Reverse Dieting

Now that we’ve covered some of the high level basics around what a proper diet can consist of, it is time to review a few tricks of the trade when it comes to preparation. By preparation, we mean this: maybe you only have a few days to get ready for that pool party or that social event that you need to squeeze into a suit for. Or maybe you’re trying to get through a hump of sorts – that last bit of belly fat.

We outline two potential diets that you can cycle through – these aren’t meant to necessarily be long lasting and should be followed by a reverse diet after completion. Think of these as tools in your arsenal; and are recommended to be used between 4-7 days at a time. So here we go:

1. Cyclic Ketogenic Diet (CKD) – This diet consists of days without carbohydrate intake (or very minimal). It forces your body to strictly burn fat/ketones instead of sugars and glucose. We have
days that carbs are consumed on this diet, which are called ‘re-feeds.’ This allows you to restore needed sugars in your body every so often. Let’s walk through an example:

Day 1 – High carb intake…we just suggest having this be a normal day. Heck, even have some pizza if you want. Don’t limit yourself.

Day 2 – Low/No carb intake. We’re talking less than 30g if possible. And those should come from uncontrollable sources (example: a scoop of peanut butter has SOME carbs, but that’s ok. PB is known to be high in fat and protein so it’s a great snack for a day like this). Remember to keep your workouts just as intense

Day 3 – Same as day 2. You may feel a little fatigue as your main fuel source (carbs) aren’t present. It’s a tougher burden on your body to burn fat but this is what we want.Day 4 – Keep the carbs low and the workouts intense.

Day 5 – Keep the carbs at zero levels until your workout. After your workout, you want to drastically increase your carb intake. Bodybuilders would eat a lot of rice/sweet potatoes but something more practical is a cheesesteak. Go for it. After this, ease back into it with reverse dieting. Gradually increase some carb intake over the next few days until you're back at a level that you can maintain.

2. General Carb Cycling – This is similar to the Cyclic Ketogenic Diet but a little more manageable. It actually is built to have a slight ‘reverse diet’ within itself. Not as hardcore as the CKD. No-Carb Days (or “Zero Starch” days)—the word “no” in this case means you aim to take in no starch or other direct carb sources. It is acceptable (and likely) that you will still ingest some carbohydrates from vegetables and certain fat sources, but the amount should be rather trivial (e.g. <5% of your total calorie intake).

Lower-Carb Days—As a general starting point, lower-carb days should have you shooting for 1g of carbohydrate per every pound of bodyweight (if you’re significantly over-fat it’s likely best to use your “lean body mass” instead).

Higher-Carb Days—these days are sort of the “refeed” portion of your diet. A good starting point for higher-carb days is to ingest at least 2g per pound of bodyweight (again, if you’re significantly over-fat consider using lean body mass). Given the nature of dieting being relative, it is impractical to apply a preset, all-encompassing quantity of carbohydrates to these categories. Thus, a more pragmatic approach is to use these categories as guides based on your bodyweight, as is indicated above.

Here’s an example that lasts 7 days, starting on Monday:

Low, Low, No, High, Low, No, High

Low meaning having a few potatoes or slices of Ezekiel bread is ok.

No meaning no carbs, like the CKD. High meaning extra carb intake. 

Make your heavy workout days on your high carb days. These are the days to eat the lasagna, pizza or anything else you want (or have to because of a work/social event).