reverse Dieting
As the weather is starting to break, it's time to call shredded season over.
In order to transition out of a strict diet to eating normally, there are a few challenges you will have to overcome. If you aren't careful, transitioning from your strict diet to a more relaxed eating style could rack up some pounds on the scale.
In fact, some studies suggest that people regain the weight they lost, plus 8% after a prolonged period of dieting.
Related - How to Reverse Diet After a Cut
In order to avoid this issue, you're going to need to have a plan to transition from a strict diet back to a sustainable calorie intake. With some luck, we can do this without a substantial fat gain.
The process of transitioning between a strict diet to a more relaxed "regular" diet is called reverse dieting. Nailing a reverse diet can help give you extraordinary results, you'll be able to maintain your new body composition, and you won't gain a lot of fat.
So let's jump into the eight tips for successful reverse dieting.
1.) Gradually Add Calories Back In
You know how you slowly removed calories from your diet as you lost more weight? The same goes here — your metabolism is slower, so you need to slowly add your calories back in.
Once your diet is complete, give your body time to adapt by adding calories back in gradually. You could try an increase of approximately 10% to start. If your body responds well, we can add another 10% in about five to seven days.
2.) Be Consistent With Taking Regular Measurements
Taking care to be stringent with taking body measurements is essential to a successful reverse diet. The metrics you are looking at are the best indicators to change and adaptation.
After your first week of reverse dieting, you may gain three pounds of muscle while your waistline doesn't change. This is a positive adaptation, meaning you are gaining lean muscle with a minimal fat accumulation.
So if we took our example above, we would be able to increase our calories another 10% for the following week and repeating the measuring process.
Are your measurements and reflection in the mirror showing you that you aren't gaining fat? Continue with the incremental additional calories. If your body starts to show evidence of more fat accumulation, stop increasing your calories so your metabolism can catch up.
Don't be afraid to wait longer to increase your calories — sometimes the body may take longer than a week to acclimatize to the influx of calories.
3.) Carbs Should Be Used Strategically
When adding calories to your diet, the gentle climb should come mostly from carbohydrates due to their ability to boost thyroid output. This governs your metabolism, fills out depleted muscle cells, and fuels performance in the gym.
Adding in nutritious fats can be eaten to heighten your testosterone production in your post-diet phase. There is an abundant supply of cholesterol and that helps Leydig cells manufacture this anabolic hormone.
If you didn't know, your testosterone levels will be suppressed. Eat only high-quality carbs and fats to sustain a healthy insulin sensitivity and to fight against inflammation.
4.) Calorie Cycling
Cycling our calories can be a useful strategy that can yield some great effects. This tactic allows you to benefit from a generous amount of calories at the right time, followed by lower caloric days when your body won't need the energy.
This will maximize progress in the gym without gaining too much fat. Once your fundamental trends have been established in your post-diet nutrition, you can add higher calorie days for leg and back day — both burn more energy when compared to other body parts.
If you value your training performance, many will often find the best results when you rely on clean calories to fuel the training days for the larger muscle groups.
5.) Keep the Cardio Going
Doing cardio isn't just to burn more calories. Your cardiovascular conditioning, cardiac health, gut efficiency, mental well-being, recovery, and body composition are all affected by cardio.
If you can sustain a baseline cardio requirement, you'll be able to avoid unwanted body fat during your reverse diet.
If you've been spending hours on the cardio machine to get to your peak levels, abruptly stopping will leave you extremely vulnerable to weight gain. You won't have to perform cardio in the same frequency and intensity you were, but it is still required.
So try to get four low impact cardio sessions per week for 30 minutes per session, and one high-intensity interval workout for 15 minutes. This will provide sufficient conditioning during your reverse diet phase.
6.) Start Breaking Personal Records
One of my favorite parts about lifting is when you are able to lift on a higher calorie diet. The extra energy you will have will allow you to lift more weight and perform at higher levels. The anabolic response from months of training on lower calories and then increasing your calories has a sort of super compensation phenomenon.
As a bonus, fat accumulation will be kept down due to increased work output from the intense training. It's no secret that your performance is impacted during the dieting phase, but now you will have more fuel, a new focus, and you will start breaking records.
7.) Stay Hydrated
When we diet, our muscles are depleted of glycogen. Fortunately, they replenish quickly during the reverse dieting phase from the increased carbohydrates we eat. This is a desirable biological reaction because muscles will become fuller and your performance will skyrocket.
But this comes at the risk of becoming dehydrated.
Glycogen is like a sponge and soaks up any water it can find. So now that your glycogen levels are increasing, so will the amount of water your muscles will hold. Track your fluid intake meticulously when reverse dieting — aiming for one to one and a half gallons per day.
If you are particularly focused on performance, adding a naturally flavored electrolyte supplement to your water will help you benefit from natural minerals that support hydration and muscle function.
8.) Stick to Your Rules
You stuck to a set of rules to lose that fat and keep it off. Now it's time for some new rules to follow. Maintaining nutritional habits are important, no matter your goal.
While reverse dieting, there's a bit more flexibility than when you were trying to look like shredded wheat. The post-diet phase may tempt you to eat your favorite comfort foods, so refrain from "letting go" and keep that body fat at bay.
Eating more nutritious foods will nourish your body and build lean mass — making next cut season much easier.
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