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The Definitive Guide to Reverse Dieting

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The Definitive Guide to Reverse Dieting

Reverse dieting is an extremely effective way to make weight loss and weight maintenance as easy and painless as possible. Here’s how it works.

 

Here’s something most people wanting to lose weight don’t know:

Losing it is only half the battle. What happens next is just as important, if not more so.

Here’s an all-too-common scenario:

After several months of very low-calorie and heavily restrictive dieting, Jimmy finally achieves his weight loss goal. Oh glorious day! It’s finally over! No more suffering! Life can finally be lived again!

Little does he know, though, Jimmy is skipping on thin ice. He’s both psychologically and physically prepped to rapidly regain all the fat he lost, so what he does next is absolutely critical.

Unaware of this, he charges forward recklessly and, a month later, looks at the scale and wonders what the hell happened. How can months of weight loss possibly be undone so quickly? And what the hell should he do next? Who’s to say another round of grueling dieting won’t end just as catastrophically?

Or maybe he’ll make the other common mistake: fearful of weight gain, he continues his restrictive eating regimen and eventually finds himself physically and mentally frayed. He can’t eat a normal amount of food without getting fatter. His restrictive diet weighs on him like a full-body cast that gets a little tighter and itchier every day.

Well, this is where reverse dieting comes in to save the day. It’s the “diet after dieting” and it’s extremely important to get right.

I’d even go as far as saying that skilfully navigating this “post-weight-loss period” is the real “secret” to ending your weight struggles once and for all.

And in this article, you’re going to learn everything you need to know to achieve just that. By the end, you’re going to know what not to do after losing weight and why, and how to use reverse dieting to save you from the deepest, darkest pits of dietary hell.

So let’s get to it.

What Is Reverse Dieting?

how-to-reverse-diet

If “dieting” involves restricting your food intake, what do you think “reverse dieting” is?

“Eating more?” you say? Kind of. Reverse dieting does involve eating more food but it’s a bit more scientific than that.

Reverse dieting involves a controlled, gradual increase in total daily calorie intake with the purpose of increasing metabolic rate and health.

Reverse dieting is mainly known as a way to bring your metabolism back to normal after a period of calorie restriction (weight loss) but it also has usefulness outside of weight loss, which we’ll talk more about in this article.

Now, before we talk about the benefits of reverse dieting and how to actually do it, let’s learn a bit more about how and why it works.

How Losing Weight Affects Your Metabolism

When you set out to truly understand the science of fat loss, you first learn about the principles of energy balance and how your calorie intake and expenditure dictate weight gain and loss.

From there you quickly learn that meaningful weight loss requires that you maintain a state of “negative energy balance” over time. This means watching your food intake to ensure that you’re eating less energy than you burn.

For many people, the lessons stop here. They were looking for weight loss answers and found the “secret:” eat fewer calories than you expend and voila, your weight goes down.

What they don’t know, however, is that restricting calorie intake does more than just reduce your total fat mass. It affects your metabolism in various ways as well and people’s ignorance of these “side effects” is one of the big reasons they struggle so much with “dieting.”

The first thing you need to know is that when you place your body in a calorie deficit, it sets out to decrease energy output and increase intakeThat is, it wants to erase the calorie deficit and achieve a state of metabolic homeostasis.

The reality is losing weight requires that you force your body to do something it doesn’t want to do. That’s why it can lead to complications and that’s why you want to go about it intelligently, with the goal of improving body composition and preserving metabolic health, not simply “losing weight” any which way, no matter the consequences.

Here are the major factors you’re up against when you’re working to lose fat:

Your basal metabolic rate slows down.

Basal means “forming a base; fundamental,” and your basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy your body burns while at rest. The biggest energy hogs in your body are your organs and muscles (these are the prime determinants of your basal metabolic rate).

When you place your body in a calorie deficit, hormonal adaptations occur that cause your body to burn less energy while at rest. 

The major hormones influenced in these adaptations include leptin, ghrelinthyroid hormones, and testosterone, which are all unfavorably affected by weight loss.

The “thermic effect of food” decreases.

The thermic effect of food, or TEF, is the amount of energy required to eat, digest, absorb, and store food.

Research shows that TEF accounts for about 10% of total daily energy expenditure, with amounts varying based on the macronutrient composition of the diet.

While restricting calories doesn’t appear to directly reduce TEF, the reduction in overall food intake naturally results in a reduction of total energy expenditure.

You burn less energy through “spontaneous” physical activity.

Every day you engage in varying amounts of spontaneous activity like walking around while on the phone, hopping to the bathroom, drumming our fingers when you read, or bobbing your legs when you think.

The energy burned by these activities is known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, and it plays a much larger role in total daily energy expenditure than most people realize.

Research shows that NEAT can vary by up to 2,000 calories per day among individuals. The same research indicates that people could burn an additional 350 calories per day by taking simple actions to increase movement every day like taking the stairs when possible, walking relatively short distances instead of driving, doing some chores instead of watching TV, etc.

Here’s the catch, though: when in a calorie deficit, your body naturally decreases its spontaneous activity levels

Furthermore, research shows that this adaptation can remain for quite some time after regular eating has resumed (which is one of the reasons why weight gain after dieting is so common).

You burn less energy through exercise.

It stands to reason that you reduce your body weight, you also reduce the amount of energy expended during exercise (it costs more energy to move a heavier body). Research shows that this is the case.

There’s more to this than meets the eye, however, because studies have shown that even when body weight is artificially increased during weight loss dieting, energy expenditure during exercise is less than normal.

Think Metabolic Adaptation, Not “Damage”

As you can see, maintaining a calorie deficit without outright starving yourself is trickier than most people think.

Total daily energy expenditure is a moving target and part of the process is learning how your body responds to a calorie deficit and how to keep it in a negative energy balance without causing more and greater problems.

These alterations in basal metabolic rate, NEAT, TEF, and so forth are collectively known as “adaptive thermogenesis,” and they can be seen as your body’s weight loss “countermeasures.”

They’re pretty damn effective too–research shows that 80 to 90% of people that diet to lose weight return to their previous, pre-diet weights.

Fortunately, these adaptations aren’t dangerous or permanent and can be managed and reversed.

Reducing calorie intake, even for long periods of time, and even if repeatedly, doesn’t “damage” your metabolism. In a scientific sense, metabolic “damage” simply doesn’t exist. Only metabolic adaptation.

Fortunately, just as you can cause unfavorable adaptations, you can cause favorable ones as well. The best way I know to do this is reverse dieting.

The Benefits of Reverse Dieting

reverse-diet

When you’ve been in a calorie deficit for an extended period of time, you’re psychologically inclined to overeat and your body is metabolically primed for weight regain.

To make matters worse, research shows your body will gain fat at an accelerated rate during this period, which is a phenomenon known as “post-starvation obesity.”

Thus, the worst thing you can do following a period of weight loss is exactly what you want to do: dramatically increase your calorie intake.

That said, you also don’t want to just keep your food intake at its current, low level, as this will simply perpetuate the metabolic impairments.

What you need is a strategy for raising your food intake back to normal levels without gaining fat, and that strategy is reverse dieting.

Here are the major benefits of reverse dieting:

You get to eat more.

Not as much as you might want to eat as quickly as you want to shovel it in, but hey, even small, gradual increases can be quite a relief.

The “little” things count: social events become less of a cocktease, you get to fit tastier things into your meal plans, and no more being distracted by hunger pangs and cravings.

Life is better when you get to eat more. 🙂

You have more energy.

There’s no getting around the reduction in energy levels that comes with being, and training, in a calorie deficit. And it feels damn good when it finally comes to an end.

As physical energy levels rise so do mental function and mood. Life is better when you’re energized.

You get to come out of the “dieting” mindset.

After you’ve been dieting for a while, you inevitably become a little fearful of changing anything and gaining fat.

This is why many people don’t change much in terms of food intake and exercise after reaching their weight loss goals–they don’t want to lose their hard-won gains.

Reverse dieting not only gives you a break from this mental straitjacket, it shows you that you can have the best of both worlds: you can relax and eat more without gaining fat.

You get to enjoy your workouts again.

Even if you do everything right and preserve as much muscle as possible while losing fat, training while in a calorie deficit eventually sucks.

You lose strength. You battle mental and physical fatigue. You just don’t want to be in the gym.

All that changes when you start eating more. Your pre-diet strength returns. You regain your mental edge. You look forward to your workouts again.

How to Reverse Diet

reverse-dieting-meal-plan

Alright, now that you know how reverse dieting works and why it’s so beneficial, let’s look at how to actually do it.

1. Engage in heavy resistance training (weightlifting, ideally) 3 to 5 times per week.

This has two big benefits for your metabolic rate:

  1. it speeds it up in the short term, burning a significant amount of post-workout calories, and
  2. it builds muscle, which speeds up your metabolic rate in the long term.

My Bigger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger programs are built around heavy, compound weightlifting, and are perfect for repairing metabolic health.

2. Eat plenty of protein.

A high-protein diet is important because it will promote muscle growth, which is what we want to achieve with step #1.

I recommend that you eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight when you’re reverse dieting.

3. Slowly increase your calories each week until you’ve reached your total daily energy intake.

Start your reverse diet by increasing your daily caloric intake by 150 and then increase it by 150 calories every 7 days.

For example, I end my cuts around 2,000 calories per day, and I start my reverse diets with about 2,150 calories per day. Then, a week later, I increase my daily intake to 2,300 calories, and so forth.

I continue this way until I reach my TDEE.

In terms of macronutrients, alternate between raising fats and carbs until you reach 0.3 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight, and then raise just your carbs.

Remember that you don’t need more than 0.3 to 0.4 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight to maintain health. Carbs, on the other hand, can continue to benefit you at higher and higher intakes.

So, going with the example above, I’ve ended my cut at 2,000 calories, which means I’m eating somewhere between 40 and 50 grams of fat per day.

I would first increase my daily carb intake by about 40 grams (~160 calories) and then, a week later, increase my fat intake by about 15 grams (~135 calories).

I would then do another round of increasing both carb and fat intake, which would put my fats around 0.3 grams per pound of bodyweight. Thus, all further increases in caloric intake will come from carbs.

 

Use Flexible Dieting When Creating Reverse Dieting Meal Plans

Don’t fall for the dogmas of “clean eating.”

Yes, you should eat plenty of nutritious foods every day, but this can include many foods deemed as “unworthy” by various health “gurus,” such as grains, fruit, dairy, and read meat.

That advice applies regardless of your diet goals–losing weight, building muscle, or maintaining body composition–and applies to reverse dieting as well. Life is better when you get to eat foods you actually like.

If you want to learn more about flexible dieting, check out this article.

Want a workout program and flexible diet plan that will help you build muscle and get strong? Download my free no-BS “crash course” now and learn exactly how to build the body of your dreams.

Will You Gain Weight When You Reverse Diet?

Maybe. You may gain a little weight but you may lose some as well.

If you lose weight, it will be mainly due to a reduction in water retention, which is to be expected as your hormones normalize.

I experienced this during one of my preps for a photo shoot. Here is an unedited picture of me on the day of the photoshoot:

reverse-dieting-bodybuilding

I weighed 184 pounds here and was eating about 2,100 calories per day.

Here is an unedited picture of me taken several weeks later:

reverse-dieting-after-competition

By this picture I had increased my daily calorie intake to about 2,500 and lost 2 pounds in the process, putting me at 182 pounds.

If you gain weight, don’t freak out. 

As you increase your carbohydrate intake, your muscles are going to hold more water and glycogen. You can easily gain a few pounds this way with little to no change in body fat levels.

If, however, you’re gaining weight fairly rapidly while reverse dieting–1 pound per week or more–you may be eating too much. Check out this article for some tips on analyzing your energy intake versus output to ensure you’re not making any obvious mistakes.

Does Reverse Dieting Have Any Other Uses?

reverse-dieting-layne-norton

The majority of people searching for information on reverse dieting have weight loss on their minds, which is why this article focuses on that context.

Reverse dieting has another use worth mentioning, though, and that’s for continuing to increase your energy expenditure well beyond what would be your normal TDEE.

The procedure is simple: continue raising your daily calorie intake every 7 to 10 days for as long you’d like. In terms of macronutrients, you can continue to raise your carb intake but eventually you just can’t feasibly eat more carbs, at which point you start increasing your fat intake instead.

(Most people find that anything over 2.5 to 3 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight is just too much and thus I recommend you cut it off there.)

This is also known as “clean bulking” and it’s an effective way to maximize muscle growth and minimize fat storage. Notice I said minimize and not prevent. This is because you do gain fat while reverse dieting beyond your normal TDEE but you gain as little as possible while reaping maximum muscle-building benefits.

The Bottom Line on Reverse Dieting

Millions of people desperately want to know how to lose weight but very few give much thought to what happens next.

This is unfortunate because the real goal is to lose fat, not muscle, and maintain a new and improved body composition for the rest of your life. And the only way to do that is to break free from the maelstrom of fad dieting, starvation “cleansing,” and the rest of the mainstream diet nonsense and learn the truth about how your metabolism functions and how you can work with and not against it.

Reverse dieting is a big ol’ Swiss Knife of a tool that everyone needs to understand and use. It’s currently an obscure dietary strategy known mainly to bodybuilders and other competitive athletes but I hope more and more mainstream authors and experts bring it to the forefront of the ongoing diet discussion.

I wrote this article to do my part. If you found it helpful, share it around with friends and family to help spread the word and save them from the agonies of yo-yo dieting.

 

 What’s your take on reverse dieting? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Adel-Alexander

    Nice article!

    Hey Mike, I just read your BLS V2, and I wanted to ask.. when you ask us to perform the incline bench press for instance for 8-10 reps. (it’s a part of the upper body days) Do you want us to use the same weight as we use for the 4-6 rep range? Because.. I don’t think I can lift that heavy 8-10 times haha

    • brandon

      No, you want to lift a weight that you can you 8-10 times.

    • Thanks!

      Nope you’ll want to reduce the weight to 70 to 75% of your 1RM and work within the rep range like you do the 4 to 6 range. Once you hit 10 reps, move up in weight.

    • Haha no you lower weight so you can get 8 reps but you can’t do more than 10. 🙂

  • Ollie

    Just to be clear, at what point do you switch from 1.2 grams per pound of bodyweight to 1?

    • Juan Aguilar

      What I would do is gradually go down on the protein as you start increasing the carbs for bulking (1.15g – week 1, 1.1g – week 2, etc).

      Then just stop at 1 gram, and keep adding your carbs until you start gaining weight again.

      • Ollie

        Yeah that sounds like the best way to do it, I’ve been reverse dieting for 4 weeks now and this is pretty much what I’ve done!

    • Juan’s idea isn’t bad! I recommend staying at 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight until you’re out of a deficit and reach TDEE though to prevent any possible loss of muscle.

      • Anthony

        So can you go from 1.2 to 1 as soon as you reach TDEE

        • Anthony

          I am still a little confused. I apologize.. so i am trying to reverse diet into a bulk. My cutting targets were 172 protein 142 carbs and 28 fat. Until I reach my TDEE, should i just increase carbs and keep my fat and protein intake at the level i had it for when cutting?Or should i change something in addition to the carbs? Also, when I reach my TDEE should i then immediatlely switch from 1.2 grams to 1? Sorry for the confusion.

          • Juan Aguilar

            You might be over complicating things a bit haha. You don’t have to have everything perfect to start your reverse diet since the changes won’t be drastic.

            Just try doing this:

            -You can leave fats the same for a while, then gradually increase them as well. (until you reach about .4g fat/body weight.

            -gradually go down on the protein as you start increasing the carbs for bulking (1.15g – week 1, 1.1g – week 2, etc). Stop at 1 gram/1lb bodyweight

          • Anthony

            Ok thanks for the feedback :). I appreciate it

        • Yeah exactly.

  • LuckBox1970

    Note that while Mike talks about eating more, its only 100-150 calories. It’s not much — 25 to 40 grams of carbs… that is like a small bowl of oatmeal… you will still feel like in same diet pretty much — no going whole hog on potatoes and bread…..

    • Nathan Hanak

      100 to 150 per week adjustment. It’s true, it doesn’t feel like anything the first week, but by week 3 after you’ve gone up about 300-500 calories from your cutting total, it feels like a miracle. I’m actually having a hard time figuring out how to eat that much again.

  • LuckBox1970

    What has worked for me is when losing weight, only eat 2 reasonable meals a day. If you can make it, wait until 1-2pm prior to eating first meal, then you are ahead and if eat a 600 calorie lunch, (chicken, veggies and a little rice)… then can eat a good sized dinner 900-1000 calories and with a snack on side, stay at/under 2100 calories and you won’t be so hungry at night… If can’t make it to lunch, eat a late breakfast and then have an early decent-sized dinner and try to let that be it until you fall asleep.

    by the way, the fasted cardio method has been great. thanks Mike — bought both of your books and buy supplements from you to support your work and education.

  • Marcin

    Hey Mike,

    You said “when I finish cutting, my daily calorie intake is usually around 2,000 to 2,100, which is more or less my basal metabolic rate.” But isn’t it way too low? I remember people like Dr Layne Norton are advocating not going more than 500kcal defiict/day, or otherwise you will really slow down your metabolism and minimize diet effectiveness on long-term. Don’t you have problem with that?

    (I did a cut on 500 kcal deficit and still doing reverse i was really hungry and my appetite went through the roof for good two months after the cut was over – unsatisfable hunger = no fun!).
    Whats your take on this? 🙂

    • Nathan Hanak

      Mike usually subscribes to a percentage of calories to cut from your TDEE, rather than a flat number. I would say this is fairly smart, because a 500 calorie deficit will have a way different effect on someone who is 5’5″ and someone who is 6’2″.

      • Marcin

        True, but still my point is he is going more than already aggressive 20% defiict, and I wonder if its ok with metabolism and won’t slow it down. I can do the same when my weight stalls, but first I want to know if I won’t mess up my metabolism and eat everything back anyway when I finish the cut 😉

        • Nathan Hanak

          http://www.muscleforlife.com/rapid-weight-loss/

          This should explain it. But the TL;DR version is that Mike suggests a 20-25% deficit for rapid results, since the longer you’re in a deficit, the more your metabolism slows down. Even still at this deficit, your metaoblism will slow down before you get to your goal, so you may have to continue to knock off 100 calories here and there if you notice your weight loss results slowing or stopping.

          And I think this article is explaining how to take care of what you’re worried about. If you coast in to a gradual landing (this reverse dieting, gradually adding calories back), then you are less likely to eat everything back.

  • Miguel A. De Dios

    Fantastic article Mike. This really, really informational. I know Layne Norton and Sohee Lee are big advocates of reverse dieting. It’s nice to see others shine light on this issue as well. Thanks again!

  • Paul

    Alright so really I clicked on this because of the picture accompanying the article, but I’m glad I read the article very informative.

  • Crateria

    Mike,

    I recently developed elbow tendonitis during my cut (10 weeks in), and I feel because of the cut that it isn’t improving, and I really want it to heal and not become a chronic issue.

    Should I take the long time (5 weeks) of reverse dieting up to maintenance level? Or should I just do maintenance level calories (~2450) for 2-3 weeks and re-assess where the injury is at?

    I’m currently at 13-14% bf and have made it my goal to hit 10%. So basically… what path should I take to get me to 10% the fastest, while also allowing this injury to heal?

    Thanks again for all the help.

    • Juan Aguilar

      I thought I would chime in since I’ve had a related issue before.

      I would just start with taking a whole week off weight training, while still being in a calorie deficit. Maybe add 1 or 2 HIIT cardio sessions too, but no weight training. After the full week, assess on how your injury is doing. If it’s improving, but not quite healed 100%, begin weight training again with a de-load after your rest week (while keeping your diet).

      Doing this will prevent you from ending your cut to early, while still allowing your body to heal from issues you’ve encountered.

      Also, keep taking those supplements. They will definitely help.

  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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  • ruvi lipsker

    mike what o u say about that greg ogallger from kinobody say
    it is not nessisery

    • Donald

      All of Mike’s points are supported by scientific data. Can you say the same about your other source?

  • david mor

    Hey Mike,

    Your articles are insightful as usual and i have been a follower of your methods for quite some time. Your books gave me valuable information. My question today is: Have your heard of Coco Cola Fairlife chocolate milk? I have always heard chocolate milk aid recovery, is it true? what do you think of this new product from coco cola?

    Thanks

  • Zeppelin

    This was definitely one of my biggest questions after reading BLS — how do I transition from my cut to my bulk? There’s a lot of information in the book, so I wasn’t sure if I just glossed over it or if it wasn’t there. After reading this, it seems the proper approach is to slowly stairstep my way from my cut to my bulk about 100-150 calories at a time. I’m currently cutting at just over 1800cals/day, and my bulk target will probably be in the neighborhood of 2600-2700cals. So, at that rate, I guess it will take me a good 4-5 weeks to transition from cut to bulk.

    I’m finishing Phase 1 this week and probably still have a month-plus of cutting left, but I’d appreciate some confirmation from Mike or anyone who’s done this before that this is the proper approach. I feel like that’s what this article is saying, but someone hit me over the head with a sledgehammer and make it crystal clear.

    Thanks —

    • Donald

      You are correct. I set my goal for 100 cals more each week. I ended the cut at 2000 calories and went up to 2700 over 8 weeks (stayed at 2600 for 2 weeks as it was my calculated maintenance). I gained 2 lbs over that period which I attribute to increased glycogen and water as waist measurement didn’t change. That weight gain was all in the first 3-4 weeks. Maintained my weight on 2700 cals for 3 weeks. Started the 100 cal per week increase again for bulking until I was putting on 0.5 to 1 lb per week which got me to 3000 calories over 3 weeks.

      • Zeppelin

        Thanks for the input, Donald.

  • Andrew

    Mike,
    First of all you’re the man haha. Secondly, I did my reverse diet (because I had my calories way too low around 1500/day @ 165lbs 8% BF).. I increased my calories by 150 a day for about a week until I got to around 2500/day (gained 1-2lbs at most). I stayed at 2500/day for about a week and lost 2lbs. I then started cutting around 2200-2000/day which I am at now and I am down to 160lbs 6-7% BF. Did I go too fast through the process and how many calories do you think I should be consuming? I want to make sure I don’t lose muscle and throw my metabolism off too much but I feel like I look the best I have yet. I’d also like to stay 6-7% BF the rest of the summer. Any advice would be appreciated, love the book, changed my whole perspective on lifting.
    BMR = 1750 / TDEE= 1.4 – 1.6 multiplier
    Thanks,
    Andrew

    • Andrew

      Sorry multiplier of 1.35 – 1.5

    • Thanks man. 🙂

      That all seems fine on the reverse diet–it worked! Haha.

      To maintain that look, I recommend you reverse diet again to maintenance cals, and then just chill there for summer.

      What do you think? LMK.

  • Hi Michael. I just sign. Tell me how can i keep motivated while doing the diet? thanks

  • Juan Aguilar

    I’m not Mike, but I’m personally going though this on my cut. Here’s what I found:

    Unfortunately, strength loss is just part of the cutting game (Unless, you are new to weight training). My advice would be NOT to worry about it, unless you are losing a ton of strength. If you are only going down a few pounds, or lost a few reps, it’s not a big deal. You won’t be noticing it in the mirror.

    As long as you maintain most of your strength in the cut, you will be preserving your hard earned muscle. Which, should be the main goal (lose as much fat as possible, maintain muscle).

  • Breann Silverman

    This article couldn’t have came at a better time! I’m halfway through your TLS for women and think I’ve hit a cutting plateau (after 10 months it’s also mentally draining). I’m scared to go up in calories as I don’t want to gain back any of my 2.5″/10lbs lost, but think mentally & physically reverse dieting is the answer. Thanks for another great article:-)

    • Yeah 10 months is a long time to be cutting. Let’s bring your metabolism back up with the reverse diet and then continue your cut!

      When you set up your cutting cals, you should be losing 1-2 pounds a week. That way, you don’t have to cut for so many months! If you’re not, you need to lower cals. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      LMK what you think!

  • B+ Vanilla IWC Midget

    I’m 215 lbs. w/ 170 lbs of LBM. This is about a 500 calorie deficit. Does it look good?

    Protein 215 grams – 860 calories
    Fat 51 grams – 459 calories
    Carbs – 1200 calories

  • Don Sanders

    “…social events become less of a cocktease,”

    I’m surprised to see this reference. Doesn’t it seem a bit crass and prurient? You’re a great writer and really know your stuff. I think excluding vulgar references from your writing and communication can only help you. You can do better!

    • Jimmy Bills

      It’s 2015, who cares.

      • Don Sanders

        One can tell a lot about what is inside of a man by what comes out of his mouth.

    • Thanks for the kind words Don and I understand where you’re coming from. That said, my sense of humor is, well, crass and prurient, haha. I grew up on the Internet. It was inevitable. 😉

  • Thanks! Great job! I like your plan.

    Haha one rep down is nothing my man. You’re killing it. Just keep up the good work and your strength will come back quickly once you’re out of the deficit.

  • Alan

    I’m cutting using a 2000 calorie custom meal plan from MFL (for the last 5 months). I’m 6’3 and was 186, and have been cutting to loose belly fat (I’m skinny fat). Now I’m at 173, have lost some muscle mass and I’m stuck at 173. I can’t seem to get rid of that lower belly fat. Now I’m not sure if I should reduce calories to try to get it off, or if reverse dieting might kick start more fat burn.

  • Nick

    Hey Mike,

    I’m wondering since TDEE can vary, is it a good idea to get to my TDEE that I calculated as laid out, wait a week to see if I gain weight or BF and keep increasing until I see an increase in weight or BF? I’m thinking that will help me to pinpoint exactly what my TDEE is and also help when I jump into a cut to have a cushion.

    Thoughts from the expert?

    Thanks Mike!

    • That’s not a bad idea! But the formula for finding your TDEE is pretty accurate. You could just go straight into your bulking cals and adjust it as necessary from there. If you’re gaining more than .5-1 pound a week you know you need to lower cals. On a cut, if you’re losing more than 1-2 pounds a week, you know you need to increase cals.

      What do you think?

  • YW! Nice on your stats!

    Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

    • Breann Silverman

      So I had 1week under my belt at reverse dieting increased my carbs to 145, then went on week vacation to Caribbean… Don’t even want to weigh myself. So should I stay at 145C and just get busy in the gym & obviously stay tight on calories or do a deficit for a week or 2? Also… I’m going to follow the 5-day/3HIIT plan from TLS but am not sure if I should to rep range of 4-6 or 8-12? I’m coming off a day upper/day lower heavy @ 6,3,3 and 3 hypertrophy days @ 12-15 rep range. What do you think? I can currently squat 135 for 6. Thanks a bunch.

      • Haha let’s keep you at 145 and see how you’re doing in a week.

        I think you’ll do well with the 4 to 6 rep work included. You’re an experienced lifter.

        • Breann Silverman

          Ok that’s what I was thinking. Thanks!

          • YW!

          • Breann Silverman

            Ok so it’s been 10 days at the 145 carbs, (1450 cal) TLS 5 day, 2-3 HIIT, weight staying same at 129 (was 128 pre-vacation 3wks ago), feel tighter/stronger but feel like I’m holding more water than I’d like.., is this typical…am I on right path to keep inc carbs? I get so frustrated cause I was down to 126 in March, but I’m really hovering around 128-130 range thus far. What do you think? Thanks for your help:)

          • Sorry but I’m a little confused at this point.

            Can you refresh me on what you’re trying to do? Lose more fat or?

  • Steven Scott

    It sounds like this would also be useful when an “eating event” is coming up — Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. Speed yourself up beforehand so you burn off Mom’s cooking better.

  • universal love

    Hey Mike loved the article ! I have a quick question .. How would this work for someone trying to lose a lot of weight , my girlfriend is currently using your thinner leaner stronger program but still has a lot more to lose til she hits her goal , should she use this Reverse dieting even though she doesn’t bulk ? And if so at what point should she do this

    • Glad you liked it. 🙂

      Reverse dieting still has it’s uses for her. She could use it if she’s been cutting for months, sticking to her diet and then plateaus. She can use it to speed up her metabolism for a few weeks and then continue cutting.

      She will also want to reverse diet to maintenance cals when she finishes her cut so that she doesn’t rapidly put on fat by eating more right after the cut.

  • Jose Carl g

    Olá Michael,lo seu livro,achei muito bom,meu ritmo e diferente,trabalho à noite e vou na academia pela manhã quando chego do serviço,e depois vou dormir,como poderia me alimentar de forma correta,e suplementar com quais suplementos?

  • Tom

    Hi michael, just heard you on the Ben Coomber podcast, really enjoyed the way you talked about training. Just catching up on blogs. I’ve been reverse dieting for a few months now, trying to lay down some lean mass, I used Harris Benedict to work out tdee but I have blown well beyond that figure now, am tracking weight and using measurements. What should I look out for to know when to stop increasing and just maintain that calorie amount? Weight has just started to go up at 1lb per week on 4200kcal per day.

  • Chris

    Hey Mike,
    I’m currently cutting (on week 14) and I’ve reduced as low as I can go (about 75 kcals under BMR) and I’m moving as much as I can. I’m still losing around a pound a week and I’m not losing any reps at the gym. I think I’m going to reverse. My question is, how quickly will the weight gains come on when reversing? And from what I’ve read of yours, try not to pay attention to the scale as much as the millimeter reading on the calipers? Any advise will be welcomed due to pending fear of gaining the hard to lose fat!

    Thanks!

    • Good idea on the reverse diet.

      If done properly, you should little to no fat at all. You main gain a couple pounds (don’t be surprised if you don’t), but that’s due to water weight and glycogen.

      Just follow the protocol and you’ll be good. 🙂

      • Chris

        Awesome! Do you mind looking over my numbers?

        LBM= 1-.12= .88×184=161.92/2.2=73.6= LBM 73.6

        BMR= 370+21.6 x 73.6 = 1959.76

        TDEE= 1959.76×1.5 (7 hours a week) = 2939.64

        I’m currently eating 1875 daily so I should reverse for approx. 10 weeks up to my TDEE correct?

        Thanks for the quick reply!

        • The numbers seem fine.

          Remember, it all depends on the results. If you start gaining weight at 2800 cals, then you know your TDEE is a below that.

          Stick to the protocol, track your weight weekly and you’ll be good!

  • Chase

    Hey There,

    First of all thanks again for a wonderful article.
    In the text above it explains how reverse dieting can be useful for people who have been in a deficit for “several months” and have slowed their metabolism down. How long does it take to slow down a metabolism? How long can someone cut and immediately return to maintenance calories without gaining the weight back? Thanks!

    • If you’ve properly set up your cals and macros using this:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      And aren’t losing 1-2 pounds a week, you need to reverse diet.

      Whenever you cut, you should always reverse diet to up cals. While cutting your metabolism slows down. Reverse dieting will bring the metabolism back up so you don’t put on fat when you start eating more.

      • Chase

        That makes sense, so if I am still losing weight with the initial calorie reduction than my metabolism is still in pretty good shape.
        Thank you.

  • Oh okay cool. You shouldn’t gain more than a few pounds during the whole process and they will be water and glycogen, not fat.

  • Cool. 🙂

    I don’t really pay attention to my HR during HIIT.

    Just stick to the protocol and you’ll be good.

  • Will

    I fudged my macro numbers, so I have been getting 25g of protein less than I was expecting by not weighing my proteins. Since I’ve been cutting and weight loss has stalled, should I reverse diet for a week by cutting 25g of carbs then add back BOTH the carbs and the additional 25g of protein I’ve been missing the following week or should I just stick with where I’m at?

  • Jason

    Hi Mike,

    Love your articles and youtube videos. All the information you share on dieting has really helped me put parameters around what I’ve tried to put a common sense approach to in the past.

    I’m hoping you can confirm if reverse dieting is what will help me get to my goal of 10% bf during my current attempt at cutting.

    I hadn’t trained for about 10 years and built up to about 30+% bf. I’ve been training for the past 7 months and 7 weeks ago I started cutting. On this cut so far I’ve gone from 26% down to 16%. My original timeframe was to cut 8 weeks then bulk. I’ve heard you recommend not bulking above 15%, so would you recommend I finish my 8 week cut (1 more week to go), reverse diet, cut again down to my target of 10%, then bulk?

