Reverse dieting is starting from a low calorie diet and slowly adding back calories, to get back to your calorie maintenance level. This form of dieting is usually done after being on prep for a show, or recovering from an eating disorder. This diet sounds easy, but it will test your patience. If you stay consistent and remain patient, the results are very rewarding.
I personally did a reverse diet after my first bikini show. I had already planned to do a reverse diet before I had even competed in the show, I did alot of research on competition diets, and the post competition weight gain. Weight gain is normal, but gaining 20 pounds or more within weeks is not healthy, and it leads some to a depressed state of mind. Maintaining a stage body fat percentage is not sustainable for most people and can also to an unhealthy relationship with food.
To begin a reverse diet the first step is to have a plan, since you’re reading this you’re already in this phase. Get a calendar, use my fitness pal, or just a notebook and pen will do; and keep track of everything you’re eating, and how much cardio you’re preforming, keep your weightlifting the same. Cardio goes hand and hand with your macro intake. You cannot just drop cardio and expect your body to just adapt, so just like upping your calories, you will decrease your cardio.
What I did, my first week of the reverse diet, I started my calorie intake at the same amount I had before peak week, while keeping my meals about the same, but adding back little things I had to cut for prep. I continued to do my fasted cardio for the first week, while shaving away about 5mins off the time I spent preforming it. The next week, I added back more carbs, I ate a majority of my carbs in the morning, and before my evening workout. I cut fasted cardio down to 3 days per week, and cut my post workout cardio down to 15mins each session, I was doing about 3 sessions per week after weightlifting. I continued this process for about 8 weeks, of course I had set backs, and I had days(Yes days…) where I went on a binge, and questioned myself why am I even doing this, but I did not let that keep me down. I kept reminding myself I am in control, and I want to get my metabolism back up to speed. I was happy with how my body was responding to less cardio, and more food, alas! my reverse diet was finished, and I was ready to start building more muscle, and hitting new PRs again in my deadlift, and squat.
After 2 months of reverse dieting, I am in a lean bulking phase. I call it a lean bulk, because I have upped my calories above maintenance to build muscle. You cannot build muscle in a calorie deficit. I am halfway tracking my macros, but nothing serious, just making sure I am not under eating since I am trying to gain. I have tracked for quite awhile, and I am pretty aware of what 4 ounces looks like, I am trying to transition into intuitive eating, and listening to my body. I feel my best when I meal prep, I eat 6 meals a day this helps me not want to binge eat, also it keeps my energy level high, I will eat random things throughout the day in addition to the meals, and snacks that I prepped. I am working on not over indulging, I am almost convinced my stomach is a bottomless pit, its like I don’t get full, so intuitive eating is a challenge!
Using iifym is definitely what I fall back on when I really want to shape my physique, and have a shredded 6 pack. I don’t really care about that right now, my goals are to continue getting stronger, enjoying life, and balancing my nutrition. I love how I feel when I eat more nutrient dense food, but if I want a cookie, I am going to eat a cookie, and not worry about it.
Comment below if you have any questions on reverse dieting!