Have you ever had a friend who kept a diet for some time, then gained back 90-95% of the weight they lost, in less than a week?
This is the so-called “Yo-Yo effect” of dieting.
As we cleared out in the first article of this section (physiology of fat loss) there’s one very important thing to keep in mind – Metabolism.
During a period of time, eating at a caloric deficit, the human body slows down the metabolism, so it can prepare for that deficit, in case it gets the chance to.
In other words- If you’re at a deficit for some time, then suddenly get back to binging on foods and being on a caloric surplus, you will gain all the fat back in no time.
Avoiding the yo-yo effect
The easiest, most effective way of avoiding this rapid weight gain, is to have a proper post-diet approach. This means, once you get to your desired shape, REFRAIN from binging on foods. What you have to do is called “Reverse dieting”.
Reverse dieting is, well, just the opposite of dieting- Instead of progressively lowering your calories as your weight goes down, you progressively increase your calories as your metabolism and weight go up.
Increasing the calories
We know it’s hard to not binge on your favorite foods, but how awesome would it be if you managed to maintain your “Shredded” physique and start off your new off-season with sub 10% body-fat percentage? It would make your next shredding period much shorter and pleasant to go through.
Our recommendations would be to steadily increase your calories week by week. You mostly increase the carbohydrate intake during the first weeks of your reverse diet, and during the last weeks, where you have a significantly higher increase in calories, you can add some fats as well.
Let’s give a reverse dieting example, using the individual’s profile from the previous article.
Weight: 85 kg
Goal weight: 80 kg
Height: 180 cm
Daily activities: Light (Teacher)
Exercise output: 5 days per week, 60 minutes per day including cardio
Exercise intensity: Moderate- the individual breathes hard and gives themselves a challenge during every workout.
Deficit calories: 2180
Daily deficit macronutrients:
170 grams of protein (p)
212 grams of carbohydrates (c)
76 grams of fat (f)
In most cases, at the end of the 10 week diet, the calories would be down to 2050 (170p/193c/70f), compared to the initial 2180 calories (170p/212c/76f), and the weight would be down to 80 kg.
Week 10- 2100 calories – 193 grams of carbs, 70 grams of fat
Week 11- 200 grams of carbs, 70 grams of fat
Week 12- 210 grams of carbs, 70 grams of fat
Week 13- 220 grams of carbs, 70 grams of fat
Week 14- 240 grams of carbs, 70 grams of fat
Week 15- 260 grams of carbs, 70 grams of fat
Week 16- 280 grams of carbs, 70 grams of fat
Week 17- 295 grams of carbs, 76 grams of fat
Week 18- 325 grams of carbs, 76 grams of fat
So, as you can see, that’s a gradual week-by-week increase, going from 193 grams of carbs and 70 grams of fat, to a healthy 325 grams of carbs and 76 grams of fat- an increase of 132 and 6 grams respectively.
Up until week 18, you will also observe slight body-weight changes, which is completely normal. However, using the reverse dieting principle, we completely avoid the undesired Yo-Yo effect, and get our organism and metabolism back to normal rates.
- While reverse dieting, make sure to weigh yourself weekly and adjust your calories according to your body-weight, since it might fluctuate.
- Make sure to weigh yourself on an EMPTY STOMACH in the MORNING, that’s when you can get the most accurate weigh in, since there is no food/water weight.
- After you reach your maintenance calories, slowly progress into your off-season, by gradually increasing your intake so that you’re in a surplus. However, do not consume more than 250~300 calories in surplus, so you can avoid excessive fat gains.
- Stay dedicated to your training and diet, you don’t want to ruin your work, do you?
Once you’ve reached your desired weight and/or look, do not rush the fridge! Instead, keep on moving with your diet. Slowly increase your caloric intake to repair your metabolism. Make a gradual transition into the new muscle-building phase (off-season), without having to deal with excess fat gains.
Stay LEAN and MEAN!