In the first two parts of this article series Part 1 and Part 2, I talked about the importance of the reverse dieting concept and the importance of the glucose molecules from starchy carbohydrates. In this article, I want to show how to apply it for different goals.
First I want to talk about how someone can use this method to bring a very slow metabolism out of a metabolic wasteland. This person probably did a very low calorie diet or a very low carb diet for too long and is now suffering the consequences. (this was me by the way) The first step is to set protein at one gram per pound (170lbs =170grams)
A note on fat intake: during this process you’ll want to eat on the lower end of the scale, meaning closer to .3 grams per pound rather than .5. This is important because you need more room for carbs in the diet since they influence metabolism the most. Also when you eat more carbs and calories you need much less fat then you do when on a low carb diet. That being said you still need a certain amount, because too low of intake is just as bad as way too much. Fat intake (170lbs=(170 X .3 = 51 grams of fat) The rest go to glucose based carbs.
Lets do a little math, protein calories = 170 x 4 = 680, fat calories = 51 x 9 = 459 , 680 +459 = 1139 (lets just round to 1100). These are minimums. Meaning this person should be eating AT LEAST 1100 calories every single day of protein and fat. Here is where the process varies though. If a person has been dieting on 1200 calories a day then YOU HAVE TO SLOWLY REVERSE DIET AND SLOWLY BRING UP CALORIES. Especially in a dieted state, because the person is very sensitive to weight gain.
How to fix this person – start adding in 100 calories a week from strictly carbs. So after 1100 calories is met through protein and fat, raise the calories to 1300 (if you dieted on 1200) that leaves 50 carbs for the first week. The next week raise to 1400 calories 75 carbs, next week 1500 calories 100 carbs. By slowly adding in these carbs you give your a body a chance to learn how to process carbs once again after you restricted them. If you noticed you put on fat, slow the increase from 25 grams to 15 grams, but keep increasing the carbs by at least 5 grams every week. Over time (maybe only a few weeks) you will get your metabolism back to normal and by slowly doing it you want add much if any fat in the process. But once you get back to normal don’t stop the process, keep it going.
This is where it gets real interesting. For people that already eat a normal amount of food each day and are stuck with average metabolisms. They can apply the same process as the above example to increase the rate of the metabolism. This person should only add in about 5-10 grams of carb each week, but over time it can make a significant difference.
Using my diet as an example. Right now I’m eating on average about 2300 calories a day, so 2300 -1100 (from protein and fat) = 1200 calories left for carbs, 1200/4 = 300 carbs a day. So currently 300 carbs/170 protein/51 fat. Recently I have been plateauing at 170 lbs for almost 2 weeks, so this week I’m going to increase carbs to 310 (40 calorie increase) each day. Pretty awesome process and I was once an idiot eating 1200 calories a day under 50 grams of carbs a day and WASNT LOSING FAT. (not fun) I’m in a much better position today and it feels really good to reverse diet, because instead of constantly decreasing calories I’m constantly increasing them.
Just for a quick look at the potential of reverse dieting – taking my numbers above of 300 carbs /170 protein/51 fat, lets say I increase my carbs 5g each week for a year. 52 weeks of the year x 5 grams of carbs =250 extra carbs a day. That would put my numbers at 550 carbs /170 protein / 51 fat. Sound to good to be true? – Believe it. Keep protein and fat relatively constant and gradually raise (starch and glucose) by 5 grams each week, its that simple. The only problem I see is that I may not be able to eat that much everyday. (which is a good problem to have) Once I build up to it I’ll probably huddle around 400 carbs a day.
This is not a made up or new process either. Bodybuilders do it all the time in the same fashion I used above. They keep protein and fat constant and when they reach sticking points they keep raising carbs until the desired level of muscle is gained. I have heard some bodybuilders needing over 700 carbs a day to grow new muscle. Insane, but true. The main reason this happens is because the body keeps adapting to their energy intake and to get results they need to feed it more and more. The body is incredibly adaptive, so if your body can adapt to very low energy intake, why wouldn’t it be able to adapt to a very high energy intake? – That’s the beauty of it, it can and will!
To apply this process to muscle building, there is a concept out there called Maximum Nutrient Partitioning, that Matt Stone wrote about on his blog. Basically its the most efficient way possible for someone to raise their metabolism, while gaining lots of lean muscle mass with little to no added fat. (recall from the part 2 that De Novo Lipogenesis is not the most efficient process and rarely occurs) Heres a summary:
- Greatly overfeed on starch and eat a very high carb to dietary fat ratio (meaning high carbs and low fats)
- Lift Weights
- Eat glucose based carbs (starch) over sucrose (sugar) and fructose (fruit)
- Eat enough calories
Matt Stone recommends a very low fat intake, but I don’t. Recall from Part 2, that if you dip below a certain level of dietary fat (under 10% of calories), then De Novo Lipogenesis starts. (Not good) To avoid this problem keep eating the minimum amount recommend above (.3 grams per pound) an don’t go lower. You definitely want to keep fat around this level though, because when you eat that many carbs, besides the dietary fat you need for hormones and normal functioning, the REST WILL GET STORED.
The rest of the advice is pretty good though. Carbs release insulin, fill glycogen stores, promote an anabolic environment, support natural hormones, allow protein and fat to perform essential functions, increase fast twitch muscle fibers (the ones that grow the largest – think of an NFL linebacker), lower cortisol levels and enhance sleep. These are all VERY important functions in building muscle and just to be healthy in general. So when it comes to building muscle, carbs are very essential.
Bottom Line: This is a really big topic and I could write all day about it because its so interesting. Eat your protein and fat minimums everyday and slowly increase carbs between 5g-25g each week to speed the metabolism to the desired rate. One more thing I want to mention is to picture your metabolism as a fire. When your eating the minimum amounts of protein and fat and no carbs, your fire is burning very low and is probably getting ready to burn out. Once you throw some logs back on the fire, that fire greatly increases. (In your metabolisms case – the logs are glucose based carbs) What happens when you keep throwing logs on the fire? It keeps growing until you stop throwing logs on to it. Same concept for the human metabolism, which is one of the most incredible things I have ever learned about.