IS IT NORMAL TO GAIN A LITTLE WEIGHT DURING A REVERSE?

Reversing can manifest different for everyone, some people see weight loss and inches in their reverse, some hold steady, and some do add a pound or two. Just like in a cut, the scale can fluctuate 2-5 pounds depending on your hormonal cycles, amount of sleep and stress, workout regimen and intensity etc. It depends on the rate of the reverse as well as ratios can play a part (carb sensitivities etc) and honestly sometimes a reverse is more challenging to stay accurate vs a cut! We can get a little more lose with accuracy and sometimes that can show up as pounds

I REVERSED BEGINNING OF SUMMER BUT SLACKED OFF, SHOULD I GO INTO A CUT NOW?

Up to you! What are you goals? Do you want to lose weight? Are you happy with how you feel and where you’re at? What’s your current relationship with food? Do you still have weight you want to lose? All depends on YOU! Reassess your goals and where you’re at mentally, and if you decide that means cutting then go for it, if you decide you want to just continue with your reverse and improve consistency, that’s great too! All up to you. The beauty of flexible nutrition. You’re the boss applesauce.

CAN YOU UP YOUR MAINTENANCE (HOW MANY CALORIES YOU CAN EAT WITHOUT GAINING FAT) THROUGH A REVERSE?

Possibly! Some women push the limits of their metabolic capacity and continue to increase PAST their estimated TDEE without seeing any or slight change(s) in their measurements. You might surprise yourself! Some women though remain below their TDEE because they start to notice changes before then. Go in with no expectations, and trust the process. The key is to remember that each body is different, and the process is going to look different for everyone! Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that your process is going to look the exact same as someone else that’s reverse dieted. Be open-minded!

HOW DO YOU DO IT AND WHEN DO YOU KNOW IT’S TIME TO REVERSE?

irst off you know it’s time to reverse when:

You’ve hit your goal.

You’ve hit a plateau.

Or you need a break.

You reverse from a cutting level to a maintenance level by incrementally adding calories back in on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. If you add calories back in gradually you can increase your calorie consumption without gaining back weight or losing your results!!

You will want to start by adding around 80-100 calories per week in the form of fat and carbs (usually 2-5 grams of fat and 10-15 grams of carbs). Your protein number—however—will not change (we can hear the collective sigh of relief).

If after the first week there is no change on the scale or your measurements, add in another 100 calories in grams of carbs & fat for another week. Keep adding in calories until you get to your maintenance calorie level (a.k.a. T.D.E.E. your "total daily energy expenditure").

If at any time during your reversal you see a change in your measurements, simply don’t add in additional macros for that week. If you are still below your maintenance level, wait until your measurements are stable and then add in another round of upping your macros.

IF MY CUTTING CALORIES ARE 1565 AND MAINTENANCE ARE 1850 CAN I JUST GO STRAIGHT TO 1850, AND THEN +/-5G?

First off….of course you can if you want to! But the reasoning behind slowly adding in calories each week is because when you spike your caloric intake too quickly at the end of calorie deficit, your metabolic rate doesn’t have time to catch up to the change. The reason for this is our metabolism adapts to the amount of energy we give it. For example, if you have been in a calorie deficit at 1565 calories, at a certain point your metabolism will slow to match that 1565. In order to slowly adapt your metabolism to the new intake of food, you want to slowly add in calories each week.

HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR STARTING AMOUNT OF MACROS WHEN BEGINNING A REVERSE?

Obviously if you’ve had cutting numbers (numbers where you’re in a deficit) then start with those and work your way up! If you’re not cutting or aren’t interested in losing weight but would rather start with a reverse diet, then I usually recommend starting at the lower end of your estimated TDEE. So for example let’s say you use a few different equations and find that your range for your TDEE is anywhere from 1900-2100 calories. If you were interested in reversing, we would start you at around 1800 calories and then reverse you! As far as the macros, those vary from person to person. If you’re a part of our challenge, we explain our EXACT process in our “How to Calculate Your Macros” guide.

WHY DOES REVERSE DIETING MATTER?

Reverse dieting is for anyone and everyone who wants to learn about the game plan AFTER dieting. The path that leads to keeping the weight off forever. For anyone who wants to maximize their metabolism or improve their metabolism. In other words, if you want to learn to eat more food on a daily basis and not be on a diet for your whole life, have a better relationship with carbs without ballooning up, this is probably something you want to know about!

