Reverse Dieting; Why is it important after competing?

Competing is becoming more and more popular there are obviously more and more people getting involved, but very few people have heard of reverse dieting, and even less actually do it. So, what is it?

There are various reasons why people compete, and as a female competitor I can tell you that body image is one of the largest ones out there. On the day you compete you will most likely to be in the shape of your life, and to get yourself there you will most likely have been:

  • On very restricted diet where you weren’t allowed certain types of food and/or;
  • On very low  calories, even though you were probably the most committed to your training that you have ever been in your life.

In my experience I have seen so many ladies prepping for competitions, but have already planned that they are going to drink, and all the crap they are going to eat as soon as the competition is over. The minute they off the stage, the binge eating starts; I have seen that not once, and not twice, but each time I compete. I have even seen people bringing bags of sweets backstage and demolish the lot as soon as their category is over, to the point when they throw up in the toilet.

If you are fitness competitor yourself, you probably know what I’m talking about. The amount of sugar and crap food people consume straight after a competition is ridiculous. No wonder that is a beginning of health problems in so many cases:

  • Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Low energy
  • Mood swings, etc.

But the most noticeable usually is body weight increasing very, very fast. As a female I can tell you that seeing an extra 4kg on the scales in one week it’s scary. Some people can’t stop that ‘’binge’’ for weeks and weeks after they competed. Some will even end up the weighing more than they have in the past. Then comes the low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, and more health problems linked most likely into poor digestion and guts problems, the majority caused by what was happening to your body during your prep.

There is a solution to that situation

It’s called reverse dieting. For all the Ladies that are thinking about competing, please make sure you are prepared for long prep (however long you decide to take) and then take just as long to let your body adapt to higher calorific intake and bringing back types of food which were taken out from your diet due to prep.
(By the way, on my last prep I didn’t take out any of the food I normally eat from my diet, my last prep was purely calorie/macros controlled, with all major food groups maintained, and it was bar far the healthiest I have prepped).

After your competition, increase your calories slightly week by week, make sure you listen to your body (maintain stable body weight with slow and controlled increase, no energy crashes, no adverse efffects from eating foods you haven’t eaten during prep). When it’s ready, increase your calories slightly once again and keep repeating until you are at the right amount of calories for you. By doing this you keep yourself safe and your relationship with food most likely will stay normal, you will see food as something what nourish your body and keeps you going every day. By being sensible, you are more likely not to experience cravings for bad foods or just eat because food is available despite not being hungry. Also, because the changes to your body and physical appearance will be slower and less noticeable, you reduce the psychological impact of putting on weight. You are also more likely to be able to maintain a healthy weight similar to where you started (or less).

Whatever you do to your body straight after competing, is just as important as what you do leading up to it. Respect your body and don’t eat 100g worth of sugar in 10 min straight after your competition. If you have a basic understanding about nutrition, which I strongly believe most of people have, you wouldn’t do this on a normal day. Why would you eat super healthy for 12 – 16 weeks (or however long you were prepping ) just to get off the stage and go eat crap, or severely over-eat?

So Ladies, especially those who are thinking about competing, ask your coach about reverse dieting and make sure he/she will look after you once you have competed, because if you are left alone and don’t know what you need to be doing, the consequences might be horrible and long lasting.

Jo 😉