So as you all know I am nearly at the end of my competition prep! (YAY) so what happens after that? I often get asked what I will do after- Will I simply get to go back to training less and eating more? Unfortunately not. It takes just as much precision and care to take calories back up as it does to get lean.
After a competition you can kind of feel a bit lost, it is an all-consuming form of training and dieting and you’ll often find it can lead to either bingeing or developing a fear of taking calories back up. A basic ‘definition’ of reverse dieting, if I had to sum it up, would be a period of working your calories back up slowly after being in a calorie deficit for a period of time. As I’ve said from day one maintaining this level of body fat is not healthy or sustainable so it will be crucial to get myself back up to a healthy level.
This is the leanest condition that I have ever managed to achieve which is fantastic in terms of competing and a great sign of the hard work that myself and my coach put in during my off season in terms of building up my metabolism. However, an increase in my energy expenditure coupled with a slow reduction in calories means my body would have adapted to perform at a much less efficient rate. If I were to go straight back to eating over 2000 kcal a day I would gain body fat and gain it fast which is not what we want.
So how do you reverse diet? A few words of advice:
- Don’t do it alone-ideally you would stay with the same coach that you prepped with as they will know how your body has responded, your macros etc. I have trained with Alex at The SCI for 4 years now so he has a really good understanding of how I respond both mentally and physically after dieting.
- Don’t rush – your body will be particularly sensitive after a period of restriction so you’ll need to bare this in mind before stuffing your face with your favourite foods!
- Make small changes and check in weekly- if you add them in too quickly then your body will try and store them so as to prepare itself in case you diet extremely again. This is why it’s important to take photos and check in.
- Stick to the plan- it will be tough but if you have had the discipline to prep then you should be able to have the discipline to reverse out. It will benefit you in the long run.
Benefits of reverse dieting:
- It means you can get back to a healthy weight both safety and minimise any risk of depression or ‘post-comp’ blues that some competitors experience.
- Personally, in terms of the mental side of things, I found it easier to deal with coming out of prep and gaining weight as I was still macro tracking and being careful.
- If you still remain consistent with your training and recovery you may actually find your strength increases- which will be motivating and can make gaining some extra weight easier to deal with.
There is no hard and fast evidence when it comes to reverse dieting and everyone will react differently and unfortunately when a large part of it is mental it can be tough to implement any hard and fast rules, when it comes to giving someone a plan or advice. So I’ll be staying under the guidance of my very talented coach, who knows me and my body probably better than I do!
And I’m excited to get back to training hard and eating hard!