The goal of reverse dieting is to prevent fat overshoot while trying to regain the lean body mass that is largely responsible for an increased basal metabolic rate.
Check out my client Marek’s transformation where he put on a whole bunch of muscle
There are many people that say that reverse dieting is completely useless and others that take it to the extreme and have people reverse dieting for as long or longer than they were actually dieting for.
I think both of these approaches are wrong. And the answer lies somewhere in the middle of the two.
Just like we wouldn’t want to cut calories drastically, we don’t want to increase them drastically either.
So we do need some sort of reverse diet after prolonged calorie restriction. On the flip side of the coin, the metabolism is very adaptive
and does not take any more than a couple of weeks maybe a month and a half at the most to adapt to maintenance levels.
So really long reverse diets except maybe in very rare cases are completely unnecessary.
I want to start this video by talking about the problems associated with cutting calories too low for extended periods of time
Thermic effect of food will go down, which means you won’t be burning as many calories from digestion because obviously your not going to be digesting as much food.
You will also experience a loss of muscle mass. These two alone accounts for the biggest loses to your metabolic rate.
That’s interesting to note because just by eating more good food and building more muscle we can have drastic effects on increasing our metabolism.
Another adaption that occurs on restrictive diets is an Increased efficiency of your energy production system which means that your body becomes better at converting food and body fat into energy.
After dieting for an extended period of time your body will be very good at using and preserving every bit of the food you eat. Which is great for survival, but not so great for fat loss.
Reduction in your thyroid hormone and leptin levels. These regulate your metabolism, and when leptin is low your appetite increases.
Many times after dieting for a long time your hunger signals are out of control. And you’ll be able to eat and eat and eat largely due to very low leptin levels.
All of these adaptations set the dieter up for a phenomenon known as post-starvation obesity, or body fat overshooting.
Or to put it simply you go right back to being fat because at the end of the diet the individual is left with a repressed metabolic rate, and an overwhelming desire to eat.
To say that metabolic damage, metabolic slowdown, metabolic adaption, whatever the hell you want to call it to say that it doesn’t exist is either perpetrated by ignorance or inexperience.
Your metabolism will slow down on restricted diets this has been proven, and I’ve seen it in many clients.
However, to treat it like an irreversible condition or a condition that at a minimum will take several months to fix is a little extreme.
In studies like the Minnesota Starvation studies and Even in anorexic studies when people recover their original body composition their metabolism recover as well.
For bodybuilders and people with extremely low body fat percentages let me make something clear, these people are not the healthiest versions of themselves at the time of their show.
Every one of them has reduced their body fat % to a low that is not normal nor healthy, and if you want to stay at 5% body fat forever you may have a body image disorder.
Every natural bodybuilder at the time of their show has slowed their metabolisms down from where they were when they first started dieting.
The really cool thing is that anyone can shoot their metabolism right back up by increasing their calories to their new maintenance levels
while simultaneously building back muscle, and extremely lean people have to normalize their body fat % as well.
Bodybuilders, for example, many times go below the normal healthy body fat %, so after a show, almost every bodybuilder should increase their body fat percentage as the lean body mass percentage increases at the same time.
On the other hand, if they continue dieting and doing insane amounts of cardio their metabolism is going to stay low.
Just by having an extremely low body fat percentage your body is going to have a decreased metabolism.
The body is very smart it doesn’t want to starve If you stay in contest shape your metabolism will stay slow.
As for everyone else in the general population that isn’t a bodybuilder, that may have been cutting calories for a long time and that may be extremely calorie restricted but not losing weight.
They need to change their strategy. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
So they should be focused on building muscle and increasing their slowed metabolism not cutting more calories.
To increase the metabolism of someone that is in a low-calorie deficit, I would start by Cutting cardio down to no more than 1 or 2 30 minute high-intensity interval training workouts per week.
Next Increase the frequency that you do weight training up to 5-6 days a week and spend a full hour each of those days really breaking the muscles down to total fatigue with heavyweights, 5-8 reps.
Make sure you’re not working for the same muscle groups on consecutive days. At the same time that you’re changing your exercise routines you will want to Increase calories over the course of 2-4 weeks,
maybe 6 weeks at the most if you want to do it slower, trying your best to eat more and more of the filling, whole, clean, single ingredient unprocessed foods.
Unfortunately, I can’t give you an exact number of how many calories you can increase because everyone will respond differently,
but your goal within the first 2-4 weeks is to bring your total calories to your current body weights maintenance level.
When you increase your calories your body is going to be more inclined to store them as fat after being in a deprived state.
Remember After dieting for an extended period of time you will not only be lower in fat but also lower in muscle mass.
So we would prefer if our increased calories were used and stored as muscle rather than fat.
This is why we increase the intensity of your weight training workouts, so you can use that extra fuel to promote muscle growth rather than fat regain.
After increasing calories to maintenance at a pretty fast pace, we can continue increasing them at a slower rate to further increase the metabolism and lean body mass.
Building muscle as you slowly increase calories is the number one way to increase your metabolism over time and the number one way to prevent fat regain after dieting.