Hey Guys! Sorry it’s been awhile, I am so bad about writing 1/2 of a post, saving it as a draft and then completely forgetting to post it.
As I wrote before, I am currently working on gaining lean muscle and raising my metabolic rate (thus allowing me to eat more throughout the day without storing it all as fat…the dream!)
Today we’re going to be talking about reverse dieting + weight lifting. What is reverse dieting you might ask? Good question. It is basically a nutritional regimen in which you slowly and systematically incorporate additional calories into your daily diet. This is exceptionally important for those that have gone through an ED, competed in a fitness competition in which they had to get very lean, or a normal individual who simply went on a crash diet for a particular event- such as a wedding or photo shoot.
This is something I have researched and tested quite thoroughly after over-coming my own struggle with eating enough. During college I dropped to an alarmingly low weight (of course I didn’t think so at the time) and was forced to gain weight back but wanted to do so in a way in which I would be comfortable with. After graduating I slowly started gaining some healthy weight back and am very happy with where I’m at in terms of body weight, but would like to gain back some muscle that I lost due to excessive cardio.
After putting your body through any sort of low-calorie diet for a prolonged period of time, your metabolism is pretty much shot. So how do we eat more without gaining an excessive amount of fat?
Say it with me… Reverse Dieting.
A process by which calories are slowly increased over a long period of time. The primary goal of this method is to bring your impaired metabolism back up to speed, but it also offers a host of other benefits that can help you both in and out of the gym
Aim to add an additional 2-3% of current calories each week until you hit your sweet spot. Start by tracking your food diligently for a week, then multiply that number by 2-3% (depending how low you are) and adding it to your calorie goals for week 2. Here is an example I pulled:
A female consuming 1,260 calories a day should add roughly 38 calories to her daily diet during week 2 (3% of 1,260). This should be done by adding about 5g of carbs and 2g of fat because Protein intake should remain roughly the same throughout (1-1.2X body weight) So, a 100lb female would aim to eat 100-120g protein per day throughout the entire process.
I highly recommend checking out a blog called “The Macro Experiment,” written by a girl who overcame a 10 year ED by designing her own Reverse Diet plan, lifting weights, and keeping a blog to record all of her progress and observations. Over the course of 3 months she was able to add 700+ calories to her daily diet without gaining ANY weight. Amazing right?! Check her out, seriously.
Now…. lets talk WEIGHTS. The misconception 95% of girls have is that lifting weights will make you bulky, so we stick to hours of cardio. Boooo. Not fun. I too have had this misconception. I used to do an hour of cardio every. single. day. For a while, ya it does the job- you will lose a few pounds. But our bodies are very very smart and after so much of this- they adapt. So now doing 1 hour of cardio won’t do anything because your body has become used to it and knows it’s coming. So what does it do? It stores up fat, knowing it’s going to need it for that hour of cardio you are going to put it through. EEEP. Not fair! Right?!
So what’s the trick? Changing it up. Keep your body guessing. By alternating cardio and heavy weights, you force your body to use the stored energy to build muscle (which in turn will actually make you look thinner) you’ve heard it before- 1 pound of fat and 1 pound of muscle look VERY. different.
To give you an example, after help from a trainer here is what my current fitness routine looks like:
Monday: Quads & Abs
Tuesday: Biceps & Triceps, followed by 20 min HIIT
Wednesday: Chest & Delts, followed by 20 min HIIT
Thursday: Hamstrings and Calves, followed by easy 20 min steady state on Stair-master
Friday: Shoulders & Back, followed by 20 min HIIT
Saturday: Quads and Abs (no cardio)
Sunday: Rest (no cardio)
I do 5 sets of about 6-7 different exercises for each muscle group. I start off with a lower weight and higher reps and then as each set goes on I up the weight and lower the reps (lowest rep I do is 6 reps at a very hard weight).
The reason for ending in HIIT is because High Intensity Interval Training is proven to speed up metabolism far more than steady state cardio. Doing this at after weight training allows you to lift heavier during your workout, as well as forces your body to use fat storage for fuel because you have used up all of your glycogen storage during the weight training session. Only do about 10-20 minutes after lifting though because you need to drink a fast absorbing carb drink shortly after finishing your weight training session in order to reap the benefits of all the hard work you put in.
However, this totally depends on your goals– for those that are REALLY trying to gain a lot of muscle mass, HIIT is pretty much off of the table. I love it though- short and sweet and gives me the best post-workout high.
Here is a post weight-training shake recipe that was recommended for me:
– 100g Banana
– 1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup (fast absorbing carb)
– 1.5 scoops Protein Powder
I make this before I leave for the gym and bring it with me so I can drink it immediately after my 10 minutes of HIIT. It’s super tasty too 🙂
Here is a progress update for 3 weeks of adding in weight training to my routine 🙂
As always, feel free to email me if you have any questions about this process or need help designing your own nutrition and fitness program. I am not certified in any way, but am always happy to help give you advice on what I’ve learned and what has worked for me. Darlington.Abby@gmail.com