Over the last month (since my powerlifting competition on June 30 in Chetumal, Mexico) I have been focusing on building up my strength. With that, I know I need to increase my calories in order to build this strength (the energy has to come from somewhere, right?) so I’m slowly doing another reverse diet. I wanted to break down a little more details about my current reverse, how I’m doing it and what important factors I’m taking into consideration.
Please remember that everyone’s reverse diet is going to look different. I am not providing this information for the intention that you can follow this as well and you will see the same results. This is so individualized and I only intended to provide this information as reference and understanding for those who are interested.
Another great reference and some other details about my reverse can be found on: Courtney For Life Podcast, episode 23: Reverse Dieting
Starting point: July 1, 2018
Weight average (weekly): 114.4 lbs
Training day carb intake: 220C
Current point: August 1, 2018
Weight average (weekly): 113.9 lbs
Training day carb intake: 260C
WHAT are my intentions (goals) for this reverse?
Ultimately I want to increase my three main lifts for competition performance, but I want this to be smart strength that I’m building. Every exercise I write in my programming serves purpose. I go into my session with a solid plan that I know will provide me the results I expect to see. I push myself hard every session and maximize my time in the gym and my energy output on my training days. My 2x weekly rest days are full on rest, I’m like a sloth. I don’t do much. I train hard and I rest hard. My body needs that and I listen to it. I push my carbs mostly around my training session, so pre workout, intra workout and post workout meals/snacks. I have intra workout carbs because I’m on a Mike and Ike kick (yum!) but I also want to make sure I’m easily getting in the carbs that I need without feeling full at meals. Although intra workout carbs aren’t absolutely necessary, they’re nice... I mean, who doesn’t want to eat candy during heavy squats?
You’ll notice I only mention my carbs. WHY?
When you listen to my podcast (mentioned above) you’ll learn that I went through different reverse diets before. In 2 past reverses, I did add in both P and F to my reverse on a regular basis, but didn’t see the benefits (either I was struggling to hit those numbers or I didn’t feel good.) From my experiences, I feel best only increasing my carbs. Listen to the podcast episode to understand a bit more about my P and F intake ranges.
When do I increase my calories and by HOW much?
This varies, but I try to add at least 5C each week. Sure, it’s slow, but for me it’s sustainable and healthy (mindset is key as well!) and as long as I can push that on a weekly basis, slowly, I can make big changes over time. Sometimes it will take me 3 weeks to add in more, or sometimes I will jump my intake twice in one week, depending on other factors.
What other factors do I need to consider?
For me, I take into consideration a lot of variables that can all affect my daily intake and my performance.
Most importantly is my mental health. If that’s not aligned and in good standings, this reverse isn’t going to work. I have struggled with body image issues before (body dysmorphia, something I have talked about in past podcasts and YouTube vlogs) and the last thing I want is for that to kick in while I’m trying to increase. I’ve been ok with the scale fluctuating (usually goes anywhere from 112-120 in any given week) and I know for certain that’s not fat gain that’s happening. So if my mental health isn’t 100% then I don’t change any macros.
Physical strength and how I perform in the gym. When I go through new training phases (usually changing every 4-6 weeks between this past competition and my next one in December) I stay really mindful of how my performance plays out, especially in the first week of each phase. I try not to change my macros too much in the first week just to see the variables and how my training does change my energy levels and calories in/out. I like hard data, so when I make a change to one thing then I like to see how it changes other factors before throwing in so many variables where I don’t know what caused the changes.
Daily energy levels and sleep. Lately I’ve been a little tired in the afternoons and have been going to sleep earlier. This is something I want to take into consideration because if I’m tired that usually means I’m running low on energy. And then to me, that means I should be pushing my energy system (calories, carbs) up a bit more. Noted and applied.
Body functions. This includes things like my hormones and how they fluctuate month-to-month and my bowel movements. If these aren’t regular or seemingly off a little bit, then all factors I need to consider. Am I getting enough fibre? Am I moody or emotional? (I’m a woman, of course I am, hahaha)
Reverse dieting is going to vary for each athlete and this is not a plan that will provide the same results to you as it does for me. Ultimately, I would love to get to 300C and maintain my body composition (about 115-118 lbs and 15% body fat) but again, a lot of factors to take into consideration on a regular basis. If you do intend to reverse your diet, make sure you have a plan in place. You need to know why you’re doing it and you need to have the discipline in order to see the results.
Remember to follow up with my podcast: Courtney For Life Podcast, episode 23: Reverse Dieting