Over the past 7 months I’ve been working on a reverse diet. For more details on what exactly a reverse diet is, check out this blog post. Now that I am finished with the phase, I wanted to let you know what I thought about it.
The reason I started a reverse diet in the first place was because I had been on fat loss macros for over 6 months (May 2017-October 2018). I lost a good amount of weight and was happy with my progress, but I was HUNGRY! Since I was in a pretty big caloric deficit to lose the initial fat, I was eating fewer calories than my body needed. A caloric deficit is the only way to lose weight – but you shouldn’t be in a caloric deficit for too long because it’s not good for your metabolism. The point of starting my reverse diet was to revamp my metabolism and train my body to eat more calories while maintaining the weight and fat loss I already achieved.
When Josh and Julie Ledbetter (my macros coaches) suggested I start a reverse diet, I was hesitant. The thought of eating more and more calories is scary when you’ve just achieved significant weight loss. I did NOT want to mess everything up and gain the weight back. It took a little convincing, but I decided to trust them and start the reverse diet in October 2017.
When you start a reverse diet, the increase in calories is gradual. It’s not like you are going to add 500 calories per day overnight, that would shock your body too much. The gradual increase is they key to limiting weight gain because your body gets used to each increase bit by bit as you move forward through the increased macros sets. Before the reverse diet, I was at 1,500 calories (120 g carbs, 60 g fat, 120 g protein). My first macros set was 1,522 calories (140 g carbs, 50 g fat, 128 g protein).
You will stay on each macros set for 3-4 weeks to allow your body time to adjust. After that time, you should check two things to see if it’s time to more on. If you lost/maintained weight, you can move to the next set. If you lost/maintained inches, you can move to the next set. If you gain weight/inches, give yourself another week or two and then check again before moving on to the next set.
Carbs will increase by 5-8 g every set (adding 20-32 calories to your total).
Fat will increase by 2-3 g every set (adding 18-27 calories to your total).
Protein is determined based on your body weight, so my protein didn’t change much throughout the 7 months. I did lose a few pounds so protein went from 128 g to 125 g.
You will be adding a max of 60 calories per set. See what I mean by gradual?!
The goal of a reverse diet is not to lose weight. You may lose a couple of pounds, but the actual goal is to train your body to eat more while maintaining your current physique. I did lose a few pounds overall, but as you can see from the chart below I had spikes of higher weigh-ins. Those periods are largely from holidays, vacations, etc. where my eating wasn’t 100% within my macros. This is actually encouraging because it shows that the reverse diet worked even though I was realistic and lived my life. I wasn’t always perfect with my macros and that is 100% okay!
Because I’ve been eating more calories, my body has been able to build some serious muscle! Even though my weight didn’t change much, I feel overall leaner and stronger. I look better and I am eating WAY MORE! Now that’s what I call a win-win.
I’ll be honest and tell you in the first several months of counting macros (fat loss phase and early on in the reverse diet phase) I felt pretty restricted. It was hard to fit in treats without blowing my macros for the day, I was frequently hungry, and my energy was lower. That being said – a caloric deficit is never fun! If you want to lose weight, you must be in a caloric deficit. I wish there was another way, but that’s just math and there isn’t another option. However, it’s important to recognize that you can’t be in a “diet” phase forever. Eventually you will either have to give yourself a diet break or accept your body the way it is.
Now that I completed the reverse diet, I’m still amazed by how many calories I can eat without the fear of gaining weight. I used to think 1,500 was the magic number of calories I needed to eat to stay lean but I reversed to almost 2,000 calories and my body is leaner than ever! I wish I had known about this 5 years ago. I want to SHOUT from the rooftops and tell all of you to try this reverse diet. It has truly changed my life and I am so thankful I took the leap of faith to try it!
Now that my reverse diet is complete and my metabolism is fully repaired, I will begin a maintenance phase. In maintenance, I shouldn’t gain or lose weight because I will be eating the exact amount of calories my body needs every day (based on factors such as my height, weight, activity level, etc.).
Keep in mind that the macros below are specific to MY body, MY eating preferences, and MY goals. You won’t necessarily achieve the results I did by following MY macros because all of our bodies are unique 🙂 .
The Ledbetter app suggests 2 different sets of macros for maintenance – training day macros and rest day macros. The rest day macros are slightly lower than active days. I went a little rogue here…
Rather than adhering to 2 sets of macros (just seems a little confusing in my opinion), I took an average so that I can use the same macros set every day.
Here’s what I mean:
- I take 1 rest day per week, so I multiplied my training day macros by 6 and added in my rest day macros to get a weighted average of the calories I need per day.
- I prefer to allocate more calories to carbs than fat, so I kept protein the same, lowered fat to 60 g, and used the rest of the calories toward carbs.
Remember – you can play around with your percentages based on your preferences! Below are the macros I will be following for at least the next 3-4 months. After a few weeks on this set, I’ll re-assess how my body responds and make any necessary changes.
Current Macros for Maintenance: 238 g carbs | 60 g fat | 125 g protein
Phew! That was a long post! If you made it to the end – congratulations 🙂 . I am always happy to answer any questions you might have!