So you finally lost some fat.
That’s awesome, congrats. It definitely took some changes to get here and it’s honourable that you even tried to begin with.
But what should you do now?
Go back to the way you used to be eating? Enjoy that new body that you discovered?
Yes. Kind of, anyways.
See the reality is that North America is actually really good at losing weight. Most people who have a substantial amount of weight to lose in their life (10% or more of their total bodyweight) are actually able to accomplish this.
However, after 3 years only five percent of those people are actually able to sustain their initial weight loss and are back at their original weight or even higher.
After dieting, the hormones in your body are actively trying to get you back to your original self. It’s what’s referred to as a hyperphagic response. Once you start dieting, the hormones in your body increase things such as hunger and cravings because it physiologically believes there’s a food shortage.
If you’ve been able to fight it off through weight loss, it’s only a matter of time before a vacation, birthday or other event comes up and you indulge. Since your metabolic rate declined thanks to suppressing your eating, that indulgence of excess calories means fat storage without increasing your metabolism.
Repeat this for a few weeks and you’ve just blown all of the hard work you created through weighing and measuring every ounce of food during your “dieting” phase.
So what do we do to avoid that weight regain and capture our new body for good?
Sounds a little bit crazy for sure. Reverse dieting is simply taking the time after dieting to work on weight maintenance and improving metabolic rate. Doing this is actually relatively simple, at least in macro terms.
It just means increasing the amount we eat on a very controlled basis for bodyweight, body fat and other biofeedback measures.
When dieting, our body responds by decreasing slowly the amount of calories that we burn in our everyday activities. We don’t go as hard in the gym, we don’t fidget as much and we blink slower among other things, that all add up to simply not burning as many calories as we used to.
To recover that, without the compensatory body fat increase, we have to spend a period of time working on improving our metabolism. Thus, we start a reverse diet, increasing calories and macros in manageable jumps so that weight stays relatively similar but energy, sleep, and other biofeedback measures improve.
The benefits of an increased metabolism are lengthy but have two obvious benefits. One, it allows you to be more flexible while maintaining your weight so that you can fit a glass of wine or an ice cream cone in from time to time and secondly, if you ever decide to try and push weight loss further, you’ll have more calories to work with during your next diet.
This means that because your metabolism is higher to start with, you won’t have to dip as low when dieting as you would if you didn’t go through a reverse diet and increase your metabolism.
All this is to say that if you’ve achieved all or some of the weight loss you’ve been after to date, great work. Let’s keep this going with a proper reverse out of your diet!