You should have the body you want. But you shouldn’t have to restrict your calorie intake and fear the fork your whole life. Let me introduce you to my proven reverse-diet method.
Can I lose weight without dieting?
The short answer is yes.
But if you’ve been cutting your energy intake down to 1,200 kcal per day for as long as you can remember, moving away from this drastic restriction can feel scary and confusing at first.
The truth is that I don’t know where the damned 1,200 calorie rule came from.
But what I can tell you for a fact is that society has been propagating this toxic idea that women have to be as teeny and tiny as possible to the point where we almost shrink into nothingness.
That ends now.
First things first – I want you to realize that you need to eat.
You need to take up space.
You need to be metabolically healthy.
And I’ll help you slowly and methodically begin to consume more calories while minimizing fat gain.
Keep reading to find out why the reverse diet method will change your life.
Eat more and build lean muscle without gaining weight
Calorie counting got one thing right – when you consume more energy than you burn, you put on weight.
And when you eat less energy than you burn, you lose weight.
But when we talk about “weight loss,” we need to make one thing crystal-clear.
You don’t want to lose brain weight.
You don’t want to lose organ weight.
God knows women don’t need to lose muscle weight and bone mass, we work hard enough for those already.
What you do want to lose is adipose tissue – a.k.a the jiggly bits around your waistline that aren’t serving any purpose.
“Calories in, calories out” misses this one crucial thing
There are a few key factors that influence your energy balance.
First and foremost, that’s your appetite.
Your appetite is ruled by two hormones.
Ghrelin – which tells you “pick up the fork, it’s nosh time!”
And leptin that signals that you’re satiated.
So if you’re in your reproductive years and having a period, your hormones will fluctuate throughout the month.
Which is why consuming the same amount of calories every day is madness.
It just doesn’t work.
The type of food you eat matters
That’s right – it’s not just how much you eat but what foods you consume that can make you gain or lose weight.
If you’re eating whole foods, your body will use more energy to break them down.
But if your meals are processed, your body doesn’t need to work all that hard.
What’s more, processed foods are designed to trigger bliss points – giving you a mini high and making it impossible to stop eating until you’ve engulfed every last bite.
You are not what you eat
How many times have you heard the age-old saying “you are what you eat?”
Except that you are not.
You are what you can absorb and transport.
I know, it doesn’t sound as sexy but that’s the honest truth.
The factors that dictate how much of your food’s goodness you can actually absorb and transport are both physical and psychological.
First of all, the quality of your food matters.
An Uber eats meal where the restaurant has used the same oil seven times will obviously not be as good for you as a meal you prepare at home with high-quality meats, veggies, and olive oil.
Your food will have a certain thermogenic effect based on its composition – how much of it is protein, fat, and carbs.
The state of your microbiome and your age play a huge part, too.
Because as we age, our bodies become less efficient at extracting and transporting nutrients.
Digestion starts in your head
Your emotional state, stress levels, and how you perceive yourself influence your weight and body composition BIG time.
It’s simple – if you’re stressed, you don’t sleep well.
Your cortisol skyrockets and makes you consume more calories.
If you’re feeling like you have no control over life or like you’re not good enough, you keep fueling that stress and prolonging the vicious cycle.
Meet the factors that manage your calorie burn
How much of the calories consumed you actually burn depends on your basal metabolic rate (BMR).
And that is influenced by… you guessed it – your hormones.
Along with how much muscle you have.
Because muscle spikes your ability to burn calories off, so the more muscular you are, the more energy you burn.
What’s more, if you’re exercising, the duration, intensity, and quality of your workout will determine how many calories you expand.
And that number may vary from one session to the next.
And of course, we can’t discount your lifestyle.
If you’re glued to a chair for 8 hours a day, your ability to burn calories won’t be as powerful as somebody who has the freedom to get up, go for a walk and move around whenever they want.
The longer you cut calories, the less fat you burn overtime
When you cut calories for a long time, you decrease your BMR.
Your workouts become more difficult too because your body is holding on to every little bit of energy it can, in case of a hypothetical famine.
As a result, you burn fewer calories and expend less energy.
While that’s happening, your body ends up aggressively holding onto fat.
And this is when the dreaded yo-yo effect comes in: you gain and lose the same 10 lbs for decades.
Because as you get closer to your lower weight goal, your body taps into your muscle protein reserves to burn as you’re not feeding it enough fat.
It’s worth mentioning here that women should aim for no less than 10 – 13% of overall body fat.
Men can get down to 3% but we ladies can not due to our hormones.
How to lose weight with a reverse diet
Ok, we’ve talked about all the major factors that influence your calorie intake, output, and fat burn process.
Now let’s get to the good part – how can you eat more, build muscle, and lose weight without a diet?
Meet your new favorite term: reverse diet.
As you gradually begin to consume more calories, you increase your basal metabolic rate.
So you begin to burn calories in the form of heat during a thermogenesis process.
Your workout capacity increases so now you’re burning more with every lift or cardio session.
You will feel more energetic during the day too, causing your spontaneous movement to increase.
And your digestion improves as you no longer hold on to every morsel of food as if it would be your last.
You can learn all about reverse-dieting in this podcast episode.
Start your reverse diet in 3 steps
For my Type A ladies out there – you’ll probably want to get on this right away but we’re not talking about bumping your intake from 1,200 to 5,000 kcal overnight.
You need to be gentle with your body as you jumpstart the process of increasing calories.
And you may not like what I’ll say next, but it’s important.
- Track and measure your food.
No, you can’t “eyeball it,” sorry.
You will begin by increasing your calorie intake by 40-60 calories per week.
Which means that you need to have as precise an understanding of how much you already eat as possible.
You can use Carb Manager and a food scale to get started.
This is what my ladies at Hello Betty who are following a reverse diet prefer.
You can Google search a BMR calculator to determine where you’re at.
- Decide on your macronutrient balance and up your protein
Protein is the most important macro for reverse dieting.
It will help maximize your muscle-protein synthesis and minimize muscle-protein degradation.
And more protein increases your energy output than it does for carbs and fat.
Set a target of protein intake at 1 gram per pound. So if you weigh 125lbs, you’d need to consume 125 grams of protein daily.
Subtract your protein intake from your total calorie goal and divide the rest between carbs and fat.
I recommend either a 40/60 or 60/40 split between your carbs and fat intake.
Which one you choose would be based on your unique goals and where you’re at.
- Increase your calories slowly and conservatively
Only add 40-60 calories a week.
So if you’ve been consuming 1,200 for decades, I won’t make you go up to 1,800 overnight.
Add 40 calories a week to bump yourself up to 1,240.
Stay at that number for a week or two if needed, and up it again by another 40.
Continue with the process until you hit a point (say, 1,800 calories) where you’ve got plenty of energy, your workout performance is improved, and your digestion is better.
I highly recommend tracking your progress with hip measurements and taking photos of how it’s all coming along.
Take the photos in the morning after you pee.
Make sure to track your performance and notice where you’re hitting new personal best results at the gym.
And remember, take it slowly.
Even if you’ve been restricting for years, it’s not too late to heal.