Dieting in Reverse

JYM_GIRL_BLOG_Image_holdingshake“Train for your goals, not your gender.”

That’s the motto for us JYM Girls, and it’s absolutely true. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, women don’t need special training programs, nutrition programs or supplements.

However, today, I do want to discuss something I’m personally going through and I hope it can help some of you ladies struggling with the same issue. My first program I did of Jim’s was Shortcut to Shred, which I discovered on bodybuilding.com (when Jim was still affiliated with them). This was before I knew Jim had a website and his own supplements. I followed the diet to a T. The problem was, I had never cut before and the Shortcut to Shred diet has you drop calories and carbs very quickly. Naturally, I saw amazing fat-loss results. But this threw off my metabolism and hormones completely.

I stayed low carb and pretty lean for about a year before I decided to start reverse dieting. I added carbs every few weeks. I gained essential body fat back as I started to eat more and I’ve continued to do so. Since then, I’ve regained my period, and after that happened, I gained back more body fat even though I wasn’t eating more. Naturally, this is due to my hormones balancing out and my body producing more estrogen. This is commonly known as the female athlete triad* and then bouncing back from it.

Female Athlete Triad*:
1. Energy Deficiency With or Without Disordered Eating
2. Menstrual Disturbances/Amenorrhea
3. Bone Loss/Osteoporosis

Now, I still hold true to my belief that Jim’s diets works for anyone, but when it comes to reverse dieting after dropping so low in carbs and calories, it affects women a little differently. I don’t think I reversed back up at the proper rate for my own metabolism to handle.

My point to this story is that women have periods, which means we have more estrogen and less testosterone, which means we hold more body fat than men. A woman’s metabolism and hormones fluctuate very differently than a man’s. So, if you’re currently dieting down to lose body fat, please listen to Jim and go as slow as humanly possible when dropping carbs. Only drop carbs if you’ve plateaued for at least two weeks in a row. When you get down to your ideal body composition, I highly recommend adding 0.25 grams of carbs or less back at least every 3-4 weeks depending on your metabolism and genetics.

One question I get a lot from women is where to start Dieting 101 if they currently only eat around 1,200-1,300 calories. Well, you’re at the point where you need to reverse diet to get to a place where you can cut from. Focus on getting your protein and fat where they need to be first, and then you can play around with your carbs. Start your carbs at 0.25 grams per pound per day, protein and 1.0-1.5 grams per pound, and fat 0.25-0.5 grams per pound.

If you’re lower than Jim’s recommendations for protein and fat, start adding those macro grams in first. Then you can worry about your carbs. If this applies to you, you may even find that you’ll lose body fat while reverse dieting. It seems like the opposite of what will happen if you start to eat more, but eating too few calories is just as bad as eating too many calories. Your body could be holding on to the amount of body fat you have for dear life because it thinks it’s starving.

I currently have to start at 0.25 grams of carbs per pound to get back on track. I’ll cut a little out of my protein and fat if I have to once I plateau in fat loss, and then I’ll start to reverse diet. This time around, I’ll take my time and trust the process. The hard part about reverse dieting is that you get to a point to where you want to enjoy yourself, but you have to be smart about it because your metabolism might not be ready for cheat meals and more carbs yet. Give it time. Trust the process.

I wanted to write this because I know MANY women struggle with this and I hope my story can help in some way. Stay JYM Girl Strong, ladies!

Meet JYM Girl Katie Kollath, MS