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Copyright © 2014 by Sohee Lee

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4. Foreword
8. About the Author
10. Introduction
16. Understanding the problem
16. What is Metabolic Adaptation?

18. Who’s Susceptible?

21. Why You Should Pay Attention
21. Weight Loss Diets Can Make You Fat
23. The Oprah Paradox
26. The Psychology of It All
31. Biological Mechanisms
37. You Can’t Diet Through It
39. Be Wary of “Experts”
42. How to Reverse Diet
43. Understanding Macronutrients
44. Setting Baseline Macros
46. Assessing and Making Changes
50. Food Choices
54. Resistance Training
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55. Cardio
56. When Does Reverse Dieting End?
57. Expectations
62. What’s Next
65. Recommended Resources
67. Recommended Coaches
70. Frequently Asked Questions
81. Acknowledgements
83. Glossary
87. Works Cited

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
If you diet hard enough, you can reach your bodyfat goal. That much is straightforward.

But then what?

Most of us who diet don’t consider the aftermath. We


just have our goal: we want to lose 10, 20, 30, maybe
100lbs. But what about after that? Will this bodyfat
magically stay off?

Reverse dieting is a concept that I never even thought

about for the first five years of my coaching career. It
never occurred to me as something that was needed
or worthwhile. It simply wasn’t my job to worry about

My job was just to help people hit their goal.

As a scientist, however, I was growing increasingly disturbed by some of my observations.

I noticed that people who worked with me year-round were typically having a much easier
time getting in shape and keeping the bodyfat off, while those who hired me to lose
bodyfat and then went off on their own struggled a great deal more. They would come
Reverse Dieting

back to me to diet down again, and it seemed like every time we would go through a diet
cycle, we would have to get more and more restrictive.

I started to wonder why there was such a schism.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Those who didn’t have a plan in the post-diet period would tend to rapidly re-gain their
bodyfat they lost, but did not recover their metabolic rate to the same extent as people
who gradually re-introduced calories over time.

Conversely, individuals who gradually reintroduced calories took a bit longer to recover
from the diet, but had a tendency to keep off more of the bodyfat they lost and eventually
were able to have less bodyfat with a recovered metabolic rate. Thus, when they went
to diet down again, things were easier because they had a faster metabolic rate and less
bodyfat to lose.

These observations, however, were just that: observations.

And I wondered if the scientific community had observed the same phenomena in the
scientific literature.

What I found was disturbing.

Research shows that we are very good at losing weight; millions of people do it
successfully every year.

What we struggle with is keeping that weight off.

Eighty percent of people who lose weight regain it within a year, and up to two-thirds of
those actually put on more bodyfat during the post-diet period than they lose in the first
place. In other words, they end up with more bodyfat than they started with.
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The scientific data suggests that if you don’t want excess bodyfat, your only chance is to
never gain it in the first place.

Indeed, the data is very grim.

Consider the way most competitors diet: startlingly low calories and hours upon hours of
cardio. Then, after the show, they reintroduce food quickly (mostly in the form of post-
show binge eating). So by beating their metabolic rate down through very low calorie
dieting and then massively overfeeding post show, they create the perfect storm for rapid
fat gain and bodyfat overshooting.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Even your average person who has no interest in competing has likely dieted in a similar

My father, for example, went on a ketogenic diet and lost 30 pounds. Great, right? He then
went on to re-gain 50 pounds shortly thereafter. Ah, not so great after all.

Most of the popular mainstream diets tend to be very low calorie diets. Sure, they produce
weight loss, but at what cost?

Diets fail.

How can we break this cycle of massive weight regain post diet?

Some people will tell you that you just have to stay on your diet year-round.

Good luck with that. I don’t call 1500 Calories per day “living”; it’s simply not maintainable.

We have to focus on employing a strategy that recovers metabolic rate in the post-diet
phase while minimizing fat regain.

This is where reverse dieting comes in.

To be clear, the purpose of reverse dieting is not to lose bodyfat, but rather to recover
your metabolic rate so you 1) minimize fat gain and 2) have a better shot at future fat loss
phases being increasingly successful.
Reverse Dieting

I should warn you as well, reverse dieting is not easy. In many cases, the first few weeks or
months may feel more difficult than the actual fat loss phase itself. If you do it correctly,
however, it will set you up for long-term metabolic success.

When Sohee asked me to help her with this book, I was conflicted, to be honest. Because
on the one hand, there currently exists virtually no scientific research on reverse dieting
itself - only what we have observed with clients.

Yet at the same time, scientific peer review process is extraordinarily slow, and it may be
ten years before we see relevant data published, if not longer.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
If we have a methodology that can be of use to people, we have a responsibility to share it

On a personal level, I can tell you that Sohee poured her heart and soul into this book and
spent many hours on the phone with me to make sure she left no stone unturned.

You will find hard scientific data on weight cycling, diet failure, bodyfat overshooting, and
metabolic adaptation. You will also find a plethora of information on how to hopefully
mitigate all these negative outcomes from dieting.

The information reported in the book is mostly based on our experiences, though we do
rely heavily on the scientific evidence above to guide our claims.

We want you to get to your best body but also do it in a healthy, maintainable way that
doesn’t involve three hours of exercise per day and ultra low calories.

We both wish you the very best on your journey forward breaking the cycle.

I hope you enjoy this book.


PhD Nutritional Sciences
Reverse Dieting

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
About the Author

Before we move forward, I think it only makes sense that you get to know me a little bit.

My name is Sohee Lee, and as I type this up, I’m a 24 year-old living in Savannah, Georgia.
I came here by way of New York City, by way of Connecticut, by way of the Bay Area
where I attended Stanford University. I have my Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology with a
Reverse Dieting

concentration in Psychosocial and Biological Determinants of Health.

Basically, that’s just a really overcomplicated way of saying I’m really interested in the
social and biological aspects that make us human.

My fascination with fitness stems from a 10-year eating disorder (anorexia and bulimia)
that I have since kicked to the curb. What initially started out as an obsession with weight
loss has, over the years, morphed into a genuine love for the field of fitness – not just
strength training, not simply the nuances of nutrition, but more so the psychological
aspect of it all.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
I’ve dieted many times, and I’ve also been through a few “bulk” cycles – not all of them
intentional. (Oops.)

I stumbled across the concept of flexible dieting a few years back when I found myself
struggling (badly, might I add) with following meal plans and seeing foods in black and
white. At that point, I was at an all-time low and convinced that I simply didn’t have the
discipline, willpower, or self control to ever be lean again. I was binging every other day
About the Author

and hating every minute in the gym.

Luckily, things have changed for the better now.

It’s been two and a half years since I launched my brand, SoheeFit (formerly known as
Sohee Lee Fitness). I’ve written more than a hundred articles, both for my own site and for
other publications. I’m a contributing writer for Bodybuilding.com, and my work has also
been featured in Shape, Yahoo! Health, Muscle&Fitness Hers, and Livestrong, just to name a
few. Most recently, I had my first in-print article published in Australia’s April 2014 issue of
Oxygen magazine. Incidentally, the topic of that piece was reverse dieting.

I’m also an online coach specializing in fat loss and reverse dieting with an emphasis on
behavioral psychology. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients all over the world, not only
helping them achieve their physical goals, but also undergo a mindset transformation.
There is perhaps nothing more fulfilling to me than walking someone through a paradigm
shift with his or her approach to fitness.

I believe that less can be more, and I believe that science is on our side.
Reverse Dieting

I believe that the long-standing thought of suffering to get to your fitness goals is obsolete.
There are better, smarter, less painful ways of going about things – and we know that now.

The fitness industry is changing, and I hope to be a positive part of that movement.

Fitness Professional

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
This reverse dieting guide is for anyone and everyone looking to maximize their metabolic

capacity. In other words, if you want to learn how to eat more food on a daily basis and
make nice with carbohydrates without blowing up, you should probably pay attention.

If your calorie intake has been next to nothing and your fat loss efforts have yielded little
to no results, perhaps it’s time to try something different. Perhaps it’s time to reverse diet.

Even if you’re not suffering from an abused metabolism, it’s perfectly fine to apply what
you will learn in this book.

This is not intended for anyone looking for a quick fix. I’m not promising you an overnight
transformation by any means, and you probably won’t get six-pack abs (at least, not
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Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
immediately) from what you learn here. I refuse to beat around the bush or promise false
results. That helps no one.

Here’s the truth: reverse dieting requires a lot of patience and will force you to think
outside the box of what results you can achieve in the next few weeks, and instead focus
on your long-term transformation.

Do you want to be able to lose fat later on without feeling like you’re white-knuckling it all
the way through? Then this book is for you.

Do you want to know what it feels like to be able to consume an ample amount of
carbohydrates every day and not balloon overnight? Then this book is for you.

Are you a physique coach looking for quality resources from which you can learn and
consequently provide a better service for your clients? Then this book is for you.

Whether you’re a trainer, client, stay-at-home mom, student, or seasoned competitor, if

you’re at all curious about how to edge your way out of a diet and heal your body from
years of under-eating, this will prove to be a valuable tool to keep in your toolbox.


Losing weight is easy; keeping it off is the problem.
Reverse Dieting

All’s fine and well when you put yourself on your first diet. You may find the fat on your
body melting away and the pounds dropping off like flies. You may feel increasingly
confident as the scale weight goes down, and for a while, you don’t mind that you’ve
restricted yourself to a dozen foods all in the name of fat loss glory.

You reach your goal look. You proudly slide your favorite pair of jeans over your hips with
ease, and they button with a satisfying snap.

To celebrate your incredible feat, you take some friends out to dinner and you feel no
qualms whatsoever about reaching repeatedly for the bread basket. You then order
an appetizer just for yourself – fully-loaded nachos – plus a main dish of that succulent
burger with a side of fries. And a beer. Make that two.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
You deserve this, don’t you?

After months and months of denying yourself carbs, alcohol, and anything even remotely
tasty, you’re convinced that you can now let go of the reins on your diet and finally eat
with abandon.

Three weeks later, you’re standing in your kitchen in a drunken stupor and you realize that
you’ve somehow undone all the hard work you’ve put in. Not only are you busting out of
your jeans, but you no longer fit into your old clothes. You gingerly step on the scale, and

to your dismay, you find that you’ve piled back on all the weight you lost plus ten more
pounds. And to add insult to injury, you look like you’ve actually lost muscle and gained
more fat than ever before.

Out of sheer desperation, you dramatically throw the half-eaten éclair in your hand across
the room and you vow to put yourself back on the diet.

And there you go, back on that yo-yo grind. Lose ten, gain twenty. Lose eight, gain twenty-

Doesn’t seem to end, does it?

