So, now what? I’m back from Disney. I’m back from Hawaii. My next event isn’t until May. Do I stay in a calorie deficit for the next 11 weeks? Heck no. I know what my body is capable of in 5 weeks now post-baby. If I want to get back to this look, I’ll start my next cut 5 weeks out. If I want to be leaner, I’ll start it at 7 weeks out. So what will I do over the next 4 weeks? Reverse diet.
A reverse diet is a way to slowly increase calories out of a deficit (between BMR and TDEE) and back up to maintenance (exactly at TDEE and possibly above). I do not share my calories or macros with anyone as it is irrelevant so the numbers below are just an example!
Start of diet: BMR 1400 TDEE 1800. Cutting on 1600
End of diet: BMR 1300 TDEE 1700. Cutting on 1450
Reverse: Starting at 1450, adding 75 calories per day per week. So start of next week I’ll be at 1525. The following week 1600, etc UNTIL the scale begins to move up above where I want
Goal: Use extra calories to build muscle, keep cardio the same to not get out of routine
As you get leaner, your BMR decreases as you have less mass to do daily activities. The best way to increase BMR (aka getting to eat more in a cut) is to gain muscle. So that’s the goal over the next month- increase calories slowly, hopefully, maintain this level of leanness with a little extra fluff, gain muscle, increase BMR. That way on the next cut, BMR will look something like 1500 or 1600 and TDEE is above 2000. Clear as mud?
BMR- basal metabolic rate (simply staying alive)
TDEE- total daily energy expenditure (staying alive + activity)
How Do You Know If It’s Time to Reverse Diet
This is why, when you start a diet, you should start on the HIGHEST number of calories possible- so you have somewhere to go. Example above- if the person in the example above has a BMR of 1400 and TDEE of 1800, it is far from ideal to start dieting at 1401 calories (as we all know, you don’t want to eat at or below your BMR). Why? Because you have nowhere to go once weight loss slows or stops. This is a common mistake we see people doing. Your body naturally adapts to the calories you are feeding it, whether it’s 1401 or 1799. You train your body to learn to survive on those calories, therefore needing to make adjustments along the way to continue to lose weight. Again, a mistake we see far too often.
So, how do we fix this? Reverse dieting!
The general rule of thumb, unless you are competing, is if your weight loss has stalled for more than 4 weeks and you cannot get your calories lower, it’s time to reverse diet. I also like to mention that if you have lost your period, it’s time to reverse diet- this is a huge red flag that you are not operating at your best. Additionally, it is extremely important to lift weights during your reverse (if you weren’t already). You can also reverse diet by lowering your cardio, therefore lowering your deficit.