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  • Writer's pictureStacey Marino

Amy's Reverse Diet: +700 calories, -10 pounds

I just finished coaching Amy through a perfectly executed REVERSE DIET.

She came to me with the goals of getting control of her eating again and leaning out!

The first thing that I ask for when taking on any client, is a snapshot of their current food intake. I take a look at total calories consumed, macro breakdown, as well as food quality and timing. This gives me a better understanding of where my client is coming from and what I need to do in order to help them reach their goals.

Amy is a phenomenal athlete. Doing CrossFit 5-6 days a week, and running 3-6 miles a day. On top of that, she is extremely active with her kids at home. She was averaging about 1,900 calories a day! I calculated her to be at about 2,300 calories for maintenance, meaning she was already in a pretty big deficit. So the LAST thing that I would do is cut her calories more, even though one of her goals was to "lean out."

We had a short period of time together, only 3 months, so I was able to successfully complete a reverse dieting phase from my multiphase process. With Amy's goals of "leaning out," she would need to go through a reverse, a maintenance, a cut, and then another reverse back to maintenance. This process takes about a year... at least.

So I did what most coaches won't do, and convinced Amy that she cannot go any lower than 1,900 calories at her level of activity. Instead, we would need to reverse her to her maintenance. In doing so, we are able to increase metabolism and hormone function back to base. Here, your body start to operate more efficiently!

Since you're fueling it correctly to support activity and metabolism, it uses food as FUEL...

If you're under eating for long periods of time, your body starts to store food at FAT... just to make sure it's safe (since it feels the threat of under eating and wants to stay alive).

It's still true that you need to cut calories to lose fat.. and increase calories to gain fat... BUT.. you have to take metabolic adaption into consideration. What if you're already eating in a deficit.. for years and years?

So with Amy, I decided she would benefit MOST from a reverse diet, given the very short time frame I had to work with her (12 weeks).

Over these 12 weeks, I increased her calories from 1,900 to 2,600 currently!

Keep in mind, this is all high quality food.

Also, keep in mind that what I estimated her maintenance to be, was actually off by 300 calories when we started increasing week by week. I had her estimated at 2,300.. she ended up at 2,600.

It is normal for calculations to be off like this. After all, it's a generic calculation... and every body is different. Some people have naturally faster metabolisms than others, so you never really know your true maintenance unless you take the time to find it through some trial and error.

Her body weight dropped from 140 pounds to 130 pounds over these 12 weeks, while increasing calories.

Take a look at the weight graph and notice how it's not linear. There are peaks and valleys as she was weighing in every single day. It's easy to get discouraged when you see the scale fluctuate so much, but you have to keep the big picture in mind. Take a look at the big picture... the weight is trending down!

I also like to include waist and hip measurements. A lot of the time, the scale won't budge.. BUT the measurements go down significantly as your body is recompositioning itself. (More lean muscle, less body fat), so you get smaller overall, more lean and toned, which is not always reflected on the scale.

Her waist came down by 1.75 inches.

Her hips measurement came down by 3.5 inches.

Besides these obvious markers, I also like to measure statistics like Resting Heart Rate, HRV, Body Fat%, and Sleep. I love it when clients get bloodwork done before and after our time together to see huge improvements in health as well. If a "diet" is done correctly, not only do you LOOK better... you FEEL better too, because you're healthier!

Her average Resting Heart Rate came down by 10.71%. It is not consistently lower. The lower the heart rate, the healthier the heart. As calories increase, Amy's performance at the gym also increased, as her body was better able to recover, as seen with this lower RHR.

Her sleep increased by 14.29%

Again, we were fueling her body correctly, so this in turn improves sleep quality and even quantity!

12 weeks, in the grand scheme of things, is a relatively short time period. Some people require a LOT longer than 12 weeks to bring their bodies back to a healthy state.

The journey definitely had ups and downs and frustrations, but mostly mental hurdles that she was able to overcome with my support.

It's definitely not easy to watch the scale come up during the first few weeks of a reverse.

It's also a hard concept to wrap your head around - increasing calories when you specified that your goal is "leaning out."

You question everything.. yourself.. your coach.. the process..

But it is SO important to just stick to it.

REAL change takes TIME!


That's what we're here for! Not everyone has a background in nutrition. This is what coaches are for. It's an investment in yourself you will not regret.


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