“I thought it was crazy at first when my coach told me to start eating more, when my goal was to lose weight.
But then I tried it. And it worked.
‘Reverse dieting’ actually helped me lose the last few stubborn pounds.”
This is Megan, a member of Nerd Fitness Coaching who is celebrating hitting her goal weight.
What’s so interesting about her story is how she did it.
Megan’s coach saw that she was hitting a wall with her lower-calorie diet.
Instead of continuing, Coach Evan proposed they try something different: eat more.
Let’s dive right into Megan’s story and what helped her crush the last year of NF Coaching.
4 Lessons Learned From Talking With Megan
#1) Don’t Feel Bad if a Cookie-Cutter Program Doesn’t Work for You.
“Before joining Nerd Fitness Coaching, I had a personal trainer.
It didn’t go well. Despite my objections, they would continue to advise me to do 40-minute blocks of cardio – which I hated. I grew frustrated and quit.
This all-or-nothing pattern continued for years.
Until I partnered with a coach who met me where I am, I found working out consistently to be a challenge.”
Takeaway: there are lots of different ways to get in shape. However, not all of them will work for you.
Maybe it’s tough to train during the week. Maybe you have an old knee injury.
Or maybe – you’re like Megan – and don’t like doing excessive cardio (this is also me).
Be honest with yourself, and if something isn’t clicking, go try something else.
You don’t need to try harder. You need to try differently.
#2) Restriction is Hard to Maintain.
Megan had some initial success cutting down her calories.
However, this proved challenging to stick with (understandably!).
“I had been on a 1,200-1,300 calorie diet for an extended period of time.
I had lost plenty of weight, but then plateaued.
That’s when I started getting stressed out about it all.
I shared this with my coach, who then suggested we try reverse dieting. I was surprised by the suggestion, and even more surprised that it worked!”
Takeaway: reducing your calorie intake can indeed spur weight loss.
But as you continue to lose weight, you’ll need to keep reducing the number of calories you’re eating – or your progress might stall.
Oh, and your body will do what it can to hold onto any remaining body fat, in case it needs it for a rainy day!
Plus, it’s mentally taxing to be restrictive. If your progress slows down, maintaining a low-calorie diet can become tedious, frustrating, and can often lead to binges or falling off the wagon
If that happens, it may be time to try something new.
#3) There can be a lot of Benefits to “Eating More.”
Reverse dieting revolves around slowly and strategically eating more and more food.
Here’s why it might be helpful:
When following a calorie-restricted program for a long period of time, your body might respond in a few clever ways to reduce calorie expenditure:
- Making exercise more challenging. Because you’re eating less food, you’ll have less energy, and working out might feel tougher. You might burn fewer calories, simply because you’re doing less activity.
- Lowering your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), or the number of calories your body burns at rest. One of the ways it does this is by burning muscle tissue alongside body fat, which can be especially true if you’re only doing cardio without any strength training
- Decreasing NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Think of pacing while you’re on the phone, fidgeting, etc. Studies suggest NEAT can be reduced when on a prolonged low-calorie diet. Makes sense: less energy, less desire to move, and less movement!
These are all points we bring up in our guide, Why Can’t I Lose Weight?
So when you start to eat more, you have the potential to reverse some of these scenarios.
Think of it this way: increased “energy in” leads to even MORE increased “energy out.”
That’s what happened to Megan.
“It’s been the best decision we’ve made by far.
I’m eating more, lifting more, and stressing less.
I’m glad I tried Coach Evan’s suggestion.”
Takeaway: food is fuel.
When you cut out too much of it, your day-to-day performance may suffer.
We need the energy from food to do our jobs, get some movement in, and spend time with our loved ones.
While a low-calorie diet has its time and place, strategically eating more of the right foods can help if you’ve hit a plateau.
#4) An Expert can Help in a Tricky Situation.
Megan wasn’t immediately sold on the idea of reverse dieting.
“To be blunt, I was worried it was just going to make me gain weight.
I had made a lot of progress, and didn’t want to lose it.
Yo-yo dieting is something I’m quite familiar with, and I didn’t want to repeat that pattern.
But Coach Evan told me we’d keep a close watch on everything. If we didn’t like the outcome, we could always switch it up, NBD.
We went slow and structured it in a way where I gained little to no weight. Eventually, I increased my daily calories by 600, about 50% higher from where I started.
This has allowed me to wake up every morning and work out, something I never used to do before.
I can now say I’m the strongest I’ve ever been.
Takeaway: if you find yourself stalling, it’s okay to ask for help.
An expert might have a solution you haven’t thought of.
Plus, they might be able to provide feedback on whether or not you should continue as is, or if it’s time to try something new.
Just know that if your progress stalls and you grow frustrated, there’s probably someone who’s been there before. They might even know the way out.
Can We Help You Get Unstuck?
Maybe you’ve been struggling in the same scenario for a while.
You can’t seem to work out consistently…
You abandoned every diet you ever started…
Your kid grabs the fire extinguisher every time you step into the kitchen…
If that’s the case, I want you to know it’s okay.
Lots of our coaching clients come to us with tales of trying every fitness program under the sun. And stopping just as many of them.
That’s why we do things a little differently with Nerd Fitness Coaching.
We get to know you before we recommend anything. We then come up with a plan together.
Sure, we might throw you ideas you’re not familiar with (reverse dieting). But we won’t make you do anything you’re not comfortable with.
- Never want to step foot in a gym? We’ll teach you how to train at home.
- Hate excessive cardio? We won’t make you do any.
- Afraid of going on another diet? We’ll help you build habits to improve your nutrition, sustainably.
If the above sounds like a program that could help you, I’d love to find out if we’re a good fit for each other!
For the Rebellion!
PS: Props to Coach Evan for helping Megan crush the last year. I’m super proud of both of them.