    Many thanks!
    Jason

    • Happy to hear you’re enjoying my articles and vids! Thanks for the support.

      If you’re still losing 1-2 pounds at the end of this first cut, no need to reverse diet! Just keep cutting and reach your goal. Then you can reverse diet to your bulk cals.

      What do you think?

  • Brian Giffin

    Mike i’m finishing my second cut, so I went from my TDEE down to BMR basically twice. Now on my way back up to TDEE again hoping I will loose a bit more body fat on the reverse cycle. I’ve been struggling to get below 10% but just cant seem to get there. I average 51/2 hrs of strength training and 11/2 hrs of cardio per week I’m 5’7″ 160lbs. 12-13% body fat. My TDEE is 2,335 but I feel better around 2100-2200. In fact I think I look better as well. Last time I was at this caloric intake I looked fuller and I even think my abs showed more. on my last cut I went 100 cals below my BMR for two weeks to try to get the last bit of fat out which put me at 1650cals. Now on the reverse I have already added 50 grams of carbs for the last two weeks bringing me to 1831.

    Beginning next week I will add another 10gms of fat and then so on.

    So basically my macros will be 160-gm pro, 230gm carbs, and 40gms fat bringing me up to 1931 cals. Do my macros seem off? I think my carbs are too low? Believe it or not I feel skinny fat at the moment haha! ya that sucks!

    • Cool on what you’re doing. I like it.

      If you feel good at 2100/2200 that’s totally fine. Remember TDEE calculations are educated guesses, really.

      Sorry but I don’t quite understand your question though. Can you elaborate?

  • Jess

    Hello, so I’ve been eating around 1300-1500 calories a day for quite a while, I’ve lost weight but think I’m no longer losing. I don’t really want to lose more weight but also don’t want to gain weight. I don’t do any crazy exercise in mainly doing yoga, walking, cycling, and hula hooping. I do cycle 3 x a week and the other stuff everyday. I’ve been looking into reverse dieting Bc I really want to build up my metabolism again and finally eat more food bc I do find im still hungry and can’t live on this intake forever! I eat high carb and low fat and have been for 2 years now. But I’m not sure how I should go about my reverse. Does this only work right if you’re lifting? Or can a mix of cardio and bodyweight training with some light weight work as well? I’m a female, 5’3. I’m a bit scared of lifting as I don’t want to get big, rather I just want to build up my metabolism, eat a normal healthy amount of food and get more tone and definition on my body while still looking quite small. Do you think it’s still possible to do this, or must one only lift heavy??

    • Nope this works whether you’re lifting or not. If you’re burning additional energy through exercise and such then you should be able to eat a bit more than 1300-1500/day.

    • Coffeeforever

      You won’t get “big” by lifting heavy, but you will create muscle and give your body an awesome shape. I learned the hard way. It took years for me to finally start lifting heavy and am more toned than ever and eating a whole lot more.

  • Yareny

    Hey, Not sure if you can help me. I am currently weighting 122 body fat at 9%. YET I don’t really see the definition I think I should be seeing. I lift heavy and train hard. I don’t want to loose weight I just want lean muscle gain. My macros are at 139g protein, fat 41g and 231g Carbs = 1850 cals daily. Do these seem off? I feel like I should be eating more maybe, BUT Being that I don’t have a flat abs don’t want to risk it. Incase it matter, I have two kids the youngest being 2. Not sure if that might be the factor for my none existant abs.

  • Coffeeforever

    Hi, Im currently in the middle of reverse dieting as you recommended. Im at 1700 calls right now which is awesome because its the most Ive eaten in years. Been using Pulse and Forge the last two weeks b4 weightlifting 5 days a week , HIIT about 3-4 times a week for about 20-30 min,and I’m hitting new prs especially with deadlifting and squatting. Im currently deadlifting 140 for 3 sets of 8 and squatting with 115 for 2 sets of 8. At what point do you suggest I start cutting ? I was thinking once I hit 1900 calls? Once I hit that number should I wait a couple weeks or just dive straight into a deficit? (5’5 117lbs, about 18% body fat , I think..) Im pretty lean everywhere but have some stubborn fat on my lower body and obliques. You suggest going into a 20-25% deficit and I had a hard time cutting at 1450 calls a while back and you convinced me to start reverse dieting again. You also said that it could be to little of a intake for my workout plan. ..Thank you, Sara

    • You can keep going up until you reach TDEE for your weight. You can find it here:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      You can chill at TDEE for a week and then dive straight into the cut.

      20-25% deficit is good and for the stubborn fat, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

      If you finish reverse dieting at 1900 cals, your cutting cals should be 1425-1520.

      • Coffeeforever

        Thanks!

      • Coffeeforever

        Im currently at 1850 and surprisingly enough my body fat % has gone down since I’ve started this reverse diet and I’ve gained more muscle and am hitting new prs with almost every workout. I am using forge and pulse before each weightlifting workout, have stopped using Pheonix about 7 weeks ago (saving it for a cut)( am following your 5 day plan from TLS) I’ll hit 1900 next week but really do not feel like cutting just yet. I don’t know if its the fact that Im getting used to having an intake as high as this and the energy I have during my workouts. In all honesty I’d like to cut at as high an intake as possible for me. Would you recommend reversing until I feel like I’m actually gaining fat or hit 1900 and just stay there until I decide to cut?
        Thank You

        • That’s great. Fun right? 🙂

          You could keep reverse dieting until you stop losing/start gaining and then go back into a deficit. Who knows, you might be able to hit 2100+.

          • Coffeeforever

            Thanks . Sounds good!

          • YW

          • Coffeeforever

            Hey, so its been about 3 weeks and I hit 2000 and decided to start my cut a couple days ago and of course I just caught a cold and am feeling like crap. I still did some cardio today but avoided lifting as you’ve recommended in one of your blogs. Just a little unsure of what to do now. My intake is at 1600 and Im aiming for 1.2 gm pro for my bodyweight. Will taking around 3 days off from lifting cause me to loose muscle vs fat ? Especially because I only started my cut 2 days ago? Also I’m aiming for 3-4 times a week of HIIT for about 20-25 min. Is that enough? I don’t want to screw up with minor mistakes. It took a while till I finally adapted my metabolism through reverse d-ing. But I feel like I may have gained a little bf now and would like to cut correctly and not go through all the bs I did in my ignorant days!
            Thanks for hearing me out

          • Cool on reading 2000 on the reverse diet.

            As long as you keep your protein up, I wouldn’t worry about losing muscle for missing a few days. Take care of yourself and get back ti lifting. 🙂

            That’s good on the cardio.

            You’re know what you’re doing!

          • Coffeeforever

            Thats a relief, thank you!

          • YW!

  • Wil

    Is it possible to lose size and mass while cutting but not so much strength?

    I’ve measured my chest circumference before my cut and seem to have lost between half an inch to an inch 7 weeks after. However my bench press has remained relatively the same although sometimes I may lose a rep or two on the bar.

    My weight is the same but the calipers are showing fat reduction. I’m not new to weight lifting but I am relatively new to your strength training routine (6months)

    Is this normal to lose size?

  • Emma

    Hi Mike,

    I think you need to check the references your use to back up your claims more carefully.

    For example:

    it speeds it up in the short term, burning a significant amount of post-workout calories, and

    it builds muscle, which speeds up your metabolic rate in the long term.
    The first study you reference is a study of overweight, inactive men between the ages of 65 and 82 (probably not your target population!)

    The second study you refence does not state that building muscle speeds up metabolic rate, it is a paper dicussing different methods of calculating resting energy expenditure.

    • The point of the first study is the explanation of the mechanism itself. Don’t just read abstracts–read the papers and check the sources they cite. The effects are seen in all people.

      Again, on the BMR point, read the actual paper and you will see the discussion of how muscle mass affects it. It’s a metabolically active tissue, unlike body fat.

  • Excellent article Mike. Love the way you explain and break down your articles into an easy-to-read format. Presently cutting (last 2 months) and definitely feeling ‘washed-out’ and about to take a short diet break. Being the organised type, I am fully armed with the knowledge on how to gradually return to maintenance levels when that time comes. Great website.

    • Glad you’re enjoying all the articles!

      Thanks for the kind words and support.

      LMK if you have any questions. I’m happy to help.

  • Bane

    Would it be too much to increase calories from 2150 to 2400 from the beginning cause i want to transit to a bulk ?

    • If you’re coming off a cut, I recommend slowly increasing your cals to bulk cals with a reverse diet to prevent putting on fat. Just as I say to do it in this article!

      What do you think?

      • Bane

        Article is great, but i’m thinking like this : If 2400 calories is still not my maintenance level considering i train 4 times per week , i could nod possibly gain fat .. i will probably almost stop losing fat .. and yes i admit it 😀 i just cant reverse diet that slowly 😀

        • Yes, but remember your TDEE is coming down as you cut. The longer you’ve been in a deficit, the lower your TDEE gets.

          Reverse dieting is the safe way to ensure you don’t quickly put on fat right after the deficit, and it speeds up your metabolism as well.

  • Tom

    Such great advice that’s worked for me so far. Question is about Reverse HIIT Cardio? (may have just made that up)

    Only a few weeks until I hit my goal and start Reverse Dieting. I’ve had to include 3 twenty-minute cardio sessions a week, and may have to go to 4. How do I phase myself off of that…just stop altogether and start the Reverse Diet, or cut down 1 cardio section each week, or…? I mean I don’t want to be doing cardio when I transition into a 5%-10% surplus for bulking, right?

  • Lauren N

    I’m not sure if I should reverse or not. I’m at 214c/141p/59f. I lift heavy 6 days a week, and 4-5 twenty minute HIIT sessions too. I want to be able to do a mini cut, but on higher calories because if I were to cut on the amount in eating now, I’d be STARVING. I would like to get up to 250c at least. Do you think this little reverse diet would cause any weight gain (fat)?

    • Those are some good macros for a girl. I like it. Hmmm hard to say. Kind of just depends on your body. You could give it a try…

  • yeoh khawei

    Hi Mike,
    I am big fan of your approaches. After i have read your fasted cardio and calories deficit article. I have successfully brought down my body fat from 17% to 10 % ( 6 weeks) , another 2 weeks to complete the cut. Hopefully i will be there at 8 %.
    My current calories intake is 1700 kcal, 175 g protein, 115 g carb and 60 g of fat.

    I am wondering when i do my reverse dieting after 2 weeks. Should remain my protein intake and increase 25 g of carb at the same time? (my current protein intake is 1.2 per pound of body weight). When should i reduce protein intake? When do i need to increase my fat intake? (current fa intake is 0.4 times per pound of body weight?)

    Please advice, appreciate your efforts.

    • Great job on getting to 10%! I’m excited to see what you like at 8%.

      Keep the protein intake the same while reverse dieting until you hit TDEE. Once there, you can rework the cals and lower the protein. The fat intake doesn’t change. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      • yeoh khawei

        Thank for your reply, really appreciate it. Big shout from Malaysia.

      • Alex Wunder

        I have my fat at .3 per pound body weight and have relatively similar macros. (protein at 1.2 per lb body weight as well, the rest coming from carbs and 2 weeks tops left in my cut)

        When reverse dieting back up to TDEE is it beneficial to increase fat?

        I ask because you said in one of your articles that increasing fat leads to increased testosterone which, in turn, leads to a quicker speeding up of the metabolism.

        Does that concept only apply to people who have improperly slowed down their metabolism?

        • You don’t HAVE to, no, but it can be a nice change if you’re coming off a cut. Up to you.

  • Evelyn

    Hi Mike, great article! Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I’ve been flexible dieting for a while (since Dec), but I’ve been inconsistent with hitting my macros. I went from 26% in Dec to 21.5% in May. I’m at 23% now. It was recommended for me to reverse diet, but I’m apprehensive being that I’ve been inconsistent (weekends I haven’t been keeping track and binging away). Should I still reverse diet? If so, for how long? I plan to renew my vows in Nov so I’d like to be in my best shape by then. Will I be able to reverse and also begin cutting by then? My macros are at 195c, 117p, 35f (went up in weight from 134 in May to 142 now). Thank you advance for your advice/suggestions.

    • My pleasure.

      I recommend you set up your cals and macros for cutting and stick to them (weekend included). Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      I’m sure if you stick to them you’ll lose the 1-2 pounds a week you’re supposed to while cutting.

      What do you think?

      • Evelyn

        Hi Mike, thank you so much for your response and input. I love all your articles. The good news is that the calculation for my calories (based on this article) is almost exact to where I am (1558calories). I also meal prep with the flexible dieting approach. I track everything when I meal prep using myfitnesspal. The bad is that I don’t do a good job when I eat out (seems to almost every weekend since May…many family getaways) and my “fat girl voice” says f’ it and I eat to the point I get sick. I know I just need to put her in a headlock and focus on being consistent with tracking even when I eat out. : ) So based on my inconsistency with tracking, I should put the reverse dieting on hold, right? Instead I should focus on continuing to cut by meal-prepping on the weekends too/track when I eat out? My coach implied that I probably binge the way I do because I’ve been on a calorie deficit for so long. I disagree being that I’ve always struggled with binge eating. I also feel that I really haven’t been on a calorie deficit (at least since May) being that my binging episodes cause me to have a calorie surplus and gain bf/weight. My long goal is to get to 15%, but at this rate I’ll just be happy to break 20% since I’ve been struggling to be consistent. Thanks again Mike…wishing you continued success.

  • Sam

    Hey Mike, thanks for the awesome article as always. You’re the man. I’m at the end of my reverse diet (worked great so far), almost at TDEE at 2450. Going back up to a bulk. 2 questions… 1. Should I jump my cals 20% now or continue with the 150cal/week increase until I reach that 20% number. 2. Any harm to doing a deload week during a reverse diet? I’m not making any gains during it, so I figure its a good time to get it out of the way. THANK YOU!

    • YW. Glad you liked it!

      Happy to hear the reverse diet is going well.

      Continue the reverse diet all the way up to your bulking cals.

      For the deload week, that’s totally fine. I recommend doing it at TDEE though. No reason to be in a surplus for the deload week.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Robin Hubbard

    I am very confused.. i did the method you talk about with macros and it says i should be eating 1740 a day to lose. I am looking at my fitness pal and it says 1200 cals. Im 32 female 5″10 and 164lbs. Pleaae tell me if im under or over. I really like macroa instead of all the diets and its really helping me improve how i eat instead of restricting.please help me out..

    • 1740 is too high, but 1200 is definitely too low, haha.

      Set up your macros and cals using this:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      LMK how it goes.

      • Robin Hubbard

        So i just did the measurements and my bmr is 1976.81 and i exercise atleast 5 hours plus a week so multiplied times 1.35 which came to 2668.69
        Then multiplied times .8 for deficit which put me at 2134.95
        I do 5 day week weight training in your book followed by 3 days week hiit treadmill 30 minute routine. Im also fairly active. And eat pretty clean. Why am i stuck?

        • Your BMR is actually about 1500 calories. Something went wrong there.

          Thus, your TDEE is around 2,100 and you’d want to eat around 1,600 per day for losing weight.

          Let’s do 150 pro, 120 carb, and 50 fat per day, every day, and see how your body responds.

  • Aimee

    This article is perfect for me – I’ve been trying to live in a calorie deficit for many months as I’m trying to drop my BF% just a little lower to reveal more ab definition. However, suffering with food cravings all day, low energy, and I am terrified of eating more because it starts to show immediately. It sounds like my metabolism is wrecked! So I am going to start reverse dieting and eating my maintenance level – but how long should I stay in this period for, before going back to deficit? Thanks! 🙂

    • alyssa

      im not nessecrily the perfect one to answer, but if you are having food cravings all day, that means you are not eating enough calories. definately if you are low energy too, thats a sign!
      start slowly, and at the same time, allow yourself to get comfortable eating more, by finding beauty in yourself further than just your bf% : )

    • Yep, if you’ve been in a deficit for too long, you’ll stop getting results and start feeling pretty shitty.

      You should reverse diet to TDEE and then continue cutting if you have more weight you want to lose.

      Hope this helps! LMK.

      • Aimee

        Thanks, I am looking forward to gradually eating more and hopefully seeing even better results next time I cut. How long would you recommend I stay at TDEE level before cutting again?

        • YW! You can chill at TDEE for a week and then return to cutting.

          • Aimee

            Great, thanks so much! I’ve set myself a double goal: get in the best shape ever, and then get featured on your Pinterest page as an example of all your advice 🙂 🙂 🙂 I will be in touch!

          • My pleasure! Sounds like a great plan. Let’s do it.

            I look forward to seeing your results. 🙂

  • Alyssa Dschaak

    yes! this article is such a treat to find!
    i’m 5 ft 1 in tall, and 118 lbs. i’ve gained about 18 pounds in the last 6 months, due to losing about 15 pounds the 3 months before that. (i lost weight really quickly, but i wasn’t eating enough. i was running 5 miles a day and lifting weights, and eating less than 1000 i believe. i never counted calories i was just eating when i was hungry but clearly not enough.)
    now, my metabolism and hormones aren’t allowing me to maintain weight while eating as much as lets say “my fitness pal” has allowed me for my daily allowance. this matabolism has crashed hard. however, now that the weight gain has slowed for me, and my menstrual cycle has returned, its time to reverse this struggle of few calories! i know i should be eating more, but let me say its so incredibly nice to finally have a battle plan to do it right because no where else i have looked, have i been able to find information on this subject. thank you for this article! i feel like there is hope for me yet! getting on track !! : )

    • Damn. 5 miles a day plus weight lifting is already a lot. That plus being under 1,000 cals is crazy.

      Glad you know what to do now and are getting back on track. 🙂

      LMK if you have any questions. I’d be happy to help.

  • Simone

    I am really keen to try reverse dieting after reaching my target goal and definitely being in deficit for far too long. I just wondered how to approach reducing exercise. At the moment I am lifting 5 times a week and doing 6 days of cardio, but I want to reduce this slightly to a maintainable amount. Is it wise to increase calories and exercise at the same time – or should I do one or the other first?

    • Simone

      This article is amazing by the way! Thank you so much!

      • one

        Great article. Couldn’t agree more. Simone you would want to slowly decrease your cardio just like you are slowly increasing cals. (I.e. let’s say you are doing 30 mins of cardio. Drop thay down to 20 mins. Then next week cut back a day. Then cut back another day and so on. I would stick to 1 to 2 cardio days just for the cardio vascular benefits.

        • Simone

          Thank you for your advice! I was considering doing it that way and seeing how my body responds – it’s trial and error I suppose! Thanks again!

    • Glad you liked the article. 🙂 Gotta love reverse dieting.

      You can keep up the cardio while reverse dieting until you hit TDEE. Once you get there you can bring the cardio down to 2-3 sessions a week.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Simone

        Haha, loving your enthusiasm.

        OK, I will either try to cut down on cardio slowly or maintain the level I am doing now until I feel comfortable to experiment. I’ll let you know what I notice along the way! Thank you 🙂

        • Sounds good! LMK how it goes.

          My pleasure for everything. 🙂

          • Simone

            Hi Mike!

            Week 8 into the reverse diet and it’s going great! I’ve been doing it slightly differently to how you have recommended in your article, not out of stubborness (promise!), but just to take it as slow as I can for the sake of my psychological adaptation and to really take the time to get to know my body better, since I have only been lifting for 10 months and this is my first reverse!

            So I have been going up 50 calories per week (only in carbs) and slowlh reducing my cardio each week by half per session, per week. Over the 8 weeks, my body fat has dropped (I guess because I am technically still in deficit 1300 cals to 1600 this week – thank God!). But also, my stength has really increased, so I’ve been building muscle too.

            I’m really happy with this and excited to keep this going until TDEE! I know I won’t keep losing, but I just cannot wait to start eating ‘normal’ amounts again. I have to say, this week, has been pretty difficult! I’m very hungry, despite eating more, and pretty tired. My workout efforts have kept up though this week, but last week, they were pretty poor. I’m feeling much more on it now, but starving! I’m sure it will pass – considering I’m eating more each week, it can only get better from here!

            Sorry for such a long comment and no real question! I just thought it would be good to give you an update. And to also unload a bit! Lol.

            Thanks!

          • Haha okay cool. Glad to hear it’s going well.

            You definitely can increase daily intake by more than 50 cal/week. 100 to 150 is normal…

  • Frank S

    I had a rib injury at the beginning of July and have not lifted in nearly two months. I was recently given the ok to start back up with light cardio and work my way to the normal routine in a week or two. My calories have been at TDEE x 1.1 since the time of injury. My weight is decreasing, but I still have more fat to lose (maybe the decrease in weight has not been just fat?). Should I reverse diet to a higher TDEE when I get back to the normal routine (lifting 5 days and cardio 2-3 times) or leave it so I am once again in a (larger) cutting deficit?

    • Glad you’re working your way back to training!

      If you’re already eating over TDEE and not gaining weight, there’s no need to reverse diet. Go ahead and go straight into your cut.

      What do you think?

      • Frank S

        Thank you for the response. I will not change my current diet numbers and will just increase the deficit by moving more. I think the diet will only need changing if I see a decline in weight of over 2lb/week after lifting for a few weeks or if I hit BMR and my weight loss stops.

  • Alexandro Rodriguez

    Hey Mike,
    I’m 6’3 and down to 235 pounds from 351 after a year of your BLS program and a cutting at 2100 calories. I’m very comfortable at my current weight but would just like to add muscle. I plan on reverse dieting to my bulk stage where your book recommends me eating 3500 calories. I’m at 18% body fat but have a lot of loose skin that I would like to fill up before I try to get to a lower body fat percentage. I only wanted to bulk for 3 months because I’m afraid of over eating but increasing my calorie intake by 150 calories a week will take me 2 months to reach 3500. Should I stick to 3 months or should I go for 4-5?

  • Demi

    Mike, would reverse dieting work for me? I’m 22, 125 pounds, 5″5 with 25% bodyfat. I tried low cal and it did help for a while but then stopped so then I went even lower cal and still nothing, finally (where I am currently) I am low cal and low carb and have been for a month and there have been no changes, I think I even gained weight. All I want is to get rid of all this unwanted fat. My macros are currently 30-70g carbs (I carb cycle 30 being low carb, 70 being high carb), 125g protein, and 45g fat consuming from 900-1000 calories. I lift 3-4 days a week and do cardio 4 days a week for 30-35 min (I run 3.5 miles). Would reverse dieting help me, if not, what should I do?

  • Kristin Tresvik
  • Michael D

    Hey Mike!

    I’m rapidly approaching week 12 of dieting. In another article you mentioned that generally people should diet for 10-12 weeks, increase to maintenance for 2-3 weeks, and then hit it again if you still have body fat to lose.

    I’m wondering if that applies to me.

    I started my cut about 19% body fat and eating around 3000 cals/day. Almost 12 weeks later I’m around 15% body fat and 2300 cals/day (had to keep lowering to make sure I was still losing fat each week).

    Should I go to maintenance now, or is it safe to keep going until I’m around 2100 cals/day before I increase to maintenance, stabilize, and then hit it again?

  • Jimmy G

    Hi Mike!
    I’m currently cutting and it’s going great (about 8-9% body fat right now) but I’m gonna call it a day in a couple of weeks or so and start reverse dieting, not because I reached a plateau or anything, I just want to start bulking again. I lift 5 days a week and do HIIT 3 times/week, all of them fasted. I also take yohimbine, GTE, caffeine and HMB before every workout.
    My question is, during the reverse diet, is there any point in keeping training fasted? I mean, is there any chance to keep losing fat, albeit much less, during the first week or two of reverse dieting (since I might still be in a very small caloric deficit)? Or should I go back to eating a carb/protein rich pre-workout meal for extra energy like when bulking/maintaining?

    • Sounds good on the plan to reverse diet and bulk.

      You can definitely still lose BF the first few weeks of the reverse diet since you’ll still be in a deficit. So feel free to continue training fasted.

      Once you hit TDEE, you should start having a pre-workout meal. Check it out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/pre-workout-nutrition/

      What do you think?

      • Jimmy G

        Thanks for the reply Mike, it was very helpful!
        I actually enjoy training fasted now, so I’ll keep doing it until I hit maintenance. It’s weird because I used to eat a ton of food pre-workout when I was bulking, and even when cutting in the past my pre-workout meal was relatively big. So I really struggled initially when I switched to fasted training but now my body has adapted to it very well.
        Btw, any update on Legion Supplements for Europe?

        • My pleasure!

          I know what you mean on switching from lifting with food in your stomach to lifting fasted. It can take some getting used to. Glad you’re enjoying it now.

          Still working on setting up a distribution center in the UK. Should be ready Q1 2016. 🙂

  • Aikas

    Hello brother,
    So the reverse dieting should be done after I reach my weight target while cutting.. However, I’m confused as to whether or not I should start bulking in the end of the reverse dieting? When should the bulking process begin? 🙂

    • You should reverse diet once you reach your goal BF% or when your metabolism has slowed down and your weight loss has stalled.

      If you reached your target BF% and want to put on muscle, you should reverse diet into a bulk. If you’re just taking a break from a cut to speed up your metabolism, you should reverse diet to TDEE and then continue cutting.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Lauren B

    Hey there!
    Thank you so much for this article!
    I had my last show of the season a week and a half ago and have fallen off my plan since, eating half “clean”, the other half whatever lol. Ugh. I know it’s only been a little over a week, but have I screwed myself and is it too late to start reverse dieting right away (tomorrow per say) and start with the same macros 2-3 weeks out from my last show? Or do I need to “diet” back down for a few weeks THEN try to reverse diet? I was consuming less than 50g carbs per day and have been eating between 200-300g every day since my show and I can feel/see it, definitely spilling over and have gained about 3-5 lbs. I want to have a healthy off season without putting on unnecessary fat. Any advice is appreciated 🙂

    • Glad you liked it Lauren!

      Haha no you’re totally fine. IMO let’s stabilize your intake at TDEE and stick with 0.8 to 1 g pro per lb body weight, 0.3 g fat per pound, rest from carb.

      You’ll be fine. 🙂

  • Chris W

    What are your thoughts on going straight to maintenance after a cut is over? I’ve played around with both reverse dieting and straight to maintenance and found that I am not negatively affected by the bigger jump (weight stays the same with no increase in BF). Is this result uncommon among the masses you have worked with?

    • Theoretically jumping up to TDEE isn’t bad but some people a) think their TDEE is higher than it is and thus accidentally eat too much and/or b) just get carried away and start eating too much hah.

      • Chris W

        I completely agree with the overestimation if you don’t know your sweet spot. I blame that damn iifym.com calculator for all the world’s problems haha

  • Bartholomew

    Hello Michael,
    Great job on providing such useful information. It’s been beyond helpful. You’re doing noble things.
    Question: I’m 6’5 at 198lbs. and was at 195c 40f 210p for a while starting weight was 210. I’m at a satisfying BF % and am ready to begin reverse dieting in order to have faster lean muscle gains. At what rate do you recommend increasing my macros together? I know you’d mentioned 150 kal per week, is that accurate? Also, I lift 6-7 days a week and change up the range of motion, number of reps, speed of ad and abduction etc. and do cardio 3x a week at 30min. What are your thoughts on HMB?
    Thank you in advance!
    Bartholomew

    • Thanks!

      Good job on finishing your cut. You should increase cals by 100-150 every 7-10 days.

      For the macros you can do 1.2g of protein per pound of bodyweight, .2g of fat per pound of bodyweight and the rest from carbs. Once you hit TDEE, you can drop the protein intake to 1g per pound of bodyweight. The rest is the same.

      Cool on everything you’re doing. I recommend sticking to full ROM for your workouts.

      HMB is great for fasted training! I have it in my product, Forge:

      https://legionathletics.com/products/supplements/forge/

      Hope this helps! LMK.

      • bartholomew

        Thank you for all of the advice. I really appreciate it!

  • Samantha

    Hi Mike!

    I love the article on reverse dieting and I am super interested in trying this. My husband and I were going to do a bulk this fall/winter but after reading this article I think I would like to try the reverse diet. I’m 25 at 5″8, weighing around 148-150 with 18% body fat. I exercise 6 days a week, I LOVE weightlifting and I do cardio 3 days a week for 20 minutes (usually the stairclimber cause I hate running). I currently eat according to my macros which are about 1924 calories with 148 g of protein, 200 g of carbs and 59 g of fat. I just started eating these macros about 2 weeks ago and it seems to be going well. But I feel that I’ve hit a plateau in the gym and can’t seem to lose any weight so I wanted to try bulking this fall and then cutting this spring. I calculated my TDEE and it put me at 2288 and so my calorie deficit would be 1830. But I can’t seem to figure out what I should be starting at for bulking. It says for reverse diet add about 100 calories every 7-10 days until you reach your TDEE but since I’m already at 1924 calories a day, that wouldn’t take me long to reach my TDEE. Now I know I’m not coming from a cut into reverse dieting like a lot of people. I guess my problem is I feel my metabolism has hit a wall and I’m ready to lift heavier but I don’t want to increase my carbs to much to quickly.

    The bottom line is I’m wondering where a good starting point for me is so that I can reverse diet throughout the fall and gain muscle (I don’t mind gaining some weight, I know that’s bound to happen) and then cut in the beginning of the new year. Hopefully this all makes sense and I appreciate any feedback you have!!

    Thank you 🙂

    • Thanks Samantha!

      Are you sure on your body fat %? Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/body-composition/

      Your intake is fairly high. If you want to lose fat you’re going to have to eat less. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      You’re close enough to your TDEE now that you could just jump into a proper deficit and get to where you want to be.

      Thoughts?

      • Samantha

        Hey!

        Honestly I’m not 100% sure on my body fat, I used the body composition handheld device and after reading your article I’m sure it’s not as accurate as I thought. I’m going to buy the caliber and try that out because I don’t have access to a DEXA or Underwater Weighing.

        I guess I’m just confused because I would like to try to gain more muscle mass this fall and I have read about doing a bulk. But after reading your article on reverse dieting I thought I would give that a try instead of “bulking”. Because from my understanding with bulking I would just all of a sudden go up 500 or more calories throughout the “bulk season” compared to reverse dieting where I would slowly increase my calorie intake.

        My goal is to increase my calorie intake so that I can lift heavier/have more energy in the gym to gain muscle mass this fall. I like the idea of reverse dieting because since I’m slowly increasing my calories I hopefully won’t put on as much fat compared to “bulking” and increasing my calories by a ton so quickly. Then starting off the new year (2016), I would do a cut (calorie deficit.)

        Is this something that’s possible with reverse dieting or am I way off?

        Thank you so much for your help!

        • Check this out for the body fat and let me know your best guess based on the pix:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com/body-composition/

          You don’t want to bulk if your body fat percentage is too high and here’s why:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com/the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

          LMK what you think.

          • Samantha

            Hey!

            Those articles really helped a lot. So after looking at the pictures of body fat percentage I really think I’m around 19-21%, somewhere in there. I read the article about how to bulk correctly and it states women who are over 25% shouldn’t bulk, well after looking at the pictures I am definitely below the 25%. I calculated my TDEE with my weight at 150, 20% body fat, and activity multiplier at 1.45 (I’m in the gym about 8 hours a week). That gave me a TDEE of 2244 so the 10% increase you said to add to have a small surplus of calories in order to build muscle and not to much fat would be 2,468 calories. Then figuring out my macros with my protein being at 150g (600 calories), my fat would be 60g (I chose 0.4 X 150 so 540 calories) and then my remaining carbs 2468-1140 is 1,328 divided by 4 would be at 332g. So macros 150 g protein, 60 g fat and 332 g carbs. Does this look correct to you for me to “bulk”.

            Again thanks for your responses!

          • Great!

            Perfect. Good job! LMK how it goes.

  • Tanya Nicholas Kwiatkowski

    My weight fluctuates daily…how do I know when I have reached TDEE?

    • You can weight yourself daily and make a weekly average weight.

  • Caitlen

    Is it ok to start with 1.5 g per lb body weight of protein? I tried doing 1 g but I am used to 1.5 for my old macros and was constantly starving with only 1 g of protein. Also when I cut the protein, I added close to 100 g carbs immediately because of the protein cut and this caused my body to be bloated. It seems I should start with the carbs I have and protein at 1.5 and then slowly start adding the carbs from there!

