Aggressive diets like juice fasts or extreme calorie reduction may sound tempting, but they can leave you with a sluggish metabolism. This makes it more difficult to maintain your new weight. If you've suffered from the effects of a prolonged overly-aggressive diet, here's what you can do about it.
Picture: Stadt Braut/Flickr
First, let's look at what happens to your metabolism after crash dieting for a prolonged period of time. Registered dietitian and fitness author Georgie Fear explains:
One of the factors is a decline in resting metabolic rate (RMR), otherwise known as how many calories an individual would burn while resting for 24 hours. Formerly obese people, successful dieters, patients with anorexia nervosa, and physique competitors who have who have been in an energy deficit for some time can all burn 10-15% fewer calories at rest than regression based equations would predict -- it is this discrepancy which is commonly referred to as metabolic adaptation.
Obviously, the best thing to do is make sure that your diet is sustainable from day one. But perhaps, like that horrible tattoo with your ex's name, the damage is already done.
Georgie suggests "reverse dieting", which would be akin to tattoo removal:
Increase by as many calories as necessary to produce a slow but steady positive trend in weight, about one pound per month for women and up to 2 pounds per month for men. Gaining weight faster than this doesn't change the process of recovering metabolic rate; it only increases the chances of adding significant fat mass. Gaining more slowly is a strategy to help with gaining a greater proportion of lean tissue while in positive energy balance.
To be clear, there's nothing magical about "Reverse Dieting". It simply allows you to undo some of the metabolic sluggishness that crash dieting inflicts. In addition, don't use reverse dieting as a justification to gain weight back or indulge. You still have to maintain your old habits.
For more instructions on reverse dieting, including what to eat and how much, see the full article below.
The Facts on "Starvation Mode" and Reverse Dieting [AskGeorgie.com]