Living in this world means having to live in a culture obsessed with diet media in an attempt to gain profitability in this multi-billion dollar industry. It has become a regular routine to hop from fad diet to fad diet, try out randomly generated nutrition templates and purchase random weight loss aids at supplement stores. The TV doctors, image magazines and celebrities tell you to continuously cut calories and macronutrients until eventually, there is nothing left to cut. For so many, this is the reality.
In almost a decade of coaching clients, I would be confident in saying that at least 70% of them were under-eating by a drastic amount, and that is me being generous. It's sad to say but the greater amount of our population is suffering from major body image concerns and thus, have associated food with weight gain. In the average joe's mind, eating less means losing more. Surprising to most, this isn't always the case.
It's very difficult at first to wrap your head around the idea that to achieve a particular body composition goal (which most desire) you must actually eat more and move less since your body has been under an extreme amount of stress for weeks, months or like most-years! But, once we start to educate ourselves in how the human body actually works, it all begins to make sense. Let me explain...
Our bodies require a particular amount of energy input (calories in) to fuel our bodies plus day to day activities, this is referred to our basal metabolic rate or BMR. Let me make this as clear as possible, we need to eat to survive! When our bodies experience a lack of food, especially for an extended period of time, we run the risk of metabolic adaptation. To explain what metabolic adaptation is, you first have to understand that our bodies don't know the reasoning behind the lack of energy input. It has no idea that you are under-eating to achieve a weight loss goal or that we are suffering from a lack of resources. So, that means our bodies simply adapt to survive. To survive, it slowly starts shutting off basic bodily functions to be able to use all the energy (calories) that it is getting to keep the heart pumping and the most important bodily functions operating to keep you alive. Basic adaptations that you will see occur first may be a lack of focus, lack of energy, poor workout performance, lack of self-motivation, poor decision making, poor sleep quality, constipation or irregular bowel movement, lack of sex drive, painful or non-existent periods and more!
This is NOT how we are meant to live. We are meant to eat and to thrive as a species! That doesn't mean we shouldn't be dieting to achieve body composition goals, this simply means once the diet has concluded, and hopefully no one diets for longer than 12 consecutive weeks, we must return to our proper caloric maintenance intake to insure we maintain our health. How we do this is by a strategy known as Reverse Dieting.
Reverse dieting is the strategy of returning back to maintenance calories by slowly increasing calories week after week while limiting our daily activity to relieve the stress our bodies have faced for several weeks of dieting. Signs that you might need to reverse diet include - long periods of weight plateaus, several poor biofeedback markers (the adaptations we discussed) or possible weight gain even while reducing calories. A reverse diet protocol should be implemented after every diet and can take anywhere of just a few weeks to achieve or 1-2 years depending upon the amount of repair your body needs. This is where having a coach becomes so important since our environments have engraved into our minds that if the scale goes up, that's very bad so a coach can keep you on track and remind you why you are doing what you are doing while holding you accountable as an unbiased source.
Now, it's important to understand that if your body is use to eating at 1,000 calories per day and your BMR requires you to eat at 2,000, you don't just start eating 1,000 more calories overnight. This can lead to serious discomfort and other physiological issues. Your plan will vary depending upon who your coach is and how much recovery your body needs while taking into consideration your biofeedback. For most, the general rule of thumb is to bump calories up by 20% in your first week meaning you go from 1,000 calories per day to 1,2000 calories per day. Then, slowly reintroduce 50-100 calories each week, if not more, depending upon how you're feeling. You will keep on this trend until you achieve your required BMR intake then stay there for an entire season (3+ months) if not longer to reestablish your proper metabolic setpoint. Once biofeedback markers look good, then you might be able to begin your next cut. Once again, consult with your coach.
Reverse dieting can be a mental and emotional stress like no other. It isn't common to hear someone say "eat more and workout less so you can lose weight" but it's the truth. Sometimes we have to take a step backward to take two steps forward and with the culture the way that it is, people have to recognize the importance of eating. Human beings simply aren't created to live off of 1,500 or less calories per day, it's just fact. So the next time your nutrition template or trainer tells you to consume 1,200 calories, ask them WHY and for HOW LONG. Our bodies are under enough stress from our environments, lets not add to it!
If you have questions related to reverse dieting or psychologically are having a hard time adjusting to the mindset of eating more, please reach out to us for help. We will guide you on your journey and get you to where you need to be WHILE feeling amazing!
"Coach Taz" aka Taylor Rodriguez is owner and head coach of Taz Fitness & Nutrition. He is a Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach located in Deltona, FL that coaches individuals online and in person. Taylor was a former partying pro wrestler turned fitness enthusiast after the economic downturn of 2008-2010. After losing almost 70 lbs, his new passion is to help struggling individuals find a new confidence within themselves to achieve any goal that they see possible. To begin coaching with Taylor or to request a free consultation, contact us today.
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