  • Aubrey

    Hey mike, so I’m 35, 5’2 and weigh 125.
    My body fat is unusually high for me right now and I’m really looking to drop that. However, I’ve never been a big eater. I know I’ve really messed things up here, but on average I don’t eat more than 700- 1000 calories a day and sometimes it’s less than that. Contrary to what happens to most people, I have put fat on. I don’t want to bulk up, but I do want to cut body fat. However,I’m not sure I want to drop lower on calories than I already am…I’d Really like to “reverse diet” and start eating like a normal healthy woman, but if I’m to lose body fat, I’m not sure that will happen with higher calories. Bottom line, how should I attempt to get back on track and lose body fat? Thanks!!!!!

    • Yeah I definitely recommend reverse dieting. You won’t lose weight while doing it, but when you’re done, you’ll be able to eat more than 700-1000 cals and lose weight.

      Thoughts?

  • Ciaran

    Hi mike, thanks for all the great info you provide on your website. I finished a cut 3 weeks ago and since have upped cals by 100 each week, however my appetite has now become insane! Its actually much harder to control than when my cals were at the lowest point. Is this normal? Do i need to up my cals more or just ride it out with the gradual weekly increases? Thanks

    • Thanks!

      Cool on what you’re doing and haha yeah that can happen. IMO it’s psychological. You start eating more and tastier foods and it whets your appetite.

      Just stick to the plan.

  • Brian Giffin

    Mike I started bulking again after a reverse diet. Did it extremely slow this time about a week and a half per hundred cals. Currently at 2431 cals per day with my TDEE at 2,200. I’m feeling great right now and want to keep this rolling!

    I had asked you a few questions a while ago in regards to my suborn biceps. I had been doing additional training for them on day six getting no where.
    I dropped the additional training increased my calorie intake and bingo my arms got better and started growing again ” totally over training just didn’t see the forest for the trees”.

    Any way getting to the point I feel dialed in but have to take the next 11 days off as I’m traveling through Houston for work. I’m trying to figure out the best way to salvage this but also use this time as rest. I’m one of those people who think they never need a deload week but my body thinks otherwise. I’m going to attempt to look at the time off as therapeutic and come back fired up.
    Currently I drop my cals on my off days to 1876. Should I just continue to do this over this 11 day break, or should I consistently stay on a mild positive variance of 2431? I just saw your e-mail on the best body weight workouts. Should I incorporate some of this on my trip to keep up my strength? Or just enjoy the rest?

    Traveling sucks!!!! Thanks for your help!

    • Awesome on the reverse diet!

      Happy to hear increasing your intake helped with the arms.

      For the days you’re traveling, take a look at this:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-stay-in-shape-when-youre-traveling/

      I recommend keeping your cals the same for the 11 days off. Once you’re back, you can continue reverse dieting.

      Thoughts?

      • Brian Giffin

        Sounds like a good plan thanks!

        • Great. NP!

          • Brian Giffin

            Ok Mike back from trip now back at it. As you remember I felt great before I left. Trip sucked all we did was drink light beer the whole time!
            I did do my best to eat good though.

            I feel like I look totally fat and bloated now although the scale only says two pounds heavier. I want to build more muscle and bulk but a six pack on my stomach would be good too. My body fat caliper says 14%
            I think I look fatter than that in my pics can you confirm?

            Would you bulk or cut? No laughing at my fat ass, I’m almost 44

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/22c09d7107bddbcd7ecc791ac8e2af2a509cb784bc4aaf4d5e0875cb74dc4d68.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e659656f204201acd74aa97129d01baba0fc892f4d5b441040effae467620a0c.jpg Thanks!

          • Two pounds up isn’t bad at all considering the fact that it won’t be all fat.

            Hard to say in these pictures to be honest but I would guess around 15 to 16%? Check this out:

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/body-composition/

          • Brian Giffin

            Thanks Mike that’s what I thought as well. I’m going to continue to slowly reverse diet back up , right now my cals are too low only 1,881 to cut. Do you think it’s possible to loose any additional fat while reversing back up? I’m way under TDEE.

            Also one more question. Are cable crunches with a bar VS a cable as effective? Or is the rope version just way more efficient?

            Thanks for all your advice and always answering my questions!

          • Sounds good!

            Yep, you can keep losing fat all the way until you hit TDEE.

            Eh. Doing it with the cable is a lot more effective.

            My pleasure Brian!

  • Lindsay

    was with you until you said “cocktease” -___-

  • dave

    hey mike! just refreshing myself with reverse dieting because i think i am nearing that stage or hope to be soon! i have been on bLS for 16 weeks now but took the last off as a deload/due to moving. I have been in a caloric deficit this entire time and have went from 215 lbs to 178 lbs. I totally underestimated my bodyfat % as i never was seen as fat persay (being 6’2 lets you get away with holding more weight i think).

    My strength on legs and back day is increasing slowly still but shoulders and chest seems to have hit plateau esp chest with itbeing about 4 weeks of just maintaining the same reps. Long story short is should i keep the cut going even if my strength gains remain the same in order to reach 10% before reverse dieting or should i begin now as im starting to get the “you dont need to lose any more BF” and even “too skinny” remarks lol btu i think that is down to losing alot of fat around my cheeks haha giving the impression ive lost more than i have! my final point is that i never want to be that puffy faced guy again EVER, even when i reach end of my bulk so should i keep the deficit powering through for another wile? sorry for rambling! ivew included 2 pics of were im at now and sorry for the bad quality! really appreciate all your doing its great influence! 😀

    • dave

      I tried the one point calliper method again after watching your video seem to be getting 13-15 mm which is saying 13.6-15.4%..and if thats accurate-ish im 178lbs say 15% BF. my bodyfat is 26.7lbs so lose 8.9lbs to get to 10%? am i doing that right haha

      • Yep that’s about right on the BF%. People usually end up needing to lose more than they think so we’ll see. Let’s lose 10-12 LBS and see where you’re at then.

    • Hey man! Yeah 13/14% sounds about right. IMO you can keep going. Strength plateaued isn’t even a bad sign when cutting. Rapid strength loss is…

      • dave

        the cut continues!!

        • Sounds good!

          • dave

            sorry for pestering you again but I feel like i need to hear it from the horses mouth! Im at 174lbs atm with diet super strict, lifting 5 times and HIIT 4 times and i have stayed the same for lover 2weeks. I was thinking if no change occurs by this day next week il reverse diet to maintenance and stay there over the holidays and then cut again until im 10% or should i reverse diet and go into my first bulk? still cant see my abs yet and the caliper is mind fucking me so id assume 12-13%. Eventually the ease of the cut was going to catch up with me after 6 months lol

  • Erin Kathleen O’Roark

    Hi, Mike.

    Amazing article. Don’t care that you said cocktease. Was funny and no need to feel bad about 2015 America getting offended over anything. Anyways.

    I was put on a pre comp diet of 720 measly calories last year and dropped from 20%BF to 17% in three weeks. Well, idiot me kept on that same diet for a year. Then my trainer put me on an immediate bulk. Long story short, I’m up to 160 and 24% BF, and want to cry everytime I look in the mirror. I’m trying reverse dieting, now only up to 1000 calories still.

    I guess my question is, isn’t 100 calories a week too fast? I was always taught to do 5 grams of carbs a week. But I’ve gone from 800-1000 calories without so much as an ounce gone and I’ll be honest, working out six days a week with no results is VERY tiring. Should I be more aggressive and add more calories?

    Thanks, Mike! This was VERY informative and I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to write this.

    • Haha thanks Erin. Glad you liked the article.

      Honestly I didn’t know cocktease could even be offensive. That’s my Internet brain for you. 😛

      Wow fuck 700 cals per day. You must have been miserable.

      No, increasing daily intake by 100 to 150 cals per week isn’t too fast.

      I feel your pain. Keep up the good work and you’ll be fine. And no more crazy starvation diets in the future please. 😛

      • Erin Kathleen O’Roark

        Yeah I honestly have no idea how I stuck to weights for six days a week. I’m impressed with myself now that I know how weak I was supposed to be.
        I’m glad I read this because I am so sick of moving slowly with no results. But I guess I gotta be happy at 24%BF for a while before I can cut again and lose it.
        Freaking endo-meso body builds muscle like a mad woman….and fat. :'( :'(

        • Seriously!

          Haha yeah I hear you but the good news is you CAN get to your goal. Just gotta stay patient and keep at it.

  • Mario Micossi

    Hi Mike, this stuff is awesome!

    Quick question: Do you maintain your cheat meals the same while reverse dieting?

    Thanks man! This is the best shit I found on reverse dieting ever!

    • Glad you’re enjoying it!

      Yep, keep up the weekly cheats or refeeds as usual.

      YW! Happy to help. 🙂

  • Jenny Hudson

    Wonderful article. See here for very quick and easy weight loss. http://www.amazingaus.com/best-foods-to-eat-when-losing-weight/

  • Paulina Pelaez

    Mike, your article is extremely informative, it was a joy to read. Someone over at /r/xxfitness recommended reverse dieting to me and I had never heard of that before!

    Anyway, I’ve been on strict keto (25g of carbs or below and very high fat) for 6 months and I have lost 41lbs from 166 to 125. 125 was my goal weight and at this point I just want to focus on getting leaner. The problem that I have is that I am STARVING all the time and have been for 6 months. I can eat at 1pm and be starving-haven’t-eaten-in-days hungry at 4pm. I go to the gym 6/7 days a week for 45-60 minutes and do a lot of cardio and I’ve been doing that for around 5 months, I attribute my weight loss more to the gym than to keto. I lost weight because I was at a caloric deficit and exercised, period. I learned how to weigh anything that goes in my mouth and I learned “control” with keto.

    I want to start weaning myself off keto, but I know I will inevitably gain water weight and I am terrified. How do you think I should reverse diet if my carb intake is so low to begin with? Right now I’ve increase my carb intake to around 30g net carbs per day and I plan on increasing that little by little, but I suspect I might gain more than water weight if I increase my calories AND my carb intake when my body is used to eating at or below 1350 calories per day (it used to be 1450 when I was still losing weight). “Cheat meals” don’t really exist in keto because it kicks you out of ketosis, so I have not “cheated” in these 6 months.

    Calculators online say my TDEE is around 2000 calories. I just kind of want to stop being miserable but I also don’t want to get fat again 🙁 Also whoever gets offended over “cocktease” is just uptight, really, of all the things to get offended about you get offended by that.

    Thank you so much for your article 🙂

  • Will Ma’auga

    Hi Mike,

    I’ve bought your book and followed the free ebook after losing 12 pounds in a matter of 6 weeks. Thank you. I’m now at 198 standing at 6ft. I would like to get down to a maintainable 7-9% body fat. My protein intake is 250grams per day. My question is that too much and is there a downside if I continue to have it that high once I reach my goal and going further into reverse dieting?

    • Thanks for picking up my book and awesome job on the results so far!

      I like the goal. Let’s do it.

      That’s a bit high on the protein. There’s no need to have that much. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-much-protein-build-muscle/

      While reverse dieting it’s fine to keep the protein high like during the cut, but once you hit TDEE, you can drop the protein to 1g per pound of bodyweight.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • denvercoder10

    Hey Mike, thanks for the excellent article!

    Sorry if this has already been asked (it probably has) but I couldn’t find it:
    I’m going to reverse-diet from a cut into a bulk, increasing calories by 100 every week.

    Regarding the amount of fat during the reverse dieting period (abt. 9 weeks), do you think that using 30% of my daily calories for fat is too much? In your article you mention 0.3-0.4g of fat per lbs of *lean* body mass, but that gives me less fat than my regular bulking macros.

    Thanks!!

    • Thanks!

      Totally fine on the fat but just make sure your cals are right.

  • Adam Rozen

    Mike, thanks for the article! I am not at the level of detail that most of your other posters are…I also travel frequently for work so it’s tough for me to stick to exact calories/macros day-to-day, but I can on average. Is there a difference between averaging 150+ calories/day over a week and eating 150+ calories/day every day?

    I’m 5’8″, 135. I was eating about 1300-1400 calories a day (with plenty of protein) without feeling like I was starving myself (I also periodically eat more if I’m with friends or out to dinner), with Leangains-style IF (12-16 hrs/day fasted), but I want to gain some muscle and my weight/bodyfat has more or less stabilized.

    I’m also wondering what happens if I reverse diet too much at a time — I know I was eating way too little and as I’m getting back into lifting, I need more carbs and it’s hard to get enough while “only” upping by 150+ calories/day.

    Thanks!

    • Hey Adam! I wouldn’t increase cals that fast. That doesn’t give time for your metabolism to speed up which will result in fat gain.

      Increase 100-150 cals every 5-7 days. It takes patience, but it’s worth it. Once you hit TDEE, you can bump your cals to bulking cals if you want to focus on building muscle.

      Thoughts?

      • Adam Rozen

        That makes total sense, and I’ll try to keep to that. However, how does that work with respect to pre-/post-workout food? Should I be eating ~1500 cals both on the days I work out and the days I rest? 25-50g protein + 50g carbs 2x/day (pre and post) is already about half of my daily calories, without having had any meals, and I can’t usually time my workouts to be soon enough after lunch or before dinner.

        How do I fit pre-/post-workout food in, in this case? Thanks!

        • Sounds good!

          Yep, you should keep cals consistent daily.

          That is tough without being able to time your pre and post-workouts with meals. That’s what I recommend you do if at all possible.

          How long before and after your workouts are your regular meals?

          • Adam Rozen

            I tend to eat lunch between 12-1:30 most days, and I tend to eat dinner between 7-8:30. I work out between 4-7 depending on work.

            Generally that gives me ~4-6 hours after lunch before working out and ~1-2 hours after working out before dinner. Does that mean have a normal pre-workout and *nothing* post-workout except dinner? If so, what’s the threshold in hours post-workout where dinner is too far away and I should eat immediately?

            (Also for pre or post workout, how is something like 12 oz milk, 1 scoop whey, 3 tbsp chocolate milk? 40g protein/40g carbs/8g fat so just under 400 calories)

          • Cool on your meal and training times.

            Those are all great questions! Check these out:

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/pre-workout-nutrition/

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/guide-to-post-workout-nutrition/

            LMK what you think!

          • Adam Rozen

            Read them and re-read them! Sounds like with this timing, my pre-workout is good, and for post-workout, if dinner won’t come within 1-2 hours of finishing my workout, then I’ll have one scoop of protein, but otherwise I can get my carbs as needed from dinner — the anabolic window matters less for carbs than protein.

            Am I missing anything?

          • Yeah that sounds good. Simple enough.

  • Angelo

    Hello Mike,
    When I finished my cut, I didn’t do the reverse diet but like you said in one of your live Q&A(I love them haha) I tried to bump my calories at maintenance for 2 weeks.

    In the 2 weeks I gained 5kg. I know we replenish in glycogen and water but it’s a lot of weight .

    I thought that I gained fat but I’m not noticeably fatter in the mirror (when I compare with photo of the end of my cut) and my waist didn’t change ( although stomach is the first place where I gain fat).

    I didn’t overeat,I’ve eaten at TDEE every day(no cheat meal).I track calories and macros correctly.

    Is it possible that the 5kg are just water en glycogen ?

    Thanks for responding and great job Mrs Matthews !

    PS: I precise that I do the average of my weight like you recommend.

    • Yep, that’s what happens haha.

      Part of the weight is definitely just water and glycogen, but you probably put on some fat too.

      • Angelo

        That’s not cool haha.

        I think that next time I will just reverse diet even if I don’t like it haha.

  • Jonathan

    Hi Mike,
    After 7 months of cutting, I’m not sure if it’s time for me to start reverse diet again as I’m slowly burning out and my weight seems to be staying at 200 pounds. I initially started with a reverse diet working up to 2300 cals (TDEE) in order to adjust my metabolism and then went directly into a cut (20% deficit). I have been doing fasted training 5 days a week, HIIT about 1-2 times a week and boxing once a week for approx. 5 out of the 7 months. I started with BCAA’s and then switched to HMB. In total 10 days of rest during the 7 month period. My cals/macros are at 2000 – P:233,C:206,F:44. I also just started taking FORGE (2nd day) to help and motivate me to keep going – since I’m planing on taking a vacation in Dec for a week (all-inclusive). I know it’s not realistic to reach 10% body Fat by Dec. I think I’m at 16% now? I can PM you with pics. If I were to reverse diet now then I think it would take approx 5 months to reach my TDEE which is now 2700 cals? What do you recommend I do ? should I keep going (I’m not losing strength in my lifts) and perhaps incorporate another 20 min HIIT training with FORGE until Dec or is it time to reverse? Thank you.

    • I get where you’re at man. To figure out whether you should keep cutting or reverse diet, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      Cool you’re taking Forge and that it’s helping!

      It wouldn’t take 5 months to reach TDEE… You go up 100-150 cals every 7-10 days. So, it should only take 4-6 weeks.

      LMK how it goes.

      • Jonathan

        Thanks for your quick response Mike!

        I’m quite familiar with your article posted above as I’ve been referring to it for the last little while just to keep things in check and help my sanity.

        I think I’ll give it another week and see whether my waist/weight etc.. has changed, if not, my plan is to reverse diet to TDEE with fasted training and HIIT.

        According to the calculator in “The Definitive Guide to Effective Meal Planning” – my TDEE is 2700. I’m 6’2, 200 pounds, 16-17% BODY FAT (I think), activity multiplier – 1.35.

        So, just to confirm I increase my carbs: 25g every 7-10 days for 4-6 weeks till I reach TDEE, i.e stick with the same macros for protein: 232g and fat: 42g, increase carbs from 206 to 232g, 257g, 282, etc…reduce protein to 200g once I reach TDEE, is that right? (don’t want to screw this up) .

        Should I continue with FORGE for the reverse diet or just start when I’m cutting again? (I wan’t it’s full effectiveness and don’t want my body to adapt to it).

        Thanks for all your help.

        • YW!

          Cool. Sounds good on your plan for this coming week.

          That TDEE calculation looks right and yep, that’s right on the increase in cals with carbs. Correct on the protein as well.

          You can continue taking Forge during the reverse diet up to TDEE. Once you’re at TDEE you can stop taking Forge.

          Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Matt

    Hey Mike,

    what should I do after a cutting phase? A reverse diet to back up my
    metabolism to normal and than a bulking phase or can i immediately do
    another bulking phase? And should I do cutting/ bulking till im
    satisfied whit my body?

    • Yep, once you’re done cutting, you should reverse diet to speed up your metabolism and prevent rapid fat gain. From there, if you want to focus on building muscle you should bulk.

      Yeah I recommend bulking and cutting until you reach your goal.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Ang

    Hi Mike

    I’m 31 yo female. 5’7 and weigh 150lbs. I eat around 1700 calories. Workout 5-6 times a week with strength and cardio for about 1 hour. I wear a Fitbit and get around 10,000 or more on most days. Body fat is 25%. Trying to get down to 140 but weight not moving. I feel stuck and wondering if you can help.

    • Thanks for all the info, and I get where you’re at!

      Take a look at this:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      LMK what you think!

      • Ang

        Thanks for the reply! Read that article and thought to start increasing caloric intake. I use to eat for the longest time very low calorie intake. I was at 1700 for a bout a year with no change in weight. Come across your article and decided to try reverse dieting. So I upped my calories to 1850 and have been for the past week and haven’t gained much. Just wondering if my bodies
        Metabolism is so messed up that it’s not letting me lose weight. I work out a bit. I usually burn500-600 per workout 6xs a week according to my polar heart rate.
        Should I continue with reverse dieting by upping my calories and then lower it. Cause my bmr is 1474 and my tdee is 1990. So once I get to 1990
        Should I do that for a week then reduce it to 1500? Your thoughts would be appreciated.

        Thanks!!
        Ang

        • NP!

          Let’s continue the reverse diet to TDEE. Chill at TDEE for a week or two and then drop to a 20% deficit (1590 cals) and see how you do.

          Remember, when cutting the goal is to lose 1-2 pounds a week.

          Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Katelyn Santoro

    Great article! I’ve been teasing reverse dieting for some time now but it makes me very nervous. Most of the IIFYM community states that you need to increase your macros very specifically to 5g C and 1g F every week to reverse efficiently. With my work/lifestyle I always thought this specificity would be my downfall. After reading your article it seems that you aren’t as specific with counting macros and just more specific with calories – is this true? So if I increased just calories by 50-100 (I’d be nervous to increase too drastically) and just focused more on carb increases over fats and proteins – I’d have the same result of reversing metabolism?
    Thanks!

    • Thanks!

      Nah you don’t have to be that anal about it. If you follow the advice in this article you’ll do great. I guarantee it

      Just make sure you don’t go crazy with your “cheat meals.”

  • Thanks for pointing me here! Again, exactly the info I needed! I recently wanted to bulk after I lost all the weight I wanted but in no time at all I gained all the weight back. So I started cutting again. Now I’m back to an acceptable weight again and I don’t want the same thing to happen again. I just couldn’t understand how I could gain the weight back so fast again. So I’m definitely going to do reverse dieting. I’ve already started increasing my carbs.

    I have a question about the protein. You said 1g/pound of bodyweight. Currently, I am at about 175lb and I am taking 140g of protein. Should I bring that up gradually too or just increase it to 175g right away?

    Thanks for another great article. I knew something weird was going on and now I know what it is 🙂

    • My pleasure!

      That’s why you gotta reverse diet my friend! LMK how the RD goes.

      Let’s up the protein to 175g right away. Take the cals from carbs and then continue increasing the cals with carbs as usual.

      Happy to help! Talk soon.

  • T Adams

    Hi Mike,

    This was a wonderful article to read since I’m deciding to reverse diet post competition after being in a deficit. My question to you is: the weekend of my show I plan to eat anything I want that Saturday night and Sunday with no restrictions (a few cookies, some donuts, a pint of ice cream, and 2-3 restaurant meals). With that being said, I want to hop into a reverse diet on Monday. Would you suggest that I start my reverse at the macros the week prior to peak week and reverse my way up from that point or go another route considering the free eating weekend?

    • Thanks! I’m glad you liked it.

      I’d just write the weekend off and start as if you hadn’t done it.

      Enjoy. 🙂

      • T Adams

        That’s
        what I figured! Thank you. So would you recommend starting my reverse at the
        macros the week before my show date (no changes to protein either) and upping
        carbs and fat starting after the initial week? I also was consistently at cardio 6x
        a week with 3 HIIT sessions and 3 LISS sessions. Would you recommend cutting
        off all LISS from the start and just do HIIT 3-4x a week or something else? I
        eventually want to get it to where I am doing the least amount of cardio
        possible.

        • Yeah just take your intake before you splurge and start there.

          Definitely cut that cardio back. 3 x HIIT per week sounds reasonable.

  • ariel

    hi mike,

    Another great article to read! quick question… once you finally reach the image that you want (meaning muscle mass you want and bf percentage you want), do you still gradually increase your weights or do you keep them at the same weight?

    • Thanks!

      Good question.

      I’m at that point myself and while I AM trying to slowly build my strength, it’s TOUGH when you’re not in a calorie surplus.

  • Emma

    Hey Mike, Once I’ve hit my TDEE (I’m officially about 4 weeks away) how long do I have to stay there before I can start cutting again? 🙂

    • Nice! Stick there for a couple of weeks just to make sure your weight is stable and then cut.

  • JoannaB

    Hey mike, great article!
    I need to start reverse dieting as I have been basically eating an average of 1400-1600 a day for over a year. I’m 27, 5’3 125lb and probably around 20/21%BF (my ideal weight being 118 but I recently gained a few pounds I cant seem to lose).

    I do cardio 4 times a week, usually an hour of swimming (crawl) and I have recently started to weight train (x2 a week for about 35min) but my energy levels are in the crapper so I’m mostly sticking to cardio. My question concerns macros.

    Right now I’m doing 33-33-33 which puts my carbs at around 114g, fat around 50g, and protein 110g. I think I should add no more than 50kcal per week but I don`t think I should raise my fat intake, should the extra calories only come from carbs? I’m going crazy with my weight not budging back down despite working out and eating right at the moment.
    thanks for your help!

  • Ren Barons

    Hey Mike,

    I am about to end my cut, and i’m quite excited about ramping up my calories (even by only 100cal). However, i’m unsure how the supplements come into this. I am currently on Phoenix (Forge gave me some weird side effects), and in your articles you say that Phoenix burns about 200 cals a day. So….for the first week of my reverse diet should i increase my cals and stop the Phoenix, or should I just stop the Phoenix for the first week? If i stop the Phoenix and increase the cals in the first week wont I essentially be increasing my cal intake by up to 300!?

    Thanks,

    Ren

    • Nice!

      IMO take the supps until you hit TDEE. You’ll lose a bit more fat along the way up.

  • Jonathan Pacheco

    Hi, I started my reverse dieting about a week and a half ago but just after 3-4 days into my reverse I am getting a crazy hunger.. is that normal? or I am doing something wrong?

    • You know some people do run into that and it’s okay. Just keep going.

      • Jonathan Pacheco

        Thanks, that’s good to hear. I started my reverse diet because I was stall in my weight loss for the past 4-6 weeks and just after 2 week I lost 2 more pounds… it really works… Thanks.

        • YW! Great to hear you lost some more weight while on it. It’s always nice to lose more weight while eating more. 🙂

  • Eryn Julia Strong

    Hi, I fell off a “diet” 3-4 months ago and have been struggling with my nutrition since then. I came across reverse dieting a few weeks ago but I’m not sure where to start. Most people who start just came off a cutting diet, so thus they would gradually increase their calorie intake. However, I am basically eating to maintain (and obviously I have gained fat since the diet). How would I go about starting reverse dieting, where would I start with my macros?

    • Hmmm. If you’ve been eating at around maintenance for a while now, there’s no need to reverse diet.

      At this point, I recommend deciding what you want to do (bulk, cut or maintain) and calculate your intake appropriately from there. You can do it here:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

  • Manny G

    Hey Mike, I’ve been following what your book said in regards to bulking. I weigh 160 pounds and I am eating 2500 calories per day, but I still feel hungry at night. Is this a sign that I should eat more? Or is it a mental thing?

  • John C. W

    Mai my TDE is Bout 2533 calories and I can’t eat that without not gaining fat so I need to reverse diet but I have some questions. Once I start how many calories should I start off eating every day for about 7 days? 1800? And what about the calorie issue days I’m lifting weights? And can I still be doing hiit type of workouts while on this diset?? Plz answer soon thanks

    • I understand your problem.

      First, what are you trying to do right now? Cut, bulk or maintain?

      LMK, and we’ll take it from there.

      • John C. W

        Well actually I’m an athlete and I’m in pretty decent shape but I’m really trying to take out about 15 pounds of fat and gain 10 lbs muscle thanks mike

        • John C. W

          Although to pick one losing that 15 lbs of fat is more important rn considering I’ve gained a decent amount of strength and haven’t ran into any weight training plautos

        • Okay cool.

          Let’s start your RD with cals you know you won’t gain weight on. If you’re not sure where that is, let’s start with a 20% deficit from TDEE and go up from there. Increase cals by 100-150 every 7-10 days until you reach TDEE. Chill at TDEE for a week and then let’s go back into a deficit to lose those 15 pounds.

          To build muscle while doing this, check this out:

          https://legionathletics.com/body-recomposition/

          What do you think?

          • John C. W

            Yeah Inlike it I’ve actually been doing that rn I’m at 2000 cals on my 4th day and in a few more gonna raise it up to 2100-2150 but yeah I am 16 and I’m very interested in Phoenix for once in done with RD and looking t burn fat while still gaining muscle, and I’m sure I’ll get it before christmAs. But how many times do we take that a week? And it’s before every woke out not after right? Thanks and could I possibly go beyond my TDEE so that my knew TDEE would be even higher and make fat loss even easier? Thanks again appreciate it

          • John C. W

            Oh and also another thing I’m doing my best to see aprox exact calories I’m eating but half the stuff I eat doesn’t have labels on it so I’m not exactly sure HOW accurate it can be but do you have any suggestions on how to fix that? Thanks man

  • Ed

    Hi Mike, So I have been dieting now since beginning of May 2015 until recently and I have a skinny fat body to start off with (not much muscle mass and fat in lower stomach region) I wanted to diet down so I can get leaner and see my abs but yet I am still not lean enough (started at 175lbs now at 155lbs but still stomach fat and no abs) I am currently eating at my BMR as well and have been following your BLS program with 3 days of HIIT and 2 days of abs. I was planning on eating at BMR for 3 weeks and see how it goes, but Im not sure if this is a good thing to do. Also, I am not sure what I am doing wrong atm and cant seem to get to where I want. I would really appreciate it if you could guide me with if I should reverse diet out of it and go back into or keep cutting or bulk, I dont want to spend anymore time doing the wrong thing and wasting time where i could be building muscle. Thanks alot!!

    • Cool you’ve been dieting and great job on the weight you’ve lost so far.

      Awesome on the weightlifting and HIIT.

      For help getting the abs to show, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-get-six-pack-abs/

      If you’re not getting results at BMR, it’s time to reverse diet. Take a look at this:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/reverse-diet/

      What to do from there depends on what BF% you’re at and what your goals are. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

      Check those out and LMK what you think. Happy to help!

      • Ed

        Thanks Mike! Really appreciate all the help. Yea I think I am gonna reverse diet and bring back my metabolism a bit and do a cut again to a lower body fat percetnage . Is this a good idea, despite not having much msucle to begin with, i really want to get to the point where I can have abs and than bulk. To do this my macros now are 155 carbs, 186protein and 31 fats and if I reverse diet and follow your macro numbers in the articles will this be right for the week fo reverse dieting 180 carbs, 155 protein and 40 fats and then I iwll add on 25grams of carbs every week. Also, for reverse dieting, is it okay to have refeed meals or cheat meals or should I not?
        Thanks again!

  • Dustin

    Hi Mike,

    I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Dr. Junger’s “Clean” cleanse. I’ve done it before with pretty awesome results. Basically just tries to allow cleansing by resting your digestive system through low calories, organics (cutting out alot of inflammatory foods), etc. I’ve done it before and it made me feel great, but I haven’t done it since I started some of your routines.

    I’m 230 lbs, 19-20% body fat. I remember last time I dropped a huge amount of weight in 3 weeks (although that’s not the goal, just an after affect). Since it’s all about resting, I probably won’t work out much. Do you have any recommendations on a MINIMUM caloric threshold? I usually just beef up the shakes with extra nuts (cashews mostly) or slightly larger lunches. I don’t mind losing some muscle because I know the cleanse is a little drastic. I plan on reverse dieting afterwards.

  • Damien Smith

    Hey I’m at the last week of a cut and I have decided to take a deload week because my body is shot from the heavy lifting during the deficit. I also work a physical warehouse job that I’m taking a vacation from so I think the timing is good to let my body rest. I may even take the whole week off lifting. Anyway… Would you recommend sticking with the diet (1800 cut cals main cals Approx 2400) calories or moving 300 or so up during this time period. I just want to maximize fat loss one more week so I fear going close to maintenance will stop that…. At the same time I don’t want to lose muscle because I’m not lifting heavy and on a deficit at the same time… Thoughts? For reference I’m 6’2 started at 193 11 weeks ago so I’m 175 currently in the morning starting cutting cals 2250 now I’m down to 1800 so I’m pushing things to the limit as it is i think.

    • Good call.

      Increase your daily cal intake by 200ish as well. Eat more carbs. You’ll feel good. 🙂

      And yeah it sounds like you’re getting to the reverse diet point anyway. I generally go for about 10 to 12 weeks before having to reverse for a bit myself.

  • Aikas

    So Mike, after every Cutting period, I must spend about 4 weeks on a Reverse diet? I suppose that you aren’t making any gains on it bur rather trying to preserve muscles?

    • You don’t have to reverse diet after every cut. It really depends how long you cut for and how low you cut your calories.

      If you end a cut at or slightly below BMR, a reverse diet is a good idea.

      If you end it 20 to 30% below TDEE, you don’t have to because you’re already so close to TDEE.

