How to Reverse Diet
“Jessie, how am I supposed to eat 2,000 calories and STILL reach my physique goals?!?!?”
This is one of my most-asked questions, and I absolutely understand why you may feel a little shocked and terrified to eat the amount of calories that I guide you through calculating in my Jessie’s Girls Training Programs. If you have been under-eating for a long period of time, I want to guide you in building up your calories to what you SHOULD be eating. But it takes a very slow and detailed journey to get to that correct calorie amount – you can’t just start eating a larger amount of food immediately.
I am talking about the concept of reverse dieting. Reverse dieting is the process in which you slowly build up to your caloric needs over time. So instead of consuming 700 calories overnight because that is what your body needs (which will leave you bloated and miserable), you slowly increase your daily calories over a long period to ensure that your body becomes adapted to the new caloric demands. When you reverse diet, you not only adapt to the demands of a new diet well, but you also begin to get over the nutritional guilt that goes along with low calorie diets.
“Ok Jessie, I’m cool with the calories, but what about all of the carbohydrates?”
Okay, this is the second most asked question. 😉
Carbs aren’t the problem! Carbohydrates can be anabolic (build muscle) – especially when combined with protein – because carbs increase insulin secretion, and insulin is anabolic. Insulin increases protein synthesis (build muscle) and decreases muscle loss, making it one of the most anabolic hormones in the body. Carbs also help to increase your fiber consumption, which helps to slow down the digestion of sugars, preventing your body from storing unwanted fat. To lift like a Jessie’s Girl (aka like a badass), you need carbohydrates and balanced meals to fuel your weight lifting program. I cannot stress this enough! If you want to build your physique, you MUST eat enough of the proper fuel.
“Ok, with both of those questions answered, how the heck do you reverse diet?”
When you compare your current calories, carbs and diet to the new information you calculate in your Jessie’s Girls Training Program and find that your current calories and macros are much lower – you need to take it slow. Instead of instantly eating the prescribed amount of calories and completely shocking your body, it’s important to reach your new calorie and macro amounts by reverse dieting.
How to put reverse dieting into action
To start – you need to know your current macro intake. If you don’t currently track your macros, take a few days to track your current eating habits and calculate your average. You can track your food simply by writing everything down — or you can check out some of the apps that many other Jessie’s Girls swear by, such as MyFitnessPal, Lose It, or My Macros+. Once you figure out what you’re currently eating, you should compare this number with your calculated TDEE. If you are currently eating 300 or more calories less than your calculated TDEE, you need to reverse diet.
My recommendation is to add 150 calories from carbs and/or fats every four weeks. So, if you have only been eating 300 calories under your calculated TDEE, you only need to add 150 calories for four weeks and, after that four weeks, you’ll be ready for the next 150 calorie increase that gets you to your calculated TDEE, meaning you only had to reverse diet for four total weeks to get to the calorie amount you need to be at. So you can see that the more you’ve been under-eating, the longer this reverse diet is going to take.
Let’s take a look at a sample reverse dieting plan below…
How to Calculate Your Reverse Dieting Plan
Discover Your Calorie Deficit
Find out what your caloric deficit is by subtracting your current calories from your newly-calculated TDEE.
TDEE – Current Calories = Calorie Deficit
So as an example, if my TDEE is 2,000 calories/day, but I’m currently only eating 1,400 calories/day, then my calorie deficit would is 600 calories (aka I’m under-eating by 600 calories)
How Often Should You Increase Your Calories?
Find out how many times (4 week increases) you will be increasing your calories by dividing your caloric deficit by 150.
Caloric deficit/150 = Number of times to increase your calories
Example: 600/150 = 4 (I will increase my calories by 150 every 4 weeks, four times total)
How the increases will look over the weeks:
Week 1: Increase calories from 1,400 to 1,550 (that’s a 150 calorie increase) and stay there for 4 weeks
Week 5: Increase calories from 1,550 to 1,700
Week 9: Increase calories from 1,700 to 1,850
Week 13: Increase calories from 1,850 to 2,000 – YOUR GOAL CALORIES, HOORAY!
So, in this calorie example, if you start today you will be at your goal calories in 13 weeks. Increasing your calories slowly over these 13 weeks will allow you to stay lean, happy and healthy while slowly increasing your food intake.
It Might Sound Scary…. But….
The idea of adding hundreds of calories to your diet can sound scary, and can be hard on your metabolism, body, emotions and mental state if done too quickly. Which is exactly why I want you to reverse diet. Remember that with all of my Jessie’s Girls programs and online membership, we are working towards making a lifestyle change. There are no quick fixes. If you have made the commitment to bettering yourself, you truly owe it to yourself to stick with this type of lifestyle.
Still having second thoughts? I urge you to check out some of the awesome results that many Jessie’s Girls have achieved by making this lifestyle change. You can check the Instagram hashtag #JessiesGirls, or check out all the awesome results from last year’s Jessie’s Girls 3k Challenge winners!
I promise if you trust the process, eat your carbohydrates, eat to your caloric needs, and lift big, you will not only love the outcome, but you will also fall in love with the process.
Check out my Jessie’s Girls Training Programs where I walk you through calculating your macros, including rest day macros, pre/post workout macros and more: