Reverse dieting…

So get this.  I’m not a complete lunatic.  All of those years of busting my ass?  The hard work was there.  The strict dieting was there.  And the yo-yo of putting weight back on?  That was there too.

I stumbled onto something with my videos called “reverse dieting”.  This is more theory that has lots of evidence in real people, but the paper science isn’t there, that I can see.  Hundreds of case studies.  Emerging theories….

And it explains a LOT of the problems most of us have with dieting.

Let me give you the setup of what happened to me, dozens of time.

  • Run 3-5 times a week, 2-3 miles at a time
  • Calorie restrictions of 1200-1600 calories
  • Lose a LOT of weight in 30 days
  • Start to get tired, really hungry a lot
  • Get injured
  • Eat “normal” calories of 2200 or so and put all the weight back on in 2-4 weeks.

People see someone like me, and they just say “put down the donuts”.  They never saw the amount of exercise I did, and people would therefore assume I was weak or something.  Well, first of all, I did have a LOT of overeating days in my life, no doubt.  It’s also not  as much overeating as you might think.  Some of the videos of morbidly obese people and the amount of food they could eat completely stuns me.  While I ate consistently bad foods, my calories were probably 3,000-4,000 per day with maybe a spike once a month of 5,000 if I had a big meal out.

I  digress – what many of you didn’t see with a guy my size was probably 5-7 months of strict dieting every year with loss and gain.  Over time, the weight you take off is eclipsed by the weight you put back on.  You get messed up in the head, and often times, food starts to overtake your thinking.  It becomes something you seek in good times and in bad…it becomes your anti-depressant.   You could be doing well, then a significant life event hits you and BAM, you’re knocked on your ass.  Food becomes that medicine.

But the paradigm above, I can tell you – I’ve been part of that many times.  The exercise has NEVER been a problem for me.  It’s been my dinner table.  But whether it was vegan, paleo, vegetarian, atkins, zone, weight watchers – whatever it was – weight DID come off…then it came back on the moment you EXIT the diet.

Reverse dieting….

The concept here is that your body, over time, will adapt its metabolism to what you are taking it – to a degree.  What many people recommend…on a cut…is to take your BMR and diet to 20% less than that to create a deficit to lose weight.  My BMR is listed now at 2530 or the like.  It was 2800 when I started this 12 months ago with the fancy scales.

When I started with the JCC Nov 18, 2016, my BMR was around 2800 and the trainer had me take in 2800 calories for a month (of healthy food…I was eating non-stop).  Now, what’s of interest here is prior to this, I was probably having 1600-1800 calories a day and my weight loss had STOPPED after losing about 20 pounds from running for 6 weeks.  I had also injured myself in my foot and got back spasms – which is why I threw in the towel to go to the trainer – because it had been groundhog’s day for me all over again.

So I went from my 1800 calories to 2800 calories (of healthy food) and lost like 10 pounds in a month.  No running.  Just lifting.  From then, my calories were cut to 2500…then a month or two later to 2300.

The last 4 months or so, my weight loss has almost stopped.  I am seeing Fat Free Mass (FFM) increase as well as my water (and thus still burning fat) but the scale really has not moved much.  I had the blip in early Sept when I put on like 19 pounds in 4 days, then took that off over 3 weeks…but since then….no movement.

I hit my calories religiously and have 460 straight days of logging myfitnesspal.  I have recently changed my macros to reduce carbs some on non-lift days and added a second one hour training session in during the week.  What I can tell you is I’m still losing inches around the waist, and I have to tell you my strength is like at no other time in my life.

But the scale hasn’t moved much.  In quite some time.

This is where people want to tinker – including me.  And this is where years ago I would get frustrated with X diet and exit it, perhaps going from 1400 calories a day to 2500 per day.  Hey, the BMR may have said 2800, so in theory, 2500 is still cutting, right?  No…my metabolism would adapt to the 1400 calories (or in my current case 2300) and then I would immediately add massive calories back – your body gulps in the calories and stores it as fat because it had detected you had been in some sort of famine or the like and stores energy for later.

With reverse dieting…you are gently adding more calories back in over time to tell your body to go back to normal operations.  If my BMR is 2530 and I’m busting my ass with exercise and the like and trying to burn 3500 every day….your body will then start to conserve where it can.  And, over time, your fat burning slows down, you are more tired, your body signals to not exercise as much, and you normalize.  But reverse dieting will gently add 50-100 calories per week or two back.  The first week or so may be a slight gain, but then it adapts.  And so on and so forth.

When you look at a lot of these youtube guys, they “cut” at 2700 calories, and most are eating 3000-3400 per day.  They may weigh 170-180 pounds.  I’m 294 and have had 2300 for 10 months probably exerting 3400-3600 a day mathematically.

So I went up to 2400 yesterday and will continue to do this number for 1-2 weeks, then try 2500.  Then 2600.  Then 2700.

I’d like to see if I can walk back to the 2700 or 2800 or so because I feel I’m exerting about 3400-3500 per day, and 80% of this calorie number is 2750-2800 calories.   This would, in theory, yield about 1 pound of fat loss per week.  I’m ok with this.  I hit this number for 2-3 months, then cut back down to 2300.  This might then yield a nice 2 pounds per week loss until the weight loss slows again.

The concept here (for me) is to not rely on the BMR – 20%, but the total caloric expenditure – 20%.

The trainer did advise my additional calories be introduced as more healthy fats.  My guess is this will help in creation of hormones that can help the weight loss process along.  So, I’m going to do my avocado pasta tonight – but I’m also going to have 8 oz of chicken breast with this as a side.  This will then keep my protein up while not having a very heavy carb/fat meal.

Why did I ask about adding calories?  There are several schools of thought here:

  1. Stay at the same calories.  Play through the plateau, it will probably get better at some time.  The issue I have with this is this is while I have lost about 20 pounds in 4 months, most of this weight loss was in month 4 and 3 in the way back machine.  It was also when I was biking a lot and even running a decent amount.  I did a LOT of running in September and fear this running may have been what created the plateau, as I was probably burning 1,000 calories in my 45 minute runs several times a week – signaling my body to start burning muscle due to the massive caloric deficits.  Again, flashback to last year…groundhog’s day.  I decided to bail on the running and dedicate mostly to strength training.  I am FEELING the burn more often, and loving it.  I think I need extra calories to add some LBM.
  2. Decrease calories.  The idea is as you lose weight, your BMR is less, and you must continue to cut calories.  If I was 190 pounds, I might agree with this.  At 294 pounds and having the FFM I have, with my listed BMR…I feel I’m on about the lowest number of calories I should be.
  3. Increase calories.  This is to gently re-introduce more calories and “repair” your metabolism, or at least get it to a point where your body is running optimally.  This could be a big deal when you “exit” any form of diet or cut.  Rather than jumping 500/1000 calories back, you should gently re-introduce calories to minimize fat gain while getting your systems all fired back up and online.

If you want to know more about “reverse dieting”, look up Paul Revelia on YouTube.   He might be the god of reverse dieting, and he has people who have lost 100 pounds in 1-2 years with eating 2800 calories a day.  Specifically, he trains people for shows and with the show prep/exit, he has systems to keep people from putting on massive weight.   Consider those who have severe cuts in calories days/weeks before a show – after the show, that person might go back to “normal” caloric intake, but instead all of these calories go right into fat stores.  This essentially is what happens to every single fat person who diets severely, stops losing fat, then exits to a “normal” diet.  It explains a LOT of the yo-yo dieting.

One of his clients in particular, a woman, had been on a restricted caloric diet of like 1400 calories forever, and her weight loss stopped.  Over time, he added more and more calories to her, where she was then eating like 2200 per day and went from 175 down to a stunning 145.   See it here.

The paradigm of simply cutting calories to lose weight….might actually be making us all fatter over time.  I just don’t think the body is meant to sustain severe deficits for long periods of time – and we must try to understand biologically what’s happening when we absolutely fucking know we are crushing it with exercise and diet and nothing is moving on the scale.  We need to be smart and look under the hood.  And try things differently than before.  What’s the saying, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

So the theory here with me is 10 months of hitting 2300 calories….has put my body in a state now where I’m a little more run down, muscle gain slows, fat loss slows.  I’d like to “repair” this and do:

  • 2400 until 11/18
  • 2500 11/18-12/2
  • 2600 12/2-12/16
  • 2700 12/16-1/1

Perhaps the next 2 months, with less cardio, more calories, better macros – I’d like to continue to add LBM and improve the BMR by reducing fat but gaining muscle mass.

So I’m ok with not really losing weight for the next 2 months.  I’d expect to lose another 2-4 pounds during this time.  When I hit 2700…I’d like to then monitor this for 1-2 months and either continue on that path or look elsewhere.  Then perhaps cut down to 2300 again for 4-6 months – who knows?  Then, as it slows, add back again.

The main difference with what you see above and what you see with the internet people who have lost over 100 pounds in a year or so is this:

  • they are focused solely on WEIGHT loss.  This includes fat, but also tons of muscle.  If you look closely, many of them have “loose skin” all over the place.  This is actually fatty deposits and they may  end up needing skin removal surgery.  Maybe some can then put muscle back on over time, but they really look like they sucked everything out of them except they have all of this skin left.
  • I am focused on FAT loss.  This means gaining/preserving as much lean body mass as possible while also ensuring I have a massive amount of water on me to ensure cellular operations work optimally.  This means that weight loss will be slower, but also looking to have a body re-composition.  You can’t “turn fat into muscle”, but you can increase muscle mass and improve your car engine power which will then slowly, over time, use up fat stores to feed it energy.


My numbers

I’m so excited to post this.

Last week, I went to the doctor’s for my yearly checkup I do once every dozen or so years.  I also asked for bloodwork to be done, which I got up at 5:45 and had done just after 6AM.  About 15 minutes ago, Morgan from the Doctor’s office called me to give me the great news – then I got her to read off the numbers to me.

First…my numbers from last Thursday

  • Blood pressure 108/72 and a few minutes later they re-took it at 107/62.  Good here!
  • Resting heart rate of 62.
  • EKG completely clear

Second….my numbers last Friday.

  • Cholesterol – 120
  • Triglycerides – 86 (healthy, 40-160)
  • HDL cholesterol – 31 (this can be expected amongst obese individuals.  To increase this – “lose weight”)
  • LDL cholesterol – 72
  • Sugar – 91 (healthy, 70-99)

Over the years, I had been warned of “pre-diabetes” based on my numbers.  I have now been told there is ZERO diabetes, no pre-diabetes.  GONE…