IS THERE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF TIME YOU SHOULD REVERSE AS WELL AS MAINTAIN FOR BEFORE CUTTING?

You’re going to hear this a lot but it’s different for everyone. The length of time should be similar to how long you’ve been dieting! You heard us right...the longer you’ve been a chronic dieter, the longer you should be reverse dieting. We recommend doing a full reverse when you do a reverse. Meaning that you max out and push the limits of your metabolic capacity. Pushing the limits of your reverse is important so that when it’s time for you to cut again, it can be the most effective possible! But do whatever is comfortable for you. That’s the bottom line. Increasing food intake for some women is scary, as they fear gaining weight, but you have to remember that you’re not meant to be cutting forever. Your body WANTS to be at maintenance. The place your body comfortably sits without losing or gaining weight. We recommend staying in maintenance at LEAST for 2 months before thinking about going into another cut (if you choose to do so).

IS THERE A CARB AMOUNT YOU SHOULD “NEVER” GO BELOW?

According to The Essentials of Sport & Exercise Nutrition, there is no “correct” amount of carbohydrates that is the same for everyone, all the time.  Carbohydrate intake depends on:

How big or small someone is

How much lean mass or body fat they have

How active they are

How intense, long-lasting, and/or frequent the activity is

How old they are & what stage of life they’re in

Intake levels of other macros

Genetics

What foods like like, tolerate, and prefer to eat

What they want to do

A small percentage of people function best with more carbs than average, another small percentage functions best with less than average, and most people fall somewhere in the middle and function best with a moderate portion of carbohydrates.  As far as looking for a number to never go below, research shows that our brains need about 130g of glucose a day (glucose is what carbs are broken into).

WHAT IS REVERSE DIETING?

If you’re new to macros, then this really is going to feel like a foreign concept, but if you’ve done macros and have been through a “cutting” phase (where you’re in a calorie deficit to lose body fat), then this is what comes after you’re done cutting. Reverse dieting is a form of positive metabolic adaptation in which the body responds favorably to increased food intake. Meaning you gradually increase your food intake weekly or bi-weekly to work your way back up to maintenance calories (where you theoretically don’t gain or lose weight - your body reaches homeostasis). This is achieved through controlled tracking of your diet while you steadily increase your macros. The process is meant to allow your body to slowly adapt to increased food intake without gaining excess body fat.

Can I save some macros in my macro bank to use the next day (or save a few for a few days) to use the next day (or within a few days) if I know I’d like to eat over my macros at a party/restaurant?

So, this is a loaded question. Theoretically, yes you could absolutely do this, treating the week as a complete bank of calories. And strategically organizing your days to accumulate calories for whatever day you plan. However, you’re also opening a huge messy can of worms—as well as some pretty intense mindset challenges.

It’s tricky for a few reasons. Even though we like to set up our weeks M-F, we all know that weight loss isn’t on a schedule. So with impending hormones, stress, etc, you never truly know until later if it’s an effective strategy to employ. Also, using this as a tool to have your events also works the other way. If you go over one day, are you going to inflict lower calories on yourself to “make up” for it, like a plan in reverse? This gets dangerous and becomes no different than a yyo diet, where you restrict and go big and back and forth.

Are you secure in your mindset and abilities to tackle this kind of strategy? Can you plan your week effectively and only use it as a strategy instead of a lifestyle? Prolonged under eating and then overeating WILL affect your metabolism, where your body will adapt to the lowest calorie balance it can rely on and with a surplus can use it as fat gain. It also depends on where you are in your goals and learning. IF you are new, I would advise NOT to do this. Some of you are working with a very low calorie balance already. Utilizing 500 one day and dropping 900 or even less is a dangerous strategy. This will create hunger as well as mood fluctuations. Not worth it for an evening out. The goal is to have balance, our bodies performing in the most ideal scenarios. Fat loss happens in a moderate deficit, not a severe one.

Our recommendation? Have an untracked meal. Plan for it. Eat plenty of protein, save your carbs and fat, do the best you can. You’ll feel empowered by strategies, not deprivation.

I haven't been tracking for a couple of months now. I'm ready to. Not sure if I need to adjust my macros. Should I start tracking my current eating habits to see what my real intake is?