  • John C. W

    So right now I’m about 400 cals away from my TDEE but I’m doing my best to see aprox exact calories I’m eating but half the stuff I eat doesn’t have labels on it so I’m not exactly sure HOW accurate it can be but do you have any suggestions on how to fix that? And can we ever take like a day off or 2 or even like a week off in the middle of RD? I ask becuz thanksgiving is around the corner and also my TDEE is about 2500 cals after I get there can I add more so my overall TDEE will be higher? Thanks

    • IMO just make a proper meal plan and stick to it. It’s the easiest way to ensure your intake is right.

      Check this out:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

      Lol you might want to cut a little after Thanksgiving weekend. 😉

      • John C. W

        yeah I mean considering I’m only at 2100 calories starting tmrw on day 4 at 2100 I was thinking about getting a kitchen scale I feel it would help a lot.. Thoughts? I just can’t wait till I at least get to my TDEE and go a bit higher. Then after that finally get out this platue and start burning that fat again

        • The kitchen scale is a good idea. With that and using sites like calorieking.com and caloriecount.com you should be able to track everything pretty accurately.

          Yep, let’s finish up this RD and get you back on a cut and losing fat! Oh and no need to go up above TDEE. RD to TDEE, chill there for a week and then go to a 20-25% deficit.

  • Fabian

    Hello Mike.
    I’ve been trying to figure out what to do from where i am right now. I’ve been cutting for like 17-18 weeks, gone from 98kg to 87kg (21% bf – 13%) Right now im cutting at 1700 cals, that would be -300 below my BMR and around -1000 cals below my TDEE. To be honest, i dont think i could last too much eating 1700 calories. Im still losing weight, training 5 times/week and doing 45 min cardio sessions 5 times/week as well. My goal is 7% bf which i know will take maybe another 10 weeks. Should i reverse diet to maintenance and reducing cardio slowly, then start again my cut with a more reasonable deficit and adding HIIT cardio? Or Should i keep going…? Im not sure if im just scared or im really screwing up my metabolism, i mean, once im at 7% i’d like to maintain it obviously eating at my TDEE, and without depending on cardio. I’d like to know your opinion. Thank you!

    • Great job on the results you’ve gotten so far!

      Yep, I definitely recommend reverse dieting to TDEE and then continuing your cut. When you go back to your cut, let’s start with a 20-25% deficit and adjust as necessary based off results.

      I like the goal of 7% BF. Let’s make it happen. 🙂

      Hmm. Regarding the water retention, check this out:

      https://legionathletics.com/water-retention/

      That’s odd on the cold feeling. I don’t think there’s any correlation.

      Let’s get started on that RD and see how it goes.

      What do you think?

  • Coffeeforever

    Hi Mike! It’s been about 3 months since j started my cut. Initially I stuck to 1600-1650 calls and got a little loose for a while but never over 1700 unless It was a cheat meal which I’d increase to about 1900 max once a week maybe every other week. The last month I’ve been pretty good at keeping my intake at 1550-1600 max. Still doing lifting 5x and HIIT 3-4x a week. I’ve been hitting PRS in most of my workouts until the last 2 weeks. I’ve built more muscle vs fat loss. I’m blaming that on my failure of not sticking to my cut and feel like I’m gaining a little fat as well recently. Kinda pissed at myself for taking it easy after reversing this past summer and screwing my cut. I was actually hesitant to reach out to you after the time you took to guide me correctly… But on a positive note I’m squatting 135 3 sets 8x and deadlifts are at 175 for 3 sets of 8. Anyway what’s your advice onnjowbto procede. My metabolism seems to be very slow and I’m afraid I’m even starting to gain down body fat.

    • Cool on the diet and training.

      Glad you’ve tightened it up and stuck to the diet more closely of recent.

      Great to hear on the numbers of your lifts. You’re strong!

      I was happy to help! No worries. Let’s get you back on track.

      To help with the fat loss, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      Let’s start with that and LMK what you think.

      Thanks a ton for spreading the word. I really do appreciate it!

      I agree! Let’s get you some results. 🙂

      • Coffeeforever

        I could be more strict and stick to my numbers more closely but I’m also feeling like Im getting tired a lot more and this last week loosing some reps . Im feeling I need to reverse diet and start my cut again with a fresh start and not screw up this time. Is a mini reverse as effective as reversing all the way back to Tdee? Or do you think I could reverse for lets say 3-4 weeks and hit 1750-1800 and then cut from what my tdee is supposed to be so approx 20% off of 1950?

        • Hmm. Yeah, it may be a good idea to RD then. I would recommend doing a standard one so you don’t risk putting on fat. So, RD all the way to TDEE, chill there for a week or so and then go straight to a 20-25% deficit.

          Also, when was the last time you took a rest week or deload week? Check this out:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com/deload-week/

          • Coffeeforever

            I was always saving the deload week for when I come down with something such as a cold, fever etc. The maximum Ive deloaded was maybe a couple days and I didn’t actually deload I just skipped the weight lifting workouts for a couple days . But now that you mention it, I’m probably long overdue for a deload week. And by standard you mean RD to tdee and not over or add in 50 calories a week as apposed to a 100. Ive always added b/w 50-75 becuz of the fear of fat gains. Also is it beneficial or better to avoid a day where I add in 20-30% of calls once a week since Im RDing anyway?

          • Let’s take a full deload week, and see how it goes. 🙂

            Yep, a standard RD. 100-150 cals added every 7-10 days.

            Nope, you can continue the weekly refeeds as well.

            Hope this helps! Talk soon!

          • Coffeeforever

            Ive started the deload week yesterday and I gotta say my lifting workouts feel like warmups. But I know its good for me, so although Im tempted to raise the volume I won’t. Ive been adding 50-75 cals becuz Im scared of fat gains, but if you say it won’t I’m down. Thanks for your support. It really means a lot to me.

          • Good!

            Yep, the workouts aren’t supposed to be difficult. That’s the whole point. 🙂

            I understand the concern! Let’s stick to the deload and RD and see how it goes.

            My pleasure! Happy to help.

  • Coffeeforever

    Btw I’ve bought ur books as gifts for friends and shares ur site with ppl at the gym, so I need to prove it works! I know I know, if I’d had stuck with the plan I wouldn’t be complaining!!

  • JoannaB

    Hi Mike,
    I’ve been reverse dieting for almost 4 weeks now and though I dont think I’ve gained weight, It does feel like I have gained some fat, not sure how much is water though. I started at 1400 and am now eating 1600kcals doing 3 to 4 strength training sessions a week (about 30/45min each) and cutting way back on the cardio (was at 4-5 hrs a week and am now at no more than 2-3hrs . Once I have reached maintenance, which I think should be around 1700-1800kcal, when can I start cutting again to drop those last 10lbs I have been struggling to get rid of for the past year?

    • Coffeeforever

      he says to stay at maintenance between one to two weeks and then start cutting at 20-25% of whatever number you maintain at.

    • Trust me you haven’t gained fat with that slight increase. Just some additional water due to the carb increase.

      Keep going and once you hit TDEE, stay there for a couple weeks to let your weight settle, and then cut from there.

  • Damian

    Mike, my man! First of all: awesome information on this website and your youtube channel man!

    I got a question:
    Im a Twenty-one year old boy from Holland, and last year i tried to lose some fat. I didnt know that much so i cut my calories from 2500 to 2100/2000 calories a day with 5 trainingsessions a week. Along with 45 minutes of steady state cardio 3 times a week. Know i think: yeah that was fucked up and how do i get out of this?

    So i did “cut” for way too long: 8 months or so. But then i came along your webpage about “metabolic damage” and then i knew what i did wrong. After this cuttingsession i just lost hope and started eating everything so i become fat again. So right now im back at my TDEE since november: Around 2800/2900 kcal and i want to let my body get used to this for a few months and Around february i want to cut again. But this time with all the good information from you!

    – Is it a wise to let my body get used again to my TDEE for a few months? And after that start cuttig again?
    – How long do think that i should cut? Because im 24% bodyfat 🙁
    – i will slowly decrease my calories to a minimum of no less then 2400 kcal. Because 2900-500 = 2400cal. Thats good, right?
    – This time i won’t do steady state cardio, only HIIT and after the cut i Will reverse diet.

    From Holland! 🙂

    • Thanks Damian!

      Cool on the past training and dieting.

      Sorry to hear you put the weight back on. 🙁

      No need to spend more time at TDEE. If you’d like to start losing fat, let’s start your cutting plan.You can set it up here:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

      I don’t recommend slowly reducing your cals. Go straight to 20-25% deficit from TDEE.

      Sounds good on the HIIT and RD when you’re done cutting!

      I look forward to seeing your results. 🙂

  • Chris

    After a rather chaotic bulk that quickly brought me to probably somewhere around 17% body fat, I decided to cut. Over 14 weeks I dropped from 178lbs to 160lbs (the fat melted super fast the first month even though the calorie restriction wasn’t crazy) but what I’ve found is that my body just never wants to drop below 160lbs, no matter the plateau breaking strategies I implement it just rebounds. I’m at about 11-12% body fat, and I was hoping to get to 10% to see my abs and start a more carefully planned bulk, but it looks like I won’t be doing that. My weight has not changed for almost a month.

    Would now be a good time to do an RD and just do a careful muscle gaining phase and come back to a cut later? I feel like my metabolism truly has taken a hit this time, or that my body just stubbornly refuses to drop below 160 pounds.

    • Great job on the cut.

      Some people really do run into body weight set point issues. I’ve written about it:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/body-weight-set-point/

      But yes there’s nothing wrong with RD now and then bulk. Especially if you want to gain more size.

      A little tip: next time you get to the 10% range, RD to TDEE and stay there for a good 4 to 6 weeks. Let your body adapt to it and see how you feel. You SHOULD reach a point where that level of intake and body fat feels normal and then you SHOULD find it easier to get lower.

  • kaitlin

    I never reversed my diet after competing in my first fitness bikini competition. After 3 weeks of indulging. I disn’t put on a ton of weight, some obviously but not a ton. However I am now dealing with a ton of digestive disorders and am reacting to foods I once was ok eating and now am not. Dairy is one of them, however for a month I cut out dairy completely so I assume that’s why now i have a problem with it. Anyway I am just wondering, as I’ve tried so many things like cutting out gluten dairy so on if it’s worth going back to my competition diet plan and then gradual increasing the foods to see if it will correct my current digestive issues. Just wondering if you’ve dealt with anything like that or have any advice. I know I messed myself up but no reverse dieting, not in the sense of weight gain, but in the sense of shocking my body which now hates me and everything I eat. Ps it has been 6 months since my competition now though so I don’t know if it’s worth going back to the diet plan and counting macros or if the damage has been done and nothing will fix it.

    • Yeah that’s pretty common when people drastically restrict the types of foods they eat.

      Hmm it’s been 6 months and you’ve been eating normally and you’re still having GI issues?

  • AJ

    Hi Mike, I loved the book for females. Very insightful and different then what is being sold in the marketplace. I perform HIIT 3 days a week and I’m lifting 5 days a week per your program in the book. I’m 5’9 1/2 and need to lose weight. (239 pounds). I looked great when I was at 19% BF a few years ago at 35 years old weighing 160 pounds so I have a long way to get back there . My TDEE is 2,726. BF is 27%. I cannot get over the amount of carbs I’m suppose to be eating and I gain weight eating too much of them weekly on the scale. I’m very strong and don’t look my weight at all. I have my macros at P-288, C-164, and F-48. These numbers seem wrong to me..too high. I’m wondering since I have been eating a calorie def. for a few years has this impacted me as I’m not dropping any weight. It is very confusing getting back the balance. Thanks for all you do. AJ

    • Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!

      Cool on the weightlifting and HIIT you’re doing.

      I understand your concern on the cals. If you’ve been in a deficit for a while, you should start with a reverse diet. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/reverse-diet/

      Once you’re ready to go back to a deficit, I recommend eating at BMR and breaking down the marcos like this:

      1g protein per pound of LBM, .3g fat per pound of LBM and the rest of the cals from carbs.

      LMK what you think!

  • Adam

    Mike, I’ve been following your books and website since February and have gone from 237 lbs to 195. Body fat went from mid-20’s to about 16%. I’ve been cutting this whole time and my progress has suddenly stalled. I imagine I went a little too long on the cut, but really wanted to get the BF down to 10%. Is my best bet to start RD back to my TDEE cals and then cut again? How long should I wait at TDEE before cutting again? BTW, TDEE is 2375 cals and I’ve been at about 1900 cals. Thanks for all your help!

  • SM

    Hi Mike, I used to weigh 50kg and underwent dieting to 41kg two years ago. I managed to keep up with my extremely restrictive diet for the past two years but my weight has gone back to 50kg presently. This has been troubling me for quite some time. I think reverse dieting may be the answer to my problem and wish to try it out. However, I do not know how I should go about doing it. Do you have any specific article or book I can follow and would it be normal if my weight increases to more than my normal weight of 50kg during the process?

    • I think a reverse diet is a good call.

      Start with where your cals are at now and add 100-150 cals every 7-10 days until you reach TDEE.

      If you don’t know where your cals are at, calculate your intake for cutting and start the RD from there. You can calculate your cutting cals here:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

      There should be little to no weight gain during the RD if done properly!

      Hope this helps! LMK how it goes.

  • Chorngjoe

    Lets say I’ve estimated that my maintenance calories is 2,500. After I’ve reverse dieted to the target, how long should I maintain at 2,500 to be sure that it is my true maintenance? As I am sure one week isn’t enough right, since weight fluctuates almost on a daily basis. Thanks!

    • I recommend just chilling at TDEE for a week or two. If it stays about the same, you’re there.

      NP! Happy to help.

  • Billy Roberts

    Mike

    I’ve been cutting for about 8 weeks, doing fasted training for about 3 weeks. I went from 17.5% bf to about 12.5%, no problem. Then my weight loss just stopped dead. For about 2 weeks its been the same, plus or minus 1 pound. Ive also been getting hangry and feeling weak. I’ve stuck to my numbers religiously and have been working out heavy 5x week and doing HIIT 3-4x week. I think i need to RD, would you agree? Your articles and your book Beyond BLS are a little fuzzy on a few things. Like protein: do I drop protein from 1.2 g per lb of bodyweight to 1 g per lb the first week or phase it down? Does it matter if I bump up the fat to 35% of total cals in the first week as long as my total caloric increase is only 100-150?

    • Great job on the results!

      To continue the weight loss, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      It may be time to RD. Check out the article above and LMK what you think.

      Let’s keep the protein at 1.2g per pound.

      Cals are most important so you can play with the carbs and fat a bit, but you’ll get the best results sticking to the correct macro split. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/best-diet-plan/

      You can train fasted and take Phoenix during an RD, but once you reach TDEE, I would discontinue the fasted training and use of Phoenix.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Billy Roberts

        Yes, I’d already read those articles but thanks for sending them. Why are you recommending I stick to 1.2 g protein per pound, when in the article above you say, “You don’t need more protein than 1 gram per pound to build and preserve muscle” and also say the same thing in Beyond BLS? Furthermore, when I’m ready to end my cut, how will I know which protein ratio to choose? Also, what do you mean by saying, “you can play with the carbs and fat a bit, but you’ll get the best results sticking to the correct macro split.” You specifically recommended 1 g protein per pound, .3 to .4 g fat per LBM and the rest in carbs, which is exactly what I was asking about doing. Your statement implied I was asking to deviate from the prescribed macro, when in fact I’m trying to understand it so I can follow it as exactly as possible. Any light you can shed will be extremely helpful.

        • Slightly higher protein intake can be beneficial when cutting. Especially when you’re lean looking to get really.

          That said, AROUND 1g/lb is most important, and carbs and fats can be worked to fit your preferences, although I do recommend a higher carb and lower fat approach.

  • 溫宇謙

    I’ve bought your books (BLS&BBLS)and see great results with my cut here(pic below is my transformation during the last 10days).
    However idk how much HIIT should I do per week during reverse dieting? 20min*4sessions still?

    • Thanks for picking up my books! Glad you’ve gotten good results so far. 🙂

      You can keep up the 4 HIIT sessions until you reach TDEE. Then you can reduce them to 2-3 a week or less.

      Didn’t get the pics! Try posting them again?

  • 溫宇謙

    Pics below~
    Also, I’ve been taking Phoenix during the cut.
    Though I think I’ve seen you stated somewhere that the usage of fat burners should continue until TDEE is reached?
    Thanks for the reply: D

    • Great job man!

      Yeah you might as well because you’ll lose a little more fat as you RD up.

      • 溫宇謙

        I’m quite surprised actually, since a lot of fat was shredded from my ab area during the last 10days.

  • edarne11

    I’ve seen you mention before that you can ‘undo’ the weight gain of the holidays in a few weeks. My question is, if I drop down to cutting calories for 2 weeks do I need to do a prolonged full RD back out or because of the shorter duration of cut is there some sort of expedited RD that you recommend to bounce out of it or is that long enough to still tank my metabolism requiring a slow crawl back out? I want to drop the 2-3lbs gained from the recent holidays and I know I can do that in a few weeks no problem but I’m not really looking forward to a 5 week RD to get back to normal TDEE so that I can start building muscle again, thoughts? I was hoping to maybe add back 100 calories per 3-4 days vs 7-10.

    • No you don’t need to RD if you cut for a couple of weeks. It’s really for the longer, 8 to 10+ week type of cuts.

      Just cut and jump back to TDEE for a couple of weeks and then start bulking.

      • edarne11

        Thanks Michael! This will make it easier to tough it out the next few weeks knowing that I won’t have to endure the slow climb out!

  • Ivan

    Hi mike! I have a physique show 4+weeks out but im already sort of in contest ready shape. What are your thoughts on RD about 3 weeks out(of cuz monitoring progress along the way). Thanks!

    • Great job on hitting your stage-ready physique early. Smart.

      Personally I would just keep everything the way it is “to be safe.” I would eat around TDEE and stay lean and dry.

      This may help you:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/layne-norton-interview/

      • Ivan

        Thanks for your input! Cheers!

        • YW!

          • Ivan

            Hi mike just felt i should let you know that i’ve placed first in my category for the show! Thank you for your input, it definitely helped me a lot!

          • Great job! My pleasure! Happy to have helped. 🙂

  • jon

    So basically, reverse dieting is easing yourself from dieting, back to a maintenance caloric consumption in a tapered, gradual way, so that your body composition doesn’t risk gain that fat back fast from that mechanism you described. Is this accurate?

  • Matt Templeton

    What is your take on using forge and Phoenix while reverse dieting? Should I just save them for a couple months until after I’m back up to TDEE and then use them when I’m back in a deficit again? Or keep doing my fasted cardio with them while reverse dieting back up?

  • Coffeeforever

    So I’ve been reversing and Im currently at 2000 calls and gonna see if i can increase slightly more before i decide to cut again. Im still taking Pheonix in order to help minimize any fat gains. Can I still take it even if I’m out of a deficit, or is that futile?

    • Cool you plan to continue the RD. Once you’re at TDEE, I don’t recommend taking Phoenix.

      NP on chilling at your TDEE for a while. If you stick to it, you won’t gain any weight.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Coffeeforever

        Cool,thanks.

      • Coffeeforever

        So heres a little update. Been reversing, maintaining and reversing and currently at 2300 with no obvious fat gain, and maybe even a small fat loss. Honestly most days its a struggle to get that much food in but totally worth it.Have stuck to my 5x week of lifting and lowered the HIIT to 2 times a week depending on times.. Gonna try n increase to 2400 so I can cut on a middle class intake as opposed to poverty calories . Id say this is the 3rd reverse diet Ive been on in the last year and each time Im able to go further.. just thought that was kinda cool. Am in no hurry to cut so Ive been taking my time and focusing on lifting and those prs.
        Thanks for your support!
        SARA

        • That’s great. This may help you get in more calories without getting sick of eating:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com/food-to-gain-weight/

          Yeah you can do that if you’re just looking to maintain. Nothing wrong with that.

          • Coffeeforever

            OK but can I expect to loose some body fat if I eat 20% less a couple days a week and the other days my current tdee. Because normally we are told to cut for weeks or months. So if Im NOT looking to maintain but loose a free lbs of fat but don’t mind if it takes a little while longer is my question. Will this “yo yo” cut slow down my metabolism?

          • Yeah definitely. In that way you’ll be in a small deficit on a weekly basis.

            No it won’t slow down your metabolism. You’ll be fine.

          • Coffeeforever

            Hi, so been cutting at about 20% off my 2300 and been shedding some body fat. The first two week didn’t notice much change, and then one day it’s like oh now I see it! And been only doing HITT 1-3x a week. Eating about 1800-1900 calls. About a week before I started cutting I did follow a DELOAD week. But about a 12 days ago I woke up with my left Lat tight and sore as %^# and it seems to only be getting worse even if I take a couple days of of lifting. Taking Deep breaths feel like some in sorta knifing me on my left Lat.. Odd , becuz nothing I do seems to work. My dr would just give me narcos and I’m not a fan of that. I’ve been popping ibuprofen or aleve and it doesn’t seem to help much. Any tips? I think I pulled a muscle , sprained it or maybe it’s just real sore?? I really don’t want to stop limiting but today I had to stop my third set of squats at 145 (cut back 10lbs off , was squatting 155) and it doesn’t seem to help .. If u recommend taking time off what do u suggest I do in terms of cutting , not loosing muscle etc.? Thanks for taking ur time to read all this!

            Sara

          • Hey hey! Cool you’ve been cutting! Glad you’re seeing results. 🙂

            Sorry to hear about the pain in your lat. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what’s going. I understand your concern with not wanting to have to take drugs. I’d recommend checking with the doc, and just letting him/her know you’re not interested in being prescribed any drugs.

            Regarding cutting and losing muscle, I recommend eating at TDEE. It’ll help prevent muscle loss, and it’ll help accelerate the recovery process.

            Thoughts?

            Welcome! Talk soon.

        • Awesome Sara. Great job. You can definitely reduce calories for a few days per week and jump back to TDEE. No problem.

        • Great job! That rocks. You’re doing very well.

          Yeah that’s fine if you go into a deficit a few days per week when maintaining. No problem there.

        • Awesome Sara. You’re killing it. Yup you can cut for a few days if you overeat when maintaining.

  • Billy Roberts

    Do you do cheat meals/refeed days when reverse dieting?

    • Yep! Same as usual. Once a week.

      • Billy Roberts

        Great! Thanks again. I’ve gotten hooked on your podcasts lately. I have to say this whole fitness empire you’re building is pretty amazing. You’re doing what — to my knowledge — no one before you has ever been able to do effectively. I think there are a number of things that set you apart from the rest in very significant ways, but as one of your biggest fans I will say that it’s your down-to-earth, guy-next-door persona and the fact that you have such a constant presence though discussions like this that really bring your work to life. That is, you’re not just some name on some new book. You’re a real guy that people can relate to, and your constant interactions with your readers though all the various formats keeps things dynamic and alive. Personally it feels like being plugged into a tight little community so I never feel like the trail to my fitness goal gets cold. Constantly learning new things, getting new advice and perspectives and experiencing the results for myself is hugely motivating. You have completely reinvigorated my zest for fitness and allowed me to achieve things I never knew how to achieve. Don’t ever change the dynamic of your relationship with your readers. Among all of your considerable strengths, that is your greatest.

        • Wow that’s really great to hear Billy and honestly I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

          I never liked how “gurus” can be so stingy with their time and advice so I decided to go in the complete opposite direction.

          I will most definitely never change that.

  • Joanne Chung

    Hi there Mike, this article was extremely helpful. I’ve read just about everything there is on reverse dieting, including many medical journals and this was one of the best. I did have a couple questions, though:

    1. What if your caloric deficit was TOO low during the diet phase? For example, I was operating at around 800-1100 calories a day. Should I still only add 100-150 calories at a time? Or should I jump straight to something like 1000-1200 and then do the incremental add?

    2. What happens when after adding calories, you gain too much fat? My understanding is that anything about 2% BF is a sign that one has to adjust. Do you ever go back to cutting until you’re back down to your original BF, or do you simply maintain the status quo at the increased BF and allow your metabolism to “catch up”? If the latter, when do you resume the incremental addition of calories?

    Thanks in advance for your responses. So so helpful!!

    Joanne

    • Thanks Joanne! I’m glad to hear it.

      1. Increasing daily by up to 200 kcal every 7 days should be fine.

      2. You won’t. Just don’t change your exercise schedule yet. What I like to do is keep my exercise the same while I reverse and then reduce cardio once I’m at TDEE (and just kcal intake accordingly).

      Hope this helps!

  • Dominique Lule

    Love this article! Entered the fitness world 6 months after I had my son (almost 3 years ago!) and have been ever-learning since.

    I often struggle with fitting my last 100-300 calories in my day . . . how would a fluctuation like that effect my macros/calories/body comp? (right now I am 7 mo pregnant and trying to eat +500 calories anyway) But I do find hitting my protein and fats are difficult enough for me.

    I’m not “on a diet” right now, but I am going to try reverse dieting after I have my baby. I’d love tips on maybe how to hit protein macros and how missing out on those calories are effecting me/will effect me with RD in the future!

    • Thanks Dominique! Happy to hear it.

      I recommend staying within 50 cals of your goal intake. Glad to hear you’re eating the extra 500 cals due to pregnancy. Smart move. 🙂

      There’s no need for you to RD after giving birth. I only recommend it after having been in a deficit.

      For help getting the protein in, I recommend lean cuts of meat for meals. For snacks, I recommend Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, jerky, protein bars, etc.

      What’s most important is cals, but macros do play an important roll when it comes to composition. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/best-diet-plan/

      Hope this all helps! LMK.

  • Holly McMahan Ragan

    I am excited to begin reverse dieting, as I have restricted for too long, and now when I over eat, I gain 10+lbs of fluid over 24-48 hours and ache all over. What are your thoughts about incorporating sugar into this plan. That seems to be one nutrient that negatively affects me. I usually try to stay around 25gm per day or less. What are your thoughts on this?

  • sarah hussain

    Hey mike so i have been reverse dieting for around 3 months and i started at 1600 calories with macros 200g/ 40f/110 p and now i am at 1725 calories ..my tdee is around 1772-1800 calories .. how long should i reverse diet ? Btw i am 5’5 female ansmd weight 110 lbs but i have some bf and no abs .. so after i reach my tdee should i cut or go increase calories ? Also how much protein ,fats and carbs should i eat ..i train 5 times a week ( 3 -4 days weights) n 2 days hit of 15 minutes plus 2 days of steady state cardio of 35 minutes ..

    • Hmm. The RD should only take 4-6 weeks. I recommend increasing cals by 100-150 every 7-10 days until you reach TDEE. Then you chill at TDEE for a week or so, and you’re ready to go back to a deficit or begin bulking.

      To calculate your macros, check this out:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • sarah hussain

        Thank you for the reply !..so right now i weigh at 110-111 pounds( maybe a bit underweight for my height ).. trying to build some muscle ( right now lifting around 10-15 pounds of dumb bells ).. so should i bulk after reaching my tdee or begin a cut ? Like i calculated my tdee now in the link you provided and its lower than i calculated .. i am confused if i should keep increasing my calories to reach a healthy weight or can start my cut to reveal the abs ..

  • Sid

    Great article! I am a big fan of your work and read a lot of what Layne also has to say. I just have one question – how are you keeping track of calories burned during weightlifting workouts? I never know how to account that into my net calorie intake.

    • Thanks, Sid!

      I don’t keep track of cals burned each workout. I calculate my daily intake based off weight, BF% and average hours of activity weekly (which include weightlifting and cardio) and adjust intake according to results. You can do it here:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

      LMK how it goes.

  • Maria

    My name is Maria and I’m a 19 year old female (obviously with a name like Maria). I’m 5’1 and currently weigh around 108 lbs. I have been a long distance runner since my sophomore year of high year. Upon starting long distance, I lost a lot of weight. I was running 4-5 miles a day and not eating enough/ the right foods. I started paying more attention to the foods I was eating and began to try to consume more whole, nutritious foods. However, I was not consuming a lot of protein (I’ve never been a big meat eater). At this point, I was running about 4-6 miles a day and eating 1100-1500 calories a day. On days I didn’t run a lot, I was eating less. Throughout this, I was occasionally starting to experience gas and abdominal discomfort but it would go away. Well, the end of my junior year rolled around and one night I went to bed with gas and abdominal discomfort and the next day, I woke up still feeling uncomfortable. Since that day in April, I have been experiencing those symptoms every single day especially after I eat anything. I stopped eating dairy because I noticed my symptoms worsened. And I have been on/off with nuts and peanut butter because they too cause my symptoms to worsen (but I like them way too much so I eat them every so often.) I kept running and my eating habits remained the same except I was consuming more veg and fruit. This past summer, I increased my mileage because of my XC training schedule for college (4-7 or 8) 5-6 days and kept my eating habits the same. The discomfort got worse and it was taking forever for food to digest and I was feeling more depressed than ever. I felt bloated all the time and although the scale still said I weighed 105ish I felt huge and giggly than ever before. Upon entering college, my sleeping schedule got very messed- I was only getting 3-7 hours of sleep each night and drinking lots of coffee and running and walking everywhere. I did research and concluded that I really damaged my metabolism. When XC season ended and finals began to approach, I decided to give my body a break because along with everything I was doing, my stomach issues was making everything so much worse. Before entering college I was 108 (not losing any weight despite all the exercise I was doing) but once I started slowing down on the running I went down to 103 (most likely because I was also eating a bit less). Over winter break I started going to bodypump classes 3x a week and running (2-3 miles) on days I didnt lift. I started consuming more protein and increased my calorie intake 1200-1500. Within 3 or 4 weeks I was back to 108. I have been feeling really bloated and like as if I’m stretching and I just don’t know what to do anymore. PLEASE HELP ME. I want to gain muscle and be lean. I’m back at school and I’ve switched to high intensity resistance training for 30 minutes 3x per week with 1 day of light cardio. Ive increased my caloric in take to 1400 calories and plan on raising it to 1500 next week (eating foods I didn’t allow myself before like whole wheat french toast and such) Ive also been eating every three hours and including protein into each of my meals (3 meals, one evening snack) (egg whites in oatmeal, protein, good carb and veg for lunch, snack with some sort of nut butter and protein carb and veg again for dinner) (this is more protein than I have consumed in like, a very long time… About 60g) . I eat 100-200 calls more (with more protein on days I lift) However, I’m lost as to how to how much I should be eating. I really don’t want to gain weight but I know I have and probably continue. I feel like im also a lot retaining water since my my skin gets easily dented when I lay down and when I sleep and my clothes have been fitting a bit tighter but I don’t know if water Retention could be responsible for that? On the upside, Ive notice increased energy and as if like the food is actually digesting. Except Ive been feeling a lot of discomfort and bloating, soreness and tenderness in my stomach along with the feeling of stretching. When will I stop retaining water and will the discomfort get better? I know a lot of it has a lot to do with my body not being used to amount of food I’ve been feeding it recently. Have I increased my intake too much? Please help me I’m desperate and I have never felt more helpless. I just want to feel better physically and emotionally. I would also like to add, that I have been able to use bigger weights than ever before (when I would go to the bodypump classes before I always used minimum amounts of weight because I couldn’t do anything more… this was last year when I would go to the classes occasionally when I felt like it) and I have been sleeping a lot better! I’m trying to set a routinely sleeping schedule for this semester because sleep is important. Will I ever be lean and see muscle definition and help my metabolism? What should I do? Anyway, I read your article and metabolic adaptation and I would really like to hear what you have to say about my situation and if you have any advice.

    Thanks!

    • Damn, trying to read this is going to explode my brain, lol.

      Could you please shorten this and use paragraphs and such so I can quickly understand what’s going on?

    • Brian Basden

      Maria, Mike’s program works, but you REALLY need start with all your systems functioning ‘normally’ first. I’d STRONGLY recommend seeing your doctor and maybe a nutritionist – it really sounds like you could have some gastrointestinal issues that are preventing you from achieving your goals. At the very least have some basic blood tests run to make sure you are not anemic, that you’re not allergic to gluten (this was my issue), that you don’t have IBS/Crohn’s, etc.

      If you don’t address your GI issue first, you could make things worse for yourself, which it sounds like is what has already been going on for a year or more! However, once you DO address the GI issue, it will be SO much easier to make the kind of progress you want!!!

  • lene82
  • Becky Ramsay

    If eating below your BMR should you immediately increase to your BMR and then increase by 100-150 kcal per week or should you just start increasing by 100-150 kcal no matter what?

