Happy Friday! I wanted to give a quick update on my reverse dieting progress. Reverse dieting is when you increase your calories slowly over a period of time in order to increase your metabolism and keep fat gain to a minimum. After my NPC competition in June 2014, I knew I was going to commit myself to increasing calories and macros slowly to build my metabolism, gain minimal fat, but gain a healthy amount of weight to where my hormones were more balanced and I had enough energy to train hard and feel good. When I was show ready, I was too lean. This is not sustainable. I knew I had to gain some weight back but wanted to do it in a slow and controlled manner. Honestly, this part was even harder than ‘show prep’ since I had no end date in sight, I had no specific day where I had to stand on stage in a bikini in front of thousands of people. Willpower and believing in myself and the help from my coach was what gave me the strength to do it.
As you can see above, I feel I have been pretty successful with my reverse diet. On the left, I was about 1 month out from my NPC bikini competition and slowly leaning out and reducing calories every week or 2. On the right, this is me currently. I am about 5 lbs over my stage weight and very similar weight to the picture on the left. The difference? My waist is smaller, my arms are more toned, and my legs are finally “fit” instead of skinny. I am now eating 2200 calories each day. On the left, I was dieting down and probably eating 1600 calories a day. I don’t log my intake in MyFitnessPal. I don’t obsess over every single little gram of macronutrients I am consuming. Sure, I may have at first because I wanted to reverse diet properly. I knew my body was craving more food but didn’t want to just say “to heck with it” like many competitors do and eat anything and everything and gain fat and be out of control with food-on a “clean eating” and binging cycle. I have set macronutrient goals for each meal (I eat 5 meals each day) and aim to have similar macronutrients at each meal. Breakfast is usually oatmeal and I know the set macronutrients for any toppings/fruit/nut butter I want to include and just adjust the amount of the fruit or extras to be the amount of carbs and fats I need. Lunch is usually pretty similar most days because I have a full-time job and need to meal prep this in order to take with me to work. For my meals 3-5, I pretty much adjust to what I am craving for the day. For meal 3, some days it is Quest bars with a banana and peanut butter, other days it may be greek yogurt with cereal and almonds, another day it may be rice cakes with protein powder frosting and apples. I usually have a pretty good grasp on the carb amounts in cereals, fruit, FiberOne bars, PopTarts, etc that I want and then switch up my proteins and fats. My postworkout meal (meal 4) I completely change around and try new things (this is ‘dinner’ for me). I know how many carbs I want and just adjust accordingly to what I buy that week at the grocery store (sweet potatoes, corn tortillas, Ezekiel english muffins, brown rice, barley and lentils, etc). My last meal (meal 6) varies as well. I followed a flexible eating plan (will dive into this more in the future) because I wanted to be able to be free from the restriction that “clean eating” had made me feel in the past. This meant, I could eat 40 grams of carbohydrates from sweet potato or 40 grams of carbohydrates in sugary cereal!
During my reverse diet, I usually made increases in my calories every 2-4 weeks. Some weeks I didn’t push it. If I traveled the weekend before and felt like I splurged, I may not have increased my calories at all because I felt like my body was still adjusting. Also, if I cut down on cardio, I did not make any changes to my food as this is another part of reverse dieting, cutting down on cardio. After my show, I was doing 4 HIIT sessions a week for 15 minutes and 20 minutes of steady state cardio most days. Currently, I am doing 3-4 HIIT sessions a week for 10 minutes MAX. With my reverse diet, I would usually add 7-10 grams of carbs or add 4-8 grams of fat. My protein intake naturally rose over the months due to more food overall. I did not increase weekly but more so bi-weekly or whenever I felt my body was ready.
I finally feel like I am at a place where I am now trying to practice intuitive eating and not rely so much on macronutrients. This was always my end goal but I wanted to make sure this was a lifestyle and I didn’t go back to restricting my intake. This was a large step for me as I was used to calculating the macronutrient amounts in my head. Obviously, this is quick and easy for me now and honestly, I have been doing it for almost a year now and can eyeball most portions within a gram or so. The issue that intuitive eating has been causing for me currently is that I eat too little naturally. So, I am still focused on macronutrients right now to make sure I eat enough for my training and to ensure my hormones are balanced.
I hope that helps some of you along the way. Don’t hesitate to comment down below with questions as I know it may seem daunting at first.
Oh and reverse dieting means you get to eat Oreo’s, in moderation 🙂