Reverse Dieting

I wrote this book for those of you who can identify with the above
For those of you who have wondered how it’s possible to not only get
lean but to stay lean.
For those of you who are beginning to doubt that there’s any sensible
way to wean yourself off of a diet.
For those of you who are sick of subsisting on shockingly low calories
with little to no return.
This is for you.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Coaching people 1-on-1 is not enough.

Replying to emails, Tweets, and Facebook queries is not sufficient.

I wrote this book with Layne Norton’s blessing because we want quality information to
continue to spread like wildfire.

We need to reach more people. We have to help more, expand more, and do more for
those who come to us for guidance.

Unfortunately, as much as we’d love to sit down individually with each and every person
who approaches us for our expertise, there are only 24 hours in a day. We can only juggle
so much.

I want people to fully grasp the concept that fitness is not just about fat loss – and when it
is, it doesn’t have to leave you miserable.

I want everyone to get that the solution to your fitness woes is rarely ever “just try harder.”

In essence, I’ve removed the barriers of time, money, and geographic location, and I’ve
come up with a solution – this book! – that you can peruse at your leisure at a price you
can afford from the comfort of your own home.

I’ve put forth my best efforts to make this book as comprehensive as possible, covering
what I believe to be the most important aspects of this topic as well as going over some of
the most frequently asked questions.
Reverse Dieting

I’ve taken what we’ve learned from working with dozens of clients and laid it all out in the
following pages. Everything is written in layman’s terms, so that even those of you with no
scientific background can easily grasp the concepts covered.

The goal is for you to be able to walk away from this and successfully implement at least
one full reverse dieting phase utilizing the tools and tricks provided for you.

Come in here with an open mind, a willingness to learn, and a desire to make your health
a top priority.

Your life transformation starts now.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton

JESSI JEAN: 5’4”, 23 Y/O

Coach: Layne Norton
Reverse Dieting

Before reverse dieting End of reverse dieting End of contest prep

139lbs 160lbs 127lbs

155p/165c/50f 155p/280g/62g 145/150/32

“ My story of reverse dieting and then my transition into contest prep is not one that is
absolutely mind blowing, but even the little changes I experienced throughout the journey
absolutely changed my life.

I came to Layne after an incredible restrictive/ “clean eating”/copious amounts of cardio contest

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
prep desperate to find some sort of balance again. I had gained over 20lbs post show and my
hormones were completely out of whack.
As I begun the reverse diet and slowly increased my calories week to week, I began to regain a sense
of balance in my life. My strength in the gym continued to increase while the weight I gained was
minimal. My relationship with food was normalizing again as no foods were off limits.

As the weeks passed my hormones, mood swings, and emotions started to balance out as well.

In the middle of my reverse diet, I had surgery and was unable to train for about 4-5 weeks. I did
not maintain the same rigid consistency with my nutrition during this time and put on about 5-7lbs.
Although I was uncomfortable with the weight I was at, I knew that if I continued to push as many
calories as possible it would pay off when I began to cut for contest prep.

After my recovery, I began to train and increase my calories yet again. At the end of my reverse I
had put on about 11lbs total. This may sound like a lot, but what amazes me is that throughout
my 24-week contest prep I was able to lose over 23lbs without starving myself or doing cardio twice
a day as I had done during my previous prep. In fact, the most cardio I ever had to do throughout
my contest prep was four 30-minute HIIT sessions per week. I never spent more than two hours a
day total in the gym and was able to maintain incredible strength and energy throughout the entire
prep process. This was not the case in my previous prep.

My hormones were stable the entire prep and I truly feel great. Not restricting any foods and
following a flexible diet has also been a huge blessing. I feel no need to binge as I can eat whatever I
want within my allotted macros while continuing to make progress towards my goals. This has been
Reverse Dieting

nothing short of freeing.

I have regained my love for the sport of bodybuilding and am forever grateful for all that I have

I look forward to beginning my next reverse diet following this competition season and hope to
maintain as much leanness as possible while increasing my macros, strength, and athletic abilities.


Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Understanding the Problem


The truth is, there is no clinical definition for metabolic adaptation. As a relatively new
concept, there have unfortunately been no scientific studies done on the topic to date.

But first, let’s clear the air. Originally coined by Scott Abel, the term metabolic damage
describes a phenomenon in which the body refuses to shed fat despite what would
typically be considered dieting calories and activity levels. Conversely, the body may also
experience fat gain in excess of what is predicted by caloric intake and activity level.

In this book, we prefer to utilize the more descriptive term metabolic adaptation. Note
that the two terms can typically be used interchangeably.

But even so, this definition doesn’t quite suffice, as there are numerous caveats.

For one, after a long stint of low calorie dieting, weight gain is normal and expected. This is
often observed in bodybuilding competitors who, after a long prep season, may overeat or
Reverse Dieting

even binge eat. When this happens, the competitor is said to be going through a rebound,
which is distinct from metabolic damage because the individual is putting him or herself
into a caloric surplus, albeit unintentionally.

You also have people who may have been handed the short end of the genetic stick and
consequently have naturally slower metabolisms than normal (through no fault of their
own, might I add). If this is the case, then what may be considered a standard caloric
deficit for the average Joe may not be enough for this specific individual. As such, it
becomes necessary to cut calories further in order to elicit the desired fat loss response.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Metabolic adaptation, conversely, is the result of a period of chronic dieting and is typically
exacerbated by multiple weight loss and regain cycles.

In other words, the body is very, very pissed off.

Understanding the Problem

Signs and symptoms of metabolic adaptation may include, but are not limited to:

»» Lack of energy
»» No enthusiasm for training
»» Inability to lose weight despite chronically low calories
»» Loss of menstruation (for females)
»» Osteoporosis/osteomalacia
»» Underactive or nonfunctioning thyroid

We should note, additionally, that a mild degree of metabolic adaptation is normal in just
about any given fat loss process. This can be more or less expected in just about every

The problem arises, however, when this metabolic adaptation is taken to the extreme, and
the individual begins to experience health complications.

What can we do, then?

The responsible thing to do is to make a concerted effort to minimize the impact. That’s
Reverse Dieting

where reverse dieting comes into play.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
The first kinds of people that come to mind when thinking of metabolic adaptation victims
are competitors – bodybuilders and figure, physique, or bikini athletes. After all, the sport
Understanding the Problem

itself almost by definition necessitates alternating long periods of dieting with higher-
calorie off-seasons.

Unfortunately, even today, there are far too many competitors who continue to diet not
only frequently but also incorrectly. This is a recipe for disaster, setting them up for a
massive rebound or worse.

But the truth is that metabolic adaptation can happen to just about anyone.

I’m sure you all know that lady in your neighborhood who’s been yo-yo dieting for years
without much success. Perhaps she’s lamented to you about how each time she hits her
goal weight, she celebrates by going on a month-long binge, only to end up at a higher
weight than when she started. She then attempts to work that extra weight back off again
by going back to her diet, but since her body is no longer responding, she ends up cutting
calories even more and increasing her hours at the gym. All for what? For nothing.

To be fair, it’s not all entirely our fault that we don’t know any better.

We’ve got TV shows that showcase obese individuals embarking on dangerous crash diets
and exercising for hours a day. They crawl abjectly across the gym floor; they cry in the
corner out of exhaustion; they stare forlornly at piles of junk food that they’re forbidden
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from consuming. The contestants then hang their heads in defeat when they lose “only”
seven pounds in a week instead of ten or more.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Then we’ve got celebrity trainers touting a “recommended 1,200-Calorie daily intake” in
order to get the body of our dreams. They’ve made millions off of their diet books that fly
off the shelves, and we innocently fall prey to their ways.
Understanding the Problem

»» Slash ALL the Calories!

»» Cut out ALL the carbs!
»» Do ALL the exercise!

If this is what’s considered mainstream, then how else are we programmed to think?

It’s become the norm now to expect to feel hungry, deprived, exhausted, and miserable
when dieting. This, we’ve been brainwashed to believe, is the price we have to pay to sport
a body that’s worthy of admiration.

And if it doesn’t feel difficult? Then it doesn’t feel right. We convince ourselves that if it
feels easy and effortless, it must not be working – so in a panic, we continue to tighten the
reins on our diet and deprive ourselves of vital sustenance.

All this to say that anyone and everyone can become metabolically adapted over time.

Male or female, young or old, if you crash diet long enough, your body will start to fight
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Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Reverse Dieting

Coach: Layne Norton

Before reverse dieting End of reverse dieting

6-8 weeks pregnant 31 weeks pregnant

125p/130c/35f 130p/280c/65f

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Why You Should Pay Attention

There is perhaps no greater irony than the rapidly spreading obesity epidemic placed in
juxtaposition with the nation’s increasing obsession with being thin.

But we find ourselves in a catch-22, you see, because the alarming obesity rate actually
fuels the prevalence of fad diets, which in turn only contribute to the obesity epidemic. A
perpetual yo-yo of insanity.

How could this be?

There are multiple factors to consider here. Keep in mind that in most developed
countries such as the United States, people have become accustomed to getting what they
want right away. That late-night infomercial advertising that food blender you don’t need?
Only a quick, two-minute phone call and it’ll be sitting at your doorstep the next business
day. That high-tech kitty litter? You need it now – never mind that you don’t even have a
cat! We even have the option of having groceries delivered to our door, so we have no
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reason to leave the comfort of our living room couch.

We’re living in the era of instant gratification. We want things and we want them now –
otherwise it’s not good enough.

Ain’t nobody got time fo’ patience!

It stands to reason, then, that the kinds of diets that people tend to flock to are the ones
that promise the fastest results in the shortest amount of time with the minimum amount
of effort.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Poverty diets consisting of meal plans hovering around 1,000 Calories (maybe 1,500 if
you’re really, really lucky) and absolutely, positively no junk food allowed. Ever.
Why You Should Pay Attention

Maybe no dairy. Perhaps fruit is deemed off-limits as well. Cream in your coffee? Get outta

And it’s not that the weight loss diets don’t work; they do.

The problem is that they only work…until they don’t.

Then you’re in trouble.

In other words, the problem with our society is not our inability to achieve our desired
results so much as maintaining that fat loss.
Reverse Dieting

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Consider the Oprah Paradox. I’m sure most of you are familiar with her infamous weight
Why You Should Pay Attention

fluctuations over the years.

Oprah Winfrey started her career as a news anchor, and during this time, her weight
slowly crept up from 125 to 140lbs. A month on a 1200-Calorie diet had her back down to
her original weight of 125lbs.

A few years later, as she climbed the ladder of career success, she found herself sitting
at 212lbs. Shocked, she put herself on a liquids-only diet (swearing off any and all solid
foods) and worked her way back down to 145lbs.

