Unlock the secrets of revamping your metabolism after a period of restrictive eating. This isn't just a discussion for bodybuilders, it's a lifeline for anyone stuck on a weight plateau or in a binge-restrict cycle, eager to sustain their weight loss triumphs without feeling deprived. Bree will walk you through the hormonal and metabolic shifts that accompany long-term dieting, and teach you how strategic calorie increases can help you escape the trap.
If you're interested in starting to reverse diet, I'd love to help you with a customized macro count to make the experience successful!
Are you looking for a space where you will learn to improve your mental strength, emotional health and heal your insecurities from the inside out? Take the first step to living a more meaningful life with the Better Me with BodyByBree podcast. I'm your host, Bree. I'm a certified personal trainer, entrepreneur and mother of three. I've helped empower thousands of women to take action through fitness, nutrition, meditation, development and aligning thoughts with action. This podcast is for those who are ready to feel inspired and motivated to live a more purposeful life. Let's grow together.
If you've been in a calorie deficit for a while but you feel like you're worn out, or you've hit a plateau and you can't go any lower, or maybe mentally you're topped out from dieting and find yourself binging on all the snacks late at night, all of these things may be indicators that it's time to reverse diet. Reverse dieting can be super scary for some people if you don't know how to properly implement it, or even just the thought of adding more food stresses some women out. But if you know how to do it the correct way, it could actually help you overcome binge eating, speed up your metabolism, gain healthy muscle mass, restore balance to your hormones and so much more. Are you ready to learn? Let's get started.
Welcome to the podcast, friends, today we are talking all about reverse dieting. Some people have heard of this, some women are super familiar and maybe this is a totally new concept for you, and that's okay. So we're going to start from the beginning. So in this episode, we're going to talk about what reverse dieting is, the benefits of reverse dieting, how to know when to reverse diet and how does it work. So here we go.
Let's start with what is reverse dieting? What does it even mean? So reverse dieting is a post-diet eating strategy that slowly increases your calorie intake over weeks or months to prevent weight gain as you return to your previous calorie levels. So, in essence, reverse dieting basically just helps you strategically increase your calories over time to maintain your weight loss results while eating more food. Okay, so this actually is really popular in the bodybuilding community as a way to prevent rapid weight gain after a competition. So I personally actually had to do this. This was the first time I ever did reverse dieting was after my show, after my competition. So what happens is bodybuilders will follow such a strict, unsustainable diet. But since the body's metabolism slows down during periods of restriction, when you return to that higher calorie intake after a competition, it can result in weight gain. So then enter reverse dieting. So a little bit sciencey here, but adaptive thermogenesis is a protective mechanism. That is what alters your body's metabolism during periods of restriction and what happens is your body will actually decrease your energy expenditure and an effort to slow weight loss. Like how lame is that right? Your body is like working against you, like oh, we're not eating enough food, let me slow down the weight loss to survive. So reverse dieting, on the opposite end, is actually what aims to restore metabolic rates in order to minimize fat gain, while you're increasing those calories after restriction.
So just to give you a little background with my experience I had to slowly, I was a super low body fat. I think I got down to like 10% body fat when I was competing. That's not sustainable. I was tired, I felt like crap. I had the worst brain fog. My body, iif I ate anything off plan, I was bloated, I would quickly gain weight. It was crazy what it did for my body in a negative way. So I was very, very, very lean. Well, if I just went to eating my normal calories after, like okay, competition is done. Now I'm going to go back to eating how I was. I would gain the weight in like three weeks, plus some, because my body now is in energy conservation mode, which happens when you diet for too long. And a lot of women come to me and they are in this mode and they don't even realize it, and that they're used to eating 1200 calories a day, like that is their norm. Like, oh no, I can't eat over that. I'm like that's not normal. You should not have to stay at 1200 calories a day to maintain your weight. That's your body's way of doing this starvation mode, where it's slowing down to try to preserve weight loss. Okay, so I had a friend, I actually didn't know her well, she was on Instagram, she competed with us and she talked about how, oh, I didn't reverse diet correctly and I just went back to eating how I normally was eating and she gained 25 pounds in three weeks after our competition. Like her body just went out of whack. So that's what can happen. And that's what happens when people do keto diet or, you know, intermittent fasting or paleo or whatever it is and it's extreme. And then they're like I can't do this, this is too hard and they start trying to eat normal again. They gain the weight right back.
