You’ve worked your tail off for 12, 16, or 20+ weeks for this one event... through a workload so surreal and a diet that was even more of a struggle. You do your thing, jump off stage with your victory of accomplishment and/or trophy, and then ask yourself “Where do I go from here?” Many of us would run to the nearest restaurant to devour half the menu because we have been suppressing the cravings for weeks, which is completely fine, but after that, do we still continue to devour anything that’s placed in front of us or do we get back to some sort of methodical grind? This is where reverse dieting prevents us from sabotaging ourselves as well as discarding any progress that’s been previously made.
After you complete a show, you are metabolically deficient. Due to the loss of body fat, we do have to create a deficit in terms of calories out versus calories in. For example, you consume 2100 calories per day but between your base rate and the amount of calories you burn it is around 2800 calorie total. So we have a deficit of 700 calories per day and 4900 on a weekly basis.
I approach the reverse process with the same thought process as I do with actual contest prep. You should spend at least 2-3 months reverse dieting to acclimate your metabolism back to a normal active state. This is not easy to do because most of us want to eat everything we see, even in the first weeks of reversing. I do also recommend slowly tapering cardio back down to around 20-30 minutes max per day, or in some cases, cardio at the end.
The base percentage to keep in mind is 10%. This means that I can increase calories by 10% each adjustment and decrease cardio by 10% each adjustment. Example, Barbara is in her first week post show reverse, and I have her at 1600 calories. I will increase her calories by 160 which will increase macros across the board like so.. +20 grams carbohydrates.. +10 grams protein... +5 grams fat (close to 165 calories here). Also, if Barbara was around 100 minutes total cardio then I will drop her down by 10 minutes. I also adjust weekly so the goal is ~10% each check in day.
Reverse Dieting isn’t rocket science by any means, but it does take patience and time. Also, you must have an understanding of the end goal which is to add quality to your body and not quantity.