Updated: Jan 17
When the quest at hand is achieving a normal body composition (normal ratios of fat and muscle), dieting in order to lose the excess fat is inevitable.
However, a frequent occurrence after a period of weight loss is the weight gain rebound.
This is often known as “Yo-Yo dieting” and it basically leads to gaining all the weight back in twice as little time as it took to lose it.
In this article, we’re going to give you valuable insight on how to keep the weight off after a diet, with one simple method - Reverse dieting!
Now let’s get to it.
Why Does The Rebound Happen?
Though you may associate weight loss with better looks and feeling better in your own skin, a diet really means starvation for the body.
The more weight you lose, the more you’re priming your fat-storing mechanisms, because the body perceives the deficit of energy as a period of starvation, as we just said.
Since the body gets fewer calories from food than it is used to, metabolic adaptations start happening.
In simple terms, this means that the body slows down the metabolism and what was once a caloric deficit becomes your maintenance calories.
The more time you spend on a diet, the more you have to decrease food.
So, How Can You Counter This?
If you want to preserve your metabolic rate, there are a couple of things you can do, one during the diet and one in the period after the diet.
Those two things are:
Though it may sound quite misleading, diet breaks are periods during your diet, when you bump up your calories back to baseline, maintenance level.
This helps your body keep the metabolic rate up and thus, prevents the risk of excessive caloric decrease.
Now of course, a diet break doesn’t really mean you can ditch the diet and totally go crazy on your food consumption.
Again, a diet break is simply a period where you consume slightly more food, in amounts that won’t lead to drastic changes in weight.
Diet breaks are best implemented every couple of weeks, for a couple of weeks.
For instance, if you’ve been consistently losing weight for 2-3 weeks, you can afford to have a 2-3 week diet break, during which you’ll consume at maintenance and train with a slightly higher intensity.
Though this will make the total time dieting longer, it will minimize the risk of a weight gain rebound.
After your diet is over and you reach your desired shape, you can’t just ditch everything altogether.
You have to understand that keeping the weight off is a matter of sticking to the same habits that helped you lose it in the first place.
While dieting implies a gradual decrease in your caloric intake over time, reverse dieting is, well, the exact opposite! After your diet is over, it is time to gradually bump up your calories and training intensity.
This will help you increase your food intake, WITHOUT risking a weight gain rebound.
The goal of a reverse diet is to help you increase your food consumption, without drastic changes in weight.
To do so, follow these simple steps:
Each week, increase your calories by 50-80 (Stacks up to ~400 extra calories in 5 weeks)
Workout to workout, increase your working weight, sets, and repetitions
Just like your dieting phase, during the reverse dieting phase, you have to still monitor your weight and if there are sudden changes, adjustments should follow. (i.e if you’re losing more and more weight, you should bump up food intake and vice versa - if you’re gaining too much weight, food intake should be decreased)
In many cases, reckless dieting leads to unwanted weight gain rebounds, that make all your hard work worthless.
To avoid this, you have to make sure that your deficit is not overly aggressive (up to 500 calories per day), while also including dieting breaks every 2-3 weeks of being in a caloric deficit.
After your diet is over, you should gradually increase your caloric intake and training output, while monitoring your weight and adjusting the diet as needed.
Ultimately, sustainable weight loss is a slow, gradual process that is supported with proper habitual changes, sustained even after the diet is over.