Reverse diet. What is it? A reverse diet is a term used within the bodybuilding and competitive weightlifting communities is commonly used to describe a period after a calorically restricted eating during which you slowly work to increase calories back to a maintenance level. Using this strategy, and by assessing progress weekly and tracking increases in body fat in comparison to lean muscle mass, athletes can recover their metabolisms and increase calorie intake with minimal increase in body fat.
Why would you want to do this ? The theory behind the reverse diet is that after prolonged periods of restricted caloric intake the athlete’s metabolism adapts to operate more efficiently. Meaning, the athlete is able to operate at a lower energy expenditure and burn fewer calories.This will make dieting and losing fat in the future if needing to drop weight again. If the proper dietary adjustments aren’t made to account for this slow down, the body will store those extra calories in the form of fat.
Benefits of doing a reverse diet are to help increase your metabolism so you can build back strength. A reverse diet may also be implemented to accelerate fat loss and avoid a fat-loss plateau when dieting. By making small and calculated increases to calories, the metabolism is often able to adapt to the increase with a corresponding uptick in metabolic output and thermogenesis. The incremental additions in calories enable the individual’s metabolism to burn more energy as a result of increased energy input.
Also, a reverse diet may be implemented in an attempt to increase an individual’s metabolic capacity and stretch the ability to intake calories while holding at a maintenance weight. The benefits would be similar to a “bulk” which occurs when an individual consumes more calories in order to increase strength and muscle mass. Except that the moderate calorie increases and regular assessments would help the athlete to avoid the unwanted body fat gain that often accompanies a bulk.
By increasing calories incrementally, a reverse diet allows your metabolism to reignite and catch up to the surplus calories. If too many calories are introduced too soon, the body will, in essence, attempt to store these calories for the next time you expose it to an extreme calorie deficit. This can lead to rapid weight gain and potential long-term metabolic damage.
Although the process of reverse dieting is a test of patience and self-control, I believe the physical and mental benefits are worthy of the investment. I recommend hiring a knowledgeable coach to help you through the process and to make the proper adjustments, as well as to hold you accountable.