Focus on Reverse Dieting by Dr. Sarah Schenker

The concept of reverse dieting has entered the zeitgeist and is starting to gain traction in the wellness world. If you haven’t heard the term before don’t get too excited because it’s not a licence to eat as many fatty, sugary and salty snacks as you want! Reverse dieting has been popular among bodybuilders and competitive athletes for some time now and involves increasing calorie intake gradually to boost metabolism but at the same time preventing weight gain. This is generally after a period of traditional dieting, often extreme dieting, to drop weight before say a competition or event.

It has now evolved as a means of getting off the dieting treadmill and a way to heal a toxic relationship with food. With little else to distract us, the past year’s lockdowns have led many of us to pay more attention to our food, exercise and bodies than we usually would. Reverse dieting is being used by many women as a way of taking back control of their health.

There are many women who follow restrictive food regimes, oscillate from one fad diet to another and generally have a problematic history with food. Reverse dieting can encourage a new, healthier outlook towards nutrition and result in a better functioning body and mind.

In basic terms, “reverse dieting” means gradually increasing the number of calories you consume, over weeks or months, to get out of a restrictive diet, without putting on a large amount of weight. Weight gain is more common if you drastically increase your calorie intake quickly after a period of having a low calorie intake. The term originated from bodybuilders and physique athletes, who needed a healthy way to get back to a more sustainable diet that would allow them to maintain their weight after long periods of restriction.

Although reverse dieting has not been well researched as it was only used by this niche group, it is now being used by dietitians and nutritionists to help their clients eat their way back to good health. They are taught how to gradually break out of crash diets or long periods of restricted eating, which may be causing nutrient deficiencies, damage to their metabolism and leading to poor mental and physical health. Reverse dieters may lose weight, maintain their weight or gain weight during the process – it depends on the individual – but regardless of their weight, they frequently report feeling more energised, stronger in the gym, less fixated on food and generally happier.

Some women have reported that ,following punishing exercise regimes and extreme diets have left them feeling burnt out and less healthy than before they started. Reverse dieting allows them to nourish their body and give it what it needs, it also removes the guilt and negative feelings from eating say pasta or a little sugar. As such they begin to understand that food isn’t offset by exercise, instead the macronutrients – carbohydrate, protein and fat – are needed to provide energy to enjoy exercise and perform at their best. Importantly, macronutrients are needed for us to thrive and they make food taste good! A slice of wholemeal toast with peanut butter and mashed banana has to be better than an over processed protein bar.

Liiv’s nutritionally balanced shakes are the perfect addition to a reverse diet. Whether you take them to replace a meal or as a healthy snack between meals, they have been formulated to provide the optimum blend of macronutrients that will leave you feeling both satisfied and energised. If you have been restricting your intake for a while and cutting out whole food groups from your diet, you could be at risk of nutrient deficiencies such as iron or calcium. Liiv shakes provide at least 50% of all the vitamins and minerals your body needs, so they will help nourish you back to good health.

Ultimately, reverse dieting allows you to focus on the positives of wholesome, nutritious food and how it can help you feel better, rather than denying yourself and feeling dissatisfied and tempted to binge. It can also result in a better understanding of what your body needs and thus a greater sense of wellbeing.

 

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