Starting to track and see where you’re at is a great move for a couple reasons: make the transitions in phases vs. a tear out the closet let’s do ALL the goals...which can easily come from an all-or-nothing, let’s tear out the closet and start all over, white knuckle it until you burn out kind of place.

Start tracking for 3-4 days. How do you feel? What are you noticing? Are you eating as low or as high as you thought? Make sure you’re tracking things like this! Maybe that’s jotting them down in a note on your iPhone or maybe that’s getting a separate little journal to keep track of how you’re feeling.

Second cuts that did not include a reverse can be tricky depending on where you left off. Were you in a plateau—meaning had your metabolism downshifted? If you haven’t pushed your metabolism back up through a reverse it could still be functioning at a lower level which will obviously cause a problem when you try to cut again!

With so many different tools out there to calculate macros, each giving you a different result, what's the best way to find what is best for you?

With so many calculators and coaches out there, you’re totally right. It can be confusing and overwhelming. Which is why when it comes down to it you need to understand that there are NO magic macros to give you the results you want. You can honestly find success with weight and/or fat loss with different macro ratios. This is because what matters MOST is overall calorie intake and adequate protein. The best approach is to stick to ONE set of numbers for at least 3 weeks, AT LEAST. Then (barring that you’ve been super consistent with those numbers) after the 3 weeks, take a look at the PROGRESS you’ve made. Use data that you’ve tracked (inches or lbs lost, PRs in the gym, pictures, how you’re feeling, etc…) to make OUTCOME-BASED decisions about how to proceed. Theoretically and put VERY simply, if you’re gaining weight with the macros you’re on, you’re in a calorie surplus. If you’re losing weight with the macros you’re on, you’re in a calorie deficit. If your weight stays the same, you’re in calorie balance.

If you are losing weight, do you need to recalculate your macros? If so, how often?

We recommend recalculating your macros for every 10-15 lbs lost or if your weight is the same but you’re body fat percentage is decreasing. If you’re making progress in either of those areas, we’d say that every 2-3 months you might want to re-evaluate, but honestly what’s MORE important is making OUTCOME-BASED decisions. Gauge your progress and if you need to make any adjustments based on if you’re seeing the results you want with the numbers you’re using.

I’ve been counting macros for 3 years, and lost about 30 pounds, but the last year I have completely plateaued. This has been discouraging. Sometimes I wonder if I need to change my macros?

If you’ve been in a cut for 3 years then it’s most likely time for a reverse gal! Your body needs a break!!! It appears your nutritionist has you on a very low carb diet which if that is successful for you and what you enjoy then keep on doing your thing. Your only options when you plateau are theoretically to keep cutting calories or to REVERSE. And girl…you need to reverse! Make sure to read up on our blog post “Reverse Dieting FAQs”!

When should you reevaluate your macros? I’m thinking it’s time for a change!

This is a pretty loaded question!! So many things to take into consideration…

  • What kind of change do you need?

  • Are you currently cutting, in maintenance, or bulking?

  • What’s your current level of consistency in tracking?

  • Are you having a hard time hitting your numbers?

  • Do you need a break from cutting?

  • What are your goals?

  • What do you want to get out of tracking your macros?

The more specific you get with your goals, the more specific you can get with how you want to approach macros and what kind of plan you want to create for yourself! If you want advice about reverse dieting after doing a cut, make sure to read up on our “Reverse Dieting FAQs” blog post!

If you are wanting to cut body fat, should you keep fat % low and protein % on higher side?

Not necessarily! Successful fat loss is all about an adequate protein intake (anywhere from 0.8-1.2g protein per lb body weight) and being in a calorie deficit. That is the bottom line! Whatever you feel is best for you and your body as well as what you can be most consistent with, that’s the key to successful fat loss! You can’t spot fat loss, and there definitely aren’t magic macro numbers. The magic comes from CONSISTENCY, your ability to learn as you go, and adjusting your numbers based on your progress. It’s important to make OUTCOME-BASED decisions when making adjustments to your macros. And you can only make outcome-based decision if you’ve been consistent with your numbers to know if they’re working for you in the first place!

Can macros help with preventing weight gain at any age, specifically around the age of menopause?

Absolutely! The beauty of macros is literally it’s tracking your food intake to use as feedback for how to move forward in reaching whatever goals you have. Macros can be effective for women of all ages, sizes, stages of life, etc… For more information on what flexible nutrition (tracking your macros) is about, read up on our blog post “What is Flexible Nutrition?”.