Imagine her dismay when, a couple of years after that, she tipped the scale at 247lbs.
Her weight was at an all-time high, yet no doubt she may have been feeling at an all-time
low. During this time, she was nominated for an Emmy Award, but she was so ashamed
of her size that she prayed that her rival would win. Her reasoning? “I [wouldn’t] have to
embarrass myself by rolling my fat butt out of my seat and walking down the aisle to the

The following years didn’t fare too well in Oprah’s favor on the weight loss front. Even after
hiring a full-time personal trainer and chef complete with a strict regimen of when to eat
what and how to exercise, by 2005, she clocked in at 160lbs – still 20lbs heavier than when
she’d first started dieting.
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In 2009, just four years later, her weight settled at 200lbs.

“How did I let this happen?” she asked herself.

Since then, she unfortunately has not had much more success on the fat loss front.

This is what has been affectionately dubbed as the Oprah Paradox: the difficulty which
those with seemingly high levels of self-control experience with controlling their own

These kinds of people seem to thrive in all other areas of their life – climbing up the ladder
in the workplace, getting the top grades in school, and flourishing in their personal and

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
emotional lives. Yet when it comes to managing their weight (and more accurately, their
body fat levels), they just can’t seem to figure it out.
Why You Should Pay Attention

How could this be? How does this make sense?

Those with high self-control are actually only marginally more successful in their weight
loss efforts than those with low self-control2. It would stand to reason, then, there must be
something else going on beyond willpower.

The explanation lies in how the body works.

When you’re standing in line at the grocery store biting your tongue while the lady in front
of you pulls out a binder full of coupons, your body doesn’t react the same way as when
you restrict calories. Working on a business report, going to bed early rather than staying
up and watching television, studying for an exam – all of these things are challenging to
different degrees, but they all happen at a more superficial level.

The body views caloric restriction as a threat to your survival, so it fights back.
Evolutionarily speaking, individuals with the capability to endure famines were the ones
most likely to survive. And while we live in a society of abundance today, those genes that
once helped our ancestors get by are still sticking around.

In other words, when you go all-out on a business report, you may receive rave reviews
from your boss without lasting repercussions to your health (save for perhaps some sleep
deprivation). When you go balls to the wall on your diet, on the other hand, while you may
Reverse Dieting

see some initial success, that will all come back to bite you – hard.

This yo-yo dieting phenomenon is not only emotionally distressing, but it has lasting
physiological implications as well. The thing is, once your body goes through one fat loss
cycle, it will fight back harder the next time around3. What this means is that the first
time you ever embark on a diet, your body may quite readily respond, and you may find
yourself leaning out relatively quickly. But each subsequent round, the fat loss will become
more and more difficult – and eventually, you’ll retain the extra weight you’ve gained post-
diet even when you’re consuming far fewer calories than before.


Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Things like hormones and brain chemicals (of which we’ll get more into later) all come into
play here in an attempt to hang onto every ounce of fat you have on your body.
Why You Should Pay Attention

What Oprah Winfrey went through was the result of a number of factors, including relying
on unrealistic, unsustainable methods to achieve her goal as well as wearing her body out.

And what she likely didn’t realize is that that exact approach is what got her into trouble
over and over again.

Oprah may just be the epitome of a metabolic adaptation victim.

Our hope is that you can learn from our dear Oprah as an example to fully understand
why metabolic adaptation is such a prevalent issue that we need to be paying attention to.
This is a problem, no doubt, but why is this happening and what can we do to fix it?
Reverse Dieting

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Let’s first understand why, psychologically, we tend to find it nearly impossible to stick to a
Why You Should Pay Attention

diet for any appreciable length of time.

Imagine that you’ve resolved to finally get rid of that spare tire around your waist. You
know that your six-pack is hiding under there, and you’re ready to finally achieve your best
self. In your excitement to get a jumpstart on your journey, you eagerly slash calories left
and right and confine yourself to a six-item food list. Go hard or go home, you tell yourself
with a crazed look in your eyes.

You start out more dedicated than ever. You couldn’t be more gung-ho.

Yet after just a few short months (or perhaps even a handful of weeks), a number of
scenarios begin to unfold.

Scenario A:
You’re sitting at the table with your family for dinner and you watch in horror as your
brother reaches for the bread basket and plops not one, not two, but three dinner rolls on
his plate. Appalling! You look at him in disgust as you sneer, “Don’t you know that’s so bad
for you?” Meanwhile, on your plate, you’ve got four ounces of dry, grilled chicken breast –
no oil! no butter! – and a cup of steamed green beans. Oh, and two almonds. (Can’t forget
those precious almonds.) As you take your first bite, you turn your nose up at your morally
inferior family members for being irresponsible with their food choices. Tsk tsk, such bad
people. They should learn to be more like you.
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Scenario B:
You’re finding it increasingly difficult to abstain from all of your favorite treats you used to
regularly indulge in. The box of Reese’s Puffs taunts you every time you open the kitchen
pantry, and you can’t stand it when your significant other orders pizza on Friday night.
One day, a coworker shoves a slice of birthday cake in your face. Just once slice, you say,
and you take a bite. Oops. As soon as that sugar hits your tongue, you’re blasted with a
powerful combination of guilt infused with titillating pleasure. Ah, what the hell, you think
to yourself, I’m already off the diet. So for the remainder of the day, you go out of your way
to inhale every bit of “forbidden” food you can get your hands on. You’re stuffed to the
gills, but there’s no stopping you. This may as well be your Last Supper.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Scenario C:
Despite having been a straight-A student in high school and graduating summa cum laude
Why You Should Pay Attention

from college, you find yourself falling off your diet more and more often. What starts off
as a moderate cheat meal quickly turns into a weekend full of binge eating, and you’re
finding that you just don’t have the self-control to stop this behavior. Your diet program
looked promising on paper, yet due to your inconsistent adherence to the plan, you find
the scale weight creeping up and your measurements steadily increasing.

Let’s break down each of the scenarios one by one.

Scenario A:
This black-and-white mindset is what will get you in trouble. By dubbing foods “clean”
versus “unclean”, “bad” as opposed to “good”, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Studies demonstrate that when you tell someone they can’t have something, the desire
for it increases even more4. As you continually fight the urge not to stray from your diet,
your willpower gradually depletes itself. But the more you tell yourself no, the more ego
depletion occurs – and the more ego depletion occurs, the harder it is to resist5.

Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that ego depletion can be caused by events
entirely unrelated to dieting. If you’re studying for a big test coming up, for example, that
will drain your willpower, as will something as innocuous as babysitting a few toddlers.
Both can lead to ego depletion which, over time, will make that bread basket look more
and more enticing and increasingly harder to resist.

What’s interesting to note, however, is that this ego depletion doesn’t occur in those who
Reverse Dieting

are not dieting. In other words, if you’re not on a mission to shed some fat, sitting next
to that bread and watching others relish their scrumptious desserts won’t do anything
to drain your willpower storage. Why? Because you know that you have the freedom to
indulge whenever you please. On the other hand, if you’re a dieter actively resisting the
urge to reach for those snacks, ego depletion will occur – and fast.

So while your intentions may seem innocuous at first glance – stay away from all the foods
you like yet supposedly are the cause for your extra weight – you’ll eventually find yourself
in a catch-22: to resist all the yummy treats, you need a good dose of willpower, which is
ironically depleted by your very act of self-denial; yet to restock your willpower storage,
you actually need glucose via food.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
What happens then?

Scenario B:
Why You Should Pay Attention

All hell’s broken loose.

This is more clearly demonstrated in a fascinating study conducted by researchers who

wanted to understand why self-control in eating was so elusive among even the most
accomplished people.

The subjects arrived at the lab after having not eaten for several hours. They were then
divided into two groups: one was given two large milkshakes, and the other drank just
one small milkshake. They were then asked to rate the taste of a number of cookies and
crackers, and they were encouraged to consume as many as they needed to in order to
rate all the snacks properly.

What the subjects weren’t aware of was that the rating forms were simply a hoax; the
researchers were really interested in monitoring their food intake.

What they found with the non-dieters was unsurprising: those who had consumed two
large milkshakes had merely nibbled at the snacks, while those who had enjoyed one
small milkshake ate a little more.

With dieters, it was a whole different story: the individuals who had downed the giant
milkshakes were the ones who actually ended up chomping down on far more cookies
and crackers than the other subjects. This was the opposite of what you would expect, and
Reverse Dieting

understandably, these findings left researchers stunned.

Because you’d set up such strict rules for yourself, you allowed no flexibility should
anything have gone astray. That means that as soon as you deviated even just a little bit,
all of a sudden you had no guidelines to follow. It was either stick to the food list or be
completely off-plan. In other words, once you broke past the limits – intentionally or not –
there were no limits, nothing holding you back.

You see no way of redeeming yourself until tomorrow (or next week), so you wave your
white flag and call the day a failure.

This is what’s known as counter-regulatory eating, more colloquially known as the what-

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
the-hell effect6.

Scenario C:
Why You Should Pay Attention

Why is it that, while you’re trying to be increasingly stricter on yourself, you’re failing that
much more in your fat loss efforts?

Ah. The devil is in the detail.

Dieting, perhaps more than any other activity, puts you in a mentally (and physically)
depleted state. The lack of glucose makes you crankier than normal, so you find yourself
reacting much more emotionally to the happenings on any given day . This includes
getting upset over the presence – or even the thought - of junk food. Anything deemed
off-limits by your diet becomes that much more tempting.

Let’s keep in mind what a typical diet entails: a slew of food restrictions, coupled with
stringent eating requirements – specific meals to be consumed at certain times of the day
no matter what’s going on.

In other words, dieting tends to place emphasis on external cues and in turn makes
people turn a blind eye to their internal cues.

Doesn’t seem so bad, right?

Ignoring your internal cues means that you no longer honor your hunger signals. So when
you feel your stomach growling, instead of grabbing a meal, you might look at the clock
and say, nope, still another two hours until I can eat. In this way, you lose touch with your
Reverse Dieting

cravings, and consequently, you also disconnect yourself from the natural signal that tells
you to stop eating once you’re satisfied.

This latter part is particularly troubling because this contributes to weight gain. As
we’ve learned, the more extreme the diet, the more your willpower is drained. The less
willpower you have available, the less you’re able to resist off-limits foods. And once
you’ve succumbed to your cravings, you’re crossed that bright line into the what-the-hell
zone and you end up caving into a binge because your body no longer knows when you’ve
had enough food.

Not so glamorous, is it?

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
But it’s just science.

So that’s what happens from a psychological standpoint. How does this affect you
Why You Should Pay Attention

physically, though?
Reverse Dieting

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Here’s a scary fact: dieting to lose weight is directly associated with future weight gain and
Why You Should Pay Attention

obesity. And the more times you diet throughout your lifetime, the more weight you will
eventually gain back8.

Following the conclusion of a fat loss cycle, weight regain is more the rule than the
exception, with up to two-thirds of the weight lost regained within a year, and almost all
regained within five years9.

Seems backward, doesn’t it?