So let's talk about how this can apply to you. Maybe you're not doing an extreme diet, maybe you're just in a reverse. You've hit your goal and you're like okay, I feel good, I'm ready to go back to maintaining or eating a little more, while keeping my results. That's what the goal is and that's why we do reverse dieting. So why is it bad to diet long-term? What's happening in your body? So long-term, restricted dieting has actually been associated with changes in certain hormones like leptin, ghrelin, insulin. All of those, when they're suppressed, can result in changes to your metabolic rate and, ultimately, weight fluctuations, difficulty losing weight and maintaining your weight loss. And also following very low calorie diets for too long will impact your hormones because, like I said before, the body is smart. It's only goal is to survive. So when tricking your body by dieting or consuming less than it needs, our hormones start to suffer and this changes things like our response to stress, which are your adrenals. That's why some people get adrenal fatigue. If they've been in a diet for too long, your appetite will also suffer and your sleep. So this is why it's important to learn this very, very, very important lesson on reverse dieting.
So what are the benefits of reverse dieting? So the benefits, or the purpose that I've seen, are that 1) increased muscle mass. Right? You can't really build a lot of muscle if you're always in a deficit. So increased muscle mass and since very low calorie diets can cause a rapid loss of lean body mass you have to supply your body with more energy in the form of calories and then strength train and that's what gives your body the tools it needs to develop the muscle mass and the strength. Okay, the second one is a balanced appetite. So when your body is in survival mode, then you it will boost your appetite, right, but then adding calories back into your diet can actually help satiate you, so that your appetite is normal and you have a normal feeling of hunger. The next one is increased energy. Eating more nutritious foods will translate to greater intake of macronutrients, which are your carbs, fats and proteins, and micronutrients, your vitamins and minerals, and that will provide more mental and physical energy. Still the clarity. Then the last thing is your boost in metabolism. In the same way that less calories can cause your metabolism to slow down, increased calories after restriction can actually help with your NEAT or your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (that's just what your baseline calories are for the day, what you burn at rest) and essentially it helps you burn more calories in your normal day-to-day activities like playing with your kids, vacuuming, walking the dog. Food is not the enemy people. Food helps boost your metabolism so you burn more calories. It's just doing it the right way and eating the right types of food. That's where macros come in.
So one other thing that I didn't mention is also just like your mental. So you can't always be in restriction or you will binge. It's just human nature. So if mentally you need a break, let's say, seasons of life and I'll go through this too, but like if your season of life is like you are a new mom and you just had a baby and you're not getting any sleep, you're not gonna wanna be in a diet right there. That's a time to reverse diet and kind of maintain while you get through that season of life, okay. So if you reverse diet and do it correctly, there's tons of benefits to that.
Now how do you know when it's time to reverse diet? There's about five things. So number one: you've hit a plateau and you can't go any lower. So let's say we've created your plan, and how I like to train my clients is I will set them up. The goal is to eat as many calories as possible while still seeing results. So I will not go straight, this is what a lot of trainers will put you straight to 1300 calories/1200 calories because they want you to see results at the beginning so you like them and you're like, oh, this training is awesome, they're seeing results. What happens when you hit a plateau and you're already at the lowest you can go, there's nowhere else to go. So what I like to do is I'll train my clients and I'll put them in a slight deficit. They see results Once they hit a plateau guess what we do? We taper them down a little more and then, once they hit a plateau there, we taper them down a little bit more so they can keep seeing results and they can keep going. So let's say you're at the lowest that you can go. If you're my client and I'm like okay, I'm done, I'm not gonna lower you anymore, that's, and you've hit your plateau and your body stops responding. That's our trigger. It's time to reverse you out. So that's when I would reverse you out If you hit a plateau and you can't go any lower.
Number two: if you're tired and run down and you feel like you can't recover. So if you've been in deficit for too long, you start to not be able to kind of recover after your workouts. You start to feel depleted. You have less energy than more energy. Your workouts are exhausting, you're kind of dragging, you have brain fog, you feel run down. That's our indicator, okay, it's time to reverse diet. Your body's done with this. It's not liking it anymore. Let's work smarter, not harder.
The next one is if you mentally cannot stick to the macros that you've been given and you start binging, which I see this more often than not is okay, these macros are too low for you. You can't hit them. Either you like more food or the lifestyle is too hard or whatever. If you're not sticking to the macros and you feel too restricted and then you're binging on the weekends or binging at night, or you know, going through the pantry looking for your favorite Hagen Daz bar and and then that leads to pretzels, and then that leads to pizza and then that leads to a bowl of cereal. Your body, it's too low, okay, so we'll reverse diet or we'll bring you up a little bit so that you can actually stay consistent.