    • If you stick to the 100 to 150 weekly increase, you’ll be fine.

      • Becky Ramsay

        But isn’t eating below your BMR dangerous? Will increasing to BMR straight away more likely cause fat gain?

        • We definitely want to get you above BMR quickly, but we want to stick to the 100-150 cals per week increase to prevent rapid fat gain.

          • Becky Ramsay

            Ok. Thanks. I’ll give it a go. Fingers crossed.

          • Welcome. Sounds good!

  • Becky Ramsay

    Some people recommend only increasing by 5/10g of carbs per week for women… Is this a good idea?

    • Nah no need to increase that slowly. Increasing 25-35g of carbs per week is fine.

  • Francesco Condomitti

    I never got this one right:
    Should I switch to this 1g of protein per pound of bw right away and turn the remaining calories in carbs from the very beginning or what?
    Let’s say I am eating my 1880 kcals like this:
    215g pro
    175g carbs
    35g fats
    The day I start reverse dieting ence eating 1980 kcals shoul I just put another 25g of carbs in my meal plan or should I go like this:
    235g CARBS
    175g PRO
    35g FATS
    ???
    If the first one was the right approach when should I drop my protein intake?
    And do I still need to refeed once a week?

    Thanks

    • Nah. I recommend sticking to 1.2g protein per pound of body weight and just add carbs while reverse dieting. Once you hit TDEE, you can drop to 1g protein per pound of body weight and increase the carbs.

      Yep, you can continue refeeding once a week.

      Thoughts?

      • Tora

        great, as always!
        I will definitely go with that once I reach my 12th week of cutting! (just 3 more to go ✌)

        Thanks!

  • Asad

    Hey, Michael, I just wanted to thank you for all this great info. But I have a question regarding Reverse Dieting. I have been cutting for about 60 days and have gone from 15% body fat to about 10% body fat because of your advice to reduce calorie intake by 20-25%. Now I wish to start bulking because I want to put on more muscle then drop down to single digits and see how I like it. But I was just wondering if I have to increase my calorie intake so slowly? My calories for cutting is 1733 and for bulking I am going up to 2600 calories.

    • My pleasure!

      Great job on the results from the cut so far.

      Yep, you’re still going to want to RD from your cutting cals to prevent rapid fat gain.

      I recommend keeping your intake consistent daily. Your intake is calculated with your weekly activity taken into account.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Asad

        Then do I do the same thing when I am cutting again. Like slowly reduce calories 100-150 a week from 2600 (Bulking) to
        1733 (Cutting) (Will adjust up or down depending on activity increases and decreases). Or do I just drop right into the cutting calories without slowly reducing them each week. And yes that does help thanks again!

        • YW!

          Nope, when you’re ready to cut, go straight to cutting cals.

          Ehh. I don’t recommend eating below BMR. It’s okay if you need to for the last couple weeks of a cut to finish it up, but otherwise I don’t recommend it. Instead, you should increase your activity level to raise your TDEE.

          Thoughts?

          Protein before bed isn’t necessary, but it’s a good idea. Check this out:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com/protein-before-bed/

          And yes, what’s most important is that you hit your totals for the day.

          Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Tora

    Last question 😉
    should I keep on training fasted until I reach my TDEE or just add a prewo?

    and what about HIIT volume? (right now I’m doing 1.5 to 2 hours per week, should I drop that a little?)

    • No worries. 🙂

      You can if you’d like! You don’t have to though. And once you hit TDEE, you should stop training fasted.

      You can keep the HIIT volume the same up until TDEE as well. At that point, I recommend reducing it to 1-1.5 hours a week.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Tora

        OK great! I could use some extra rest and the prewo boost, I will just do another, shorter cut later on when summer approaches !

        thanks as always, you are the man !

  • Jenny Lewis

    Are this macros ok for cutting? I am 160lbs; p130 f30 C130 should i
    increase protein to 160 and lower carbs? I do weights 5 days and HIIT 4
    days

  • Corway

    Hey Mike Im currently trying to cut. Ive been cutting for a month now and is the first time counting macros in my life and am enjoying it. Along with that Im doing BBLS, walking about an hour a day to and from work and doing about 60 minutes of HIIT a week. After a month I havnt seen much if any difference in weight even though I think my deficit is quite aggressive. I actually think im bulking up. Im 179cm, 92.5 kg and about 11% BF which comes out around 2800 TDEE and with a deficit of 25% Im eating 2100 calories a day. What am I doing wrong and what should I do??

  • Corway

    Is reverse dieting a good idea leading up to vacation. Knowing that food intake will be higher and energy expenditure lower?

  • Aikas

    Hey Mike,
    Is there something wrong with going directly into a Bulk after a Cut? I usually go into Maintenance for a week because I still haven’t been in a deficit above 25% or cutting for more than 3 months. So is the week of maintaining redundant?

    Ps: I am in love with your new green formula!

    • You risk rapid fat gain. Even if you only cut at a 20-25% deficit and for no longer than 3 months, reverse dieting is a good idea.

      Glad you’re enjoying Genesis. 🙂

      • Aikas

        And what about when I’m De-loading during a Cut and going to Maintenance for a week.. Is there the same risk or is it perfectly fine? 🙂

        • I recommend you stick to your cutting cals during deload weeks…

          • Aikas

            What’s bugging me is that as the goal while cutting is to preserve muscle, I don’t know whether a week of Deload wouldn’t do exactly the opposite. Btw I can’t really hold on to do it later as I’m in my 1st week of cutting.. :/

          • Staying in a deficit for one week while doing a deload will not result in muscle loss. Don’t worry about that.

            And that’s fine. Next time you do a deload week, keep your intake the same. If you’re in a deficit, maintain the deficit. If you’re in a surplus, maintain the surplus. 🙂

  • Kris

    Hey Mike,
    I’m currently on a bulking diet, but soon I will be switching to cutting. After the cutting phase, would you use reverse dieting to switch back to bulking?

  • Becky Ramsay

    What if for a week or so you drastically under eat due to illness etc? Do you need reverse diet from those calories or just start where you set off?

    • Nah, that’s fine. No need to RD in that case.

      • Becky Ramsay

        But what if I’m in the middle of my reverse diet?

        • You can continue your RD from where your cals were at before the illness.

          • Becky Ramsay

            Ok. Great thank you so much. You’re an inspiration.

          • YW! Happy to help. 🙂

  • Grace

    Love your article! I’ve been reverse dieting for about 6 months, but am ready to start cutting. Should I cut slowly as well (100-150 cal per week)? or should it be more drastic each week.

    • Thanks, Grace! That’s a long RD! Typically it only takes 4-6 weeks.

      Cool you’re ready to start cutting. Nope, go straight to cutting cals.

  • Matt

    Hi,

    I’ve been cutting for about 5 weeks now and gone from 163lb to 151lb which has gotten me to around 15% BF from 20%. Iv’e done this at a deficit of 900kcal and from reading up on your advise i can see this was way too big and that I’ve probably lost some muscle, although my strength hasn’t decreased in the gym. I am still wanting to reach around 10% BF before eating at maintenance and further more, bulking. Would you suggest I work my way back up through RD to hit a 500kcal deficit and carry on cutting from there to hit my desired BF% so 1500kcal – 1900. Also if I have lost muscle will this come back quite quickly though muscle memory once I’m hitting maintenance or eating at a surplus?

    Thanks for your time

    • Hey Matt! Awesome job on the weight you’ve lost!

      Hmm. Yeah that’s a big deficit. How much weight have you been losing per week the last couple weeks? I recommend adjusting your intake so you’re losing 1-2 pounds a week and see how it goes.

      If you find yourself at BMR and not losing 1-2 pounds a week, you should reverse diet and then continue cutting.

      Yep, the muscle will come back quickly when you’re eating again.

      My pleasure! Talk soon.

  • Raj parikh

    Hey Mike,

    i am new to this website but am already in love with it! The information here is relayed in a concise and yet informative manner. I have been restricting calories to lose weight for almost 6 months and am now skinny fat at 14% bodyfat. I want to bulk up and then do a cut to lose the fat, but i do not want to get fat in the process. Do you have any recommendations for me?

    • Vlad Cherchezan

      If you´ve never worked out before you could just start with a cut, the way Mike recommends you do it, with a lot of protein and lifting hard and you will gain muscle for the first 6 months guaranteed while still losing fat, and after that you can do your bulk and you will already have a good foundation and be able to lift pretty heavy by then.

    • Happy to hear it. 🙂

      That’s a long time to be in a deficit. Let’s do a reverse diet and then continue cutting. If the RD is done properly, there will be little to no weight gain.

      Thoughts?

  • Katie

    I have been in a calorie deficit for one year and one month. I was about 213 pounds and now I am down to 153. I am lifting 6 days a week. Adding in cardio 4-5 days a week such as HIIT sprints for 20 min or stairmaster. I am eating 1700 calories now. My weight has been the same for the past two months. I know I am losing some fat due to the fit of my clothing, but any suggestions on where to go from here?

  • Jonathan

    Hey Mike,

    Do you increase calories up until your predicted TDEE for the weight you are when you finish cutting or TDEE for your weight as you reverse diet and gain weight due to water and glycogen? Or should I just keep it simple and increase my calories by 100 per week until my weight stabilizes?

    • You should increase cals until the TDEE of the weight you’re currently at.

  • Ashley

    Hey mike! I just finished my first ‘bulk’ and have added some nice curves. Now I’m ready to start a cut to shed fat, I’m around 23% BF. I found a 12 week plan online that says to decrease macros 5% every 2 weeks, from C and F. I have my macros calculated, thanks to you teaching me!

    The plan says to cut 5% every 2 weeks, 5x. Which would end around May. After those weeks of cutting should I stay at those macros or start reversing before I cut again? My wedding is October 2 so I want to shed as much BF as possible, but if I need to RD in May I can!

    Thanks for all you do! I’m always referring people to your site because you’re so knowledgeable! Hope you and your family have a nice weekend 🙂

    Ashley

    • Sounds good! My pleasure. 🙂

      If by the end of those weeks you’re happy with your BF%, you should RD to TDEE and then maintain until the big day. If you have more BF you want to lose, RD and then go back to cutting cals.

      Welcome! Thanks for spreading the word and all the support!

      Talk soon.

  • Inas Saidy

    Hi, Mike! I have a few questions about reverse dieting:

    1. When you’ve reached your TDEE, do you just keep eating that amount of calories for the one week you’ve reached it or do you keep eating at TDEE for several weeks before dropping down to cutting cals again?

    2. Do you only reverse diet when you can’t lose any more weight or you’re losing the weight slower, or do you reverse diet within a certain interval of weeks into a cut no matter the rate of your progress? I’ve heard it’s best to reverse diet back to TDEE after 4-12 weeks of eating your cutting cals (but they never said what that interval depended on).

    3. Wouldn’t reverse dieting prolong the duration of a cutting phase? (I have no problem with this though, just trying to grasp the biology behind it.)

    Thanks for all the info you provide! 🙂

    • NP!

      1. A week at TDEE is fine. Then you can go back to a deficit.

      2. You RD once you’re at BMR and not losing 1-2 pounds weekly. How long you cut before you RD all depends on how long it takes to each your goal or how long you can continue to make progress before reaching BMR.

      3. It does in the sense that you have to put the cut on “pause”. However, it accelerates the weight loss while cutting and allows you to eat more while cutting and losing weight.

      My pleasure! Talk soon.

  • Stephanie

    Hi Mike,
    Excellent article! Ive been cutting for a few months, eating around 1600cal per day, training 3x per week, down to 57kg. Ive plateaued in my weight loss, and not feeling great on the amount of calories (would like more) – do you reccomend RD for me? How much should each increase be?
    Many thanks!
    Stephanie

    • Thanks, Stephanie!

      It depends. Have you reached your BF% goal? Or, are you eating at BMR and not losing 1-2 pounds a week? Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      My pleasure! LMK what you think.

      • Stephanie

        Thanks for the reply Mike! I am happy with my current body comp, so have this week increased intake to 1700cals, which is perhaps just under my TDEE as per the calculator on the link you gave me (super helpful!) – what do you reccomend if I have gained weight at the end of the week?
        Also kudos to you for being so dedicated to your readers!
        Many thanks,
        Stephanie

        • Stephanie

          Also – I was eating just above BMR and not losing, but am happy with BF now 🙂

          • Welcome! Oh okay great!

            You can expect a couple pounds of weight gain just from water and glycogen so I wouldn’t be concerned. Just keep increasing the cals by 100-150 every 7-10 days until you’re at TDEE. Once at TDEE, you can stay there and maintain, or you can go into a bulk.

            Happy to do it. 🙂

            Glad you’re happy with your composition and went ahead and started the RD!

            Talk soon.

  • Brandon Ryder

    Hi Mike

    I am learning so much from your site. This is another great article.
    I have been dieting for about 16 weeks now and are quite lean, around 11%. However I keep hitting a sticking point of getting really hungry and then wanting to eat more as I get lower which I always seem to succumb to. Would Rd help here in getting me leaner and in a situation like this. (That is an old pic of me by the way) I am 75kgs and on 2000 cals
    Thx so much

  • NaiKang He

    Hi mike ,
    I am almost at the end of my cutting and I want to bulk after the cut . I also want to take a week of rest before I start again . As this article states I should be in the same calorie deficit as my cutting in my deload week . But as I am doing nothing at that week my tdee is lower that means I have in fact add calorie to my cutting and the week after deload my tdee is higher and I should add 150+150 = 300 calories. Is this all right ?
    And there ‘s another question . I have been working out the beachbody program from Shaun t (t25 and insanity max30)for an year and lifting heavy for 3 months , should I be considered a newbie and aim for a 2 lbs bulk per week ?

    • Hey hey!

      What I recommend is starting the RD on the deload week. So, just take your current cutting cals and add 100-150 cals in carbs, do your deload week and then add another 100-150 cals the following week when you continue weight lifting and repeat until you reach TDEE.

      Yep, if you’ve only been hitting the heavy, compound lifts for 3 months, you can still make some newbie gains. However, I still recommend sticking to 1/2-1 pound a week to prevent excessive fat gain.

      LMK what you think!

  • yanella

    hey i have a question I’ve cut for about a year now so my body is use to eating 1400 per day and i won’t lose weight no matter how hard i try. So i should reverse dieting until my body is maintaining its weight right? Oh and I’m still not at the weight i want to be so when i reverse diet and I’m eating the amount of calories I’m suppose too i should start cutting again right?

  • Sarah

    Hi! I have a quick question- can you successfully reverse diet only counting calories and not macros. I understand they are one in the same, but for example could you just add 25 cals a week but set the caveat that you hit at least 100g of protein a day? Would that still minimize fat gain? Thanks!!

    • Hey Sarah! Technically, you can. It’ll still be effective in speeding back up your metabolism and prevent rapid weight gain. However, when it comes to composition, macros play a big role. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/best-diet-plan/

      Welcom! LMK what you think.

      • Sarah

        Thank you for your response. I read the article and totally understand the difference between weight loss/gain and fat loss/gain and the role that protein plays in that. To be honest, I have switched between macro and calorie counting for five years and I just want to live a life free from counting and calculating everything. I am looking for a way to reverse and then use the knowledge I have from years of counting to eventually just eat mindfully and be able to maintain my figure. That is why I was wondering if I could only count protein and then use the rest of the calories differently day to day between fat and carb depending on what I actually want to see that day, not what my macros allow- just trying to find flexibility which I have ironically never found in “flexible dieting” macro counting. I appreciate your feedback =)

  • Alexander Mitov

    Hey Mike, have you seen the recent debate between Dr.Layne Norton, Peter Fitschen, Menno Henselmans and Eric Helms on Reverse dieting? Here’s the link: https://youtu.be/swrul81qco8 I seriously cannot draw any hard conclusions from it but maybe you can have a better grasp. And I believe Dr. Norton was the first one to introduce the concept of reverse dieting and I speculate you’ve picked that up from his videos on Metabolic damage/adaptation and reverse dieting, right?

    • Negative. Thanks for sharing. I’ll check it out.

      • Alexander Mitov

        OK, please let me know what’s your take on it :). And could you asnwer my other quesiton from my original post, too? If you’ve picked reverse dieting from Layne I mean

        • Not sure I saw the other comment yet. I’ll get to it though. 🙂

  • Shiloh Walton

    Hi there!
    I found your site when looking up reverse diet stuff- I have a competition next week. My coach has had me on extremely low calories for the last month (about 1100-1300/day) with 55-70 min of cardio daily and weights 4 days a week. I don’t think this is great for my body, as I actually haven’t lose much weight; I have gotten some fat loss but not as much as one would expect with numbers like that. I also have a job where I’m on my feet all day so I’m always going. Currently 116-lb and 5-ft. My question- when I start the reverse diet, wouldn’t I technically have to keep all that cardio in and gradually decrease it as well so I don’t have such a huge change in net cals? Thanks!

    • Hey Shiloh,

      Given your size those calories don’t sound all that low. Cardio seems a bit excessive though.

      If I were you, post-comp I would drop cardio to maybe 3 x per week and start the reverse diet. Even at 3 x per week you’re still going to be in quite a deficit.

  • Yasmine

    Hi Mike
    In an other comment you suggested I should do a reverse diet. My question is now: is it possible to combine calorie cycling with it or is it better to eat every day of the week the same amount of calories?
    Thanks.

  • Georgina

    Hi Mike
    I’m in desperate need of help! I have previously struggled with what has been diagnosed with a mild form of anorexia (8 years ago) for about 3 years where I had very low calorie intake and lots of exercise.
    Since then I have put on drastic amounts of weight and lost it again in the same way, yo-yo dieting ever since. I have since put on much more weight in the last 1-2 years (now 178lbs) and am desperately unhappy.
    I’ve essentially been eating 1200 calories a day for at least 2 years now (with binges as I can’t maintain that intake) whilst exercising continuously – do you think I need to RD? Even though I am desperate to lose weight? How long will this set me back? I’ve got a 9 week goal date in mind.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hey hey! Thanks for all the info.

      Yep, let’s start with an RD. Once you’re chilling at TDEE, you can cut properly at a 20-25% deficit and focus on weight loss.

      Thoughts?

      A standard RD takes 4-6 weeks.

      My pleasure! Talk soon.

  • Will

    Mike – I’ve been reverse dieting for just a week (bumped calories up by 150 by increasing carbs and reducing protein to 1g/lb body fat – I was at 1.2 for the end of my cut). Already seeing a bit of weight gain on the scale (but not really in the mirror). Should I be worried? Is that just water weight coming in from the increased carbs? Should I reduce the calorie increase (i.e., go slower – 100 cals a week instead of 150)?

    • Hey Will! I actually recommend keeping your protein at 1.2g/pound of body weight until you reach TDEE. There will be some weight gain during the RD due to water, glycogen and possibly a small amount of fat, but it shouldn’t be much.

      Keep increasing the cals and see how your weight responds. Sure, let’s go up by 100 cals every 7-10 days.

      Talk soon.

  • Sam

    Hi Mike,

    I have been cutting for a good few weeks now and I’m almost at 10% body fat. My question is how often should I calculate my TDEE to accommodate for cutting and bulking cycles?

    When I have finished my reverse dieting should I recalculate my TDEE so I can see how much I need for bulking or maintaining?
    Thanks. Sam.

    • Hey Sam! Nice! Good question! You should keep your intake the same as long as you’re getting results. Once you stop losing 1-2 pounds a week on a cut or gaining 1/2-1 pound a week on a bulk at your current intake. Adjust your intake accordingly.

      After an RD, you can recalculate to see where to start your cals at.

      Hope this helps!

      My pleasure. Talk soon.

      • Taytay

        Help. Feeling confused!
        I want to drop weight. Atleast 10kilo. I work out 5 x per wk mix of weights, hiit and cardio. Thinking to start calorie counting at 1200. My tdee is 1990. Is it a good idea to start at 1200 and how long should I remain on 1200 to get best results? Should I then increase each week??

  • jake

    Hey Mike,

    I’m about to finish up a 12 week cut and I’m getting ready to reverse diet my way out. I plan getting into a bulk soon after, but I’m not sure how quickly to transition into my bulking target calories.

    I’m going to finish cutting at about 1900 calories and with my TDEE at about 2300, it should take me about 4 weeks to reverse diet up to this. When I hit my TDEE should I jump straight up to my bulking targets, or should I take an extra few weeks to ease into this?

    I was planning on just jumping up to the bulking target, as it would feel like I’m just wasting time after 4 weeks of reverse dieting. Thanks!

    – Jake

    • Hey hey! Awesome. You want to chill at TDEE for a week or two. Then you can jump into bulking cals.

      Hope this helps.

      My pleasure. Talk soon!

  • NaiKang He

    Hi mike ,
    So there will be a weight gain or weight loss during my RD , let’s say a weight gain , how much do I expect to gain and when will it stop ? After reaching my tdee or just the first few weeks?

    • You should continue to lose weight during your RD until you reach TDEE. There shouldn’t be any weight gain really, but 1-2 pounds due to water and glycogen is fine.

  • MarkH

    Hi Mike , if RD is so important why isn’t it included in BLS?Is this for advanced weightlifters like carb cycling or can begginers do this as well?

    • Honestly because I had to stop adding stuff lest the book become a TOME, haha.

  • Grappaah

    Hi MIke!

    Here is my story. I started my diet 1 year ago, I am 5.6 feet tall and i have weighted 211 pounds. Before my injury i was a long-distance runner with 125 pounds, so my goal was that weight. I have achieved that weight, but for the last 2-3 months, cuz new semester started etc. I simply did not had enough time to eat, i was always on lessons, i have skipped luches all the time..And i have lost 19 pound from january to this day… So on my last 2-3 months I had only ate 800-900 calories avg a day, which affected my metabolysm.It is really slow now, and i want to make it faster, without going over 125 pounds. Now i am 119 pounds, with a 1653 TDEE, and my BMR is 1437. Which means, i was just simply straved myself. My diet was high on protein, low on carbs, and medium on fat. So if i slightly going to increase my carbs/ week, i will not going to gain weight? I mean if i slowly achieve my TDEE i will be still around the 119-125 range, or above?

    Grappaah ( Sorry for my bad eng, i am from Hungary 🙂 )

    • Hey hey! Thanks for all the info!

      Sorry to hear about the injury and awesome job on getting back down to that weight!

      Yikes. You need to be eating more. Let’s go ahead and start the RD. If you do it right you won’t gain any weight other than maybe a couple pounds from water and glycogen. Just stick to increasing your cals by 100-150 every 7-10 days, and you’ll be fine.

      That’s fine on the cardio. Focus on getting that knee taken care of!

      Damn. You’re lean! You can make sure you’re accurately measuring your BF% here:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/body-composition/

      No worries! It was great. 🙂

      Talk soon.

  • Martin McEvoy

    Hi Mike

    I’ve been on 1800 calories since September of last year. My weight I’m around 168 pound at 5’8 and I currently work out 5 days a week. my fat loss had slowed down dramatically over the past 3 months and Its frustrating me. I’m guessing I’m around 12-13% Body fat, maybe even 14. My main goal is to get down to around 8-10% so I can start to lean bulk. Also I burn around 300 calories a day from walking to and from my gym. I see people taking 2-3 months to get into ridiculous shape so why Is my journey taking so long. I started around 178-179 pounds and have only lost between 10-11 pounds of fat… Should I continue to stick to what I’m doing or include more cardio or drop even more calories or would you recommend that I RD to my TDEE which is around 2300-2400 and then cut from there? and if so how should I begin my cut again from there? Any advice would be great!

    • Hey Martin! I hear you on the fat loss slowing down. Let’s get the weight moving again:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      Check out that article, and LMK what you think.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon.

      • Martin McEvoy

        Thanks Mike really helpful stuff! I will probably do a reverse diet in the next month or so for about a month and then go from there.

        • NP, man! Sounds good!

          Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Ted M

    Hi Mike,

    I have been reverse dieting eventually into a lean bulk for about 12 days and have added ~350 calories per day (1,800 up to 2,150). I actually feel hungrier than when I was at 1,800 calories per day and have lost 3 pounds. Would you recommend increasing the calorie intake faster?

    Thanks,

    Ted

    • Hey Ted! Cool you’re doing an RD!

      I actually recommend a slower increase in intake to prevent rapid fat gain. More like 100-150 cals every 7-10 days. However, you’re still losing weight so I wouldn’t worry about it!

      And yep, I hear that a lot from people. I think it’s just psychological with the anticipation to eat more and getting out of the “cutting” mindset, haha.

      No need to speed up your calorie increase rate.

      Hope this helps. Welcome! Talk soon.

  • Seb

    Hi Mike

    Quick question! I’m just about to finish my first cut following BLS and want to go straight into a bulk. Do I reverse diet all the way up to my bulking calories or only up to my TDEE, chill a week there and then jump straight into my bulking calories?

    Thanks!
    Seb

    • Just to TDEE is fine. Chill at TDEE for a week or so and then go ahead and jump to bulking cals.

      Welcome! Talk soon.

  • Dan

    Hi Mike, I started Jan 2 on a pretty aggressive diet (Medifast plus protein shake because I was lifting 3x/w) so was getting about 1200 kcal/d. I got 47 lbs off, and weighted 205 at about 15% BF. I didn’t go straight the TDEE (about 2800) but instead went to your cut level of about 2050cal/d (P=210, F=45-50, C=rest). But I”m gaining weight! Up to 208 in 2 weeks. Do I need to drop back down then slowly increase calories like this above? I’m lifting 4/w and doing 2-3 HIIT sessions, all fasted. Yohimbine, caffeine, etc.

    • Hey Dan! Damn. Crazy on all the weight you lost.

      I don’t recommend big deficits like that for that reason. It’s really easy to put on weight after a big deficit. You also lose muscle going so low.

      You need to go back down and RD from 1200 cals. Also, keep in mind that it’s normal to gain a few pounds simply due to water and glycogen.

      Hope this helps! LMK how it goes.

  • edmyeg

    Hi Mike, I was on a very aggressive deficit for probably close to 3 years and in the last 4 months have been trying to reverse diet. I am not up to maintenance yet as I have been gaining significant weight. I track and weigh my food, and I wear a fitbit (i know they aren’t the most accurate things but I use it for a ballpark). I tend to burn anywhere from 2150-2300 calories a day. I am still probably in a 400-500 deficit with calories. I don’t think I should be gaining this much weight. Thoughts? Regardless it is starting to scare me into returning back to my deficit so my clothes will start fitting again. I am at aloss as to why this is happening. I am very active with weight training, swimming, spin class, and just walking my dog. And it seems all this is resulting is is a muffin top. What am I doing wrong?

    • Thanks for the info. Smart move on the RD.

      Some weight gain is expected during the RD due to water and glycogen. How much have you gained?

      I don’t recommend using the Fitbit even for a ball park estimate. They can be really inaccurate.

      Normally, you should just start the RD by adding 100-150 cals to your cutting intake and then add another 100-150 cals every 7-10 days moving forward until you reach TDEE. A proper RD should only take 4-6 weeks.

      To calculate what your TDEE is, check this out:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

      Hope this all helps. LMK what you think.

      • edmyeg

        I am not sure exactly as I have not weighed myself. I have been going by how I look and how my clothes fit. I am going to say close to 10lbs and rising. Will water and glycogen add up to that much?
        I have calculated my TDEE and it is actually right in the range of how much my fitbit tells me I burn. It is approx 2100 cals with my activity. Currently, I am only consuming 1600 cals a day. Up from 1200. I am extremely active between weight lifting 4-5 days a week, spin class 2-3 times a week, swimming once a week, walking my dog daily, and running.

        I have read that when RDing in people with a very damaged metabolism (or someone who has been in a large deficit for a long time) that it can take up to a year to repair itself. This is not true? I am unsure what I have done wrong because I have religiously been doing this for a few months now. I have been waiting to see a turn around in the weight gain.
        I would be surprised if my problem was my diet as I eat very well. Chicken, whole grains and complex carbs, healthy fats, tons of veggies for example. And I weigh and measure everything.
        Should I be lowering my cals again? I am so confused as to what to do.

        • Nicholas Hamel

          My reccomendation would be go see a doctor have some blood work done sounds as if you could have a thyroid /hormone problem.

          • edmyeg

            Thank you….i kind of wondered that myself. I have a physical booked for May 2! Wish me luck!

        • Hmmm. Nah, water and glycogen wouldn’t cause 10 lbs of weight gain. However, it’s tough to say when you’re not weighing yourself.

          I recommend you continue with the RD up until TDEE. And weigh yourself weekly so we can actually see what’s going on.

          I’d also recommend reducing the amount of cardio you’re doing. Here’s why:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com/cardio-and-muscle-growth-friends-or-foes/

          Nah, it shouldn’t ever take a year.

          Let’s just continue on with the RD at 100-150 cals every 7-10 days up until TDEE. And this time track your weight weekly to see how you’re doing. Once you reach TDEE, let’s chill there for a while.

          Sound good?

  • Georgia

    Hi Mike

    I am hoping that I am around 4-6 weeks from finishing a cut following TLS.

    Once I reach goal weight, should I gradually increase carb intake until I reach tdee AND THEN alter fat intake and protein intake or alter fat intake and protein intake and then gradually increase carbs until I reach my tdee? Or alternatively gradually increase carbs mainly whilst increasing fat slightly and reducing protein slightly?

    Thanks so much for all your help.

    • Hey hey!

      You should gradually increase carb intake and then once you hit TDEE, you can adjust your protein and fat intake.

      My pleasure! LMK if you have any other questions. 🙂

      • Frank Desalvo

        Muscle for Life is the best!

        I’m starting my reverse diet in a week. This question/answer threw me a bit. During the RD, do I keep my cutting protein of 1.2g/lb or can I go to 1g/lb? As always, thanks for your response, it’s tremendously altruistic.

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  • shaffa7

    Hey Mike, how are you doing my man?

    I’ve been cutting for the last 3 months, and i’ve lost about 25 pounds so far (from 204 to 180 pounds. I’m happy with this, but I still got some fat, I would say that I’m around 18 percent of bodyfat. And now I want to lose this fat, so should I cut for another few weeks/months or should I reverse diet back to TDEE and stay there for a while and then start cutting again? And how long do you think it would take to get from 18 to 12 percent bodyfat?

    Also, it’s seems like my waist is not shrinking for the last two weeks.. Is this bad or does this mean that I’m losing fat somewhere else on my body?

    • Hey hey! I’m good!

      Awesome job on the weight you’ve lost cutting! You should be. 🙂

      You can make sure you’re right on the BF% here:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/body-composition/

      As long as you’re still getting results (losing 1-2 pounds a week) and eating above BMR, let’s continue cutting. To help keep up the weight loss, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      With proper cutting, you should be able to get there in 6-12 weeks.

      It’s possible! Just make sure you’re losing 1-2 pounds a week and maintaining strength, and you’ll be losing fat.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

    • shaffa7

      Hey buddy!,

      As you know I’m almost done cutting haha! I got my calories at right around 2075 kcal. But on the 12th of May my tonsils will be removed. So that means that I’m not allowed to exersice for about 2 weeks AND I won’t be able to eat solid food. What are your tips on working out and nutrition for these 2 weeks. I think that I will take 4/5 days of complete rest and then start working out again, And to make sure I get my 2075 kcal, I’ll just make smoothies with whey, banana’s, peanutbutter ect.

      It’s also possible for me to reschedule the operation and I really consider this, because I don’t want to lose muscle in these 2 weeks. But then again… when should the operation take place: while reverse dieting or when i’m back at my TDEE (by July).

      Hope you can help me Mike!

      Greetings from Vien in Holland!

      • Hmm personally I’d probably just shoot to eat around maintenance to help with recovery and yeah just stick with liquid foods that you can keep down. Not a big deal.

