Last week I published a post about how to eat more food without gaining weight. Too many people, women especially, are under-eating in a quest to lose fat. For many of these people, their under eating is causing metabolic damage, plateaus in weight loss, even weight gain. In last week’s article I wrote about reverse dieting and how to increase calories so that people who have been eating too little can start eating more, fix their metabolism issues, and avoid weight gain in the process. Read this post first if you missed it.
What I want to address this week is how to lose weight (or even continue reverse dieting) once you’ve successfully corrected your metabolism.
If you’ve followed my advice in the first post and you’ve reached your caloric goal and have stayed here until your metabolism is working again, you have some options if you’re looking to lose some fat and/or gain muscle.
1. Evaluate your exercise.
- Are you lifting heavy 3-5 times a week? (And by heavy, I mean reps less than 8-12 per set and the last few reps are always really hard to finish?)
- Are you performing compound movements such as squatting, deadlifting, cleans, and overhead presses all with barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells?
- Is your cardio interval based–like something you would do in a CrossFit or bootcamp style class?
If you’re saying “no” to these, then changing up your workout routine should be your first step and may be the only change you need. Wouldn’t that be great? (If you think this is you and you need customized workout programming, fill out the form at the end of this post!)
2. Add intensity to your training.
If you’re already lifting this way and you’re still not seeing results you want, then the next step is to increase your exercise. If you’re already strength training and performing HIIT cardio, you likely only need to add a little more HIIT to your training. Just an extra 6:00 of intensity per training session can burn 200+ extra calories a day! And who wouldn’t rather burn an extra 200 than cut out 200 calories?!
3. Cut calories…SLOWLY.
Only when you’ve tried changing and/or adding to your training, and you’ve given yourself at least 4-8 weeks of trying your new workouts, and you’re STILL not seeing the results you want, you can slowly start a calorie cut.
SLOWLY is the keyword. If you drop from 2200 calories to 1200 — yes you will lose a few pounds. You’ll also plateau within a couple weeks and have nowhere to go but to start this whole process over again.
To cut weight, cut small calories. Cut 50-100 at a time. If you’re used to eating 2200 calories, cut to 2150 for at least a week. The same applies here as it did for reversing: the slower the better and the more successful. And never cut too low. If you calculated your BMR to be 1500 and your caloric maintenance to be 2600, you shouldn’t be cutting lower than 2000 calories (give or take a few). If you start playing with numbers too close to or even lower than your BMR, you’re going to end up with a screwy metabolism again. So it’s ok to cut very slowly, but don’t go too low. Reverse back up if you need to and then down again, but don’t fall into the “I must eat less than 1000 calories a day to lose weight” trap ever ever again.
What if you don’t want to cut?
So there’s a flip-side to all of this. What if you reverse all the way to 2200 calories a day and you’re doing SO well that you want to keep reversing?
This is one of the best ways to put on muscle and gain strength without gaining fat. So just like we discussed in the previous article, add 100-150 calories per week (or biweekly) until you don’t feel as if you’re reaping the benefits of the extra calories. At this point you have three options.
- Stay where you are and stop increasing calories.
- Add more interval training to your workout routine (just like above).
- Simply decrease your caloric intake by 100-150 calories and stay here until you feel the need to either add or take away more.
Just Eat More Food!
The key take home here is, EAT ENOUGH FOOD and do so by increasing (and decreasing when necessary) your calories slowly. Trust your body, and trust the process. Be patient and show yourself some good, healthy, wholesome, food love.
If you think you’re in need of some one-on-one coaching in either nutrition, fitness, or both; fill out this form below and I’ll get back to you as soon as my adorably energetic 10-month-old allows.