When the body detects a reduction in energy intake, its anti-starvation mechanisms kick
in, even prior to actual weight loss. During this caloric deficit, thermogenesis is decreased
in order to conserve energy. In other words, the body slows its production of heat in an
attempt to reduce fuel utilization. The rate of protein and fat mobilization thus slows
down, reducing the rate at which the body’s tissues (both fat mass and fat-free mass) are
depleted 10. This has been found to occur in both normal-weight and obese individuals.

When the weight loss cycle is over and individuals return to ab libitum feeding,
thermogenesis suppression persists even during weight recovery, meaning that
metabolism tends to increase at a much slower rate than does bodyweight.

The hyperphagic phase that then follows is a time during which the individual
experiences increased appetite and consequently consumes more food. This is driven by
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the body’s demands for lean tissue growth (fat-free mass, or FFM) and not fat or BMI11,
meaning that your appetite will be directly correlated to the amount of FFM that was
lost during the weight loss cycle. The mechanisms behind why and how this happens
are unclear, though it has been postulated that skeletal muscle may play a role as an
endocrine organ.

With ab libitum feeding, fat mass is recovered at a faster rate than is FFM.

Did you read that?

If, after you’re done dieting, you eat to your heart’s content, you will put on fat
disproportionately quicker than you will put on lean tissue.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
This is exacerbated by a greater degree of weight loss (and thus fat and FFM depletion),
which further suppresses thermogenesis and thereby increases the fat-to-FFM recovery
Why You Should Pay Attention


Yet even when pre-weight loss fat-mass is 100% recovered, hyperphagia still continues.
This is because the reduced FFM also lends to increased appetite, and thus you are
predisposed to continue overfeeding until your lean tissue has been fully recovered. To
that end, more body fat is gained.

Ultimately, then, while your fat-free mass may be fully recovered, you will have also gained
back extra body fat, and you’ll end up likely weighing more than you did before dieting.

This is a phenomenon known as post-starvation weight (or fat) overshooting.

Unsurprisingly, you can imagine that the kinds of people who experience this tend to be
yo-yo dieters and athletes who need to make weight on a recurring basis (bodybuilders,
wrestlers, etc.). Now, while the studies do not establish a causal relationship, the strong
positive correlation does raise interesting questions about the physiology behind fat loss.

Simply put, the body doesn’t like change and works hard to maintain the status quo, a
phenomenon known as homeostasis.

(Ah, you might be saying. But how does homeostasis explain the trend over the years of
Americans steadily gaining weight? Wouldn’t homeostasis counteract that? To a degree, yes,
although it should be noted that the human body does have a bias toward energy intake
and storage over expenditure12. It’s easier, in other words, to put weight on than to peel it
Reverse Dieting

back off.)

There’s a widely circulating theory in the scientific community that the body has a specific
body fat setpoint that it will fight to maintain. This, in essence, is the place where your
body will tend to hover around if you were to simply eat at maintenance calories (that is, if
you’re not in a caloric deficit or surplus).

Deviate too far below this point and your body will be quick to adapt to make fat loss
more difficult (hence suppressed thermogenesis). Think back to all those times you’ve
dieted in your life. You may recall that the first few weeks you made tremendous progress
and it felt like you were coasting. Eventually, however, there likely came a point when

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
progress came to a crawl and you were forced to either drop calories further and/or bump
up the exercise. This is because your body became more efficient at utilizing your energy.
Why You Should Pay Attention

Sounds like a good thing, right? Typically it is, but in the realm of fitness and fat loss, it’s
the opposite. When we talk about an efficient metabolism, we mean that the body has
become better at executing tasks on less and less fuel. If you’d previously been burning
around 500 Calories an hour in the weight room, it may now have dropped to 420 Calories
for the same amount of work. This also means that your body has now adapted to
needing fewer Calories to maintain its current weight.

In sum, then:

Efficient metabolism = bad.

Inefficient metabolism = excellent.

(At least when we’re not faced with a famine.)

Got it?

Moving on, then.

Cellular adaptations. Think of mitochondria as the powerhouse of the cell. It produces

adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the body’s primary energy currency.

When you diet, your mitochondrial efficiency increases – that is, less input is required to
Reverse Dieting

produce ATP. It’s believed that this phenomenon may be explained in part by a reduction
in uncoupling proteins13, which make mitochondria give off extra energy in the form of
heat (thereby making them incredibly thermogenic).

Additionally, when you gain weight, the increased number on the scale is correlated
with an increase in the diameter of fat calls (known as adipocyte hypertrophy), which is
believed to be the primary feature of obesity14. Once the fat cells reached their limit in
volume, paracrine factors are released that trigger pre-adipocyte proliferation, which then
gives rise to adipocyte hyperplasia, or an increase in fat cell number.

In English: your existing fat cells grow to their maximum size when weight is gained, and

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
when they reach their limit, new fat cells are created in order to continue to accommodate
your weight gain.
Why You Should Pay Attention

Adipocyte hypertrophy is reduced with weight loss, though the hyperplasia is not.
Behavior weight loss, then, can reduce the size of fat cells, but the total number remains.
This may be due to a lack of apoptosis, or programmed cell death15, and to this day can
only be treated via liposuction.

Does this have implications for weight re-gain? Perhaps. We don’t know yet for certain.
However, lipolysis, or fat breakdown, is believed to be correlated with fat cell size and
surface area16, with smaller cells decreasing the rate of fat oxidation and simultaneously
holding onto ingested fue17.

Hormonal adaptations. The decrease in fat cell hypertrophy in turn reduces the secretion of
leptin, a hormone that plays an important role in appetite, hunger, and metabolism.

As well, research has indicated that within 24 hours of reduced energy intake, leptin levels
dip – even before any weight loss has occurred18. This does not bode well for dieters, as
leptin is largely responsible for the prevention of starvation, and reduced levels below a
certain threshold trigger a starvation response. Evidence points to this threshold actually
increasing proportionally with adipose tissue – so the more fat stores you have, the higher
the threshold that induces anti-starvation actions19.

Leptin may well be considered the king of all hormones when it comes to fat loss. Lower
levels decrease metabolic rate and physical activity20, and it also increases hunger and
Reverse Dieting

thereby food intake21. So when leptin is low, fat loss is slow.

The thyroid hormone T3 is also negatively affected by weight loss and low calorie dieting.
This reduces the body’s metabolic rate and may contribute to reduced lipolysis and
increased fat storage .

At the same time, the hormone ghrelin, which is responsible for appetite, increases,
making you hungrier than normal. Peptide YY3-36 (PYY) and cholecystokinin (CCK),
conversely, are two hormones that promote satiety; decreases in PYY and CCK levels have
been observed in dieting individuals23. Put more simply, weight loss leads to a reduction in
satiety as well as an increase in hunger.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Adipose tissue adaptations. Once the fat loss period is over, it’s not uncommon for
individuals to consume calories in excess of their previous intake (a phenomenon, as
Why You Should Pay Attention

we’ve discussed before, known as rebounding).

As fat is regained in this post-dieting phase, the fat cells enlarge. But now that there is a
greater total number of fat cells, the size of each cell may be smaller than at the previously
established setpoint. This means that there may be a reduction in leptin output at the
same body fat level as compared to the pre-dieting period.

Recall that more leptin equals better metabolism. Conversely, then, less leptin can have
adverse effects on the body when it comes to body composition.

Finally, weight loss increases insulin sensitivity in fat cells, which is a concern as it may
promote an increase in nutrient storage in the form of adipose.

Bottom line: the body will do everything in its power to maintain its body fat setpoint. Yes,
it sucks, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Particularly when undergoing multiple bouts of dieting, the body fights back harder and
harder each time.

Neural adaptations. In the neural system, food intake consists of three realms: the
homeostatic, reward-related, and inhibitory systems.

The homeostatic system is driven primarily by the hypothalamus and responds to caloric
energy imbalances by inducing eating.
Reverse Dieting

The dopaminergic signaling pathway processes the reward-related system, which is

driven by the perceived reward value of food. A donut, then, may have higher perceived
reward value than would, say, a dry chicken salad, and this reward-related system may
drive you to reach for that sweet treat.

Lastly, the inhibitory system in the prefrontal cortex is associated with dietary restraint
and behavioral inhibition24.

Under normal circumstances (e.g. non-dieting conditions), there is no need for

homeostatic-driven eating. But when the body perceives an energy restriction, the

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
homeostatic system will upregulate activity of the reward-related system, which then
makes high-calorie foods look all the more enticing25 26.
Why You Should Pay Attention

Right, but wouldn’t the inhibitory system kick into high gear to prevent you from stuffing
your face with ice cream?

Actually, the reward-related signaling appears to override inhibitory signaling27, which

may help explain why turning down those cookies seems nearly impossible – and actually
makes those “forbidden foods” that much more desirable. This thus illustrates the
biological bias toward energy intake and storage (as opposed to restriction).

That’s not to say that you’re never able to decline dessert. Over the short-term, the
inhibitory system is temporarily able to override the urge to consume high-caloric foods.
But over time – particularly once the diet is over – dietary restraint is decreased, indicating
erosion of inhibitory neural responsiveness, and subsequently weight gain occurs28.

Metabolic adaptations. Energy expenditure is decreased upon caloric restriction as

discussed above – but what may be startling is the fact that this occurs within mere hours,
before any metabolic tissue has been lost . Dieting leads to disproportionately reduced
energy expenditure than predicted for losses in metabolic mass, pointing to increased
metabolic efficiency.

What’s more, with every additional weight-loss-and-regain cycle, your body composition will
tilt more and more in favor of fat mass over lean mass30. In other words, each time you diet
and then gain the weight back, you will have an increasingly higher proportion of body fat.
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Why does this happen?

Research has shown that weight cycling increases lipogenic enzymes and reduces leptin
level in rodents31, though a casual relationship has not been established.

Oprah Winfrey, as you read by now, knows this all too well.

Can you relate?

When you couple a long period of caloric deficit with a post-diet massive overfeeding
phase, it can create the perfect storm for rapid and alarming fat gain.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Don’t get any ideas here.
Why You Should Pay Attention

If you learn that you’ve fallen victim to metabolic adaptation, you may be tempted to avoid
the reverse dieting route. After all, intentionally putting yourself into a caloric surplus for a
long period of time can be a scary, scary prospect.

You may think you’re being clever by planning on dieting just a bit more to push yourself
past the hazy fog of metabolic adaptation. Perhaps you harbor a paralyzing fear of
consuming more food (carbs, specifically). After all, there’s a good chance that you’ve
been told that carbohydrates are the devil and will make you gain fat instantly. So despite
finding yourself spinning your wheels for months and months on end, barely squeezing by
on low macros and making zero progress, you dig your heels into the ground and insist on
fat loss.

The answer to your problems, my friend, is not to continue to diet.

You cannot trick the system by pushing against it.

If you have any doubts, go back and read the prior section. Then read it again.

