Reversing VS Cutting-Where to start?

As many start down the road towards macro counting, they hear these words and they get really confused by what they mean. It's quite simple, but it can be confusing for those that might not have a base of knowledge. They see girls online that are "reverse dieting" and losing weight so what is the difference between that and cutting. I wanted to break down the different scenarios and which approach is appropriate for each person. 

Cutting is going to refer to just simply losing fat or losing weight. Many times people will say that they don't necessarily want to lose weight but they just want to tone up. The simple fact is that "toning up" means decreasing the amount of fat that is on top of your muscles. Decreasing fat sometimes can be a simple change in body composition in which you don't really gain or lose weight however most of the time if you are leaning out to show that muscle underneath, you are going to lose a few pounds. 

This is what I would call cutting. I was just eating whatever on the left (still living healthily) and then I dieted down for shows

This is what I would call cutting. I was just eating whatever on the left (still living healthily) and then I dieted down for shows

Reverse dieting is not meant for cutting weight. Reverse dieting is meant to increase your metabolic capacity so that can eat a higher caloric intake but also stay lean (er). It is a very real possibility that you will gain weight during this process as this is very common. The overarching goal of reverse dieting would be for you to not gain weight at all, and if you do gain weight for that to be lean muscle that you've built through eating more carbs! There are some that lose weight but when you begin a reverse diet, you should know that this is for your future. This is for increasing your metabolism. This is for getting your calories higher so that you can "cut" on more calories. If you lose weight during the process then that's just icing on the cake. 

If you are someone who has really unhealthy eating habits, and you are eating 1000 calories and then going all out on the weekends, then reverse dieting would probably cause some weight loss for you. I'm not saying someone with an eating disorder but just simply someone who restricts during the week and then goes crazy on the weekends. I think this is about 95% of the female population based upon the emails I receive unfortunately. Just simply from observation, I've noticed that these women tend to lose weight. Our bodies crave homeostasis and when we are not keeping that, the cells in our body don't know what to do. Sometimes, an all out weekend affair can take up to 15 days for everything to come back to baseline which by that point, you've probably started again. This is the hamster on the wheel effect. Therefore, if you are getting some consistency even if that means way more calories during the week, then my guess is that during reverse dieting you would lose weight.

{Please remember, this is a blog and not a science experiment. The things that I present to you are simply observation, and there is no data to represent my opinions.}

If you read my blog regularly, you will see that most of the time I will recommend that you cut first and then reverse diet. The reason for this is that I feel that this gives an extra cushion. Some of my clients lose, some gain, but most just maintain on the reverse therefore whatever place that you start at a reverse diet, I like to think of that as a "set point" and you are either going to maintain that or gain. I normally would never tell someone that they are going to lose on a reverse (although it happens quite frequently) because I simply can't promise that. 

Some different reasons that you may reverse diet are : 

  • Increase your metabolic capacity and caloric intake 
  • Prepare yourself for a future cut 
  • Create healthier eating habits
  • Building lean muscle (lean bulk)
Reverse dieting progress pictures; Note: stayed same, wasn't cutting

Reverse dieting progress pictures; Note: stayed same, wasn't cutting

If you are just starting out and don't know whether you should reverse or cut, I think that you should ask yourself a few questions: 

1. Are you at a weight that you are comfortable with? 

If you have weight to lose, then I would recommend cutting first. Many times (pure observation), the leaner that you start the reverse, the more likely you are to stay lean. I have discussed this with my husband many times because I just watch this with many of my clients and we think that it may just be a fat cell number. If you have more cells to hold onto the extra food, then you are going to hold onto it. If you have less fat cells to start then you have less storage space already set up for that food and more lean muscle to gobble it up.

This does not mean however that if you are not at your goal weight that you can't reverse diet because that leads me to point 

2. Your calories are too low

I don't care if you are at your highest weight ever, if you are eating 1000 calories a day and are wanting to lose weight, I'm not going to help you cut until you reverse. I saw Layne Norton mention once that he has so many clients come to him that mention that they are eating 1200 calories and want to diet down for their first show. Where are you going to cut from that? That just simply isn't going to happen. You have to build your metabolic capacity to be able to handle a cut. Therefore, if you are eating nothing no matter your weight, you need to reverse. 

3. Are you in a situation where you can reverse? 

I feel I have to keep repeating this but again this is all observational, but the closer you hit those target increases each week, the more likely that you are going to be successful in maintaining weight during a reverse. I know that it seems silly to hit within a few grams every single day but that's normally what the girls have done on my team that are the most successful that haven't gained any weight. I have been wanting to reverse for like over a month now, but I knew with traveling, moving, and staying at other people's houses, this was simply not possible to hit macros every day and it was unrealistic. I would have put a lot of pressure on other people to fit my needs and that's not okay. So, I put off the reverse.

I think the only reason that the lines get blurred on the difference between these two is simply because many people advertise that they lost weight on their reverse, when if you look at the population at a whole of who has completed a reverse diet, most either maintain or gain. My clients almost always lose weight. I promise you I'm not advertising and I don't really understand it. The only thing that I can come up with is that I go slow. Very very stupid slow. I had one coach mention in a facebook group that my method was "ridiculous" because it was too slow. HA! Anddddd, I don't care because I've watched it work time and time again. If you are wanting to lose weight, most of the time you are going to "cut" which simply means "cut calories". If you are looking to increase your metabolism, then reverse dieting would be the better choice.

With love and nutrition


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