  • Kristina Ferreiro-Harding

    Hi Mike! Thanks for this. I anticipate that it will be a key reference for me in the coming months. I do have a question: where do I start if i’ve already done the EXACT WRONG THING? I have been cutting calories down to 600-800 a day (yup, you read correctly) for several YEARS. I put on about 6 pounds this winter and got frustrated so started with a personal trainer about a month ago. He put me on a heavier weight trainibg program and increased my macros to 121g protein, 68g fat, and 168 g carbs, which has increased my calories to around 1200 a day. Yikes! I have blown up. So my question is, how many calories should i start with to begin reverse dieting? Should I start lower because my calories were so low before? I should mention I was 100 lbs before the 6 pound increase and now, since the personal training endeavor, I am 108. I do 3 heavy weight training days a week alternating with cardio and the odd day off or yoga day every 3-4 days. Thanks in advance! Any help is appreciated!
    😕 Kristina

    • YW! Yikes, that’s REALLY low.

      Are you gaining weight at your current intake of 1200 cals? If not, you can do your RD from there. If you are gaining weight at 1200 cals, let’s stay at that intake until you’re weight maintains. Then you can start the RD.

      Thoughts?

      Thanks for the info and cool on the training you’re doing.

      My pleasure! Talk soon.

      • Kristina Ferreiro-Harding

        Thanks, Mike! I am at around 1100 now and fairly steady. Was thinking of going up to 1200 this weekend as I have been here for a week. Hopefully I am still building some muscle. I am still at 121g of protein, but my carbs and fat are pretty low, in order to stay at the lower calories. Lots of vega smoothies. Lol Thanks for your response and support!

        • Welcome! Great let’s continue the RD then and see how it goes!

          NP! Happy to help. 🙂

  • Chad Avalon

    Should I continue taking Phoenix throughout the reverse diet?

  • Ryley

    Even if I am increasing my intake by 100 calories a day, I burn different amounts of calories every day since some days I do more cardio than others, so what do i do in that case?

    • Hey Ryley! True but, your weekly activity level is taken into account when calculating your daily intake. So, though there may be days with more or less activity level your weekly activity has already been accounted for and your daily intake was determined with that factored in.

      So, continue the reverse diet as usual. However, just to make sure, you want to be increasing your intake by 100-150 cals every 7-10 days on the RD–not every day. 🙂

      Hope this helps! Talk soon.

  • M’Lynn

    Please help! I’ve been following IIFYM for a year now. Competed in two bikini competitions then fell off my reverse and gained almost all my weight back 😩 I’ve been trying to lose it but it hasn’t been working. Should I just reverse up for 6-8 weeks then mini cut for like 4 weeks?? Even though I’m at a higher weight right now than I’d like?

    • Cool you’ve been doing IIFYM and competing!

      Sorry to hear you fell off the wagon during the RD.

      Hmm. How many days have you been overeating and not following your RD?

      • M’Lynn Tillery

        I was off for about 2.5 months and have been back consistently hitting my macros and liftin for about 3 months now. Was trying to lose the weight but it wasn’t working so I thought maybe I should just reverse then cut again?

  • Sfine

    Hey Mike, This is a question from my wife. She’s been eating right on her BMR for something like 2 months, weighing literally everything we eat and only doing one day above calories, maybe right at TDEE at most on weekends. She is 5’5 116lb and ~20-21% BF (verified via calipers and pictures). She really wants to lose the last bit of weight to get the abs she wants. Shes been stalled at 115-116 for a month even at BMR, we are both doing 5x TLS/BLS and 3x HIIT so it’s pretty hard to add any more exercise to the equation. Should she do a RD and then after a couple weeks, cut down again to get the last bit gone? Or go under BMR by 100 cal or so for a couple weeks to get that last lb or 2 and then RD and reassess at maintenance? I tell her to RD, but she is being stubborn about wanting to lose the last bit she wants and is afraid going up is going to cause weight gain.

  • Jeremy LaHaie

    Hey Mike, I am currently on week 10 of a cut. Dropped from 20% to around 12% body fat (173.5lbs to 162). I am planning a 1 week vacation where I will be doing a deload (either maintaining with bodyweight workouts or taking a complete week off) while eating TDEE maintenance calories. I will still be fairly active with lots of daily walking but I’m trying to plan ahead of what to do after my trip. I’ve read the reverse diet and traveling articles you’ve made but since this is near the end of the cut, i’m not sure if I should attempt to cut for another few weeks or start a reverse diet to a bulk. Thanks!

    • Hey Jeremy! Awesome job on the results on the cut so far!

      Thanks for all the info. Hmm. How long is it until your vacation?

      Welcome! Talk soon.

      • Jeremy LaHaie

        The vacation is a week away, so I dont have that much time to change things

        • Cool. I’d say cut until your vaca and then just eat around TDEE and stay active (try not to explode yourself with calories and alcohol).

          Then, when you come back, you can continue at TDEE or go back to your cut if you’d prefer.

          Remember that the main benefit of reverse dieting is preventing the caloric excesses that often follow longer periods of dieting. Jumping back up to TDEE isn’t necessarily bad.

          • Jeremy LaHaie

            Awesome! Il continue the cut until then, have a great week and then reassess my situation afterward
            Thanks for the advice, I appreciate!

          • Sounds good. Thanks, you too!

            My pleasure, Jeremy!

  • Hey Mike, on my second round of cutting and just finished on Saturday. Now RDing back to a bulking intake. Woohoo!

    On my last week of cutting, I was eating 1950 cals and had 150.4 lbs./10.5% BF:

    * 219g/45% protein (about 1.4g/lb of body weight in terms of protein–a bit excessive from your BLS suggestion of 1.2g/lb of body weight, but what’s done is done, I guess)
    * 33g/15% fat
    * 195g/40% carbs (and, man, I was feeling the lack of carbs)

    I was using a web site and just plugged in the numbers. So easy to not realize the ratio imbalance and just follow the numbers blindly when a computer is calculating things for you. Anyway, realizing at the end of my cut that I was having a lot of protein and not a lot of carbs (and that I was under 20% fats), I adjusted my ratios for RD. I’m now eating 2100 cals and still have 150.4 lbs./10.5% BF:

    * 184g/35% protein
    * 47g/20% fat
    * 236g/45% carbs

    First question: Was I doing harm to myself by eating 45%/15%/40% P/F/C during my cut, and am I doing a bad thing by adjusting the ratios to 35%/20%/45% P/F/C so suddenly?

    Second question: Going forward, let me see if I understand this. I drop my protein intake to 1g/lb. of body weight and, every 7 days, I increase my calories by 150, alternating adding carbs, then fats, then carbs, etc. until fats hits a max of .3g/lb of body weight? (I can eat carbs till the cows come home, btw. I practically live off veggies and potatoes, and I crave bananas like a Minion. So it’s unlikely I’ll not be able to “feasibly eat more carbs” anytime soon. :P)

    I plan to increase to a bulking calorie intake of about 15% over TDEE (which was 2,700 cals at the end of my last bulk, so I’m increasing to 3,100 cals, which brings me to about 194g/25% protein, 70g/20% fats, and 423g/55% carbs).

    Does all this sound like a good plan? Or would you recommend any adjustments?

    • Hey hey! Cool you finished your cut and are now on an RD.

      Glad you corrected your macro break down. That looks much better.

      Ehh. I don’t know about harm. You just didn’t need that much protein and you could’ve enjoyed more carbs. 🙂

      Nah, totally fine to change the macro breakdown like that.

      Yep, that’s exactly right on increasing your intake!

      Gotta love carbs.

      No need for a 15% surplus. 10% is good and will help prevent you from putting on fat quickly during your bulk. Otherwise, that sounds good.

      LMK how it goes!

  • Anna

    Hey Mike, i’m 24,around 23/24% body fat, female and i dieted since the beginning of january and lost a good amount of fat. (some,or maybe a few more cheat days included) I educated myself and also read TLS. It helped me a lot getting into the gym routine which i do since 2 Weeks now, also following IIFYM and making already a noticeable of progress. BTW I love it. Thank you for writig this awesome book. Before that i was doing 5x a week exercises with light weight but good form and cardio almostz day….i know….dont judge hahaha

    but hey, I was able to build a little bit of muscle.

    I have a few questions regarding this whole calorie deficit thing.

    1. I wear a Fitbit charge HR and it shows me that I burn approx. 2700 cals a day.

    Should/Can I substract a calorie deficit of 20% based on this number or depending on the number it shows everyday? is it even good to wear such a watch to get an idea of how many calories i burn?

    2. How long can i profit from the “newbie fatloss/muscle gain-at the same time” thing?

    3. Is it better to use this effect by staying in a calorie deficit as long as i can and build muscle or would it make a significant differece when i start reverse dieting for a clean bulk? Would i put on a lot fat? And again, on which number should depent my reverse dieting? On the one from my watch or of the one from your calculator?

    Thanks a lot and greetings from germany

  • Anna

    Hey Mike, i’m 24,around 22/23% body fat, female and i dieted since the beginning of january and lost a good amount of fat. (some,or maybe a few more cheat days included) I educated myself and also read TLS. It helped me a lot getting into the gym routine which i do since 2 Weeks now, also following IIFYM and making already a noticeable of progress. BTW I love it. Thank you for writig this awesome book. Before that i was doing 5x a week exercises with light weight but good form and cardio almostz day….i know….dont judge hahaha

    but hey, I was able to build a little bit of muscle.

    I have a few questions regarding this whole calorie deficit thing.

    1. I wear a Fitbit charge HR and it shows me that I burn approx. 2700 cals a day.

    Should/Can I substract a calorie deficit of 20% based on this number or depending on the number it shows everyday? is it even good to wear such a watch to get an idea of how many calories i burn?

    2. How long can i profit from the “newbie fatloss/muscle gain-at the same time” thing?

    3. Is it better to use this effect by staying in a calorie deficit as long as i can and build muscle or would it make a significant differece when i start reverse dieting for a clean bulk? Would i put on a lot fat? And again, on which number should depent my reverse dieting? On the one from my watch or of the one from your calculator?

    Thanks a lot and greetings from germany

  • Anna

    Hey Mike, i’m 24,around 22/23% body fat, female and i dieted since the beginning of january and lost a good amount of fat. (some,or maybe a few more cheat days included) I educated myself and also read TLS. It helped me a lot getting into the gym routine which i do since 2 Weeks now, also following IIFYM and making already a noticeable progress. BTW I love it. Thank you for writig this awesome book. Before that i was doing 5x a week exercises with light weight but good form and cardio almost every day….i know….dont judge hahaha

    but hey, I was able to build a little bit of muscle.

    I have a few questions regarding this whole calorie deficit thing.

    1. I wear a Fitbit charge HR and it shows me that I burn approx. 2700 cals a day.

    Should/Can I substract a calorie deficit of 20% based on this number or depending on the number it shows everyday? is it even good to wear such a watch to get an idea of how many calories i burn?

    2. How long can i profit from the “newbie fatloss/muscle gain-at the same time” thing?

    3. Is it better to use this effect by staying in a calorie deficit as long as i can and build muscle or would it make a significant differece when i start reverse dieting for a clean bulk? Would i put on a lot fat? And again, on which number should depent my reverse dieting? On the one from my watch or of the one from your calculator?

    Thanks a lot and greetings from germany

  • Bryan

    Hey Mike,

    I have been cutting for a little while now and have reached what both the calipers and tape measure (navy method) regard as being about 10% but visually I just don’t see it. I suppose I imagined my abs and midsection would be a bit more visible if I were truly 10%. Maybe it is a matter of just not having enough muscle since I didn’t start to seriously train my abs until a month or two ago. If I am there, I plan on RD’ing and bulking until the end of the year. What are your thoughts on my bf%? I am 6’3 182lbs.

    Thanks,
    Bryan

    • Hey Bryan! Cool you’ve been cutting.

      Yeah, I’d say you’re more like 13% BF. To make sure you’re using the caliper correctly, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/body-composition/

      Core development could be a part of the issue as well. Take a look at this:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-get-six-pack-abs/

      Let’s cut for a few more weeks and get to 10-12% BF and then RD and bulk. 🙂

      Sound good?

      Welcome!

      • Bryan

        Yeah, sounds good. That was the original plan and about where I thought I was just looking at myself visually. It was only when I used the calipers and tape that I thought maybe I was off and just had too little muscle.

        Thanks again Mike!

  • Elizabet Perez

    How long would you recommend that one reverse diet unil they can safely begin to cut once again?

    • A typical RD to TDEE typically takes 4-6 weeks. From there, I recommend chilling at TDEE for a week and then you can go back to cutting.

  • Dan

    Hi Mike, thanks again for all the great info. I just wanted to say that this RD thing really works. I was on another diet (sorry, hadn’t seen your site yet) running about 1100 cal/day and dropped from 6ft, 250 to 205lbs in about 13 weeks. Toward the end, I was incorporating your heavy lifting instead of the higher rep training I was doing at the beginning, doing a 4 day split on BLS. Nonetheless, I needed to re-adapt. Started with weekly increments 1500, 1800, 2100, 2400, 2700 and while weight fluctuated up and down, BF dropped slightly and now at 200lbs. I’m all the way up to 2900/d and still not gaining (that is my estimated TDEE), but really ready to start my bulking phase. So, ticking up to 3100 next, and starting to feel like I’m stuffing myself! I know someone else who started on the same diet as me, lost weight, but is having to stay down around 1700/d to keep it off. I pointed him to this article. While I’ve always been athletic and as an endomorph, fairly strong, this may be the best condition I’ve been in since I left college, wish I knew this back then! Again, your site is really awesome, thanks.

    • Great testimonial! Thanks for sharing your experience. Glad you’re getting so much from my articles.

  • Karl Spaeth

    If I have some Phoenix left over from my cut could I still take it during my RD along with continuing to do all my training fasted with yohimbine?

    • You can do that. You won’t need Phoenix anymore going into a bulking phase though.

      • Karl Spaeth

        Ok I thought so. I figure that since you’re still in a deficit while RDing you should make the most of it and try to lose a little more fat.

  • Paul

    Hey Mike, do you use RD as a way to continue cutting (with a temporary 4-6 wk halt for the RD period), or to transition from cut to bulk?
    I’m asking b/c my cut might be stalled and I’m wondering whether I should RD for a few weeks and then continue on my cut. I’m 182 14% eating 2,000 cals and might be stuck here, but I feel like going any lower on my calories might not be healthy. So, does RD apply to cutting in this case and also cut-to-bulk?

    • Hey Paul,

      RD helps you transition back into maintenance and bulking. If you’ve been in an extended cut and you’re feeling tired, can’t focus, and weak, then reverse diet. If you’re hitting a stall for weight loss but feel fine, take a look here:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      • Paul

        Good article, thanks for the advice. I actually have suspected that calories are being underreported in many products or in apps.

        • No problem.

          Yeah that definitely happens. That’s why I recommend people adjust based on results even when the numbers appear to make sense in theory.

  • Bradley Meier

    Hey Mike, I’m almost done with my cut phase. It went very smoothly with me ending up at around 5-6% body fat. I also just finished up my phoenix, forge, and pulse supplements. I’ve been doing 5 fasted weight training sessions a week and 4 fasted HIT cardio sessions a week throughout my cut. When I start my RD, will I be alright to stop the fasted workouts, work out with food in my stomach and maybe cut out one cardio session a week without putting on more weight than should be expected? And since I ran out of the cutting supplement pack I bought from Legion, there’s no need for me to take those supplements while RD right?

    • Great work Bradley!
      Calculate your new TDEE and activity level without the fasted workouts, and reverse diet from there. You won’t need the cutting supplements as you RD. Slight weight gain will happen as a result of more glycogen and subsequent water retention in your body.

  • Damian

    Hey Mike, is reverse dieting mostly about weekly calories, or daily calories? I’m just curious because I’m sort of doing a combination of reverse dieting with calorie cycling (more calories on training days, and less on rest days, but both amounts going up each week). I’ve never seen anyone talk about that sort of combo before, and I know you only recommend calorie cycling for advanced lifters trying to stay lean, but in theory, would this work, or does the cycling defeat the reverse dieting purpose of slowly revving back up to maintenance, since you might eat 200-300 more calories on a training day, right after a lower-calorie rest day?

    • Reverse dieting is a weekly increase. Calorie cycling maintains a weekly average. To combine the two, you simply increase your calorie cycling total calories of the week by 700 each week as you work up to TDEE and distribute it into your active days.

      • Damian

        Thanks! That’s exactly what I thought, and sounds like I’m doing it right. I’ve been following BLS for 2 years, with 3 successful cuts/reverse diets. Unfortunately, my bulks have resulted in more fat gain than muscle each time despite gaining weight pretty slowly, so I’m hoping the calorie cycling and slightly increased frequency/volume of my adjusted routine gets me gaining more muscle than fat on this third reverse diet/maintain/bulk

        • Check out this guide for bulking so you can minimize packing on fat:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com/bulking-up/

          • Damian

            Thanks, Roger. We emailed recently about this – I followed the bulking protocol, but still somehow put on more fat than muscle, so I’m trying a slightly altered program with more volume through increased frequency

          • Gotcha. There are cases where some people have a genetic predisposition where they respond better to higher volume. Keep us posted!

  • Sukhraj Riyat

    Hi Mike hope you are well! im near the end of my cut ended up with 9%bf in the end , my cutting cals are 2100 and i used to do a refeed of 2850cals once a week ( i know slightly over the 30% increase that u recommended) my question is during my RD do i still include a day which calories arie high for eg a cheat meal instead of the refeed as its not needed. and if so how high should i take my calories? im assuming my current tdee is around 2550calories or so. but yeah im taking it abit slow adding 75cals each week to minimise any fat gain. so do i include a higher calorie day/cheatmeal when RD? and how many calores should i keep it between, regards Sukh

  • Yas

    Hi Mike, I started a reverse diet three months ago after almost five years of eating too little. I gained now 6 or 7 pounds in his three months. Now I have been eating 1600 kcal/day for the last four weeks, because I couldn’t go higher while gaining weight. How is it possible to gain so much weigth? I went to check my basal metabolism rate a week ago and it was unexpected high. Its 1900 kcal. I am 5’4 and 123 lbs. What shall I do now?

    • Yas, what’s your current body fat %?

      • Yas

        I can’t find my caliper right now, but I think it’s around 22-24%.

        • Given your current stats, and assuming you are exercising approx 3-5hours a week, your TDEE is about 1624, and BMR is 1300. Makes sense you’re in maintenance mode right now. No way your BMR is 1900.

          Looks like you’ve stabilized and are ready to cut at -20% or stay at maintenance. 🙂

  • Chris

    Hi Mike,

    Wondering if you could give your thoughts on this game plan.

    I’ve been on a cut for about 4 months, started at 195lbs and ??bf%, down to 168lbs and ~11-12% body fat (8mm on the Accumeasure and I will be 31 in two months, so I used the 31 age bracket). Still on my way to the coveted 10%!

    Current TDEE = 2481, BMR = 1838, current intake = 1900 with a 40/40/20 macro split, losing 1-1.5lb/wk.
    Maxed out exercise (5 sessions of fasted weight lifting with Forge, 4 sessions of 20 min HIIT on recumbent bike). I return home from deployment in about ~40 days, and will be on a 3-day workout schedule (I work panama shifts and will have to cram 3 workouts into my 3 “weekend days” – push/pull/legs and likely 1, if not 2 HIIT sessions).

    Here’s my plan:
    Weeks 1 and 2: keep chugging away at the 1900 cals and current exercise levels. Hoping to drop a few more lbs (not sure if the 10% will happen)
    Week 3: bump intake to 2000 (+carbs)
    Week 4: bump intake to 2100 (+fats) and drop one cardio session
    Week 5: bump intake to 2200 (+carbs/+protein) and transition to the 3-day schedule
    Week 6 – on : continue weekly increase until back up to TDEE, with main goal of avoiding picking up more than a lb or two.

    A couple questions for you:

    1) Does this sound like a solid plan of RD’ing/adjusting workouts?

    2) What would you estimate my BF% at from the updated pics?

    3) Think this is a lean enough base to do a 5% caloric surplus and bulk back up to 15%bf?

    If so, with my workouts being jammed into just a few days of the week, is it still best to do a 5% surplus every day or would calorie cycling be advisable?

    Thanks Mike, for sharing your expertise and putting what must be a crazy amount of hours into personalized feedback/pointer for guys like myself. You are truly changing lives.

    Best regards,

    Chris

    • Hey Chris, your outlined plan looks really good. I would cut a bit more before the bulk. From the photo, looks like you’re 12-13%. So close!

      You can try calorie cycling, but as along as you end up the week with the 5% surplus, there isn’t really a difference.

      Thanks man. It means a lot to Mike and the Team.

  • Francisco Velasquez

    Hi. Im curious, because metabolism slows down from cutting, does that mean that while reverse dieting you could experience muscle gains due to lower base metabolic rate? or is muscle growth only possivle beyond the TDEE?

    • You can gain slight muscle during a deficit (ie. newbie gains), and some people experience weight loss even as they reverse diet.

      Best muscle growth happens at a surplus over TDEE.

      • Francisco Velasquez

        i think i may over the newbie gains period, this is my current physique. i am still cutting, and wonder what will happen as i begin to reverse diet. I am an endomorph-mesomorph cross by nature, if that helps. Im not HUGE, but i put on a fair amount of muscle during my cut, however it has slower down and what may seem like growing muscle is probably just fat loss making it more prominent. I have weighed relatively the same for the past 2 months, so it feels like ive been “recomping”

        • Great job man! Yeah, things will slow down, especially while on a cut. You could potentially continue small gains as your RD, but they won’t be significant compared to a TDEE surplus.

          • Francisco Velasquez

            thanks. any bit of extra muscle on top of low BF looks significant anyways :)- anyways that’s all i was looking for, even it its small amounts that would be gained during RD. Would just be lame to wait around to reboot my metabolism

          • True that!

  • Mauran Sivananthan

    Big fan. Bought both BLS and BBLS. I started with a cut at 172 around 16-17% BF and got down to 10% at 158 in about 4 months. Forge and Phoneix were very helpful!! I then reverse dieted back to my TDEE (2450) over 4 weeks and kept losing weight and BF. I was then at 154lbs and 8-9% BF. I kept reverse dieting and losing weight and Bodyfat up to 2850 cals and didn’t start gaining weight again until 3000 cals. I plan on being on the bulk for about 6 months or so (up to 15% BF). My question is this. When I eventually cut, do I use 2850 as my TDEE? And so my cutting cals would then be 2280? Because that’s a lot higher than my BMR.

    Thanks for everything!

  • Jacob

    Hey mike, so what if I’m stuck doing incredible amounts of LISS cardio everyday while reverse dieting? I do 180-240 minutes A DAY seven days a week, and I’m afraid I’m “stuck” and if I reduce it and start eating more I’ll end up gaining fat. Have any experience or studies?!

  • Kristen Laura-Lee Cousineau

    Hey 🙂 I’m stuck in a plateau wanting to lose a little more fat around my stomach area. I’ve been doing lots of research and it seems that because I’ve been in a deficit for too long I am no longer losing( lost 100 lbs)

    My main problem is the amount of loose skin around my stomach- and I was reading that the only way to tell the degree of loose skin is by getting down to a lower bf %. I’ve posted pics so I’m not sure what % I am now. I suspect 25-30

    For the past 6 months I’ve been counting macros and although I know it’s not full weight training I do Bodypump 3 times a week( I keep my weights at challenging level). Zumba 2 times a week

    I’m a 32 yr old female, tdee is 1800 (give or take) and I’ve increased my cals up from 1400 to 1500 in the last week. I’m aiming to reach 1800

    Protein: 120 gr
    Carbs: 105 gr
    Fat: 66 gr

    Should I keep gradually going up? I’m a little scared tbh because I don’t necessarily want to gain weight but I realize that my calorie intake has been too low for too long (which can’t be good) any input would be great 🙂 I just wanna get down to a lower bf % to see if my stomach has extra fat or if it’s loose skin :-0

    Also just started the BC pill (extra bloating) lovely! Me deciding to up my cals couldn’t of come at a worse time lol

    • Hey Kristen! That is a possibility. But, take a look here first to see if there is anything that needs to be addressed:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      If your metabolism has indeed slowed down to the point where you’re not losing weight at BMR, then reverse diet. Slight weight gain will happen (primarily water weight as glycogen increases). To continue losing weight in this case, you need to hit the reset button with reverse dieting.

      For loose skin, here’s a great article on the subject:
      http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-get-rid-of-loose-skin-after-weight-loss/

      I’ll need more data to help you with your macros, btw. (weight & weekly hrs of exercise).

      Awesome job staying consistent and dropping 100 lbs. Keep up the great work!

  • Bree Miller

    Hey I am female 5’5 and 27 yr old 150lbs. So I used to eat like shit never take care of myself and be 210lbs then I started eating “clean” and eating probably around 1200 cals a day sometimes less but usually never more. Along with that I did a beach body weight lifting program called ‘Chalean Extreme’ heavy weights with low reps. I went from 210lbs to 135 and I continued to eat at that deficit on only 1200 calories or less for about 2 years now. I have slowly gained weight back little by little but when I started school last September and haven’t been eating as well and stress on top of that I am now at 150lbs. I’ve been doing everything for months now eating 1200 cal or less clean, I tried strictly meal replacement shakes and I’ve been weight lifting but not cardio. No weight change no measurement change or improvements on photos I take often to compare. I feel like after reading this I have eating so long at this deficit and very low carb only about 50g or less my body needs me to reverse diet to get me balanced again. I sit for 6 hours a day at school And then will do a 30 minute weight workout a few days a week so my TDEE is between 1700-1947 depending if I workout most my day is sedentary. Would slowly adding in the 150 cals a week to hit my TDEE help me? Then when I hit my TDEE how much do I cut back to start losing the weight? Do I slowly cut back or do a big jump? Thanks for the article and thanks for reading my desperate comment ha! Hope you can get back to me any info would be helpful!

    • Hey Bree,

      Sounds like you’re no stranger to cutting or a good exercise routine, so after reverse dieting to your current TDEE and staying there for a week or so, cut by 20%. You got this! Just a matter of time. 🙂

  • Ryan Jackson

    Hi Mike/Roger. Once I am at my TDEE after a successful RD can I jump straight into a surplus or should I gradually increase my calories into a surplus? Thanks!

  • Kelpie

    So I’m a 5’1 female 7 weeks out from my first bikini competition. Using the cutting macros recommended in TLS I’ll be eating just 1116 calories if I reach my goal weight of 110 (6 or 7 lbs to go). Trying to get my reverse diet ready to go. Since I’m such a small person, 150 calories is a huge jump. What would be a more reasonable amount to add each week?

    I also have a friend 18 months out from bariatic surgery looking to increase her carbs to get more energy in her workouts. She has lifted the whole time but her muscle is totally wasted from ketosis and only in recent months has increased her lifting to 5x week. She also only eats 800-1000 calories but high protein and about 100g carbs, has lost 160lbs and needs to lose another 100. Any recommendations? Thank you!

    • That’s exciting on the comp you have coming up! Let’s go with 100 cal increases every 7-10 days.

      Hmm. With where your friend is at, she actually could do well sticking with a keto diet. Check this out:

      https://legionathletics.com/ketogenic-diet/

      LMK what you think. Welcome!

  • fragfeaster

    Hey Mike. Over the next week or so I’ll be at or below 10% (following your awesome cutting protocols) and will be looking to RD. My question is: If I were to do everything properly, then I should not see a worsening in BF measurements (accumeasure caliper)… even if my weight goes up in absolute terms (from water / glycogen) right? Or should one also expect a 1-2% gain in the caliper measurements during the RD? BTW love your work, especially your book recommendations! Cant wait for your fiction piece to be out. Thanks

    • That’s right. Weight will increase slightly because of glycogen/water, but not body fat.

      Thanks!

  • Alec Ryan

    Hey Mike, I’m almost at TDEE (2376) after reverse dieting for 3 weeks. Once I hit TDEE I want to start bulking as “cleanly” as possible. How many calories should I increase my daily intake by in order to maximize muscle gains and avoids plateaus while also minimizing fat gain? Does the 150 calories you outlined in the article apply to everyone or is that just a number that works for you? I read that you should eat 250 calories extra each week while bulking to gain 1/2 lb a week at the lowest while bulking. Is there any truth to this? Thanks Mike.

  • Steven Fu

    Wouldn’t a recovery diet where you go back to your body’s new maintenance immediately after cutting be a much better approach? A month and beyond of reverse dieting seems to be a waste of time when you could just go back to maintenance and not gain any body fat? After a week or so of maintenance, you could decide to go into a lean surplus of 5-10% after. If you happen to have time, take a peek at “The Recovery Diet, Not the Reverse Diet (with Eric Helms). Thanks again Mike

    • Sure, you can do that but you have to make sure you’re not over-estimating your TDEE and don’t let your intake get out of hand because you’re “not on a diet anymore.”

      Personally I prefer to gradually increase intake.

  • F Trunks

    Can you check my Macro’s Mike? I have never done a Reverse Diet before so I’m not really familiar with the concept.

    Also, my fat loss has stalled at 13-13.5% body fat and I have stayed at the same weight (65.5kg) for 2+ weeks. I started at 21% body fat.

    Is this reasonable or has my fat loss stalled too early? My goal was to get to 10% in one cutting phase but it appears I have to RD back to my TDEE and restart the cut to go from 13% to 10%.

    My question is how long after the RD do I start cutting again? Or do I have to stay at TDEE for a few weeks after the RD to balance my hormones or something.

    Here’s the Macro’s:

    Before Reverse Diet – Current calories: 1750

    131.25g protein = 525 calories = 30%

    58.61g fats = 437.5 calories = 25%

    196.875g carbohydrates = 787.5 calories = 45%




    Week 1: 1900

    145g protein (stays the same throughout) = 580 calories

    43.5g fats = 392 calories
    
232g carbohydrates = 928 calories




    Week 2: 2050

    145g protein (stays the same throughout) = 580 calories

    43.5g fats = 392 calories
    
269.5g carbohydrates = 1078 calories

    


Week 3 (TDEE): 2151


    145g protein (stays the same throughout) = 580 calories = 27%

    43.5g fats = 392 calories = 18.2%

    295g carbohydrates = 1180 calories = 54.8%

    I’m keeping fats the same throughout as they are already at or above 0.3g per lb of bodyweight, is that correct?

    Thank you

  • Wishywashy

    Hey Mike why cant you just go into a bulk while on a reverse diet? Can’t you just add the surplus calorie of reverse with bulking with the gym to make gains right away while minimizing fat gain as well?

    • That’s a recipe for yoyo dieting disaster. Your metabolism has already bumped itself down to a lower level as it’s adapting to the decreased calorie intake. Now, if you surprise it with a surplus, it’s going to be a bigger surplus than it’s ready for and a lot of it will end up as fat.

      • Wishywashy

        O ok, ive been doing that for the past weeks guess i gained a pound of fat or so. So are you implying that you cant get the muscle gain benefits of bulking despite in a surplus in a reverse diet because it will all go to the fat store and that you have to wait till you reach normal metabolism and then get bulk gains?Btw, I also have a question about my macros. So i started off with a low carb diet and then after reading your Mike’s articles, I pretty much bumped up my carbs drastically(fat went down protein the same). But i do remember you replying to someone with a macro question and you replied that you should have 30% of calories from fat. And then in some other article, a guy asked Mike to confirm his macro that was like literally 5% calories from fat and Mike said it was ok. What the is the correct macro ratio? Not insulin sensitive btw. Thanks.

  • Suzie

    Hi Mike, I am 5’5 and 121 lbs, my body fat is around 13-14%. I currently eat about 1500 calories a day and lift for an hour 5 days a week. I do HIIT twice a week. I also ride my bike 5 miles daily. I am constantly hungry, can’t focus, and feel weak lifting lately so I would like to try a reverse diet. Should I continue the HIIT while reverse dieting? I gain weight easily. Is 100 calories per week too much if I cut down on cardio?
    Thanks for your help and great article!

  • Thao

    Hey Mike,
    I have had a probably bad eating disorder.. I think.. I am 5’2 and 107 lbs. I workout for about 1 hour a day, with HIIT training 3x a week and strength training 2x a week, and then Pilates for 2 X a week. With that routine, I only consume about 400-600 calories.. So how much should I increase my calorie intake for reverse dieting? And if I gain weight will I also be able to drop it as well? Thanks for your advice and guidance. I love your articles too!

    • Thao, follow the procedure as described in this article for your reverse diet. Weight gain will be normal sine you’ve been under-eating. Don’t sweat it! Get back to a healthy metabolism, healthy weight, and you can cut (if needed) when the time comes.