By keeping your calories in a chronically low state, you only exacerbate the biological
phenomena discussed.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Reverse Dieting

I cannot emphasize this point enough.

I know that’s not what you want to be told. And you may click away after having read that

But that shows me that you’re still in denial about your problem and you’re not yet willing
to tackle the issue head-on.

Let me repeat myself: you cannot fix metabolic adaptation by dieting through it.

Which means you can’t tell yourself that you’re going to lose just a few more pounds and

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
then come back to reverse dieting in a few months when you’re a little leaner.

I encourage you to keep an open mind and think of your long-term health.
Why You Should Pay Attention

Yes, the thought of not actively dieting can be petrifying. But a year from now, do you want
to have a healthy metabolism and a body that stays lean on an ample amount of carbs?
Or do you want to be in the same position you’re in now – constantly tired, hungry, and
Reverse Dieting

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
This may seem obvious, but it needs to be said.
You Are Just 12 Weeks Away

Not every fitness “expert” out there is going to have your best interests in mind.

Since the surge in awareness surrounding metabolic adaptation, many coaches have
come out claiming that they’re familiar with the problem and are well versed in helping to
fix the issue.

But for every coach out there who does mean well, there are ten more who look at you
and see nothing but dollar signs. If they play you the right tune, they’re hoping you’ll fork
over hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of dollars with false promises that they’ll help
you get your life back.

Were they singing praises about the virtues of fish and boiled chicken just yesterday? Do
they refuse to offer explanations and reasoning behind their methods? Do they preach
the magical powers of low-carb diets and strict meal plans?

Run away. Hang onto your wallet and run as fast as you can in the opposite direction and
don’t look back.

How do I know this? Because men and women alike have come to us, distraught after a
particularly miserable experience with a coach “reverse dieting” them on less than 1000
Calories per day and keeping the volume on the cardio cranked far too high.
Reverse Dieting

So why didn’t these people think for themselves and realize that something was wrong? You
may be wondering. You might think that it’s their fault that they got scammed, and you
may blame them for continuing with their coaches despite the red flags.

Are you familiar with the psychology of authority? If not, I suggest you read on.

Let’s look at the Milgram Experiment for example. Conducted at Yale University in 1961 by
psychologist Stanley Milgram, this study tested individuals’ willingness to obey authority
figures. More specifically, Milgram wanted to see if people would abide by a teacher’s
commands even if the proposed acts conflicted with their conscience.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
The experiment was set up as follows: the participant would be told that he or she was
participating in a study on how punishment affected learning and memory. Armed
with this knowledge, he or she was then assigned the role of Teacher. There would be
You Are Just 12 Weeks Away

a confederate in the next room, masquerading as a fellow participant, who would be

the Learner. The job of the Learner would be to answer the questions read out by the
Teacher. If incorrect, the Teacher’s role would be to deliver an electric shock, which would
increase in voltage the more questions the Learner got wrong32.

(We should note, just to be clear, that none of the shocks were actually real; the
confederates were simply acting.)

Common sense may tell you that once it became clear that the Learner was experiencing
a considerable deal of physical pain from the electric shocks, the Teacher would stop
delivering the shocks and promptly refuse further participation in the experiment.

Common sense, my friend, is wrong.

Much to everyone’s surprise, including Milgram’s, a full 65 percent of the participants

obeyed the experimenter’s commands until the bitter end – well past the point of the
Learner screaming in agony and pleading to have the experiment ended.

So were the participants psychotic? Not at all. They were completely normal. They actually
begged the experimenter to let them stop. They shook visibly, they sweated bullets, they held
their head in their hands. And yet they still adhered to the experimenter’s commands.
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The explanation stems from people’s deep-rooted desire to abide by authority, even if
the demands go against what we believe. In other words, “it is the extreme willingness of
adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of the authority” that makes it clear
why people seem to blindly follow orders.

Do you see parallels with this experiment and con artists in the fitness industry?

All of this to say: please be careful whom you hire and trust with your health.

You think it’s expensive to hire a professional?

Wait until you hire an amateur.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton


Coach: Layne Norton
Before reverse dieting End of reverse dieting
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168lbs 175lbs

High days: 225p/300c/53g 205p/345c/71f

Low days: 225p/140c/60f

Reverse dieting prevented me from binging post show as it gave me a goal to work

Due to the slow rise in calories, the amount of extra food I was able to eat far outweighed
the small amount of weight gain. At no point was there any rapid weight gain, which prevented the
mind games of guilt and wanting to start dieting again.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
How To Reverse Diet

Reverse dieting is a form of positive metabolic adaptation in which the body responds
in a favorable manner to increased food intake. This is achieved via a controlled diet
of steadily increasing macronutrient intake and is designed to prime you metabolically
without gaining excess body fat.

This process helps to counteract the negative implications of dieting discussed above and
is typically implemented after a diet.

Some have argued that reverse dieting isn’t a real thing, that it doesn’t exist, and that it’s
the same as simply switching over to a “bulk” phase at the end of dieting.

The problem, though, is that when you spike your caloric intake too quickly at the end
of a crash diet, your metabolic rate doesn’t have time to catch up to the change. This
means that the enormous caloric surplus gets shuttled into your fat storage, lending to
tremendous and alarming body fat gain in a short period of time.

In the same way that losing 30lbs of fat in a month is harmful to the body, so too is the
opposite process.
Reverse Dieting

At the absolute minimum, we want to coax the metabolic rate to return to normal – that is,
to what it was before you dieted in the first place.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Before I move forward, I’m going to assume that you have a baseline level of knowledge
regarding what macronutrients are. I’m also going to assume that you already know how
to count macronutrients.
How To Reverse Diet

Protein. Carbohydrates. Fats. Capisce?

If this is not the case, please take the time to read How to Count Macros by yours truly. I
promise you that all of what’s about to follow will make a whole lot more sense once you
do so.
Reverse Dieting

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
The best way to determine your reverse dieting macros is to start with your current intake.

If you haven’t really been tracking your intake, then log everything you eat for the next
three days. Try not to change your food choices or portions simply because you want to
How To Reverse Diet

be “good”; the more accurate a reading we can get, the better.

You can use the old-fashioned pencil-and-paper method to do this, and then find the
nutritional information of all foods online. Alternatively, you can download the MyMacros+
app and use that.

To be clear, for this process, we strongly recommend using a food scale to weigh
everything you’re eating and log all the ingredients of meals that you consume. Eyeballing
portions is less than ideal, especially when you need an accurate idea of what and how
much you’re eating.

From those numbers, increase your carb and fat numbers by 10-20%. Protein intake
can stay constant, as more is not necessarily going to be better. As long as you have a
minimum protein intake of 1g/lb bodyweight, that’s more than sufficient. If you’ve been
ingesting an unusually high amount of protein (1.5g/lb bodyweight or more), you may
even consider bringing that number down.

For example, let’s say you ended your diet at the following numbers:
Reverse Dieting

»» 150g protein
»» 120g carbs
»» 45g fats

From here, we have the following calculations implementing a 10% increase:

»» 150g protein

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
»» (120*1.1) = 132g carbs
»» (45*1.1) = 50g fats

If you’ve been calorie or carb-cycling, the same rules apply.

How To Reverse Diet

I’d recommend beginning with a more conservative bump until you have a better
understanding of how your body is responding to the increase in food.

Admittedly, it doesn’t look like much. And you may not think that it’s going to change
anything. But remember, we want to do this slowly in order to allow your metabolic rate
to come back up to speed.

If you wanted to adopt a more aggressive approach and increase your numbers by 20%,
you would have:

»» 150g protein
»» (120*1.2) = 144g carbs
»» (45*1.2) = 54g fats

This is just to give you an idea of how to calculate your starting macros.

So remember:
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• Protein number stays more or less constant (unless it’s too high, in which case you
can bring it down)

• Carbs increase 10-20%

• Fats increase 10-20%

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
When and how you make changes to your numbers is really going to depend on how your
body is responding.

You will ideally be taking measurements and pictures once every two weeks at the
How To Reverse Diet

absolute minimum. Waist measurement is critical, but it may also benefit you to keep
track of your hips, thighs, chest, and arm circumference.

Try to be as objective as possible. I understand it’s not always easy to do so, but not letting
your emotions get in the way is going to be critical to your success.

You will then make the following changes:

• If you’ve lost scale weight, measurements are down, and you’re looking leaner in
the mirror, you can add on 5-10% to your carb and fat numbers.

• If you’ve maintained your measurements and you’re looking the same, you can add
on 5% to your carb and fat numbers.

• If scale weight has increased, measurements have gone up, and you are visibly
carrying more fat, keep all numbers constant.

From here, continue for another two weeks before doing another check-in.

I strongly recommend keeping a close record of your macronutrient history as well as your
Reverse Dieting

corresponding weight and measurement changes. These will prove to be invaluable later
on as you assess your progress.

A 5% bump in macros may seem insignificant. But if you continue to increase your
numbers incrementally, over time it will add up.

Consider the following graphs as a visual. The first is what could happen if you were start
at 120g and increase your carb intake every other week by 5% for a full year. The second is
what could happen if, instead of biweekly bumps, you only increased your numbers once
a month.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton


Coach: Layne Norton

Before reverse dieting End of reverse dieting

Reverse Dieting

131lbs 121lbs

160p/160g/45f 160p/310c/70f

Reverse dieting has been the best decision I have ever made to improve my physique. I
have been competing for several years, and previously, after a competition, I would jump
back into my regular diet, gaining a significant amount of body fat in a short period of
time. This would cause me to become very frustrated and I would revert back to a diet
close to my competition diet, with very low calories. Making progress in lean gains was slow and my
energy levels were not where they should be. I often slept on the floor of my office during my lunch
hour as a result.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Reverse dieting has allowed me to add a significant amount of calories, I have ample food every day
(and I follow flexible dieting so there are no restricted foods) which in turn gives me energy to train
hard and the extra calories needed to gain lean mass. Most of all, I can enjoy food with my family
and friends and still feel I am on track and making progress. Starting a new competition diet will be
much easier as I will be starting from a position of very high calories, so when I reduce to lose body
fat, I will still be eating a relatively high calorie diet.

I believe it also forces me to be mindful of what I am eating and how much, and I can see the

physical changes as I progress. There is no need to gain a large amount of body fat or “bulk” in the
off season. I have learned that the most significant progress really is during the off season, before
you ever start the “competition diet.”
Reverse Dieting

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton



How To Reverse Diet







0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 52







Jan Feb Mar Apr May June Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
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Notice how, in the first graph, you could end the year at a daily carbohydrate intake of
447g. Can you imagine? Now, to be fair, very rarely is anyone going to be able to pull off
these numbers at such a consistent, astonishing rate.

The second graph depicts a somewhat more realistic change. With just monthly increases,
you could end the year at 215g of carbs a day – a full 95g more than what you started out at.

