How To Avoid Serious Post-Diet Fat Regain

How To Avoid Serious Post-Diet Fat Regain April 22, 2020Leave a comment

Look, we know how to lose weight.

Eat a little bit less, move a little bit more, prioritise protein, stay patient, and make sure your Instagram transformation photo is on point.

But, that’s not the issue.

We don’t have a weight loss problem; we have a weight maintenance problem.

While it’s easy to lose a boat-load of weight, it’s more challenging to keep it off.

After all, how many times have you, or someone you know, dieted down for a holiday, wedding, or ‘because I feel fat moment’, only to then put it all back on once you or they’ve reached a desired scale weight, size, or time point?

‘Loads of times’, is the technical answer.

So, is there any way to mitigate this all too familiar problem amongst those who want to shed a few pounds and actually keep them off?

There is. And it’s called ‘Reverse Dieting’.

What Is Reverse Dieting?

Reverse Dieting is a controlled and strategic linear increase in calorie intake following a period of ‘dieting’ or ‘weight loss’.

It’s implemented to mollifying the negative metabolic adaptations that arise from being in a calorie deficit.

This is done so we can eat more, build muscle, and wriggle out of that intense dieting period without gorging on all the cake that crosses our path again.

More importantly, this is also executed to ensure we don’t put back on all that body fat we’ve worked so hard to lose.

How Does Reverse Dieting Work?

The more frequently we diet, the harder it becomes to reach those reduced body fat levels time and time again.

You know, like Sandra from the office – the one who’s always on a diet – who, not only fails to actually lose a significant amount of body fat but seems to actually be getting fatter.

When we lose body fat in a calorie deficit, that fat cell doesn’t simply ‘disappear’. Instead, it shrinks. And while we can never lose fat cells, we can gain them.

And so, every time we diet and rebound again, we not only have greater potential to store more body fat due to that increased number of fat cells, but we make that the process of losing body fat even harder each time.

Post ‘diet’, the body will always favour fat gain over muscle gain.

This is also, in part, due to metabolic adaptation. The process in which numerous bodily functions are ‘activated’ to prevent this loss of body fat.

Your body will instinctively increase hunger levels and the propensity to overeat, as well as reducing satiety and satisfaction with each meal, when in a calorie deficit.

Similarly, aspects of your ‘energy expenditure’ such as NEAT, your metabolic rate, and the number of calories you burn during exercise will decrease, making fat loss a lot more challenging the more times you attempt to latest diet.

Because of these innate adaptive responses, our friend Sandra, who’s been aboard the dieting rollercoaster for years, will require far fewer calories to maintain that same weight than someone who’s always been that weight.

Meaning, she’s only going to grow more frustrated the more she diets and less weight she can lose. She simply finds it harder and harder to be in that required energy deficit for fat loss to occur.

There’s This Thing Called Your ‘Weight Set-Point

These metabolic adaptations are caused by something called your weight set-point.

This term refers to the weight that the body senses is safest for survival and reproduction. It’s determined by genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors.

Think of it like the thermostat that controls the temperature in your house. It will reach, and then maintain, the level that it is set at, by using negative feedback systems.

If your weight is less than your weight set-point, all those metabolic adaptations will kick in and you’ll soon find your weight creeping its way back up.

Similarly, if your weight is above your set-point – usually post-all-inclusive-holiday – you’ll be instructed to eat less while your metabolism will ramp up a notch to decrease your weight again.

This is why losing body fat and keeping it off is so hard.

Those powerful negative feedback systems will always try and force your weight back up – it becomes a struggle of wills between your conscious desire to be a particular weight and your brains subconscious power to regain its desired weight set-point.

Invariably – but unfortunately for people like you and Sandra – biology tends to always win.

It may take a week or a year or a bit longer, but your subconscious brain will eventually haul your weight back to where it wants to be.

But…

Metabolic adaptation works both ways. If you gradually increase your calories after a period of dieting, your body will also adapt in the other direction.

This is commonly known as adaptive thermogenesis, and when reverse dieting is implemented properly it will provide several metabolic benefits, including, increased metabolic rate, NEAT, and calories burned during exercise.

Instead of bouncing from a 1200-calorie intake to a 2500-calorie intake and subsequently putting all that body fat back on again, spending some extra time working your way back up to a ‘maintenance’ intake, you’ll be less inclined to put on a tonne of body fat and enable those beneficial adaptations to occur.

How To Plan Your Reverse Diet

Congratulations! You’ve lost a crap-tonne of body fat and you look great.

The only problem is, you’re starting to feel a bit hungrier, motivation is starting to wane, and while you don’t want to lose all your progress, you don’t want to be stuck in this ‘dieting’ mindset for the rest of your life.

So, what do you do?

Step 1

Recall the number of calories you were consuming to maintain your bodyweight at the beginning of your ‘diet’ along with your old weight.

Let’s say this was 2500 calories and 72kg, respectively.

Step 2 –

Figure out your current calorie intake and bodyweight – this is the final number of calories you were eating to achieve the current physique you have and how much you currently weigh.

