How to Diet Out of a Diet: IIFYM & Reverse Dieting
Competition Prep Dieting often utilizes “clean-eating”, which is a diet that consists of natural foods. This means no added sugars, no hydrogenated fats, trans-fats, or anything unnecessary or unnatural.
In the body building world, this diet usually consists of six small meals a day, often eaten out of Tupperware and eaten every few hours.
These small meals usually consist of complex carbohydrates such as rice or sweet potatoes, green vegetables, and lean protein such as chicken or fish.
A clean eater will not cook their food in butters or fatty oils, will refrain from drinking anything other than water, and will maintain this diet day after day.
While “clean-eating” is the traditional body building diet for competitors, there is another controversial approach to dieting that has been proven effective for some people.
This form of dieting is called IIFYM, or If It Fits Your Macros. This is a less restrictive form of dieting where you calculate your macronutrient needs.
Macronutrients are made up for three components: carbohydrates, protein and fat. IIFYM is customizable. You set your goals, and you eat a certain amount of each depending on your goals and your caloric expenditure.
While I have found the results of this diet fascinating in numerous cases I’ve seen, I just haven’t mastered the concept enough myself, nor do I trust it whole-heartedly enough to rely on it during competition prep.
So then why do I talk about it? Because it can be used effectively to transition from clean-eating and low caloric intake over a long period of time (such as competition prep) into an off-season, or more livable diet, that won’t completely destroy your goals.
When I started my competition prep I heard HORROR stories from girls who competed before me that would be fatter than they had ever been in their life just weeks after being in the best shape of their lives. So many of them stayed in the worst shape of their lives and still haven’t gotten out of it.
They all told me: “I wish that someone had told me not to eat the way I did after my show”
Still, knowing that, my competition came to an end and I wanted to be able to eat whatever I wanted without worrying. I even consulted an IIFYM diet plan specialist that tried to reverse diet me out of my show prep. I told her that I wanted a few weeks off from caring at all, and then maybe I would try IIFYM to find balance again. She warned: “It’s up to you, but I strongly suggest you reverse diet out… You will find yourself unknowingly consuming thousands of calories and gaining weight at unhealthy rates.”
Still I proceeded to gain weight and now it is more difficult than ever to get back to where I started.
So I am writing this post to provide readers with the advice and knowledge that I Ignored. How to Reverse Diet out of Competition Prep (or any lengthy low caloric diet):
Things to know:
Weight Gain is not a goal of Reverse Dieting. The actual goal is gradual increasing of calorie intake with the least amount of weight gain. It is a gradual reintroduction of certain foods and the restoring of the levels of fat loss hormones.
With Reverse Dieting there are no cheat days, just re-feed days where you get more carbs, however everything is monitored.
How to Get Started:
First you want to determine your macronutrient breakdown. This is your daily caloric intake as well as what makes that up (Proteins, Carbs, Fats).
Decide your goals. For most post competition the goal will be to build muscle or maintain muscle mass while gaining the least amount of fat possible and being less crazy with diet.
To calculate the macronutrient intake that would satisfy your goals, you can use macro calculators. By googling “Macro calculator” many options will be readily available. There are also many apps available as well.
For competition dieters, the most common approach to reverse dieting is simply increasing your carbs. Without calculating, a common approach is for women to slowly add 10 carbs to their daily diet. At the end of the first week of increased carbs, there is a cheat meal or “re-feed”. This is portion controlled.
The idea with this is the slow reintroduction of carbs so that your metabolism keeps up. After the first week the idea is to maintain the 80/20 idea. This idea is that you are 80 percent on your diet and 20 percent of the time you cheat. In the off-season you should aim to only have cheat meals 1-2 times a week. This will keep you in close to competition shape year round!