Does 5% seem like so little now?

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Now that you understand how much to eat as well as how and when to change your
numbers, we should discuss what you should be eating.

In the most general terms, you should eat what you want so long as it fits your macros.
How To Reverse Diet

The bulk of your choices should of course come from whole sources – think primarily
unprocessed foods. Refer to the chart below for examples of what you should be eating
most of the time. We recommend you print it out and take it with you on your next trip to
the grocery store to help you make responsible food choices.


• Egg whites

• Whole eggs

• Greek yogurt

• Chicken breast

• Turkey breast

• Pork tenderloin

• Canned tuna

• Cottage cheese
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• Extra lean ground beef

• Top round steak

• Top sirloin steak

• Flank steak

• White fish (cod, halibut, haddock, mahi mahi, tilapia, etc.)

• Salmon

• Protein powder

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton

• Old-fashioned oatmeal

• Brown rice

• Jasmine rice
How To Reverse Diet

• Couscous

• Quinoa

• Ezekiel bread

• Sweet potatoes/yams

• Squash (all varieties)

• White/Russet potatoes

• Fibrous vegetables

• Fruit


• Extra virgin olive oil

• Extra virgin coconut oil

Reverse Dieting

• Fish oil

• Ghee

• Grass-fed butter

• Natural almond butter

• Natural cashew butter

• Natural peanut butter

• Natural coconut butter

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
• Mixed nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, cashews, etc.)

• Cheese

• Avocado

• Coconut milk
How To Reverse Diet

We want to steer clear of the bad food vs. good food mindset, so no foods will be off-limits
(excluding allergies and intolerances, of course). Meaning if you want to fit some ice cream
into your macros, you should go right ahead and do so.

Examples of fun treats include: sugary cereal, candy, Pop-Tarts (this tends to be a popular
one), pizza (may be harder to fit into macros, but can work for higher carb days), and
alcohol (that’s not a typo, I promise!).

Ah, flexible dieting is nice, isn’t it?

But there’s more to it than that.

There’s this misconception going around that flexible dieting is inherently unhealthy
because it encourages the consumption of artery-clogging, heart-stopping poison. Poison!
“I don’t see how a diet full of sugar and trans fat can be healthy by any means,” a critic
might cry.
Reverse Dieting

I can promise you, though, that it’s impossible to meet your macros by eating junk food

And the thing with flexible dieters, as you will come to learn, is that they don’t abuse this
privilege. In fact, if you don’t set anything off-limits, then the appeal of any one food is
greatly diminished.

Contrast this with the overzealous restricted dieter who proudly totes around her cooler
full of Tupperware all throughout the week, only to binge like crazy on the weekends in
a one-person race to inhale as much “forbidden” food as possible before Monday rolls
around again.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
I’d like to think that eating whole foods most of the time and never binging is a far better
alternative to severely restricting food choices most of the time and feeling guilty about
accompanying binges.

What’s more, the glorious thing about flexible dieting is that it’s sustainable. It’s far, far
easier to adhere to over the long term.
How To Reverse Diet

In short, it doesn’t suck.

As for the fine details, try to hit a fiber intake of 25-55g per day. Consuming two to three
cups of vegetables will help in this regard, and don’t forget your Quest bars.

But be forewarned: more fiber is not necessarily better. We’ve heard tales of clients
spiking their fiber intake (due to, say, one too many Quest bars) and consequently getting
backed up in the bathroom for days. Don’t let this be you.

Don’t worry about sugar intake as long as you’re sticking to the 80/20 rule (80 percent of
your food choices come from whole foods; the rest can be filled in with treats). If you’re
not sure which category a certain food falls into, err on the side of caution and count it as
a treat. In other words, as long as the large majority of the foods you consume are from
the food list above, you’re probably fine.

Alcohol is also permitted. Oh, happy day! This doesn’t mean you should get blackout
drunk every night, though. Rather, practice moderation again here. A glass of wine or
a beer once or twice a week is probably the most realistic. Keep in mind that alcohol
Reverse Dieting

contains 7Cal/gram. You can subtract this from either your carb or fat numbers.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
In terms of strength training, you should continue to train heavy and hard. Whatever
training protocol you’re following – be it a full body split, body part split, or perhaps
Layne Norton’s Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training (PHAT) – you should strive to make
progressions from one workout to the next.
How To Reverse Diet

The frequency at which you train in the gym will vary from person to person. For a
beginner just starting out in the weight room, I’d recommend two to three days of full
body workouts per week.

On the other end of the spectrum, you may be an advanced lifter with many years of
experience under your belt. You’ve likely found what works best for you, which can be
anywhere between four to six days of training a week.

Truth be told, there is no ideal training frequency for everyone because that number is
going to vary based on past experience, stress levels, injuries, and other factors.

Obviously, you will be expected to work hard at every session. We’re not just going
through the motions here; with the extra fuel, you should be pushing yourself that much

What weights should you use? That depends on you. You’ll want to finish each set feeling
like you could have only gotten one or two more quality reps. If you feel like you could
have easily done three or more reps, then you know it’s time to pick up some heavier
Reverse Dieting

weights. Alternatively, if you find that you’re grinding out some ugly reps and you’re barely
making it to the prescribed rep range, strip off some pounds.

Quality will always trump quantity. Make sure that your form is good and your reps look
smooth before you even think about going heavier.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
If you’re just coming off of a diet that involved hours and hours of steady-state cardio per
week, instead of cutting it out cold-turkey, taper it off slowly.

So if you were cranking out a total of 10 hours of steady-state cardio per week, maybe
How To Reverse Diet

for the next month you’ll cut it in half and replace some of that time with some short,
high-intensity interval sessions instead. Over time, you should work your way down to 1-3
interval sessions a week, each lasting no more than 20-30 minutes.

Conditioning work just about always trumps steady-state cardio. Most of you will be more
than fine with zero steady-state cardio, even when it comes time to return to fat loss.
Reverse Dieting

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
In short, it ends when you want it to end.

At the bare minimum, I’d recommend working your way back up to what your
maintenance macros were prior to dieting.
How To Reverse Diet

But I strongly suggest pushing past that point and maxing out your metabolic capacity.

If you find yourself still wading in what would technically be considered dieting calories
and you are putting on weight with those numbers, keep going. Maybe you’ll want to
slow down the process a little bit, though, and spend a month at a time on a given set of
numbers to provide your body with ample time to adjust.

As far as how long you should spend in this process, the length of time should be
proportional to the time spent dieting. The longer you’ve been in a chronic deficit, the
longer you should be reverse dieting. So if you’ve been in prep mode for the past 10
months straight, you’ll want to reverse diet for at least that long to get the most out of the

If you’ve already surpassed your previous maintenance macros and you’re starting to
grow uncomfortable in your skin with the extra padding, you may decide that that’s your
signal to switch gears.

Remember: think long-term.

Reverse Dieting

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
I understand that you may be wondering what kind of results to expect when you embark
on this reverse dieting journey.

Will your metabolism skyrocket in a fortnight?

How To Reverse Diet

Will you be able to simultaneously get leaner (e.g. lose fat) and increase your metabolic
capacity at the same time?

Will you be able to maintain your weight at 400g carbs a day like that one girl you saw on

The truth is, everybody responds differently to reverse dieting.

Physical adaptations. You may be a hyper-responder and crank up your carbohydrate

intake over time from a measly 75g to more than 300g a day, all the while losing 10lbs of
fat. (Yes, it’s happened before.) There’s also a chance you may put on a little bit of fat in
the process. And you may also fall in the middle, neither losing nor gaining inches.

Obviously, everyone wants to be a hyper-responder; you get to have the best of both

But that’s not the point.

Some people tend to naturally have a more adaptive metabolism. This is good and bad –
Reverse Dieting

good in that when you’re reverse dieting, your bodyweight will more or less hold steady
while your macros steadily increase; bad when you’re trying to diet back down and your
body insists on holding onto every ounce of fat.

While most individuals should have their macros adjusted every two to four weeks on
average, those of you who fall into the extra metabolically adapted metabolism category
might have to adjust your numbers more frequently to continue seeing results.

It would also benefit you to push your carbs as high as possible when reverse dieting
because you’re going to need every gram you can hang onto when you’re working your
way back down.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
If you find yourself in a position in which you are maintaining a reasonable level of body
fat and enjoying a high carb intake on a daily basis (“high” being relative to each individual,
of course), you may be dubbed a macronator.
You Are Just 12 Weeks Away

Conversely, hyper-responders tend to be those who are either genetically blessed and/or
have never seriously dieted in their life. This puts them in a sweet spot as they’ll drop fat
while continually increasing their caloric intake.

You also have to keep in mind that your body’s response will also depend largely on how
you go about manipulating your macros. Chances are pretty good that hyper-responders
generally are very controlled and conservative with their macro increases.

The scale weight may creep up a bit. Your clothes may fit a little tighter. And that’s okay,
because it’s all part of the process.

There’s a good chance you’ll gain a considerable amount of physical strength. This, as you
can imagine, will likely be coupled with some hypertrophy.

Mental adaptations. The purpose of reverse dieting is not to get you to look better right
now, right at this very instant. The purpose is to prime your body over a long period of
time in order to facilitate the fat loss process later on down the road.

There will be some mental adjusting that needs to happen. With fat loss, you may have
found it exhilarating to see visible improvements on a weekly basis. Your friends and
coworkers likely commented that you’ve been looking leaner, your abs are amazingly
Reverse Dieting

chiseled, and how did you get that bicep vein to pop? You probably looked smashing in all
of your clothes, and you were all too keen to strut your stuff in as little clothing as possible
at the gym.

With reverse dieting, that’s not quite how it works. Now, again, if you’re a hyper-responder,
you’ll get to experience the thrill of leaning out while simultaneously increasing your
food intake. But if you’re part of the large majority who do not fall into that category, be
prepared for a little bit of extra fluff.

Understandably, reverse dieting ends up being much more difficult for most folks than
straight up fat loss. While the food intake is far more liberal, the truth of the matter is,
not many are going to be thrilled with the idea of putting on some weight. And if the scale

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
weight goes up and you’re gaining inches, it’s not easy to swallow your pride

I get it. I’ve been there.

You Are Just 12 Weeks Away

It can be a real struggle to wake up one morning and realize mid-shimmy that you no
longer fit into your favorite pair of jeans. Or to run into a friend that you haven’t seen in a
while and have her subtly remark that you seem to have, ah, let yourself go.

But rather than lamenting the temporary departure of your much-coveted abs, make the
proactive decision to embrace the process.

Would you rather look the exact same a year from now on the same low macronutrient
intake? Or would you prefer to look better (fuller, leaner, etc.) all the while consuming
significantly more carbs and not starving yourself?

And if you refuse to reverse diet, then what is the alternative?