Let’s say this is 1400 and 65kg.

Step 3 –

Calculate your new total daily energy expenditure – this is the number of calories you will burn throughout the day to maintain your new body weight.

You must use your current body weight and not your original body weight to calculate this new energy expenditure.

This is to account for the fewer calories you’ll require to maintain your weight, as well as the metabolic adaptations you’ll have experienced from dieting – as discussed above.

Most people jump from their current calorie intake to their old maintenance calories, meaning they’re in a calorie surplus and subsequently put on more body fat.

Using 65kg, and not 72kg, will compute a new maintenance target of 2000 calories, for example.

Step 4 –

Add in calories to get back to your new maintenance.

Jumping from 1400 calories to your new target of, say, 2000 calories will not lead to increased body fat.

Scale weight – not necessarily body fat – will increase because of an increase in gut content and an overall increase in water levels in the body, which largely comes from the rise in muscle glycogen levels from the bump in carbohydrate intake.

Don’t stress: you’ll only regain fat if you eat over your new calorie maintenance.

Some people find this increase in eating anxiety-inducing and so eating just below your new maintenance for a few days is not necessarily a bad thing. You’ll still technically be in a deficit and so won’t gain any body fat.

Bumping up your calorie intake by small increments, say 50-100 calories each week, however, is unwarranted. You may as well do this in as few steps as possible, as remember, you won’t put on body fat as long as you’re around your new maintenance calories.

Pre Diet Calorie Intake: 2500

Post Diet Calorie Intake: 1400

End Reverse Diet Calorie Intake: 2000

Starting Reverse Diet Calorie Intake: 1800

Step 5 –

Increase your calorie intake slightly – in this case by 400, to reach the desired 1800.

Protein intake should stay the same as pre-diet, so this calorie increase should come from carbohydrate and fat levels.

This can often be done with personal preference in mind, and so with the fact we have 400 calories left, we could either now consume 240 calories from carbs (60g) and 160 from fat (18g) or 160 calories from carbs (40g) and 250 from fat (26g).

Step 6 –

We still have some leeway to hit that ‘end goal calorie intake’ of 200, so after the first week increase to this point.

Depending on how fast you want to reverse diet, thereafter, raise calories further by 5-10% every two weeks, providing that bodyweight is kept within approximately 1kg.

You will put on bodyweight, but remember, this isn’t necessarily body fat.

Continue to track your data as closely as possible to allow for adjustments you’ll need to make along the way. These can include bodyweight, measurements, photos, as well as hunger and energy levels.

Step 7 –

Continue this process for as long as you feel comfortable, without putting back on all that body fat you’ve lost.

Just as you were patient losing your initial body fat, it’s imperative you’re even more patient when in this reverse dieting process.

The tendency is always to ignore those bad habits you’d garnered originally and return to your old ways of eating and calorie intake. This is what leads to that deadly rebound.

The most important point to remember, is you need to plan. Even if that plan isn’t perfect, it’s better than simply winging it, hoping you won’t regain all that weight you initially lost.

Reverse Dieting Isn’t Perfect

There’s nothing inherently magical about ‘reverse dieting’. After all, it’s just a more calculated way of increasing calories after an intense period of dieting.

And while we like our numbers and calculations and equations to be accurate, not only does our body not necessarily operate in that way, but we’ve got to be sure we’re accounting for our calorie intake and energy expenditure in the most accurate way possible.

Numerous research has shown time and time again that calorie counting isn’t always precise.

The goal, therefore, is to possess a good enough gauge on how much you can currently eat without gaining back all that body fat you lost.

Eating intuitively is an option, post-diet, but is often what leads to people rebounding, hard.

So, take a stance which suits you, noting the most important aspect being to gradually and methodically increase your calorie intake to negate any significant weight regain.


This Article Was Too Long And I Didn’t Read It – Can You Summarise It Please

We don’t have a weight loss problem; we have a weight maintenance problem.

Reverse Dieting is a controlled and strategic linear increase in calorie intake following a period of ‘dieting’ or ‘weight loss’. It’s implemented to mollifying the negative metabolic adaptations that arise from being in a calorie deficit.

How Does Reverse Dieting Work?

Every time we diet and rebound again, we not only have greater potential to store more body fat due to that increased number of fat cells, but we make that the process of losing body fat even harder each time.

This is also, in part, due to metabolic adaptation. The process in which numerous bodily functions are ‘activated’ in order to prevent this loss of body fat.

When reverse dieting is implemented properly it will provide several metabolic benefits, including, increased metabolic rate, NEAT, and calories burned during exercise.

How To Plan Your Reverse Diet

Re-calculate new calorie maintenance intake and increase calories just below this point, coming from fats and carbs.

Depending on how fast you want to reverse diet, thereafter, raise calories further by 5-10% every two weeks, providing that bodyweight is kept within approximately 1kg.

Continue to track your data as closely as possible to allow for adjustments you’ll need to make along the way.

Continue this process for as long as you feel comfortable, without putting back on all that body fat you’ve lost.

How To Win At Fat Loss

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