Reverse or Recovery?
So it's been a while since I've posted here and I hope I haven't lost you all yet... I am working on my Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification! I am very excited to add this certification to my "toolbox". It is confirming what I already know while building upon my current knowledge and I am looking forward to using those "tools" to help my clients even more!
And now, for the thought at hand.... Years ago when I first started competing, I never heard of a reverse diet. I got done competing and I ate....a lot! At least I tried to slowly increased my calories but it wasn't fully controlled or planned and I became very paranoid about food. That was in '07... Fast forward to '12 and when I hired a wonderful coach who really shed some light on macros and reverse dieting. I started reading and researching after that and had my best post season yet. Reverse diet is about adding calories back in slowly with the goal of reducing fat gains and help a competitor not "blow up", making it tough to get leaner for the next comp. The toughest part is managing the addition of food...you are STARVING and the tendency to "fall off the wagon" is huge, making you feel like a failure.
Now let's fast forward to 2017 and the recovery diet method. Recovery takes more of what I like to call "healing" approach to post competition. Instead of painstakingly adding in food slowly, there is roughly a good 10-20% caloric increase THEN slowing down to a slower addition of food. If the urges to binge are still there, then the competitor can opt to add in more food until the urge to binge is controlled. The premise is getting the competitor to feel better, get hormones to a healthier level sooner and helping to reduce ghrelin/leptin drive to eat. Ghrelin is mainly secreted from our bellies and it tells our brain when we are hungry. That is why some competitors like 3 larger meals as their calories get lower. They get that full feeling. Leptin is secreted mainly from our fat cells. You can imagine, with lower body fat, there's less leptin being produced. This is another reason why when a competitor is deep into prep, they feel like chewing their arm off!! Now, I first heard of Recovery diet from 3DMJ: 3D Muscle Journey. If you don't know who they are, you need to look them up.http://3dmusclejourney.com/recovery-diet-reverse-diet/
Reverse vs Recovery....which one to I prefer? I leave that up to the competitor. Personally, the longer they are in prep, the more I like the Recovery approach. Especially if the competitor is going into an off season and wants to feel better as soon as possible. If they plan on doing a show in the near future, they would do better with a reverse, especially if the next competition is in a few weeks. The ideal approach would be to be ready early and reverse them into their show. Again, that is ideal....how often does it happen?? In my opinion, only after a coach and client have established some time together. Everyone loses weight differently and even on different competition years. Establish a relationship with a good coach and they will honestly look out for your best interest.
I will say the female competitor looks longingly at the reverse and wants to start off on that approach because they fear the scale and gaining too much body fat. I'm flexible and I do allow the client to choose their approach, after going over the pros and cons of each approach. But honestly, after doing the reverse for a week or two, they've switched to the recovery style and were much happier. This again comes back to ghrelin/leptin... These hormones regulate our hunger and are usually SCREAMING by this time. I stress before a client even gets close to their competition to be ready for the post season...it makes dieting down for a show like a Sunday walk in the park.
So before you get close to the stage, take a careful look at your post season and come up with a plan. Will it be reverse or recovery? What is your personality like? Take into account if you plan on competing in a few weeks or a few months, or is an off season in your future? If you start on your reverse and decide to change gears, make a structured plan to transition beforehand. Don't let ghrelin/leptin take you by surprise. The more you are prepared to handle your off season, the more likely you are to succeed. Also......if you "fall off the wagon" and just binge, WELCOME TO THE CLUB. No sane competitor will think less of you. But do try to adjust and learn from it. Maybe even adding in more food to reduce those binge episodes. Just remember to forgive and do not dwell on the binge. Move forward, learn from it and by gosh...go lift! Go use that food for probably one of the most epic days at the gym you've had in ages!
I wanted to share my experience and how I look at post season... It may differ from another coach's approach and that's ok. Also, by sharing great information by 3DMJ, I hope to introduce you to a wealth if information to help make you a more successful competitor.
Again, I hope you enjoy and I'll try to stay in touch.