When you think about it that way, it becomes much easier to accept the extra weight. You
know it’s only temporary, and you know you’re doing it with a grand vision in mind.

But besides the weight gain, you’ll free yourself from the bonds of food restriction hell.
You’ll get to experience first-hand what it’s like to be able to consume an ample amount
of carbs without being afraid of them. No more black-and-white thinking. No more feeling
guilty for eating sugar.
Reverse Dieting

That’s what freedom is like.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Reverse Dieting

LORI PYPER: 5’3”, 38 Y/O

Coach: Layne Norton

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Before reverse dieting End of reverse dieting End of post-reverse dieting fat loss

120lbs 128lbs 123lbs

150g protein/45c/30f 170p/285g/45f High: 150p/140c/26f

Low: 170p/80c/31f


I am a natural Pro figure athlete in the IFPA. Since 2011, I have reverse dieted and
competed at several pro shows. My most recent 4th place at the Yorton Cup was certainly
my best physique yet. I’m eating more than I ever would have imagined. Slowly increasing
carbs and fat has been concept that I was unfamiliar with until recently.
My preps have been much, much easier on my body. I never thought I would enter a pro show
doing no more than 90 min of cardio a week!

Using IIFYM has also brought my life back. I am social with my friends and have learned to not live
by the “clean”/“dirty” food terms. I am no longer married to my scale which all these combined has
brought my mind and physique to their best yet!
Reverse Dieting

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
What you decide to do once you’re done with reverse dieting is up to you.

Many of you will have embarked on this journey with the ultimate purpose of eventually
dieting down – on higher macros than before, of course. Perhaps you’ve set a long-term
What’s Next

goal of competing in a show and you want to know what it feels like to lose fat without
feeling like you’re dying. If that’s the case, it’s time to start cutting back on the macros

Certainly, how much you lower your macros will all be relative to your current intake. If
you ended your reverse dieting stint at a daily intake of 300g carbs and over 2,000 daily
Calories, it wouldn’t make sense to immediately cut down to 1,200 Calories. That would
defeat the purpose of all the hard work from the past few months. Rather, perhaps you
can bring your carbs down to 250g for two weeks and go from there.

You may alternatively decide that you’d prefer to maintain at your current intake for a
number of months and enjoy where you are right now. And that’s perfectly fine. You may
not be ready to diet again just yet; hell, you may not be interested in it at all. You may very
well take advantage of this time to relish the fact that your body is healthy and functioning
at full capacity once again.

Whatever you choose to do, know that you should be proud of yourself for sticking it out
Reverse Dieting

‘til the end.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton

Coach: Layne Norton

Before reverse dieting End of reverse dieting End of contest prep

Reverse Dieting

139lbs 160lbs 127lbs

155p/165c/50f 155p/280g/62g 145/150/32

“ I contacted Layne when my body was not responding from a short offseason. I did 6
competitions in 2012 from March to November, and 3 in 2011. My old coach kept telling
me to keep competing because I was so close so many times to getting that pro card.
Getting 2nd at Jr. Nationals in 2012 was the closest.
My body rebounded after doing 1.5hours of cardio daily and dieting hard for two years. I stopped
doing cardio at the end of 2012 as I was mentally and physically exhausted and burnt out, and of
course I gained weight, going from 108 to 123 in 3 months. I would never have recommend any

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
client do competitions this often, I knew better, but my old coach kept encouraging it.

When it came time for me to start my prep again, I went from 1800 calories to 1300 calories and
30 min of cardio to 70 minutes a day in a seven-week period. I knew I was in trouble because,
during that timespan, I only lost 2 lbs.

I was done.

I knew I needed a coach to tell me to stop! And Layne did that for me. Layne told me what I needed
to hear, not what I wanted to hear.

I decided to hire him, we reversed dieted me for 8 or so months. I went from 100g carbs to 335g.
And 35g fat to 70g. Weight went from 125lbs to 135lbs.

We did one mini cut during my off season where I easily lost those extra 10lbs but with no sacrifice
of any kind. Then I was back to my 125 but with completely different shape from when I started with
him. Then I reverse dieted again only gaining 2lbs going back up to 275g carbs.

It was time to start my competition prep. It was by best prep I have ever had. I didn’t lose any
strength. I got down to 85g of carbs on my first prep with him weighing 115 lbs doing HIIT 4x a
week with two 30-min moderate cardio sessions.

I won the figure overall at that show. We then had seven weeks until my next comp. We reverse
dieted for four weeks and cut for only three weeks and were able to drop down to a much tighter
Reverse Dieting

physique at 113lbs.

Now that my competitions are finished, I am reverse dieting and looking forward to working with
him for my future preps.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Recommended Resources

• To Macro or Not: Should You Track • MyMacros+ (for iPhones only)

Your Macronutrient Intake? (article)
• MyFitnessPal
• How to Count Macros (e-book)


• MyOatmeal.com

• Quest Bars

• Layne Norton’s PHAT protocol Food and

• Layne’s Norton’s 15-minute cardio supplements
Reverse Dieting

Free Training
and Cardio • Food scale
• Food scale (portable)

Kitchen tools

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton


Coach: Layne Norton
Reverse Dieting

Before reverse dieting End of reverse dieting

113lbs 110lbs

1500-1700kcalories (not counting macros) 160p/245c/52f

“ While reverse dieting, my energy sky rocketed, my strength increased and as a result I was
getting so much more out of my workouts (and out of life!) Along the process, I leaned
down and came out more defined than ever for my bikini competition. While it was tedious
adding in small amounts each week, it was so worth it. It was such an incredible feeling to
be able to eat more food, feel more energized, and watch my body lean down.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Recommended Coaches

Below is a list of coaches that Layne Norton and I recommend and can vouch for. All of
them have experience with both reverse dieting and fat loss and are more than qualified
to help you.

Because each coach will vary in personality and communication style, it’ll be worth your
time to sit down for an evening and research them thoroughly. You’ll know you’ve found
the right coach for you when you hit it off with him or her and you feel a connection.

Layne Norton

Sohee Lee

Ben Esgro

Ryan Doris

Paul Revelia
Reverse Dieting

Team 3DMJ

Brooke Erickson

Dr. Peter Fitschen

Dr. Joe Klemczewski

Matt Jensen

Jen Jewell

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Carrie McMahon

Brian Melancon

Pamela Sampson
Recommended Coaches

John Otis

William Grazione

Team Wilson

Evan Godbee

Dynamic Duo

Connor LaVallie

Ryan Blackburn

Natural Physique Sciences

Mike Pucci

Team RESULTS Training

Vic Tringali
Reverse Dieting

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton

JUSTIN RILLE: 5’11”, 33 Y/O

Reverse Dieting

Coach: Layne Norton

Before reverse dieting End of reverse dieting

209.6lbs 219lbs

High: 240p/240c/48f 240p/450c/90f

Low: 260p/140c/53f

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Frequently Asked Questions

I’m not sure if I am metabolically adapted or not, but I

still want to try reverse dieting. Is this OK, or will this be
detrimental to my body?
Absolutely. You don’t have to be suffering from metabolic adaptation to reverse diet, nor
do you have to have a history of multiple cycles of dieting.

In fact, if you have never severely dieted before in your life, reverse dieting will probably
go splendidly for you. You’ll likely have to spend less time in the reverse dieting phase
because your body will be responding readily to the increased food intake. This also
means that you have better chances of your subsequent fat loss phase being successful
with fewer obstacles along the way.

Everyone can stand to benefit from reverse dieting.

Can I follow intermittent fasting/Paleo/carb cycling

while I reverse diet? Will this affect the results?
Reverse Dieting

Technically you can, yes.

It’s going to take some time to find what way of eating works best for your needs. You
may find that you’re not really a breakfast person, and the thought of food first thing in
the morning may make you sick. If that’s the case, there’s nothing wrong with waiting until
later in the morning to break your fast.

I encourage you to be mindful of how certain foods, meal sizes, and meal distributions
make you feel and adjust accordingly.

What will matter most in determining your success on this journey will be your consistent

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
adherence to the program, which is largely contingent upon your personal preferences.
If you don’t find the method that makes you feel your best and takes into account your
individual needs, your chances of failure will greatly increase. To that end, personal
preference will always trump what is considered optimal by science.
Frequently Asked Questions

When do you know to add macros?

If you’re gaining weight on your current macros, I would keep the macros steady for a
number of weeks until your weight normalizes. Also take into consideration life stress,
menstrual cycles, and anything else in your life that may be affecting the scale weight and
your measurements.

If your weight has been holding steady after a week or two, you can add macros slowly.
If your weight is dropping, resist the urge to add a generous portion of macros and still
add them judiciously. You may have lost 3lbs in the past two weeks, but if you then get
overexcited and spike your macros, then the next week, the scale weight may jump back up.

Then what happens? You’ll panic, you’ll probably try to bring your macros back down to
undo the “damage” that’s been done, and then a few weeks later, you may find yourself
bringing your macros up again, only to drop them once more a short time later. This
defeats the inherent purpose of reverse dieting and you’ll be chasing your tail.

It’s best to make small, consistent and controlled increases instead. I’d recommend paying
close attention to your body and being as objective as possible.
Reverse Dieting

If I go off-plan for my entire birthday month and put on a

couple of pounds from overindulging in too much cake, is
it alright if I cut down my macros for a few weeks to get
my weight back down?
If it was a binge, then no, you don’t want to drop your calories afterward because that’s a
slippery slope. Don’t punish yourself for your mistake because you’ll quickly find yourself
in a vicious cycle of overindulge-restrict-overindulge-restrict. It’s never going to end well.
Yes, it sucks, but you should move on.

Instead of beating yourself up for your mistake, ask yourself: What could I have done

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
differently? What did I learn? How can I use this to make myself better as I move forward?

Have a proactive attitude as you approach this situation and everything you do will
become a learning opportunity.
Frequently Asked Questions

I’m stuffed all the time, and it almost makes me physi-

cally sick to eat all my macros day after day. Does it get
It does, but I’d also take a look at the kinds of foods you’re eating.

As funny as this may sound, when your macros are high enough, it may not be practical to
try to stick strictly to whole foods simply due to the fact that they tend to be more filling.
I would suggest resorting to some calorie-dense foods that will give you more bang-for-
your-calorie-buck and not leave you feeling so stuffed.

Things like candy (particularly the fat-free kind) tend to help a lot with meeting
carbohydrate requirements. Also take into consideration fruit juices and other liquid

For fats, make sure you’re cooking with oils – coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter, and
even ghee are all great options. You can also opt for higher-fat meats.

If you’re struggling with consuming enough protein, you may want to consider one of the
following options:
Reverse Dieting

1. Add in a protein shake. You can get creative with this with a multitude of mix-ins:
milk, nut butters, fruit, and even spinach to help get in your veggies.

