The most common characteristic for women who commence nutrition coaching with us, is chronic underrating combined with periods of overeating or binging. The majority of our clients will commence a reverse diet prior to a deficit phase when they have a fat loss goal. This is due to their average maintenance intake being so low. This case study will look at our PB Fit Director, Perri’s, most recent reverse.


Our intent with this post is to shed light on the fact that a reverse diet can involve periods of time where you may sit at a higher body fat level than what you are comfortable with. It’s common on social media to see the before and after images of a reverse diet , with the after showing the subsequent deficit phase, without much attention given to what occurs during the build. Some clientele are the the minority, and will see body recomposition results as they increase their energy intake. However most women will experience weight maintenance or increase during a reverse. This can be highly uncomfortable for the woman as they generally feel like their body doesn’t physically represent the work they are putting in during this process, and as progress during a reverse isn’t as aesthetically based it can feel demoralising to the woman.


This is the time when we focus in on non-body weight and non-scale related wins. Has your sleep improved? Has your energy increased each day? Are you able to have more mental clarity and memory recall on a day to day basis? Are you loads in the gym going up with the higher energy intake and your strength improving?


The time will pass anyway. You have the option to continue to decrease calories to extremely restrictive intakes, that impacts hormonal functions and daily quality of life (keeping you in the exact same yo-yo cycle of body fat) or spend that same time period working on your overall health, increasing metabolic capacity and working towards an improved body composition. Both will be uncomfortable and, honestly frustrating, but only one option will give you the end result you’re after.


Case Study – Perri 24 Week Reverse + Deficit Phase



The first six months of 2018 saw my training volume and intensity decrease dramatically due to prioritise else where and by July I had lost a significant amount of muscle mass impacting my body composition and strength levels. I was lethargic every day, had trouble with my memory and generally felt subpar as over the previous 6 months I had also not prioritised my energy intake and my maintenance had dropped to around 1600 calories per day. For my output required each day, even with reduced training output, this was incredibly low.


Due to my history with restrictive dieting I have noticed a trend of under eating and gaining body fat in myself, because my body would overly compensate by reducing my bodily functions speed and my NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) at a far greater than what I would consider normal for someone without such a restrictive history.


I spent the initial 8 weeks in a Build/Reverse Phase increasing my energy intake by 950 calories in total from my start point and gaining 3.3kg in the process.


Start BW – 66kg
Start Body Fat – 29.7%
End Build BW – 69.3kg
End Build Body Fat – 32.7%


I gave myself 16 weeks for my deficit phase and I knew I’d be utilising a 3 weeks deficit with a one week maintenance during this time. At 69kg, my goal was to drop around 250-350g of body weight (BW) per week which  would put me at 0.3-0.5% decrease in BW per week. This would put me at total loss of approximately 4-5.6kg total in 16 weeks time.



From the graph, each spike shows where my maintenance weeks sat within the plan. The reason I utilised the 3 week deficit/1 week maintenance is purely due to prior knowledge that my body responds best utilising this manner as opposed to a linear deficit. My dieting history tends to mean that too great of a deficit or for too long, results in my body holding  BW or even begin to gain by compensating elsewhere with energy expenditure reduction.



The red and green correlate to whether my BW drop was within my 0.3-0.5% goal. Red meant too great of a drop and green meant I was within my target. I initially started with a 200 calories deficit but as you can see I went into the red right away so for the next deficit block I decreased the deficit to a 150 calories deficit.


Two things to keep in mind. As my BW dropped so did the weight equivalent of 0.3-0.5%. For example 69kg with a 0.5% drop is 345g while 64kg with the same drop is 320g.


I’ll also point out each deficit period is either a 200 calories or 150 calories drop for the entire 3 weeks and not a further deficit each week. I’d rather hold on a deficit to allow my body time to respond.This is different for everyone. If I had plateaued during these weeks I may have dropped further.


Deficit Block 1 was a 200 calorie deficit, which was a tad too much so I decreased the deficit to 150 calories total for the next block (Deficit Block 2).


Deficit Block 3 is minus another 150 calories and Deficit Block 4 is minus another 200. The later, resulted in too great of a drop so I kept my future deficits at 150 cal.


The goal at the end of the 24 week period is to rebuild my energy intake back up, as the total decrease in calories was 950 calories p/d (the same as what I initially added in during the build phase) but I can now re build at a slower pace and stay closer to my current body fat % before entering into another deficit.


Start BW – 66kg
Start Body Fat – 29.7%
End Build BW – 69.3kg
End Build Body Fat – 32.7%
End Deficit BW- 64.4kg
End Deficit Body Fat – 25.8%


Build – 4 x strength per week (PB Fit PB Empower program), No Cardio
Deficit Block 1 + 2 – 4 x strength per week (PB Empower program), Avg 8000 steps per day
Deficit Block 3 + 4 – 5 x strength per week (PB Empower program + session similar to SW), Avg 10,000 steps per day


– BW is the weekly average.
– Macros aren’t shown as they’re only relevant to my body.
– I don’t have a period so don’t experience the weight gain associated with a menstruation week
– If I hadn’t focused on a build first I would have had nowhere to progress too in the deficit.
– I tend to push my build phases up quickly as I’m impatient and don’t mind holding some extra body fat for period of time.
– Body fat measurements will look different to everyone. Some people will have abs at 20% while some need to get to 13%. It’s all relevant to the person and it’s also just one point of measurement.


When it comes to  deficit, there is such a thing as loosing too much weight too soon! 0.3-0.5% is ideal to help minimise excessive lean muscle mass loss whilst in a deficit. All up, this Build and Deficit block was 24 weeks long! That’s just under 6 months. So I urge you to think logically, rationally and long term with your own body composition and fat loss goals. There is no rush, and if you do rush, your body may not respond how you’d like it too in the long run. Your health is always the number one priority.


Do you feel like you’re dieting hard but not seeing the result you’d expect? Or does this sound like you and think you may need to reverse diet? Get in touch with us.


To see further case studies from PB Fit on reverse dieting head to our blog for our article on Reverse Dieting here.


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