To what for many people seems to be a lifelong problem, fad diets (also known as crash diets) tend to propose an unsustainable temporary solution. Fad diets work in a way that is based upon the premise of inducing extreme alterations to a person’s daily food consumption, whereas their objective is to promote rapid weight loss. A big reason why these types of diets are untenable over the long haul is because they do not focus on long lasting lifestyle changes, such as eating habits, staying hydrated and getting active. Instead, they propose the idea of excluding key food groups and nutrients that are vital to a series of bodily functions. Due to their restrictive nature (focusing more on deprivation rather than moderation), fad diets are infamous for having poor adherence rates. People just struggle to stay consistent and end up straying far from their original path towards weight loss.
In most cases, fad diets are promoted by social media influencers who usually have a limited educational background in nutritional science. So next time, make sure to question their ulterior motive when you happen to come across influencers on social media platforms who are preaching pseudo-science without backing up their claims by factual evidence. Your health will be next on the chopping block if you continue to let random people who aren’t licensed physicians sway your understanding and judgement concerning what constitutes a healthy nutrition plan.
Let’s say that you’ve stumbled across the most perfect diet (keep in mind that human beings’ adaptations vary to different types of diets). You’re feeling over the moon and you can’t believe that a diet plan has finally worked out for you. You’ve lost a considerable amount of weight and have finally reached to your ideal weight. Way to go!
But what’s your next step?
You’ve contemplated hard enough already and you’ve decided that you want to settle for the weight that you’re already in, or maybe add a few pounds of lean muscle. Then, you come to the realization that you’ve been learning how to lose weight in a healthy manner, but you’re clueless when it comes to gaining weight (without fat) and managing it.
This is where something like reverse dieting comes into play. Now, let’s take a closer look.
Understanding what reverse dieting is and how it works.
Reverse dieting is an approach designed to strategically and purposefully add calories to your diet in an effort to elevate your metabolism and reset your maintenance calories.
From an evolutionary standpoint, your metabolism starts to slow down as soon as your body’s caloric intake is lower than what it needs to be in order to maintain your current weight for an extended period of time. This is known as adaptive thermogenesis. Your body protects itself, since it literally believes that you’re in starvation mode and begins to conserve your energy by reducing the amount of calories it burns, through a mechanism called starvation response. This means that losing weight for months at a time can greatly affect the speed of your metabolism.
When you’ve figured out exactly how much calorie intake your body needs to maintain your weight, then you can start the process of weekly ramping up your calories by 100. Keep adding 100 calories each week until you start to rapidly gain weight. Take advantage of the reinvigorated condition you’re in, so that you lift more weights and do cardio.
It’s a good idea for you to test out reverse dieting if you are in one of the following situations:
- Building lean muscle: Reverse dieting can provide you with a powerful solution to building lean muscle as you introduce an adequate amount of calories to your diet. Your aim is to do so without having to go through a fat-gaining phase. It’s well-known that you can’t build muscle tissue unless you are in a caloric surplus. Therefore, this will be your healthy version of a clean bulk. Over the years, this has been reiterated by numerous credible sources. For instance, according to the International Sports Sciences Association: “Fat loss requires eating fewer calories than you spend each day. On the other hand, to gain muscle mass you need to consume more calories than you use. These additional calories help regrow damaged muscle tissue after a tough workout session.” They go on to explain: “For muscle hypertrophy, your client may need even more excess calories. One study says an extra 44 to 50 calories per kilogram of body weight is a good target.”
- Breaking through a weight loss plateau: Sometimes, when you’ve been losing weight for a while, you reach a stage where your body struggles to shed off extra kilograms. The reason behind this is because your leptin and ghrelin hormones are not balanced. Your leptin hormone serves the function of suppressing food intake and making you feel satiated and less hungry, whilst your ghrelin hormone does the complete opposite. Once you’re deprived, or low on calories, your body’s leptin and ghrelin will affect how your body experiences hunger. Reverse dieting will help regulate your appetite by reintroducing more calories to your diet, which your body desperately needs.
- Maintaining weight after dieting: Reverting to a reverse diet right after your fitness goals have been done and dusted can be of great help in this situation. The primary challenge has been successfully completed and you’ve passed it with flying colours. Yet, an alarming figure still looms large over you. Gary Foster, who’s the clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania, claims that nearly 65 percent of dieters return to their pre-dieting weight within three years. That’s an incredibly alarming figure which you definitely don’t want to contribute to! By implementing a reverse diet, you can taper-off from a diet that has been very strenuous to both your body and mind. Trust me, you don’t want to go on a yo-yo diet and get demoralized after you gain all the weight back on. All your hard work will go to waste.
Conclusion: Reverse dieting is an effective method in balancing out your metabolism and hunger hormones after cutting weight for a long time. Whether your goal is to build lean muscle, break through a weight loss plateau, or maintain weight, make sure to give reverse dieting a try and be the judge yourself.