What is it? – Reverse dieting is the period after a calorie restricted phase where you slowly build/increase your caloric intake back to maintenance or above maintenance calories.
What’s the purpose of a reverse diet? – When you’re in a calorie deficit for a certain amount of time, your body becomes accustomed to the amount of fuel that it’s taking in. If you start adding too much, too quickly, there will be overflow. Your body won’t know what to do with the large influx of carbs and fats that it was so used to not having. Because of that, 1) your body will not be happy – you will most definitely feel sick, and 2) you will puff out like a puffer fish very quickly. Going straight back to the diet you had prior to the cut, is a fast track to gaining fat back.
Decreasing cardio is also another component of a reverse. If you stop all cardio right after your show, event, program, or whatever; be ready to see unwanted changes in your body. Just like with food, your body needs to adjust to not being as active as it was with the 4+ days of cardio you were doing.
So by reversing out of the deficit slowly (usually weekly/bi-weekly), and adding more calories in and increasing your macros, as well as decreasing the amount of cardio, it allows your body to adjust at a more comfortable pace and not gain as much fat/unwanted weight back in a short amount of time.
My Reverse Diet
I’m coming up on 3 weeks since the challenge ended and I’m continuing to work my way out of the calorie deficit that I was in. At the end of the Nicole Wilkins 10 Week Challenge, I was taking in 1,520 calories, which broke down into 110g carbs, 175g protein, and 45g fat. And on top of that I was doing 6 days of cardio consisting of fasted 45-minute sessions, with optional 30-minute sessions in the afternoon.
Before the Challenge ended, I worked up a plan to reverse out of that deficit along with adjustments to my training plan – specifically decreasing the number of days and amount of time for cardio.
<< Plan — I may be a bit obsessive at times, but it gives me guidance.
Now at 3 weeks post, I have been increasing my caloric intake by 100 calories/week, carbs by about 15g, protein has remained about the same, and fats by 3-5g/week. So currently I’m sitting at 1,820 calories with a breakdown of 170g carbs, 170g protein, and 55g fat.
I’m not too concerned about the calories, but more about the macros. I really try to hit my macros each day and make sure that I’m hitting them with whole foods versus processed foods. Some days are better than others…I’m not being quite as strict about that currently…example: I forgot my oatmeal this morning, and I’m stuck at work all day so running home was not an option. Luckily, the building I work in has a cafeteria and had muffins. Not exactly an ideal replacement but I needed the carbs and they didn’t have any fruit available. Shit happens, just adjust for it.
I have started decreasing my cardio, I’m down to 4x per week of 30-minute sessions. I’m trying to move away from the stairs, elliptical, and treadmill and get back into metcons at least 2x per week. They’re far more enjoyable and you feel like you’ve actually done/accomplished something when finished.
I can definitely say that I did not stick to the reverse diet plan like I had hoped at the beginning and that has reflected in how my body responded. I stuck to it the week post-challenge until I went to WA and let myself eat/drink anything, as you all saw on my Instagram stories… I am working to get myself back on track and I’m mostly there with a few bumps in the road here and there.
I don’t want to gain the same weight back that I did after my shows. I’m not tempted by certain foods the same way that I used to be, which is awesome, but I also won’t say no to a cupcake if someone offers it. Oh, well. It’s bulking season anyway. 😉
I will say that I was successful in creating a plan of what my meals were going to be each week, not quite as successful in executing it on the day to day. But key to succeeding with something like this, and it’s something that I did not do post-show, is having a meal plan written and ready to go. Knowing where you are for macros is one thing, but actually having meals planned out that you’re going to cook up on Sunday makes it 100x better and easier on you, especially if you just had a solid cheat day/weekend and no longer have a plan to follow. Doing this gives me a grocery list, so when I go into the store, I’m not running up and down every aisle being tempted by pop tarts and ice cream which then reduces the chance of having shit food in my house. #alwaysbeprepared
All of this is still a learning process to me. This is the 2nd time I’ve done a cut and 1st true attempt at a reversal. I have 6-7 weeks until I start prepping for my 1st show. I have goals for this current mini bulk and goals for my competitive season. Back to the grind. Eyes are set on a Pro card.
Mini Bulk and Competition Plans updates coming soon…