      Glad to hear you’re loving the articles.

      • Thao

        Um just wondering but will I gain a few pounds like 5-6 pounds or all the weight from before? Or If I increase the calories per week will it be normal fir me to gain a pound per week in my case? Sorry for these questions if they are an inconvenience…

        • A couple pounds is normal, due to water and glycogen as well. You won’t gain back the weight you lost or gain a pound a week because you are in a deficit still and working back towards TDEE (maintenance)

  • Tomas Jessen

    Mike, next friday i’ll ve a surgery, 1 week off the gym. I was 1 week on my RD hitting my maintanance calories even dropping weight! My question is.. That week what im supposed to do about my calories!? Thnks

    • Hey Tomas! I recommend eating at TDEE. It’ll help prevent muscle breakdown, and it’ll help acclerate recovery.

      Welcome! Talk soon.

  • gerard schubert

    Hey hey
    How do you handle cardio sessions while reverse dieting from a cut to a bulk? Do you gradually go from 5x to 2x per week? or do you reverse diet until you hit TDEE and *then* reduce the number of cardio sessions?
    thanks!
    Gerard

    • Good question! You can keep the cardio sessions the same until you hit TDEE. Then you can reduce them accordingly.

  • Andrew

    Hey mike, thanks for the article!

    I usually exercise 5 days a week (about 10hrs/week), and I’m about to finish my reverse diet so I can cut at a 25% deficit.
    But, I’m also about to go on vacation for the next 10 days (where I’ll be exercising 1-2hrs/week).

    My TDEE is usually 2,300cals, but when I’m exercising 1-2 hrs/week, it’s gonna be at 2,040. So when I start my cut, should I use my usual TDEE or should I use my TDEE on vacation mode to calculate my deficit?

    • NP Andrew! Glad you liked it.

      When on vacation, use your TDEE on vacation mode to calculate your deficit.

  • Bart Ellebaut

    Hi Mike.
    I understand this reverse dieting. But could you clarify how you would handle it when coming out of a calorie or carb cycle? Do you first add calories to your lower days or do you add to both or… ?
    Thanks!

    • You would base your macros off the increased weekly average week after week. The calculation methods themselves don’t change in finding your daily splits.

  • Leslie F

    Mike,
    So I am f’ing freaking out!!!
    For 8 months I have been following your plan in thinner leaner stronger. I took a break about 5 months ago and cut down again. I made serious gains in muscle and lost fat (see photo) since January. I did the inbody and calipers and I was down to 12.% body fat. During this time I was eating 1550 cals daily weight was 146, muscle mass 14 lbs of fat. I was sleep 3-6 hours a night for 3 of those months (going through a very messy divorce) training 6 days heavy a week.
    This is the f’ing issue! Once I moved out and everything calmed down in life hit a wall. I couldn’t trying hard at all, I was exhausted and while I was still in a deficit I started gaining weight. I gained 5 pounds the first months and another 5 this last month. About 3 weeks ago I started increasing calories (now at 1850). I though the weight gain stopped for a few days but crept up 2 pounds because My period is coming 😭. My ass has dimples again (at 156lbs) and my work out shorts are too small. What the hell do I do.

    I am desperate for the weight to stop coming on!!! You helped me this far I NEED you to really help me again!!!

  • Roxanne

    Hey! I bought your book TLS and love it! So I am in the process of reverse dieting because I think I started my cut when my calories were still too low so my weightloss was so small :/ but I feel much better during my work outs and have made lots of gains especially since adding in creatine! I have started to gain some though(5 lbs, and being 5’4″) that just does not sit well on me! So my question is how long should you stay at your TDEE before cutting? I probably need to do 2 cuts, so how long should my cut be and how long in between the two? I tried looking in the book(kindle) and I couldn’t go back and find my answers although I seem to remember reading it! Thanks!

    • That’s great, Roxanne! Sounds like you’re at a surplus right now. Jump straight into the cut immediately with a 20-25% deficit. If you’re not losing weight or not losing weight fast enough, take a look at this:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      A cut will take as long as it needs to take. You stop when you’ve met your goal, or are not losing any more weight despite having dropped your calories to BMR and packing in the most exercise you can fit into your schedule.

      At that point, reverse diet to TDEE, stay for a week or two, then cut again if you need to.

      You got this!

  • Christina Pontifis

    Hi Michael! I love your articles!
    I’m feel like I’m stuck. When I got off my cut I should’ve reversed dieting. I was so depleted I binged so much. (I got down to 120-125lbs on less than 1200 cals). I hadn’t binged that bad before. So of course I put of 10-12 of body fat in less than a month. It’s time to fix my metabolism so that on my next cut, I won’t have to cut down to dangerously low calories. So now that I put on all that body fat, I’m struggling to eat more because I don’t want to put on more weight. (I’m at 144lbs). My workouts are suffering and I’m overly fatiguing. I’m at 1600 cals. I track macros, and I utilize heavy compounds. What do you recommend I should do? Of course I’m the endomorph type, and I put on weight very fast, slow metabolism.

  • Gerardo Amezquita

    Hi Mike,
    Over the last couple of weeks I messed my cutting period because I overate sloppy food. Should I reverse diet and start my cut over?

    • That’s fine. Get back on the wagon and continue your cut. You got this!

  • David

    Hey Mike,

    I’m done cutting: I lost 40 pounds in 6 months and now I’m at 13% bodyfat.
    But for the last few weeks I feel tired, unhappy and I have low sex drive. Does this mean that I should reverse diet? If that is the case, how long does it take to get rid of these side effects of cutting too long?

    What would you recommend me to do after reverse dieting back to TDEE: being in a slight surplus or start cutting again and then start bulking?

    Thanks!

    • Nice work, David! First make sure you’re not below BMR, and getting at least 20% of your calories from fat.

      I also recommend that you do a refeed:
      http://www.muscleforlife.com/refeed/

      And, a deload week, if applicable:
      http://www.muscleforlife.com/deload-week/

      If the above doesn’t help, then increase your calories slightly (1-200) and continue the cut. Increase exercise as needed if weight isn’t budging. Last option is to reverse diet, stay at TDEE for a week or two, then finish the last 3% to get down to 10%.

  • Thao

    Hey mike, would you recommend having cheat meals when reverse dieting? I’m asking because my relatives keep coming over for visits and are wanting to go out to eat at places like Korean bbq or just Asian restaurants…

  • Peter

    Hi Mike, last summer I started cutting. I got to my lowest bf% ever (~13%), and then my freshman year of college fucked everything up. I have been in a perpetual cutting phase, where there has been an abundance of booze/binge weekends and weeks where I was almost at my goal. Right now, about 14 months into this depressing yo-yo cut going back and forth about 5lbs, I am sitting at about 18% body fat, eating in a 20-25% deficit (1800-1900 cals) when convenient and still binging on weekends and family gatherings rendering my cut useless.. I am sick of this cutting bullshit mentally, but I am nowhere near as lean as I’d like to be before I lean bulk. Should I reverse diet and then cut again? Thanks, and sorry for the profanity!

  • Geno

    Great stuff here, working extremely well.

    Couple of questions though.

    1. I started my cut around 25% BF and progressing well. At what point should I end a cut and reverse diet?

    2. If I hover around 4 hours of exercise a week (usually 4.5) should I be using the 1.35 modifier or drop that to 1.25 as mentioned in a podcast?

    3. And lastly does total time in the gym count (lifting and resting) or time spent lifting?

    Thanks again for the help provided here.

    G

    • Thanks! Happy to hear it.

      1. You should continue cutting until you reach 10-12% BF or once you’re down to BMR and no longer getting results. At that point, you should RD:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/reverse-diet/

      2. That’s fine, stick to the 1.35 activity multiplier and adjust intake based off results.

      3. Total time spent in gym. That’s of course, sticking to the recommend 2-4 minutes of rest between sets. Any other extra time spent wouldn’t be counted.

      My pleasure! Talk soon.

  • csandycarrahlynn

    If I still have more fat to lose and let’s say I hit a plateau, should I reverse diet temporarily the. Go back to deficit? Should I do refeed? If any of those, how long should I do it? How do I schedule reverse diets and refeeds?

  • Tina

    Hi Michael,
    I’m helping my brother who’s new to dieting to track macros etc. He is 235lbs and his goal weight is 220lbs. Here’s the catch..he always underate, so even at an aggressive deficit he’s not dropping weight because he’s not used to eating that much food. Example: since he’s used to undereating, 2300cals which should be an aggressive deficit, is still not helping him cut. I know we shouldn’t keep dropping calories. Even 2300 seems too low. Even though it’s low, his body isn’t used to this much food. I know he should reverse, I just don’t know where to start him since we want to avoid fat gain. What do you suggest? Thank you!!!

    • Hey Tina, has he worked out his macro/calorie targets? How well is he tracking them? If he’s overweight, I’m not too sure he’s always been undereating.

      This may help:
      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

    • Tina

      Yes he has. He just hasn’t been losing weight. He just ate bad/drank in his past and put on weight than restricted food after. He’s been at around 2300 cals and he says he still struggles to reach the intake because it’s a lot of food.

      • How long was he undereating? And at what cals, if he was tracking? Did he lose weight during that time?

        It’ll always come down to energy balance. How’s the exercise routine looking? Let me take a look at his stats and let’s double check those macro targets.

        • Tina

          Not sure. He put on a lot of fat, then after just started restrictive eating. I just started having him track cals. This is his third week. He does heavy compounds. Steady state about two thirty min sessions. I told him to incorporate HIIT. His aiming for 2300 cals. He weighs 235. I think he needs to reverse diet since he’s been restricting calories since his weight gain.

  • Sean Steinmetz

    Once I’ve reverse dieted back up to TDEE cals is it still beneficial to train fasted for fat burn?

  • Kyle

    Hello there, Mike and Roger! I’m about to start RD now. According to my Accumeasure caliper, I went from 15.2% BF to 6.2% BF in 10 wks of cutting. It could’ve been 8 wks, but I had a “hiccup” along the way.

    After looking through a year’s worth of comments (in here and in your “Ultimate Guide to Bulking” article), I’m still curious about one thing:

    – I understand that you recalculate TDEE at the end of RD, whether you stop at Maintain or at Bulk. I plan on bulking. How often do you recalculate your TDEE (by updating your weight and BF %) when you’re bulking?

    • Hey hey! Let’s back up a bit. Recalculate TDEE after a cut, do your RD. Then, you can go right into the bulk without recalculating again. The difference is insignificant. When bulking, no need to recalculate. If you stop gaining weight, you increase cals:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/bulking-up/

  • Sean Steinmetz

    Hey Mike and Roger, I’ve just completed a reverse diet back to eating TDEE cals as of this week. Is it too soon to jump back into a cut? I want to make sure I’ve given my metabolism enough to time to repair. Thanks!

    • Nice work! Stay at TDEE for a week or two, and you’ll be ready to jump right back into the cut. Keep up the great work!

  • Marco DiMaria

    Hey Mike, great article! You recommend eating 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight when reverse dieting into a lean bulk as well as only increasing fat intake to .3 grams per pound of bodyweight and then just increasing carbs. I weigh 150 pounds and am currently eating 150g of protein, 45g of fat, and 286g of carbs per day. I was wondering before continuing to increase my carbs 150 calories per week if I could increase my fats and proteins instead for the next two weeks because I hit my fats and proteins very early in the day and have a lot of carbs left over.

    • Thanks! There’s no need to increase the protein, but if you’d like to increase the fats instead of the carbs, that’s fine.

      I generally recommend keeping the fats low and the carbs high, but as long as you’re hitting your calorie target and getting enough protein, you have room to play with the carbs and fats.

  • Dave Rosati

    Hi Mike, I will be finishing a cut at the end of next week and have some questions about how to reverse diet out of it. I am currently at about 1,500 cal. per day and exercising 6 hrs per week, an hour and a half of which is cardio (three 30min. HIIT sessions). I don’t really have enough free time for the cardio but have been making it work for the sake of the cut, so the first thing I’d like to do is cut the cardio down to one session per week. This will drop my TDEE which actually means a reduction in calories, so I’m not sure how to reconcile this with the reverse diet. For the first post-cut week, should I just keep calories where they are on account of the reduction in activity, then only start increasing calories in week 2?

    My other issue is that I am very much in need of a deload week, so I was planning on deloading the first week post-cut as well. This means even less energy expenditure. I’m wondering how that should affect my calorie intake that first week as well.

    • We recommend keeping your cardio during the reverse diet. If you want to eliminate cardio, then yes, you can do as you described.

      For the deload week, eat as you normally would.

      • Dave Rosati

        Thanks Roger. I’ll stick out the cardio for a few more weeks then until I get calorie intake back up to TDEE, then will maintain that intake for a couple weeks while I scale back the cardio, before finally starting a surplus for bulking over the winter.

        However, regarding the deload week, I read in BLS (or maybe BBLS?) that calorie intake during a rest/deload week should be based on a TDEE calculated using a 1.1 multiplier, as opposed to the 1.35 multiplier I normally use. So if I would otherwise be increasing my calories by 100 for the first week of my reverse diet, the drop in TDEE would pretty much offset that. In other words, I would stay at my 1500 calories for the deload week notwithstanding that it’s technically the first week of a reverse diet, then only go up to 1600 in week 2. Is that correct?

  • Rodrigo

    Hi Mike!

    When in reverse diet, how would you train? You deload volume / intensity or mantain high intensity with the same volume?

    Thanks!

  • Ismael Mendez

    Hey Mike!

    In order to calculate your maintenance diet (BLS maintenance calculations) after you’ve cut to your desired weight/bodyfat do you use your original weight you started at or do you use the new weight you’ve cut down to to calculate your maintenance diet?

    Thanks!!

  • Ish Mendez

    Hey Mike!

    In order to calculate your maintenance diet (BLS maintenance calculations) after you’ve cut to your desired weight/bodyfat do you use your original weight you started at or do you use the new weight you’ve cut down to to calculate your maintenance diet?

    Thanks!!

  • Israel

    ey Mike!

    In order to calculate your maintenance diet (BLS maintenance calculations) after you’ve cut to your desired weight/bodyfat do you use your original weight you started at or do you use the new weight you’ve cut down to to calculate your maintenance diet?

    Thanks!!

  • Samantha

    Hi Mike, i could really use your take on my situation. Ive been on a cut for a long time. I have had a lot of trouble getting my food intake under control. Ive counted calories for months and have had trouble reaching my intake of 2100. My Tdee is around 2850. Bottom line: i havent lost any weight in over 4 months. I did lose about 18 cm’s total. I would love to set up a basic food-routine. Do you recommend doing a reverse diet to reboot my metabolism and make my body more receptive to my cut? I have at least another 25 kg to lose. Thanks

  • Mikkel

    Hey Mike, quick question, I have been reverse dieting for around 7 weeks now from 1800 cals per day to 2500 cals per day (my TDEE is around 2400, so technically im bulking this last week). My weight has gone from 79.5 kg (around % bf) to 83.5 kg, so 4 kgs up. Would that be considered a normal result of RD, or do you think i have gained a bit too much? I feel great and dont feel bloated or anything, but of course i look softer on the abs…THANKS!

    • That’s great you’re on the RD. 4kg is a bit much…gaining 1-3lbs is more in the normal range. You shouldn’t be gaining fat around the abs either. I recommend double checking your intake, portions, and correct any changes to your physical activity.

  • Ximena

    Hi Mike! So i was cutting for 5 weeks going from 120lbs to 113lbs i feel great! I was eating around 1500 calories (145p 200c 16f) weightlifting (pyramid style) 6 days a week and LISS cardio 7 days a week/60min (it was for a shoot) So now that i am at my goal weight i wonder how should i start maintaining! I thought about jumping straight to mantaince cals (1750) and doing the same exercise except decreasing 30min of cardio per day! What do you think? I will still be exercising enough so i shouldnt gain according to numbers.. should i change my protein intake? or just add carbs/fats?

  • Jason Sinclair

    Mike – Love this article! I have been on a “cut” for about 9 months. I started on keto, ran that for 6 months, and then transitioned slowly out of keto. I have lost around 50 lbs, but over the past few months have been plagued with fatigue and major plateaus. I have been stuck between 190-195, 12% BF. My goal was 185 below 10% BF. My calories were 2000 (162g P/C, 78g F). I run 3-4 days a week for roughly 30 min, and do 40 min of strength training 5 days a week. I’ve been scared to add calories for fear of weight gain, but my sanity is getting the best of me. Do you think it would be a good idea to bump protein up to 190g, carbs up to 200g and then lower fat to 65g for a week (2150kcals), consecutive weeks add 150g and then split between carbs and fats, or just keep my fats and protein alone? Should I also just keep my training plan the same or lower cardio? Finally, should I just keep this up until I reach maintenance, which I’m guessing is anywhere between 2500-2700kcal? I don’t want to throw too many variables in there, but I’m open to any advice I can get. Thanks again and I’m really enjoying these articles!

  • sean_noonan

    hey i think im almost done with cut cut and im at 3000 calories 250 protein, 410 carb, and 40 fat. would you say for the RD i should continue eating 250 protein until the end or should i transition off of it. Also I remember i started gaining weight at about 4000 calories on my previous bulk so i guess maybe increase calories by 150 each week over the next 5 or six weeks? Im not 100% percent sure where my tdee is though because the calculator was really off.

    • Awesome, Sean! Stick with 250 protein. Increase 150-200 each week.

      • sean_noonan

        Ok

      • sean_noonan

        Would you say maybe increase to 3700-3800 over the next month or so then go from there

        • Good target. Yeah, it’s going to be AWESOME eating more and performing better in the gym.

          • sean_noonan

            Haha yeah I feel like I’m gonna make insane deadlift gains though I’m literally at 475 x 3 right now at the peak of my cut

          • sean_noonan
          • Excellent!

          • sean_noonan

            would you say adding 175 calories each week is good

          • Yes

          • sean_noonan

            Yeah sometimes I’ll give my body a week and feel stronger maybe if I had a bad workout or whatever and thanks for quick response

          • Any time!

          • sean_noonan

            hey also one more thing should i continue cardio while on a revere diet

          • Yup!

          • sean_noonan

            how many sessions would you reccomend?

          • However many you’ve been doing is just fine. Once you’re bulking, limit it to 1-2/week.

          • sean_noonan

            ok

          • sean_noonan

            how would you reccomend to track things with 0 cal that still have carbs though im just curious and i dont wanna mess things up or at least continue to screw up if ive been tracking wrong.

          • sean_noonan
          • Looks like you have a big window to increase cals and bulk, Sean!

          • sean_noonan

            So stay on the same intake and don’t drop and redo?

          • Yup. Keep increasing your cals

          • sean_noonan

            Kinda wanna stay a little leaner though on this bulk though. Would you say it would be good to just kinda add calories as necessary to gain strength and size. And if I’m gaining size and strength than it’s going good maybe if my weight is more or less God my up Thanks again for quick response it’s crazy how you somehow manage to always reply to everyone’s questions haha

          • Yup. You can do that.

            It’s tough, but good time management really helps 🙂

          • sean_noonan

            yeah

          • sean_noonan

            im ok with gaining some fat though as long as its controlled

          • sean_noonan

            i just reallized spell check messed me up again.

            weight is more or less going up*

          • No need to track them.

          • sean_noonan

            Ok. I won’t from now on

          • sean_noonan

            Kinda feeling weak right now though just can’t wait to be able to eat more.

          • Add 175-200cals a week since your metabolism is faster than the norm. You’ll be good to go soon!

          • sean_noonan

            almost kinda broke up my workouts a little too i guess just as long as i can get through the first few weeks of the rd. For the most part ive maintained strength so i feel like its just a matter of time i guess

      • sean_noonan

        ok

      • sean_noonan

        ill just add 175 calories each week. Ive been getting pretty good with accurate tracking

      • sean_noonan

        cant wait for strength gains though and its gonna be awesome to be able to eat more

  • Ashley

    Hey Mike!

    I’m still not as lean as I’d like, but my calories have been low for about 9 months and I’ve lost 8 lbs. I’m a 130 lbs 5’6 woman. I’m planning to RD to my TDEE and then re cut to lose more fat. Is it pointless to RD, I feel like my body and hormones are wanting me to take a break. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks for all you do!
    & ive been living Cori’s snaps of y’all at the office!!

    Ashley

    • Hey Ashley! Happy to hear you’re loving Cori’s snaps. Nice work on your weight loss, by the way! Have you cut all the way down to BMR and are no longer losing weight? Sounds like you actually still have room to make progress. Let’s take a look at how you’re tracking your calories:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      It’ll always be about energy balance, so increase activity and/or reduce cals.

      If you just want to take a break for a bit, then sure! Go ahead and RD.

  • BADE

    Hi Mike,
    I love your site – just a wealth of really sound and research (or experience) backed info!! I am confused on the amount of time to calorie restrict and determining when it’s best to start reverse dieting. In one of your articles, you mentioned that it’s a good idea to only calorie restrict for 10-12 weeks at a time. However, in your reverse dieting article you say to start reverse dieting if you’ve reached a low BF% (20% female) and are no longer seeing results with calorie restriction. I have been calorie restricting for about 8 weeks. I have been losing about 1-2 lbs per week and while I’m pleased with the progress, I am not at my goal weight. I currently weigh 150 at 5’6″ (and although my initial goal was 145 lbs), now my goal is to be 140 lbs. I got concerned when I saw your note about reserving 10-12 weeks to calorie restriction at a time and figured I would need start reverse dieting at week 12 (even though I haven’t reached my goal weight and haven’t had any cravings or fatigue on my current diet). Unfortunately – i do not know my BF% (I do need to calculate it of course to inform my decision making so i’ve purchased the caliper you recommended on your site). Let me know your thoughts – thanks!!

    • Awesome how you’re enjoying the content and learning a lot on our website!

      You stop a cut when one of two things happen:
      1. You’ve met your goal
      2. You’ve dropped your cals to BMR, packed in all the activity you can, and are still not losing weight

      That’s when you start the reverse diet. A cut will take as long as it needs to.

      Hope that clears it up.

      • BADE

        RogerT,
        Couldn’t be more clear – thanks so much for the quick response and the education!!

  • sean_noonan

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9b3e5280c185bca20f6a756f213c6f8b62b788814393d37758b0f819789098f6.jpg Hey would you say it’s normal to lose weight a little In The begining of an RD I think it must of been cardio because I decided to do one last session. So I guess maybe stop the cardio for now. Just hoping I didn’t lose muscle.

  • sean_noonan

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1650017afefd74bb6880f841cb27fe2f813e24385dc5297598e8e361b7e56a5a.jpg https://uploads.disquscdhttps://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9b3e5280c185bca20f6a756f213c6f8b62b788814393d37758b0f819789098f6.jpg Hey would you say it’s normal to lose weight a little In The begining of an RD I think it must of been cardio because I decided to do one last session. So I guess maybe stop the cardio for now. Just hoping I didn’t lose muscle. I’m definitely looking leaner though so definitely lean enough to bulk. Thinking it might be a little momentum from the cut I guess

    • That can happen while on a reverse diet. Keep it up and work your way to 3700-4000 where you get into maintenance and start to bulk.

      • sean_noonan

        ok

      • sean_noonan

        at least i know im lean enough for sure now

  • sean_noonan
  • sean_noonan

    hey so tomorrow im upping the cals to 3700 since its been a full week with 3525
    would you say i should drop protein down back to 180-185 or should i wait a couple more weeks?

    my weight did go down a little more (180.2) im weighing like a pound or so lighter but i dont think i lost any muscle because im feeling a bit stronger so thats good

  • Jason

    Hey Mike (and Roger), at the end of this Reverse Diet article it says: “Reverse dieting has another use worth mentioning, though, and that’s for continuing to increase your energy expenditure well beyond what would be your normal TDEE.”

    “The procedure is simple: continue raising your daily calorie intake every 7 to 10 days for as long you’d like. In terms of macronutrients, you can continue to raise your carb intake but eventually you just can’t feasibly eat more carbs, at which point you start increasing your fat intake instead.”
    ___________
    I’m 5’6″ and ended my last cut at 143 lbs with ~10% BF eating ~1700 calories per day. I reverse dieted with 100 calorie increments every week back up to 2450 calories per day and bulked on that for a few months while steadily gaining ~1 lb/week.

    Is this article saying that I could have continued my reverse diet up another 1,000 calories if I wanted to and bulked on ~3450 calories per day while staying at the same gain rate of ~1 lb/week?
    If not, what would the cutoff point be? But if that is the case, is there any benefit to reverse dieting well above “my normal TDEE” other than the freedom of eating more food?

    • Hey Jason! That’s correct. The exact cut off point will vary person to person based off activity level, genetics, etc. The point is that if you want, by continuing to RD, you can push your TDEE to make it significantly higher than usual.

      Regarding benefits, it’s mainly that you get to eat more, but more cals should also help improve performance and recovery. It is not necessary to do this for an effective clean bulk, but if you want to be able to eat more on your bulk or just want to try it out to see how it goes, go ahead!

      • Jason

        Awesome! Thanks Mike! I’ll try it out on my next bulking phase and see how it goes.

        Follow-up question: If I continued my RD up to ~3000 calories per day (which would be a 30% surplus since my calculated TDEE is ~2300) then transitioned into a cut, is there any way to figure out my new “estimated TDEE” to set my cutting calories since the calculator would be off? Or should I just go by the calculator and drop my calories down to ~1900 to start cutting? (5’6″ 165 lbs, ~15.5% BF, 24 y.o. male)

        • NP! If you were able to RD to 3000 cals and were maintaining weight at that intake, you could then just calculate your 20-25% deficit from the 3000 cals. So, you’d start your cut at 2250-2400 cals and adjust your intake based off results.

          • Jason

            Makes sense! I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions 🙂

          • Any time, Jason. Happy to help!

  • Austin Lybbert

    Hi Mike. When figuring 0.3 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight are you figuring total weight or lean mass weight?

  • Miz Eloise

    whats the goal of reverse diet? is it to gradually reach tdee for bulking and to awaken the metabolism so ot burns more?

    question is: im 24 percent bodyfat ive gotten down to 21.2 2 weeks ago but it was grueling. people telling me i look emaciated. so i reverse diet to my tdee which is 1617. 2 weeks after my bodyfat is 23.6percent.

    my dilemma is christmas and celebrations are coming its hard to cut while everyone else is eating. should i reverse diet from 1294 calories to additional 150 and additional 150 again til i reach 1617? then after should i just cut again to 20 percent?

    • It’s to bring your metabolism back up to it’s “normal” level where it’s burning more than at the end of the cut.

      Taking it slow as per the protocol here shouldn’t have bumped up your BF% that much…

      Holidays and celebrations are just cheat meals. Treat them as such! You can practice the tips here:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/cheat-meal/

      “Save” your calories during the day or do Intermittent Fasting. You can still very well end up in a deficit.

      If you want to RD, then go ahead. Nothing wrong with that 🙂 Once you add 150 each week and reach tdee, stay there for a week, and cut again to 20%. BTW, the TDEE is calculated with your current weight/BF%.

    • Miz Eloise

      ty. ill stay on tdee for one week then go to my cut again. goodbye happy foods lol.

      what should my macros look like at tdee if my tdee is 1617?

  • Caleb L.

    I have been cutting for about 10 weeks now. granted, on the weekends the cut has generally been out the window. i have lost about 10-15 lbs total and am currently about 205# at 6’2. probably 18-20% body fat with little to no muscle definition.

    according to your macro calculator, my tdee is about 2700 and my bmr is about 2200.

    during my cut, i keep my cals around 2000 with 200g protein, 200g carb and 50 g fat. i have somewhat stalled with my weight loss and have sat at 205 ish for the past 3 weeks but still making strength gains.

    should i reverse diet now to tdee? i thought i was supposed to cut to 10-12% body fat? my goal is to be 190# so it seems counter-intuitive to increase cals? desperate need of help man. i just want some muscle definition haha

  • Žeks

    Can I gain muscle while reverse dieting? Like when I am on a bulk

    • It’s possible–just as one would gain some muscle during a cut. A bulk, however, would see the greatest muscle gain.

  • yesim

    hello i ve read your book thinner leaner stronger and it helped me thank you.but i am curious about reverse dieting
    i workout 4 days a week just weight training and no cardio. i am 166cm and 62kg and have PCOS. i was on a diet of 1300cal and it works for a month and lose 3.5kg. than i start binge eating and gain all the weight back and now i dont know what to do caz i gain weight and i feel awful.if i start reverse diet i am not sure if it works for me because of the PCOS. thank you for your help

  • Erik

    Hello! Good stuff, Mike.

    However, there’s one piece of information I feel is left out in the article: When should you stop with the fasted training?

    For instance, I’m cutting at 1900 kcal, which means no pre-workout meal since fat loss is the focus. With reverse dieting, it will take about 4 weeks to reach my TDEE at 2500 kcal.
    So, increasing with 150 kcal every week, when should these calories be put in a pre-workout meal? Directly when you start reverse dieting, when you reach your TDEE, or not until you reach bulking numbers?

    • Hey Erik!

      I’d stop training fasted when bulking. You want your workouts to be as productive as possible, so it’s a great idea to have proper preworkout nutrition. Totally fine to keep training fasted while you’re still in a deficit, or even at maintenance!

      If you want to stop fasted training, simply reallocate some your protein and carbs from other parts of the day to create your preworkout.

  • Tina

    Hi Mike!
    I’m currently at 138-140 lbs. female
    macros: 160C 50F 130P
    I’m reverse dieting and I notice I’m still hungry. I know I should increase my cals, but I’m not sure by how much. I’m thinking the protein?
    Thanks Mike and happy new year!

    • Hey Tina! That’s great you’re on the RD. I don’t recommend using hunger as an indicator for increasing your calories. Follow the guidelines set above for weekly set increases in carbs and fat.

      • Tina

        I haven’t been increasing every week. More like every couple of weeks and by a small amount.

        • Gotcha. You can try bumping it up more aggressively every week. It’ll be fine 🙂

  • Divvy Chap

    What do u do after Reverse dieting if u still wanna lose weight? I’ve been with a training for 12 weeks got no results. My metabolism is stuffed so training Reverse dieting. But what do I do after that to lose the weight. Hating my body need to change it. Thank u plse help

    • No problem! Jump right back into the Cut.

      • Divvy Chap

        So my metabolism isn’t good, how long would I stay on reverse diet for -3 weeks ? Would I cut my carbs & fat? By how much? Thank u so much for ur help. Sick of not getting results & sick of my metabolism on working

        • You reverse diet until you reach your TDEE. Follow the protocol above.

  • JP Boje

    Hi Mike. Firstly sorry for the long post, know you’re a busy man. Secondly I wanted to say it has been a godsend coming accross your site and then reading both BLS and BBLS after years of throwing around weights aimlesslyin the gym. I am ending of a cutting cycle (summer here in South Africa) and reverse dieting up to my bulk calorie count. I am doing 150cals a week, mostly carbs. I also like to check out what the natural BBs are doing at 3DMJ every now and then. I came across an interesting youtube debate on reverse dieting Eric Helms& Menno Henselmans vs. Layne Norton & Peter Fitschen

    1. For a person like myself, where I would like to add some size still and increasing on my lifts it seems to be more beneficial going straight to new maintenance and then on to my 10% surplus. 3DMJ even suggest just jumping straight into surplus. Your thoughts?

    2. What would be the best way to adjust macros moving from a 40:40:20 to 25:55:20 should I jump straight up? Would I simply just adjust immediately?

    Thanks!

    • Glad you’re enjoying the content!

      1. We strongly recommend against jumping straight into maintenance or a 10% after a cut. You’ll gain fat so fast it’s going to catch you by surprise when you see the gains melt away.

      2. You can switch up ratios without any adjustment period.

  • Alejandra

    Hi mike, I am currently 125lbs, 24%BF i workout heavy lifting 5 days a week and im on a cut of 1500 calories with 40/40/20 macro plan. I would like to do a maintenance to build some muscle and not fat what do u recommend?

  • Ashley

    Hey Mike & team!

    I want to get more lean, but my calories are already at 1300. I’m 5’6 131lbs. I stick to my macros most days and usually overeat/binge 1 day a week. Not sure if this is my body’s way of telling me I need to up my cals and RD or not. I expend around 2000 and eat around 1300-1400 a day. I’ve talked to coaches about nutrition and they said I should RD bc my cals are so low.

