Updated: Jan 26
When it comes to stoking that metabolic fire, all you see is “High Intensity Metabolic Workouts” or “Super Foods” or some infrared lazer crap.
When it comes to raising your metabolism, almost all of these don’t make a damn bit of difference.
Like most things in life, this can’t be fixed by doing one workout or adding in one specific food to your diet.
Weight loss comes down to calories you are consuming and the amount your body uses to perform daily activities.
Different sources of calories will effect you in different ways and affect things like hunger, energy levels, mood, etc.
But if you were locked in a room and given "x" amount of calories in fruit, and the same calories in pizza, your weight would be about the same.
That pizza group would feel like shit, and the fruit group would be bloated to hell from all that fiber. But the overall weight gain/loss would be pretty damn close on both sides.
That’s why the methods above like HIIT Metabolic Workouts and Super Foods don’t do a damn thing.
If the calories aren’t right, nothing will work long term.
For that reason it’s gonna take a strategic approach implemented slowly over time.
So what should you do?
For a lot of people that answer is… Reverse Diet.
This is a fairly new concept that’s just starting to gain popularity.
So naturally tons of people are asking...
“What The Hell is a Reverse Diet?”
A reverse diet is a conscious effort to slowly add calories into your day with the goal being to increase your metabolic rate and minimize fat gain.
First, let me start by saying that this method is for healthy individuals who don’t have some sort of hormonal imbalance or medical issue that affects weight loss or gain.
This info is also for people who count calories and do weigh-ins 4-7 days out of the week.
Ok, end of disclaimer, back to reverse dieting!
The method of Reverse Dieting is pretty simple, you get to eat more and minimize your chances of gaining fat along the way.
Sounds too good to be true right?
Well for starters this usually works best if you are in 1 of 2 groups.
Group 1: You Just Finished A Diet Successfully
This means that you achieved a goal of losing X amount of weight and you are ready to get back to "normal" eating.
Or your body has hit a plateau and can no longer lose weight at those reduced calories. So instead of going lower and feeling like garbage, you decide to do the smart thing and reverse diet before your next fat loss phase.
Group 2: You Have Been "On A Diet" Forever
You try your best and go on every fad diet you can get your hands on and for some reason still can't lose weight or you do, but it always finds it's way back.
This group is known as the "Yo-Yo" dieters (sorry I'm not sorry Oprah)
For both groups, whether you did it intentionally or not, you have now slowed down your metabolism.
Which is a completely normal response by your body.
It is your body's way of keeping you alive.
This is where that whole "starvation mode" comes in.
Yes your body slows down your metabolism and makes it harder to lose weight.
But it takes a LONG time.
Not a couple days or weeks like some dumbasses and marketing sleezebags on the internet will tell you.
HOW Do You Reverse Diet?
The method is actually pretty simple.
Whatever calories you are at currently, you add 100-200+ calories every single week.
When you do this 1 of 3 things will happen. You will stay exactly the same weight, lose weight, or gain weight.
Result #1: Weight Stays The Same
Initially weight gain will happen.
But this isn't fat.
This is your body filling up your muscles with glycogen. And that glycogen binds to water so you are also holding onto that as well.
This is really good because your body needs that glycogen and water to feel great, and improve performance in the gym or in any physical activity.
And if you have lost a lot of fat and you have a good amount of muscle along the way, this part can have you looking very toned.
After this initial weight gain is where you start to see the trends start to normalize.
In the beginning of the week you'll notice a slight bump up in weight.
Then by the middle or end of the week your bodyweight will come back down and be around your weekly average of weight.
If this happens, continue to add 100-200 calories the next week and keep it going if that trend continues.
Even though this would be ideal, it doesn't always happen.
Result #2: You Gain Weight
What if you gain weight??
Well first let's determine what is too much weight.
In a reverse diet it can be normal to gain a pound or 2 over the course of a month.
But if you're doing that in a week, then hang out at those calories for another week and see if your bodyweight comes back down.
If it does, then add those calories every 2 weeks.
If it doesn't try adding 50-100 calories instead.
And if you gain some fat in the process it could just be a necessary evil.
Either accept a slight amount now and set yourself up for a successful future diet where that weight will come off anyway.
Or continue to be stuck and frustrated.
Result #3: You Lose Weight
Now let's say you are part of the lucky bunch who actually LOSE WEIGHT on a reverse diet.
First off, I'm super jealous, being that I'm part of that group that gains a little fat along the way.
But yes, it is possible to lose weight by eating more.
Sometimes when you add in more calories your body responds very well to it and increases activity in your day without even thinking about it.
This usually happens with people who used to be on extremely low calories for their body size.
For some people that could be 1,000-1,200 calories or less.
(I definitely don’t recommend ever going this low)
Now when those calories are added back in, your body functions how it should be.
Your Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is kicked into high gear.
You now have more energy in the gym to do more reps and sets which burn more calories.
Sounds pretty good right?
However, people in this group are few and far between.
Most of us will end up in that weight maintenance or slight weight gain group.
How Long Do You Reverse Diet For?
That really depends on how far you want to take it.
Option 1: You could just keep doing it until you feel like you can't physically eat anymore while maintaining your weight.
This is ideal since you can really enjoy life no matter what situation you are in and not really have to restrict yourself.
Option 2: You want an exact number to aim for
Let's say you don't want to push it that far like in option 1.
What is enough?
When I work with clients I would prefer they reverse diet until falling between these ranges:
Under 150 lbs: 2000-2500 cals
150-200 lbs: 2500-3000 cals
Over 200 lbs: 3000-3500+ cals
But if you want to get into the specifics I go and calculate their estimated Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and aim to get their maintenance calories at least 1000 calories above that.
This is because once that fat loss phase starts and I chop off about 500 calories they will still have a few hundred calories to drop if we hit a plateau.
And because this is still above that BMR number the likelihood of them feeling like complete shit is way lower.
But the further up you drive those calories in the reverse diet, the more room you have and the more enjoyable the fat loss phase will be.
I know that was a ton of info and it can be alot to absorb.
So here’s some simple action steps to get you started with your own reverse diet.
1. Establish Your Metabolic Rate
If you haven’t ever tracked before, go calculate your TDEE and try to hit that maintenance number.
Then consume that number of calories consistently for 1-2 months.
If your weekly average weight goes up, reduce your daily calories by 100-200 calories.
Once you find a calorie range that keeps your weight consistent, keep those daily calories for 1-2 months.
2. Reverse Diet
Once your weight stays the same or drops down, start adding that 100-200 calories per week.
If you continue to lose weight with these additional calories feel free to experiment by adding 300-400 calories and see how your weekly average weight responds.
If you follow these tips you will be able to raise that metabolism so you can set yourself up for an easier fat loss phase.
Or you can now enjoy those results you worked your ass off for and keep them for the long term.