Shown here is the result I achieved coaching my wife Amanda and it’s a unique example.
We started dieting after a few months off training due to an emergency surgery (ovarian cyst) and a random injury (torn ankle ligament). Given this, I was very cautious initially with the protocols and used frequent diet breaks.
Amanda achieved a solid result losing 7% body weight in around 10 weeks of actual dieting, when factoring in the diet break periods. The diet started well initially but the last few weeks were less successful and much more of a grind. Amanda’s metabolism is very adaptive and fat loss is always more of a challenge. She could have lost more but the protocols would have to become much more aggressive. This is the reality for most – fat loss isn’t easy, especially in late stages.
However, the magic really happened once she finished dieting and begun her exit strategy. Here we immediately jumped to a new adjusted maintenance calories of 1800 per day and reached 2000 calories 24 days post diet. Within 8 weeks of finishing her diet I had increased her maintenance calories to 2400 per day. During this time, she LOST 1.3kg! This is despite struggling to lose on 1410 calories at the end of her diet. So how could this happen?
Energy in and energy out aren’t independent variables. By this I mean that with rising calories in, you’ll typically see rising calories out, though to what degree will vary. So, as I progressively increased her calories, her innate response was to counter it with greater energy expenditure. This was likely due to considerable changes in NEAT in particular as it is the most adaptive of all energy output variables. This is also where the nature of Amanda’s metabolism worked in our favour. As she has a more adaptive metabolism, she responds very well to overfeeding.
Secondly, dieting is fundamentally stressful which can see an increase in your stress hormone cortisol. Excess cortisol can have aldosterone like effects in the kidneys causing water retention. To what degree this occurs will vary, but it is more common in women. Thus, some of Amanda’s final progress may have been masked by fluid shifts. When calories were increased, cortisol likely would have declined leading to alterations in fluid retention and a decrease on the scale.
Finally, and crucially, Amanda was adherent to everything I prescribed. Many people struggle with this post diet and have slip ups once the goal has been achieved. This wasn’t the case with Amanda, and she executed everything perfectly.
It’s important to note that this result is an exception, not the norm in regard to losing weight during a reverse diet. For the vast majority, you should expect to gain some additional body weight once your diet has ended. How much weight you gain will be dependent upon the context. For instance, a physique competitor dieting for a show will have to diet down to extremely low body fat levels. This is not a sustainable place or a healthy one. Naturally they should gain a bit more body weight than someone from the general population who haven’t gone to such an extreme. There will also be a considerable person to person variance as well.