Taking a Closer Look at Reverse Dieting

Posted: April 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

Reverse Dieting has gotten a lot of hype recently. I came across this great analysis from Jason VanEpps. Before we dive into how to interpret and implement post diet nutrition lets look at what I have found to be accurate. Post contest an individual should take about 2 weeks to find their new “maintenance Calories”. They obviously have just been through a diet and I would imagine that some weight was loss. Therefore that person’s new maintenance is different from when they began their cut. After this new maintenance has been determined it is time to eat in a surplus. Most reverse dieters make the mistake of saying for extended periods in a deficit. I say try to find that new maintenance and then begin the new bulk. This should be done slowly and controlled. As apposed to eating everything in sight and gaining pounds and pounds of fat in only a few short weeks. I advocate a clean bulk. aiming to shoot for .5 lbs gained per week post show, then increasing calories enough to consistently gain 3-4 lbs a month. So with this quick background and my approach shown above lets look at the logic behind all this hype:

“it seems like the more reverse dieting gets debunked the more uneducated people i see advocating it. here is  a comment i posted on a reverse dieting thread that pretty well lays out why its a waste of time.

1. metabolic adaptation doesnt exceed 18% even in the most extreme situations. 18% was seen on biggest losers in this study.


keys et al put men on 1500 calories for 6 months, they showed a 10-15% decrease and didnt stop losing until they were at 5% and even then only stopped losing scale weight due to water retention, they never stopped losing muscle/fat.

both of these studies used too low of protein, cardio, and no or not enough heavy lifting. these are factors that could decrease adaptation.

so if metabolic adaptation doesnt explain why people maintain or gain on low numbers, what could it be?

2. people after a cut are very prone to binging. in keys et al the subjects were literally fantasizing about food, all they thought of was food. after the 6 months they were allowed to eat as much as they wanted, and they went crazy. this can also be seen on many competitors youtube channels. most of us has seen a bikini girl talking about all the food shes planning on eating after her show.

3. people are very, very bad at reporting calories. kira already posted a link to an article about this study, but there was a study done on obese women who were having this exact problem. they were taught how to keep a food diary and instructed to record everything. they knew itd be checked for accuracy. they were still wildly inaccurate.

on a related note, some people will say “ive been eating x amount of calories and not losing, while they know theyve been binging.” Rose Brock said she was eating 800 calories and not losing in the womens group. when i told her she was wrong a bunch of women jumped on me for “calling her a liar” and insulting her, and i got a pm from her saying she wasnt really eating 800, she was trying to and then binging a lot. just like every other person that makes her initial claim.


4. if metabolic adaptation is caused by being in a deficit, why would you possibly stay in a deficit? if you put your hand in boiling water and it hurts, do you pull it out as fast as possible or do you lower the temp gradually? the idea of fixing a problem caused by being in a deficit by prolonging the deficit is ludicrous. there are negative adaptations brought on by eating in a deficit, and guess how you fix them? you stop eating in a deficit.

5. eating low calories increases cortisol, which causes water retention. this can cause stalls on the scale. adding in more calories can cause this water to drop.

6. before moving on to the reasons reversing works and why, heres a post that shows some of the things layne has claimed are not even close to physically possible. laynes response to avi saying its impossible was along the lines of “i wouldve agreed with you two years ago, but ive seen too much since then.” for a man who claims hes of science, disagreeing with physics doesnt make much sense. its also ironic that layne admits theres no research backing him up, and relies on emails from post contest women, but then demands research from other “gurus” on a regular basis.

7. time spent reversing is time that could be spent bulking.

why reversing seems to work

1. more calories increases NEAT. neat is non exercise activity thermogenesis. its all the calories you burn on a daily basis that isnt actual exercise. walking around, tapping a foot, etc. homeostasis uses neat as a tool to maintain, when you eat in a surplus its likely neat will increase, when you eat in a deficit itll decrease. the degree of adaptation is highly variable on the individual.

2. more calories increases calories burned while training. this is also pretty obvious, you eat more you train better.

3. more calories increases TEF (thermic effect of food). this is also obvious, the more you eat the more thatll increase.

4. as stated above, more calories will lower cortisol and help drop water weight thats being held. many times people will be losing weight in a cut and not notice until they add in more, and then not realize they arent losing a lot of fat on the higher calories, theyre just revealing the fat loss they already made by losing water.

5. reversing can be great to help ease the post contest blues, and most coaches who advocate it do it for psychological reasons. i used to agree with this. itll slow down scale gains due to water and glycogen. however i also always thought it might be counterproductive in the long run. competitors shouldnt feel like they need to stay stage lean after a show, its not healthy. by reversing to stay as lean as possible as long as possible it really only encourages that mindset that one shouldnt gain weight after a show. in the long run its much healthier to learn to accept the water and glycogen gains without worrying about it.

Alan said pretty much everything ive been saying for months and months in the latest AARR, read it. his final recommendation is very close to what mine has always been (mine was get to maintenance asap and sit there 2 weeks before bulking), dont take more than 2 weeks getting to maintenance and not more than a month before starting a bulk.


also keld i have been on a long weight loss journey, i lost 100lbs in a year. i started at about 1500 calories on a keto diet and as i learned more transitioned to a lyle mcdonald style psmf. i ate anywhere between 1000-1500 calories. the only stalls i had were when i binged. heres some before and afters.


https://scontent-a-iad.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc1/t1.0-9/34548_1507501057233_2861765_n.jpg” – Jason VanEpps


(this was a post from the IIFYM.com Facebook Page)



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