    To RD or keep trying to stick to my current macros?

    Thanks!

  • Caz Norris

    Hi, I’m sorry this is long but I hope you read it.

    I dont know if you can help me, my situation isnt the norm. It all starts about 9 years ago, I’d always been slim (105lb) and could eat whatever I wanted, no problem (2500 kcal ish), but over christmas I binged on crap and gained about 7lb. So I went on a diet and did loads of exercise, but it went too far and I developed anorexia. For the next 8 years my weight stayed between 70-80lb, and for most of that time I was eating 500kcal per day maximum. (There was a 6 month period in the middle of that where I got treatment and was refed to 90lb but I quickly relapsed).

    Just over a year ago I made the change and decided to make myself better, on my own (I was 70lb at this point). I went from less than 500kcal a day to about 1500, and of course I gained weight. I got to a point I was ok with, and a dietition assured me that with the kcals I was eating I would stay where I was, and I did for a while, but then the weight started piling on again. I was forced to keep dropping my calories, but I never stopped gaining.

    I’m now down to 1000kcals a day maximum and I feel like I’m back where I started… except now I’m not skinny, I’m overweight. I’m now 128lb, far heavier than the weight that forced me to diet and triggered my problems in the first place, with a metabolism just as damaged as before. But now I cant afford to gain weight as I increase my calories, as I could a year ago.
    I exercise most days, 30 mins HIIT plus about 30 mins power walking, but it does nothing. I look awful, I’m a squishy mess.. my body fat is about 30%. But more importantly I FEEL awful, I’m in the wrong body… I used to be able to eat over twice the amount I do now, and weigh far less. My clothes stopped fitting, so I bought new ones, and now they dont fit either. My belly hangs down and everything wobbles when I exercise. My thighs rub together.. I have bingo wings :(. Its just not me, I have a thin frame, it doesnt look right on me.

    Also, I’m boarderline hypothyroid (always have been), but I saw an endocrinologist (at great expense…) who just said I need psychological help as I think I’m fat when I’m a ‘healthy weight’. Bollocks to healthy weight, this isnt my eating disorder talking.. I’m over that, I want to be athletic, not emaciated.

    I need to lose weight, but how is that possible? I just cant afford to gain weight on the reverse… and my metabolism is more damaged than most peoples I think.

    I hope you read this, and that you have some advice. (ps I have your book(s). They have helped).

    • OK. First things first, let’s get that metabolism back in order. Start your RD now. Find your TDEE here:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/
      https://legionathletics.com/how-to-calculate-body-fat/

      Once you reach TDEE, use the same calculator to find your cutting macros/cals and start cutting.

      Lift heavy 5 times a week:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/muscle-building-workout/

      Do HIIT cardio 4 times a week:

      https://legionathletics.com/high-intensity-interval-training/

      That’ll set you on the right path 🙂

      • Caz Norris

        Thank you Mike :).

        Dont you think though, that my metabolism is SO screwed that I will gain more fat as soon as I increase? We are talking years of damage here… not just months. I’m just scared, really. Having said that, I could well keep gaining if I dont do it.

        First step will be to sort my macros out for the cals I’m on, need to up the protein a bit. Then I’ll try adding a hundred cals more… and see what happens.

        • Nope. You’ll be fine. Slight weight gain is completely normal due to water retention and glycogen. Don’t sweat it!

          • Caz Norris

            I’ll give it a go then. I’ve been ill for about a week so I’ve actually been eating a bit less… not what I needed!

            I will trust in the process, see how it goes.

            Thanks for the advice. 🙂

  • Taylor Kuzik

    So to make sure I’m understanding right, to “normalize” your metabolism and increase TDEE along with increasing energy levels and normalizing hormone levels without putting on too much weight is by slowly increasing your calories every 7-10 days by 150, mostly from carbs. Much of the weight gain is glycogen and water. Is that about right? I’m almost done with Athlean-X Inferno Shred, which focused more on conditioning for fat loss before going to Max Size which is the opposite, focused on more weight training/muscle building and less conditioning but it’s still there. Each of the AX meal plans are pretty much except for minor tweaks depending on which program you’re doing. Max Size is useful for hard gainers and seasoned weight lifters. Max Size’s meal plan has two options of standard or more gains option. Max Size is said to allow you push past your genetic potential limit in terms of how much muscle you can put on.
    I want to take it slowly of increasing my calorie intake. I want to that last ounce of fat on my lower abs to get that flat belly I wanted. I’m tired of having my energy levels fluctuate throughout the day. I do eat 5-6 times a day with 3 main meals and 2 snacks in-between mainly to keep my blood sugar/insulin levels stable.

    • Yup, that’s right, Taylor. Keep up the deficit and adjust your cals and exercise when the fat loss stalls and you’ll have the flat belly!

      • Taylor Kuzik

        There’s still a limit on how much lower in calories you can go before the body thinks you’re not eating enough. I’m hesitant on lowering my calorie intake much further because I want the body to burn fat not muscle even when I’m eating enough protein and doing weight training. I don’t want to remain in a cut forever.

        • That point is at BMR. I don’t recommend dropping below that. Once you hit your goal, you’re done with the cut.

          • Taylor Kuzik

            That is where reverse diet comes in?

          • Right. RD, then cut if you need to cut some more. Otherwise, bulk or maintain.

          • Taylor Kuzik

            I don’t follow fad diets, they’re dangerous for your health. I eat whole grains such as Pepperridge Farm’s 100% whole grain, whole wheat bread since there’s only 90 calories per 1 slice, fruits, veggies due to the fiber content and lean meats. It’s the refined grains that have been stripped of their nutritional value and refortified that you want to avoid such as white bread, white pasta and white rice.
            So the signs of metabolic adaption to a cut is reduced energy expenditure, hunger pangs, cravings, achy joints, fatigue, etc? Well, I haven’t experienced the majority of these symptoms save for fluctuating energy levels. I’m thinking of ending my cut soon and give RD a try. So, I should increase calorie intake by 50-150 every 7-10 days, so at the start of the next week with the slow calorie increase being carb while protein intake about 1g per pound of bodyweight and increase fat intake slowly as well. Expect increase of water weight and glycogen, not actual weight if done correctly. That sums it up right?

          • Good!
            Yes, that sums it up!

          • Taylor Kuzik

            What would be an example of slow increase of calories meal wise?

            I know increase of water weight and glycogen is expected​ with RD. Water weight fluctuates easily, bodyweight is harder unless you overeat all the time which is something I’m trying to avoid. But some meals taste so good, you want more.

          • Hey Taylor,

            You can increase lunch carbs by 75 cals and dinner carbs by 75 cals. (Or 150 in a single meal). You can also use 1C rice milk (approx 130cals) in your protein shake. Or, 1 slice whole grain bread (100 cals) and 1 Tbsp of jam (50 cals). The possibilities are endless!

          • Taylor Kuzik

            I drink dairy milk because I can tolerate lactose. I drink skim milk (80 calories). I recently started using PB2 powdered peanut butter which is just peanut butter in powder form just add 2tbsp of water to it. It has 45 calories per tbsp compared to your normal peanut butter which is over 100 calories.

          • Great!

          • Taylor Kuzik

            Wouldn’t the slow 150 calorie increase from the carb like a slice of 100% whole grain bread with fruit jam be an additional side to your main meal? That part has me confused. Sorry for all the questions but I want to make sure I don’t screw the RD up and wound up looking like a blowfish.

          • No problem. You can add the 150cal of carbs however you like. Bread and jam work just fine as an additional side.

          • Taylor Kuzik

            I use Cascadian Farm organic concord grape fruit spread, 1 tbsp. is 40 calories and has only 10g of sugar, which is still pretty low and the ingredients are organic, no high fructose corn syrup. If I add that to a slice of 100% whole grain bread, that’s 140 calories. Might have to add an extra 1/4 tsp. to make it 150 calories.

          • Nice!

          • Taylor Kuzik

            And the next seventh day add another slice of whole wheat bread with grape fruit spread, right? There’s only so much glycogen and water your muscles can store, wouldn’t you secrete the excess out as bodily waste? Do you see the effects halfway through the reverse diet? Like this article stated, it’s tempting to stuff your face with more food but have to keep in mind that your body is metabolically primed for fat storage after some period of time. The slow caloric increase is better than doing the fast version. This allows your body to grow accustomed to the increase of food intake.

          • Right. Or, anything that adds up to 150cals. Excess can be used by the body as energy or stored as fat–which is what happens when people over-eat.

          • Taylor Kuzik

            But that’s only if someone overeats every time. I usually have one helping at breakfast and lunch, making sure it has minimally processed foods because virtually every food item you find at the grocery store have undergone some form of processing like treatment for the removal of harmful bacteria like salmonella. I have two helpings at dinner, within reasonable portion size, of course. I stop when satisfied not stuffed. The thing to keep in mind is people who work out 5-6 times a day and have a physically active job can handle more calories than a person with a desk job.
            Anyway, do I slowly increase our fat intake alongside carb intake or do I do that separately?

          • True true. The rule is 150 each week, so if you need to increase fats, that would be included in the 150.

          • Taylor Kuzik

            So for example of reverse diet would be like for breakfast, have 1 whole egg with 2 egg whites, a piece of turkey bacon, pieces of toast of 100% whole grain, whole wheat break with grape jelly and glass of milk. The main food wouldn’t be counted as the slow calorie increase, just the bread and jelly? I say this because there are two 100% whole grain, whole wheat breads with only a 10 calorie difference between the two per 1 slice.

          • The increase is whatever food you are eating that is 150cal, that wasn’t accounted for prior to the increase.

          • Taylor Kuzik

            When will the results begin to show?

          • Your weight as an indicator should be increasing steadily each week, but when it will show physically varies.

          • Taylor Kuzik

            Truth is I’m debating if I should bulk or simply maintain once I reach my TDEE. In addition to correcting muscle imbalance, I’m seeking to get that v-cut around you waist. I know overall body fat percentage is the main factor in addition to your nutrition.

          • You can always maintain for awhile and then decide to bulk later, if your preference changes. Stay on the grind and you’ll get that V!

          • Hey Taylor, as long as your total calorie intake adds up to about 150 extra per week, you’re good.

          • Taylor Kuzik

            Do you think switching from skim milk to 1% low-fat milk is another way to initiate a reverse diet? Whole milk is 3.7% fat and generally has 150 calories, depending on the brand. The lower you go fat percentage wise, there are 20 less calories and skim milk only has 90 calories, again depending the brand.

          • As long as you come up with an added 150 cals by the end of the day, sure! But, that increase primarily comes from carbs.

  • Lia

    Hey Mike, I have a quick question for you. After a couple years of working out and losing about 80 pounds (kind of the misguided way), and then gained 40 pounds back because of the post-starvation obesity you mentioned, I finally came across your books and committed to your plan for women. This was in May. I have been working out steadily, and following your plans for both nutrition and lifting since. (I will admit that I was a little lax through the holidays with my diet) but since May I have lost around 35 pounds and actually am seeing muscle definition and everything. I’m finally really liking where I’m going. My question is, apart from the several days here and there during the holidays, I have been in a calories deficit since the summer. I still want to continue to cut fat, though. I want to say based on your pictures for reference I’m around 23-24 %. Am I okay to stay in a deficit until I get where I want? Will I be slowing my metabolism down too much since I’ve been in a deficit for so long? Or should I just stay in a deficit until I reach the 18-20% that I want?

    • Hey Lia, that’s awesome you’ve made great progress! As long as you’re still losing fat and haven’t dropped your cals below BMR, you can continue to cut. Once you hit BMR, packed in 5 half hour HIIT sessions, and still aren’t seeing the fat come off, start the RD.

  • Geoff

    Mike, the end of my cut is in sight (a couple of pounds left to go) and so your advice for planning for my reverse diet is very helpful, thanks. Question: when I begin the reverse diet and increase calories by ~150/ day each week you explained that there may be some “bouncing” – weight may go up or down and I shouldn’t worry, just keep adding 150 cals. But if these weight fluctuations occur how will I know when I have reached TDEE? Your calculator says for me it’s 2300 cals/day, (I’m cutting at 1800/day) but as you stress, that calculation is just a guideline. Thanks

  • Hey Mike, Roger, etc.

    I’m just coming out of a cut and RDing again, and I want to make sure I’ve got everything straight right now. I’m at 146lb right now, and I started RDing on Feb. 12th (so it’s been two weeks). I was at a 1,700 cal/day diet (my BMR) and I increased to 1,800/day that week. (Messed up and remembered 100 cals/day increase, not 150 cals/day.) Anyway, just this week I’m at 1,950/day.

    So here’s my question: I’m wondering if my macros are good now. Like I said, I’m at 146lb. and 1,950 cals. I have carbs at 45% (219g, which is 1.5x my weight in pounds), fats at 20% (43g, which is 0.29x), and protein at 35% (which is 1.2x). Am I good at these levels? Next question: you advise on 0.3x for fats, but I’ve also heard 20% is a good bulking percentage for fats. Obviously when I hit my TDEE, my fats will be way over 0.3x my body weight. Should I reduce my fats to keep it at 0.3x, or keep it at 20% and let it increase past 20%?

    • Macros look good right now. No need for a refeed at the moment, though. If you’re treating it as a cheat meal, do 1.3x your current calories. (Or the guidelines from here if it’s a big one: http://www.muscleforlife.com/cheat-meal/)

      When bulking, you can start with 20% and raise it later when you hit 3x your BW in carbs.

      • So keep fats at 20% until I hit 3x my weight in carbs, no matter if fats exceeds 0.3x my weight. Got it. Thanks!

        Also, I was under the impression refeeds were good every two weeks regardless of if you’re bulking, cutting, or RDing (once a week if you’re cutting below 10%). I guess we only do 1.3x our calories for cheat days? I’ve been doing 1.3x for refeeds (and doing some cheating on those days) but keeping fats at 20-30 grams for the day (and replacing the missing fats with carbs). Did I mess something up? (The URL in your post led to a 404.)

        • Yep! And here’s the link again:

          https://www.muscleforlife.com/cheat-meal/

          You’re doing great on the refeed timing and using it as a cheat meal. When maintaining and bulking, though, we don’t need the metabolism boost, which is the purpose of the refeed. Nothing wrong with continuing with it and using it as a cheat meal, however.

          • Thanks for clarifying! And I found the link too. 😉 Just got rid of a closing parenthesis in the URL. Asked a question on there.Hope I’m not inundating you guys with too many questions!

          • Not at all! Happy to help.

  • HB

    Hi! I just finished reading Bigger Leaner Stronger, and was wondering how many calories I should be eating in the sense of whether I should be cutting or bulking? I’m 25 6′ 190 lbs and around 22-24% Body Fat. Thanks!

  • Nl

    Hi! I’ve been struggling with an ED and my calories are really low, so I wanted to get them up but every time I tried I would gain a lot of weight which would make me depressed plus it just put me back to the start. This article was great and I hope I can finally recover. Thank you sooo much!!

  • Taylor Drennan

    Hey if my calories have been really low but im not in a cutting phase and my macros are roughly 45% carbs, 35% protein, and 25% fat, could i still reverse diet or how should i go about finding my maintainance again?

  • Jay

    Hey Mike solid article!

    What’s your opinion on reverse dieting after an 8-9 week cut?

    Thanks in advance man

    • Thanks! Once you’re done with a cut, you always reverse diet.

  • Ashley

    I’m RDing right now and have been carb cycling my macros into High, moderate, low. Should my fats always stay at or below 20% even on low carb days? Trying to figure out how I can cycle and still keep fats at 20% as recommended.

    Thanks!

    • You can do that, sure, as long as you’re hitting your protein target and staying within your calorie target. Or, increase fats (while staying within your calorie target and hitting your protein requirement.)

  • Cristi

    Great article, brilliant! I was looking to get into maintenance and I was wondering what is the best way to get there…Thanks Mike!

    Quick one, while in Reverse Diet or even on Maintenance…and you keep your body weight…do you also keep you body fat %? Can I be in maintenance and still lose body fat?

    And I would love your thoughts on Autophagy (when the cells in your body are rebuilding themselves. It’s one of those things where you go without the food – it really strengthens your cells. The cells are trying to rebuild, and they’re trying to do their thing, and it’s a wonderful thing. It’s kind of like renewed. Once it’s done digesting, the body’s done working with food; it starts to work on other cells in the body) It kind of makes sense but to what extent?

    Thanks Mike!

  • Jeanne
  • Borna Houman

    Hey Mike,

    During a reverse diet, should we still take Phoenix until we get to maintenance?

    Will there be any difference if we don’t?

    Thanks,

    Borna

    • You can if you want, but not really necessary at this point. Not a big difference.

      • Borna Houman

        Ok. Thanks Roger.

        Also, would we continue refeeds during a reverse diet until we get back to maintenance?

        And in BBLS it says to go by 100 cal/week compared to 150/week in his article. Is there a difference really?

        Thanks again.

        Borna

        • No need to refeed during the RD.
          Both will do. 150 will get you finished faster.

          • Borna Houman

            Ok thanks Mike. And we shouldn’t gain more than a pound a week during this period correct? And how do I know once I’m at maintenance? Is it when I stop gaining weight? Also, do I stay at maintenance for a couple of weeks once I’m there or do I continue RDing into a bulk/the point I’m gaining 1 lb/week?

            Thanks again.

            Borna.

          • Calculate your TDEE prior to the RD. That way you know when to stop. It’s possible you’ll still be able lose fat during the process. Any weight gain would be from water and glycogen, which is perfectly normal.

  • Jeramy

    fasted training recommended during RD?

    • Hey Jeramy, there’s no need for it during the RD.

  • Andrew

    Hey Mike/Roger, thanks for the article!
    If I go on a 20-25% calorie deficit, is it recommended that I slowly decrease my caloric intake over time? Would a deficit that large affect my metabolism enough to need the decrease in order to maintain the deficit?

  • Kristina

    Hey Mike,

    Love your books! When it comes to health and fitness there is a lot of conflicting information out there in regards to what approaches are best so just wanted to say thanks for making sense of it all.

    I was wondering how long you recommend eating at maintenance before starting a cut again?

    Thanks!

    • Thanks for the support, Kristina! Glad you’re getting a lot out of my content.

      Stay at TDEE for a week or two after the RD before cutting again.

  • Borna Houman

    Hey Mike,

    Something very weird is going on with my pressing movements coming out of a deload and during my reverse diet. I’ve noticed they dropped a lot, seeing I’ve had to drop weight by about 5 lbs each side to maintain rep range which I find weird since I’m eating more during the reverse diet and I’m very sure I’m getting enough protein. My other movements such as squats and deadlifts have maintained. Should I be worried and is this normal after deloading?

    And also, could this be a result of bad sleep and/or high stress?

    Thanks

  • Caitie

    Just learning about this reverse dieting. Does this tactic only work for those who are in competitions and do these intervals of cuts and the. Reverse dieting on a regular basis? Or could I as an average woman do this to build muscle and look really lean?

    • Anyone who has completed a proper cut should be reverse dieting. This also applies to those who have been under-eating to bring their metabolism back up to normal.

      • YF

        Hi Mike, I really appreciate this article, as I just ended my 7 month cut where I have lost 20 lbs and got down to 10% bf for the first time in my life. Eager to get back up to maintenance, cruise for a few weeks, and then resume lean bulking.

        Recently I have read conflicting opinions about the value of reverse dieting, however. Some trainers actually advise against it, and instead recommend jumping immediately to a caloric intake that’s just short of maintenance (to ensure that one does not ‘overshoot’ calories). Maintenance can be roughly estimated by the rate of fat loss at the end of the cut. Their view is that reverse dieting is just prolonging the cut for many weeks unnecessarily and is therefore a waste of time. How would you respond to these RD skeptics? Thanks!

        • Hey!

          That’s a good question, and I think it really depends on your situation. Reverse dieting probably has more merit if you had to severely restrict your calories during the cut or use a more aggressive deficit. If you only cut using a 400 or 500 calorie deficit, going right back to just shy of maintenance would be fine, too.

          That said, from a behavioral perspective, gradually raising calories often helps people keep their calories under control and stick to the habits that helped them lose weight in the first place.

          • YF

            Thanks for your help Mike! Since I posted my question, I actually tried reverse dieting for 4 weeks by adding 100-200 cals daily per week. During the process I continued to lose a bit more fat and got stronger at the same time-pretty awesome experience!

  • Pabo

    Hey!

    I’ve been reverse dieting for a long time. I went from eating 1200kcal for years, to slowly increasing to eat 1700kcal last week. In that period, I didn’t gain any amount of weight and I was just increasing 50kcal pr week. Last week I went on vacation. I wast able to reverse diet and ended up eating LESS calories ( 1000kcal a day) for a straight week. It wast intentionally..I got sick and just couldn’t take food. I came back 2 days ago and got back to 1750kcal a day. I gained almost 2kg overnight and can’t believe it! I underate for just for a week, how is that possible? I can see visible fat on my stomach and legs.. Should I keep going or should I decrease calories for a while and then slowly add on 50kcal again? What is happening??? Please help!!

    • Food and water weight are the only possible causes for fast weight gain like that. It’s impossible to gain that much fat overnight. Keep RDing if you aren’t at a healthy maintenance yet. You can also consider speeding it up with 100-150cals/week.

  • Jon Camp

    Hi, looking for help on what I my next steps are. I started at 172lbs, 21% body fat and did a cut based on 40:40:20 and am down to 152lbs and 14% body fat. I work out 5 days a week and do 2-3 days of HIIT cardio. I do not want to lose any more weight but want to lose more body fat. Do I do a RD to TDEE then cut again or is there another way to focus on fat loss while maintaining weight?

  • Maya

    He

  • Maya

    Hello coach, I do restrict diet under 1000calories and my weight was undernormal for almost 3 and half years and year ago I started a healthy diet and increasing calories 100 per 3 weeks until I reach 1400calories,then I stopped there ,while my TDEE is 2000 calories and from that time year ago until know I still gain 200g or 300g a week and I feel so disapointed I read books, articles every thing also asking some people and cant know the problem do I need to reach TDEE? ..I also checked my thyroid gland TSH=3 . I need help from you ..I realy appreciate your homble for helping people thats so generous from you..
    thank you

  • sean_noonan

    Hey mike quick question.

    Would you say since my metabolism isn’t faster I can add matbe 175 cals each week like I did the last reverse diet?

    I definitely think I am lean enough and my weight seems to keep going down so I feel like it may be time to start.

    Last message for now and and again thanks for all the help.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6f12ac9b4388e1ad59e5522b21b6e860bc48712dcd87757e1376f64204105a27.jpg

  • Holly Lu

    If you messed up on your reverse diet and increased the calories right away… from 1500-1800 to 2000-2300…. (I’m not going by weight just measurements for body results at this current time) I’ve seen changes in muscle definition and the only changes in measurement was one inch loss in my waist and gained 2″ in my hips (glute gain). How do we truly know when to stop or tweak our intake? I’m doing so much research I feel lost. I don’t own a scale at this current time, but could buy one if needed. Just not sure how you know when to increase cals or when to cut back. Or when to stay where you are? I’m impressed as it is I haven’t ballooned with my big increase. I’m a fairly active person and new to weight lifting. Any advice is appreciated! My desired result in the end is a leaner body, but feel like my body needed more food!!! No more 1500 cal daily intake!!

  • James Weber

    hi
    can you create a higher metabolic set point once above maintenance? also when do you cut it off, you cant reverse for ever eventually there will be a point of diminishing returns. and do you have to maintain this new set point for a long time to make it stick?

  • Sarah LG

    Hello,

    So after I’ve reverse dieted to my TDEE and I’m ready to cut again, should I gradually decrease my calories until I reach my cutting calories or jump right into it?

  • sean_noonan

    Hey I got a question. In the article it said you can do 1g protein per lb of body weight when reverse dieting.

    Im weighing around 182-183 now so does that mean during this reverse diet I can do 180-185 protein and eat more carbs?

    • Yep!

      • sean_noonan

        I actually weighed 179.8 this morning which means Im still losing weight fairly quickly like at the rate of a normal cut I think I might just add 200 at a time.

        My metabolism never seems to stop lol

        • Not a bad problem to have 🙂

          • sean_noonan

            yeah haha

          • sean_noonan

            Also one more thing.

            Do you think if i really diet and train properly over the next year and fix any mistakes I made I could maybe gain another 10lbs of muscle even though i kinda didnt really grow over the last 6 months?

            I feel really small right now and I wanna be able to grow so bad and Im willing to put in all the work. I think I just need to fix some mistakes I must have been un aware of. Im really looking forward to starting the coaching.

          • That’d be a fun target to shoot for. Really pushing it, though.

          • sean_noonan

            wait does having messed up this last bulk limits my potential for muscle growth that I could have had.

          • Not at all.

          • sean_noonan

            I guess we learn from mistakes though. I can say consistency with me is never an issue though. I must have been doing something wrong I’m un aware of.

  • Maya

    Woooooow ..holly lu I have the exactly sotuation as you..until now I dont fix the problem if you do please tell and I will pray for you forever

  • Matt S.

    Hello Mike and Team,
    Quick set up: I am a little more than a month back in the gym, and into Week 4 of a cut cycle. I think I am benefitting from Body Recomposition as my gains (both reps and weight) are STEADY; and roughly I am down to 10-12% body fat from 15-25% (weigh 155lbs rn). My question: is it okay for me to keep cutting? I wanted to get down to 8%-ish to see if (1) I genetically have 8-pack capabilities and (2) set myself up for many months of clean-bulk so I can just mash gains. Am I thinking clearly and soundly? Also, I’m using the estimate pictures for body fat…and as a perfectionist I may be overestimating my body fat to be safe. Essentially I have a 3-finger-thick line of (potentially, I think it’s fat lol) fat above my butt/lower-back going around just under my belly button at my 8pack abs spot. My 6-pack is pretty shredded tho, I can see a vein in my V-shape now (to help you gauge body fat).

  • Elijah Laughinghaus

    Please help me decide what to do. At the end of my cut, I was eating only 1800 calories per day. According to the calculator, I needed to eat around 2300 calories for maintenance and 2500 for bulking. I’m a real hard gainer though and from experience I know that I won’t really start bulking until I get up to around 2800 calories.

    I admit I was _slightly_ overzealous in my increase, but not much, I was shooting for around a 200 calorie increase. Two weeks later, I have gained a whopping 9 lbs, (163 up from 154) and my abs are no longer visible. I swear it seemed to happen in only three days. I was steady at 163 the first week, up to 164 in the second week, then suddenly within only about three days, I’m 9 pounds heavier, as soon as I hit that second 200 calorie increase up to 2300.

    This is what I weighed when I first started to cut, and it took 2 months to get rid of it. Very discouraging. I really don’t want to start another cutting cycle already and abandon my bulk so quickly, don’t know what to do, thanks.

    • Hey Elijah, back off on your calories and let your weight stabilize. Also, double check your calorie intake.

  • Matt Perkins

    When I started my cut I was at 185lbs with a TDEE of around 2,700 and have now got down to 170lbs (roughly 10% BF) and looking to reverse diet back up to maintenance but my TDEE has now changed to 2,500. Should I reverse diet back up to this revised TDEE?

  • Luis Trevino

    Hi coach
    Once you reach tdee can you slowly go above for even more gains? Say like 25 calories more every 7 days?

  • M L

    Hi Mike,
    Thank you so much for your great articles and for being so responsive to your readers.
    A couple of years ago, I went on a restrictive diet and engaged in high amounts of cardio. It worked – I dropped at least 15 pounds (already was thin) in about 2 months.
    I moved back to the U.S. and gained about 20 pounds in 3 months. That was 2 years ago, and since then I have been struggling to lose any weight at all. I now weigh about 30 pounds more than I did back at my thinnest.
    I can’t stop thinking about the “old days” when it seemed so easy to lose weight. I know that I didn’t do any permanent metabolic damage (thanks to your article) and I know logically what I need to do to lose the weight. I’m just having a hard time actually taking the steps to get there. I have made so many goals and failed time and time again. For someone who is usually extremely determined, this has been demoralizing.
    I don’t know if this makes sense or what I’m really asking…but if nothing else, thank you for reading and for putting out great, high-quality content.

  • Max Green

    Hi Mike,
    Love all these articles and your feedback! I’ve bought the second edition of bigger leaner stronger and I love it.
    Had a quick question:
    I just finished my second week of training with weights for the first time in almost 14 months. Im 6’2, 20 years old, 154.2 lbs and I think I am about 13.5-14 percent body fat. Pretty much a prime example of a person with skinny fat. I’ve read most of your articles about skinny fat but I am still not sure if I should bulk or cut right now. Before the these two weeks I had been in a calorie deficit, with no weight training, and lots of cardio for over a year which lead me to be skinny fat. Right now I’m in cutting phase and or trying to gain weight and lose fat at the same time. What body fat percentage do you recommend me getting down to before bulking and do you also think cutting right now is the right choice in this senario. Also I’m not sure if I should be reverse dieting right now instead, because I have been in a calorie deficit for so long, but I have been eating for the last two weeks 190-195 carbs, 37-40 fat, 191-195 protein and have lost two pounds in the last two weeks. Love some guidance on what you recommend,

    Thank you
    Max

    • It’s great that you’re picking up weight lifting again! I recommend getting down to 10% before bulking.

      This is ideal for several reasons: it preserves insulin sensitivity and hormonal balance, it allows you to maintain a calorie surplus for many months before having to reduce body fat levels, and it saves you from long, grueling cuts. Alternate your bulk and cuts and stay between 10-15%.

      Here’s more info, if you’re interested:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/the-best-way-to-gain-muscle-not-fat/

      • Max Green

        Thank you so much Mike!
        Really appreciate you taking the time to reply and I’ll do that!

  • Brooke Petty Peirce

    Thank you for the article 🙂 When I started reversing, my TDEE was 2100+. I’m reversing up to that but as I reverse, I’ve been losing weight (super happy about this leaning out). Do I keep working towards my initial TDEE or does there come a time I need to recalculate and get a new maintenace number? Like when I’m happy with the size I’m at?

    • Yes, you’ll need to change your numbers as your body composition changes. It’s great that you’re keeping track of everything and making real progress!

  • Sarthak

    Hey..
    My mom has been gaining a lot of weight lately even though she eats less.
    So i calculated her TDEE which came to around 2200. So i made her eat around 1900 for a week to see if she gains any weight or not and she didn’t (slight fluctuation due to water retention).
    Now after two months(eating at 1900-2000) she has gained 2.5 kgs. That means she is maintaining her weight at 1600(according to the average weight gain over the two month period).
    Now what do you suggest for her?
    How should she start reverse dieting
    Note – she cant workout much due to her knee and back pain.

    • The point of reverse dieting is to build your metabolism back up after a cut. If you already know her maintenance calories are 1600, she can eat that to maintain and there is no need to reverse diet.

      She can follow the advice laid out above in this article, if she decides to go on a cut and then reverse diet. It should still work for her, even if she can’t workout much.

      Hope this helps.

      • Sarthak

        Okay.
        Thanks a lot man 🙂

  • Bill Johnson

    Mike,

    I am finishing up my cut and will be at around 2000 calories. I want to maintain my body fat % for a couple months and then get into a “clean” slow bulk. Do you think if I just steadily increase my calories by 150 a week for 2 months and then continue to do this afterwards I will be able to achieve my goals?

    Thanks for all the help. Love the information!

    • No problem. I’m glad you like the article.

      If you reverse diet like you describe, you’ll get to maintenance calories, and you can maintain there until you’re ready to bulk and then continue the increase.

  • Kacey

    Hi Mike,
    I’m doing a 12 week cut, and i have 1 more month to go. I am eating about 1200 cal per day (reduced from previous 1400 cal per day) but even then was restricting myself from eating because i would gain weight (few pounds with noticable increases in fat). I am seeing results now with my current diet and training but scared how my body will react to reverse dieting, should i increase by maybe 100 cal per week instead of your recommended 150 since i put on fat fast.

    • Sure. Give 100 calories per week a try and see how it goes. Don’t be scared if you gain weight while reversing, though. As you eat more carbs, you’ll store more glycogen and water.

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