By Coach Sarah Eiserman
When you first sign up with us, we ask you to fill out an intake form and send three days of food logs. Almost always, those food logs show signs of under-eating. In fact, we’ve seen women in particular averaging under 1,000 calories a day (please note: the average woman’s calorie maintenance is somewhere between 1,800 to 2,000 calories/day).
So what does that mean?
After prolonged periods of under-eating, the body goes through something called metabolic adaptation (your metabolism ‘adapts’ to not getting enough food) and thyroid function down-regulates. It would make sense that if our body is not getting sufficient calories, metabolic functions and processes slow down to enable survival. What can that look like:
👎🏻 You’re lacking in energy
👎🏻 You’re injury prone
👎🏻 You have a hard time shedding body fat or putting on muscle
👎🏻 Insatiable hunger or no hunger response at all
👎🏻 Period irregularity
👎🏻 Lack of sex drive
👎🏻 Digestive irregularity
👎🏻 Poor sleep quality or inability to fall asleep
👎🏻 and more
What do we do about it?
Please understand that if you come to us not eating enough, we won’t cut calories any more for the sake of helping you lose a few pounds. We’re not in the business of making you look better at the expense of you being miserable and unhealthy. Our approach is based on sustainability and your overall health will always be our primary focus. So, in order to get your body into a healthy enough position to drop and keep off fat, we cue the Reverse Diet.
What’s a Reverse Diet?
A reverse diet is when we build up your total calories until we get the proper biofeedback responses. While there’s no real way to predict if you’ll gain, maintain, or lose weight during the process, you should notice things like:
👍🏻 More energy
👍🏻 Better sleep quality
👍🏻 Improved digestion
👍🏻 Improved performance
👍🏻 Increased muscle mass
👍🏻 and more
So, your reverse diet ends around where we calculated your maintenance calories to be…and when you start to feel like a million bucks. Once we’ve completed the Reverse Diet and we have you eating at maintenance for a bit, your body will be in a much better position to drop and keep off fat.
How a Reverse Diet is Similar to Building a House
Think of the Reverse Diet as the planning phase of building your dream house. You don’t just go out to a plot of land and start digging a hole. You start by finding a contractor, drawing up blueprints, hiring a construction company, gathering the supplies, and getting your permits together. The same goes for a Reverse Diet.
In order to prepare your body to make long term sustainable progress towards your goals, we need to get it ready. This phase includes building up your total caloric intake as well as getting the macro breakdown to the correct balance for your activity level and type. This is the time where your body should be feeling prepared for its future endeavors.
The next step to building your dream house is the foundation. You would never build a house on a cracked foundation, or in a marsh, and sure wouldn’t rush to start by building before the cement dries. This is similar to the maintenance phase of a diet. This is when you eat at a caloric intake that will help you sustain your current body weight. This period of time is important as this is when your body will get the signal that it is safe and does not need to worry about storing fat to prepare for a food shortage. It will, in turn, fire up your metabolism and support your thyroid health. Once your foundation is firm only then can we progress to an active fat loss stage.
Now that you have a solid foundation, it’s time for the real work to begin. If we are talking in dream house lingo this is when the frames go up, the electrical work goes in, and the roof gets nailed down. This is also when our nutrition plan needs to get dialed in. If the framework in our house is off by an inch or two, our house will lean. Sure, we will get a house in the end but we will pay for our poor measuring skills in the long term. Similarly, during our reverse and maintenance periods, we might have been able to get away with a little bit of eyeballing of our foods or fitting in some less than stellar choices but now is when we really need to dial in our tracking and make good choices, so that we can accurately tell how our body is adjusting to the deficit created. As we create a caloric deficit, the margin of error needs to be tightened up.
So what is the next step after our dream house is complete? The walls are up, the lights turn on, and the heat is blazing? Well, we gather the decorations, make sure we have some furniture, we hang pictures and move on in. Same goes for the completion of a successful cut.
This is what no one tells you: but you’re supposed to eventually work your way out of a caloric deficit (do another Reverse Diet) once fat loss has been accomplished. This is how we maintain the integrity of our metabolism and sustain our fat loss (a.k.a this is why people who crash diet gain all the weight back and some).
We work our intake back up until we get to a level that we can maintain all the hard work we put in getting our body to where it is now.
We don’t live in a caloric deficit (read that twice!), we work back to maintenance and make small adjustments along the way. Just like our house, we don’t decorate, move in and then never clean or organize it. We make sure we maintain our hard work by giving it some daily TLC, vacuum the carpets, dust the counters, wash the dishes, scrub the toilets, nothing drastic but enough to keep our dream home beautiful and functioning at its best.
If we built our house right we shouldn’t need to continue the construction process. We should be able to live our lives in it but keep an eye on the daily wear and tear. Same goes for our body. If we treat it right, we can live happily ever after in maintenance land not living in fear of undoing all the hard work we just put in.
Questions about any of the above? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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