Written by Master Coach Jade McKee
The thought of re-gaining excess body fat after stepping off stage or after a big weight loss can be terrifying for a client. They worked SO hard to get rid of that stubborn body fat, and with their ‘diet’ now coming to an end, the thought of calories increasing can bring images of body fat creeping straight back on again.
The good news is – this doesn’t have to be the case! There IS a way to prevent your client gaining excess fat. The important thing to note though is the word EXCESS. Your client WILL need to regain some body fat, as it’s simply not healthy to stay comp-lean all year long.
This is where a carefully structured reverse diet will come into play. A reverse diet will not only allow your client to increase their caloric intake, while reversing the metabolic adaptation that may have taken place during their extended dieting phase, but it can also help to control the amount of body fat that is regained.
A reverse diet can sometimes be considered the hardest part of a prep – even harder than the original cutting phase. But when it comes to preventing excess body fat, it is by far the most important. What can make it so hard is the fact your client has made it to their goal. This took them hours of work, a whole lot of cognitive restraint, sometimes blood, lots of sweat, and often tears. Missed meals with family and friends, hours of posing and food prep, many an early morning in the gym. And now, with all that ticked off the list, it can be hard to stay focused and on track.
It means they can finally relax with their food choices, right?
Not quite just yet. A reverse diet will, in a way, be similar to a comp prep.
Your client will still need to continue training, as ‘energy out’ will still be required to keep that EXCESS body fat off. This can be the optimal time to shift the focus from training for aesthetic goals, to setting performance goals in the gym.
Just as they did throughout their comp prep, your client will need to continue to display cognitive restraint. They will need to continue ‘following the plan’, tracking their intake, and gradually increasing their caloric intake each week as guided by you. And this WILL take willpower. Now is NOT the time to binge! This is where it may be helpful to remind your client that the food will ALWAYS be there, and they WILL get to enjoy it – just not ALL of it right NOW. Remind them to keep their long term goal in mind!
Your client will also need to continue to self-monitor each day, as they reverse diet. This will include continuing to weight both their food, and themselves. The weekly average of your client’s weight will guide you to make adjustments as needed to their calories each week, at a rate allowing for an acceptable amount of body fat regain, as agreed on with your client.
By staying focused on the end goal, your client will be able to successfully increase their calories, and reverse any negative metabolic adaptations that may have occurred during their prep. This will ensure they are in a much better place to start their next prep – whenever that may be, with both lower body fat AND a higher caloric intake.
Want to learn more about the science and application of energy balance, reverse dieting & more to maximize client health, fat loss and hypertrophy results short and long term?
Enrol into Dr Layne Norton’s Ultimate Physique Science Bundle, which includes the Science of Nutrition & Training the Physique Athlete online courses!
Baker, P. & Norton, L. (2019) Fat Loss Forever. Biolayne.
Dr Layne Norton. The Science of Nutrition. Clean Health Fitness Institute. Accessed 19th August 2020.
Dr Layne Norton. Training the Physique Athlete. Clean Health Fitness Institute. Accessed 19th August 2020.