The next one is that your goals have changed. So maybe you have hit your goal and you're like I feel great, now I want to build muscle. Then we're like, okay, let's reverse you out, let's go into muscle building phase, which is my favorite. It's so fun to be in muscle building phase.
And then the last one, which we kind of hit on before, is your season of life. So, like I said, I do not like to be in a deficit over the holidays. I will not do it. I'll reverse out, I'll maintain and I'll enjoy the holidays with my family, give myself a little more calories to work with. And then, when spring rolls around and I want to get leaner for summer, great, I go back into the deficit. But like it's not smart of me, one time I actually decided to do a competition January 9th. How dumb was that of me? I did really well in it. Surprisingly, but I literally was sitting there, you guys with broccoli and chicken, watching my family eat Thanksgiving dinner. It was torture. Christmas morning my mom made homemade cinnamon rolls. I was sitting there eating egg whites and spinach. Do you know how freaking hard that was? That sucked. I will never do that again. So, go with your season of life. Okay, try to like, work with the flow of your life and things that you like to do. It'll be way easier for you.
All right, the last one. Let's talk about how it works. So I've talked about the benefits, why we want to do it. Let's talk about how you actually implement reverse dieting. How does reverse dieting work? So what I would do with the client is I would say okay, let's add 25 grams of carbs and 5 grams of fat back into your diet. So I'm not actually even going to touch the protein. We're going to leave the protein the same and we're only adding back carbs and fats After about a week or two of these new macro numbers. If your body feels the same and you're feeling good you're not gaining weight, you're not noticing a change let's add more. We'll add another 25 grams of carbs, five grams of fat and, if you're, we'll stay there for about one to two weeks. If your body feels good, we add again and you stop when you start noticing the scale go up or your body start to hold onto it, that's how you find your maintenance calories and you'll know, like you'll know, when you're going through this process.
I actually did this after my baby I went, which baby I've had so many? I'm just kidding, I have four kids, with Mila. I went a little bit too crazy after Mila and I was trying, I went through a huge hormonal shift because I got pregnant too soon after competition. Then my hormones went crazy. On the other end, I had adrenal fatigue. I was dieting too hard, I was sleep deprived. It was a whole mess. I had to repair my body for about nine months. So what I did was I started reversing out and I was completely shocked. When I started, I think I was eating about 120 grams of carbs a day and when I ended my reverse, I was at 225 grams of carbs and I did not gain a single pound. I looked the same, I felt the same. I actually felt a little leaner, honestly, which was shocking to me and I was eating way more calories. I felt stronger, I had more energy. I didn't binge on crap food cause I was fueling my body. I felt on top of the world and I stayed there for nine months until my hormones healed, until my body was feeling good, and then, when I went into the deficit after, that is when I actually my body responded and that's when it was like okay, we're ready, our hormones are healed, we feel good. You haven't stressed us out in a while. Yeah, we're ready to let go of this fat. And it was great, it was a magical, what happened in that deficit then. So there's a lot of things that play into this.
Now the key is to have someone that knows what they're doing, that can help you, lead you through this, because you will get in your head it's gonna be hard to do it alone. I'm not saying it's impossible. You definitely can do it alone. I've seen people do it. But with women, they get scared. They'll start for like two or three weeks and they're like no, I can't eat this much, and they'll go back down to their deficit and it's like golden handcuffs. It's actually the worst place to be. You do not want to be stuck at 1200 calories. So if you need help knowing how to walk through this process and you'd like it, the accountability and you'd like someone in your corner that's what me and my team do. I will hand hold you through the process and check in with you and see how you're feeling. So if you're interested in that, I'm definitely here for you, and I love showing women how much they can eat. Like I said, the goal is to eat as much as you can while still seeing results. That's the happiest, best version of yourself. The worst version of yourself is when you're stuck in a deficit and you feel like you're stuck there and you can't get out. So I'm here to help. If you have any questions, I would love to help you reverse diet. Thank you so much for joining me today. I am BodyByBree and I will talk to you later.
Thank you for joining us in today's episode. If you liked the content and want to hear more, remember to hit that subscribe button and write a review. As a small business owner, I appreciate it more than you know. If you are looking for a program to help with self-confidence, to lose weight, get in shape and work on your mental, physical and emotional help, check out my training programs on www.bodybybree.com. My team and I help to hold you accountable through the BodyByBree app, where you log in to see all your workouts, custom meal plan made specifically for you and your needs and communication through the messenger. You are never alone when you're on the body by breed training program. Click the link in the show notes to get more information on how to transform your life from the inside out.