2. Increase your protein portions at each meal. If you were previously eating 3oz
meat with each meal before, try bumping that up to 4oz.

3. Throw in an additional meal. If you find that consuming too much protein at once
doesn’t sit well for you, you may want to consider increasing the number of meals
you eat overall. This may mean you should start eating breakfast, or perhaps
you’d rather squeeze in a pre-bedtime meal. If you’re normally consuming

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
three meals a day, maybe five meals a day may help, as it will provide more
opportunities to pack in nutrients.
Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve got so much going on in my life outside of fitness. Re-

lationships, career, family… all of that is really taking a
toll on me right now. Is this still a good time for me to re-
verse diet, or should I hold off until things settle down?
Here’s the thing: if you’ve got your plate full with other responsibilities, that leaves that
much less mental energy to devote to reverse dieting – and chances are, it’ll get bumped
down on the priority list. It’s understandably difficult to continually intend to do something
– hit the gym five days a week, eat all the macros – and have your plans fall through
time and time again. That in itself can be a huge source of stress and can decrease your
confidence in your ability to do other things.

As well, if your life stress is high, that may negatively affect your diet, whether it’s reverse
dieting or fat loss. Chronically elevated cortisol can be a significant obstacle that stands in
the way of you and your goal, even if you’re doing everything else right.

You should first and foremost make an attempt to alleviate your life stress in some way,
shape, or form. Perhaps try to untie yourself from some of your commitments for the time
being, or if that’s not an option, find ways to manage your stress.
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I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether reverse dieting is worth the efforts at this time.

Remember: you can’t always control what happens to you, but you can absolutely control
how you choose to respond.

What is the physiology beyond hyper-responding? Is

there any evidence/speculation on this?
Unfortunately, since the concept of reverse dieting is so new, I don’t fully understand the
physiology beyond hyper-responding. I’m merely reporting on my experience with myself,
my clients, and others.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
If I had to hazard a guess: in the same way that metabolism adapts to prevent weight loss,
it’s adapting to prevent weight gain to preserve homeostasis. A hyper-response, of sorts.

Research has shown that between weight-stable and weight-cycling individuals, the
Frequently Asked Questions

weight-stable tend to regain their metabolic rate and thyroid function much faster than
weight-cycling folks. There likely is a correlation there.

Can I reverse diet even if I’m not counting macros?

If you don’t track your macros, you won’t really have an accurate idea of how much you’re
eating – so how would you know how much food to add? Especially with caloric increases
to the tune of 80-100 Calories per adjustment, it would be near impossible to strike that
right balance.

People tend to underestimate their protein intake and similarly underestimate their total
Caloric intake. To that end, the intuitive eating approach does not really go hand-in-hand
with reverse dieting.

I wouldn’t recommend it as it likely won’t go too well.

Is it possible to reverse diet by increasing mostly fats and

not carbs?
It really depends on the individual and how they’re responding. I generally increase both
fats and carbs at the same rate.
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Most people can tolerate carbohydrates up to the 200-gram range. Of course, there are
always exceptions to everything.

If someone does not consistently respond well to higher carbs, then I will increase fats.

Now, how do I know if it’s the carbs that are the problem and not the overall calories?

Where are their calories relative to their bodyweight? If they’re at a semi-normal range
calorically and they’re still gaining weight, I may then try pushing their fats.

With that said, I would not recommend a ketogenic diet, whereby virtually all

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
carbohydrates are eschewed in favor of protein and a high, high amount of fats. Most
people can “train” their metabolism, so to speak, to tolerate a reasonable level of
carbohydrates. Not only that, but a ketogenic diet by principle violates what is practical
and sustainable and is an invitation for rebound.
Frequently Asked Questions

I can’t get in all my food in 5 meals. Is it okay to eat more

If it means meeting your macros, sure.

Can’t I just eat when I’m hungry?

Hungry is enormously complex and can be affected by a multitude of social and emotional

Simplifying it to “just eat when you’re hungry” can be a recipe for disaster, as you’ll likely
find yourself way under on protein and completely off the mark with carbs and fats by the
end of the day.

The consistency of self-monitoring is incredibly reliable. If you’re serious about reverse

dieting properly, count your macros.

I’m having trouble adhering to my macros. It’s not that

I’m hungry; rather, I find myself spending way too much
in the kitchen figuring out what I’m eating, and at the
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end I just get lazy and eat whatever. What should I do?
If you haven’t already read the How to Count Macros e-book, it’ll be worth your time to
check it out. It includes a plethora of practical tips and tricks for tracking your macros.

It might also be a good idea to make your own meal plan for every day, and then stick to
it on days that you don’t want to have to think about what you’re eating. This gives you
control over your food choices but also saves you a good deal of time. So rather than
planning day-by-day, create a template of sorts off of which you can work.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Lastly, keep some emergency macros around. Emergency macros are essentially grab-
and-go food items that you keep at home when you find yourself short on time or when
you’re ravenous and need something to eat right away. These will generally be foods that
are portable and ready to eat, such as nuts, protein bars, tuna packs, protein powder, beef
Frequently Asked Questions

jerky, and fruit. You can even keep some deli meat in your fridge if that’s something you

Remember that most skills are at first difficult before they become easy.

I have to take a training break for a while due to injury/

illness. Should I stop reverse dieting for the time being?
You don’t have to stop reverse dieting completely; you can simply slow it down. You can
still make progress with your metabolism without training, but understand that your
energy expenditure will understandably be drastically decreased.

How bad is the injury? Very few injuries mean you’re completely barred from the gym.
Anything at all? Something is better than nothing, even if it means sticking strictly to
isolation movements.

Try to make some modifications in the gym just to get some kind of training effect. Figure
out what you can do within the context of your injury.

If your lower body is injured, you can increase the training volume of your upper
body. Rather than getting down on yourself about your misfortune, see it as a golden
Reverse Dieting

opportunity to finally focus on those pull-ups you’ve been meaning to master, or maybe
hone in on developing those boulder shoulders you’ve always coveted.

If it’s an upper body injury – say, a broken arm, you can still get in the gym and train
your lower body. Can you do leg extensions? Leg curls? There are numerous ways to get
creative in the gym.

If, however, you are unable to resistance train at all for whatever reason, keep in mind
that the accompanying hormonal adaptations will not occur. Subsequently, the fat to
muscle ratio will shift more in favor of fat.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Do you have to train five days a week? Or can you still
have success with two days a week?
Frequently Asked Questions

That depends completely on the individual.

If you’re a complete beginner to strength training, you may be able to significantly benefit
from just two days a week of training. In this case, I’d recommend full-body workouts
consisting of mainly compound movements.

On the other hand, if you’re someone who’s no stranger to the gym with 20 years of lifting
experience under your belt, you know that two days a week is just not going to cut it. You
may be at the point where five or even six days a week of training is what’s necessary in
order for you to see the results you’re looking for.

Do I have to count macros forever?

In a word, no. I understand that it’s not always practical to do so, and the thought of
keeping this up for the rest of your life can seem rather daunting.

Rather, macro counting is a tool that can help you get to a goal. If you’re going to be
reverse dieting, it will be substantially more difficult to do so without weighing and
tracking your food, so yes, you do have to count macros for that.

Beyond that, however, if your goal is neither to lose fat nor reverse diet, but simply to
maintain, then no, you don’t have to break out the scale for every morsel of food.
Reverse Dieting

That doesn’t mean that food becomes a free-for-all; it should never get to that point.
Mindfulness will always be a key player in your success. That means self-monitoring
to some degree will be required. Pay attention to your portion sizes, focus your meals
around protein, and stop eating when you’re satisfied, not stuffed to the brim.

I’m pregnant. Is it still appropriate for me to reverse

diet? Should I follow the same guidelines?
Yes. You need more calories, so absolutely you should reverse diet. This is the perfect

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
I know you’re wondering about food cravings and how that will affect the reverse dieting

It doesn’t make sense to set up numbers for you that you can’t follow. Pregnancy is
Frequently Asked Questions

an incredibly transitional time in your life, and very rarely is everything going to go as

What you can do instead is base your macro numbers around what a normal day of
pregnancy eating would look like for you. I will remind you once again that caution is not
to be thrown to the wind. Yes, you’re eating for two, but you’re not necessarily doubling
your caloric intake. Stay mindful. Always.

How do cravings play into that? Hormones, etc. can affect your cravings obviously.

Even if you’re gaining weight (as should be the case anyway), if you’re able to hit your
macros, that in itself would be a victory.

And yes, you can even continue to reverse through breastfeeding.

If I am metabolically adapted, will it necessarily show up

in my blood work?
Not always. The metabolic adaptation literature shows that weight cyclers tended to not
recover their resting metabolic rate as quickly as the weight stable people, which can
perhaps point to an underactive thyroid.
Reverse Dieting

However, many metabolically adapted people are still within the normal thyroid range,
even if on the low end. So while blood work can be useful, it’s not quite the end-all-be-all.

Can you do repeated reverse dieting cycles?

Absolutely, and I could recommend it. I’ve found that dieting after numerous reverse
dieting cycles becomes better over time. This appears to counteract the yo-yo cycle.

How is reverse dieting different from bulking?

They’re two completely different animals.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Bulking typically involves a caloric spike and may or may not entail the ingestion of
enormous quantities of food. Bulking also doesn’t always take into account your past
dieting history. For most people, bulking leads to rapid fat gain as the body doesn’t have a
chance to catch up to the increase in food.
Frequently Asked Questions

If I know I’m not done reverse dieting but I’m starting to

feel uncomfortable in my skin, can I do a mini-cut for a
few weeks before going back to reverse dieting?
You can, but a mini-cut is only to be used judiciously. You can even do it every couple of
months for two to three weeks at a time if it helps you stay on target.

But when it comes to people who have been really restricted for a really long period of
time, it’s probably not recommended. I’ve found that if this is your history, then doing a
mini-cut too soon will backfire and you will not make much, if any, progress.

Alternatively, a mini-cut can be longer if you’d like. You can make it six to eight weeks –
essentially a full fat loss phase.

The best thing you can do after your diet is to use the increased calories to train harder.
Kick up the frequency and keep up the exercise intensity. The intensity can help subdue
the weight gain.

What about cheat meals?

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Contrary to popular belief, you can absolutely set yourself back significantly with one

You can absolutely gain fat from one meal.

It’s recommended to practice mindfulness at all times. To that end, I wouldn’t advocate
cheat meals. But if you are to approach them with the mindset that it’s just one meal and
it’s never a free-for-all, you may implement them. Just keep in mind that since you are
already in a caloric surplus, the cheat meals may lend to more weight gain.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Reverse Dieting

LAURIN CONLIN: 5’10”, 21 Y/O

Coach: Layne Norton

Before reverse dieting End of reverse dieting End of post-reverse dieting fat loss

170p/220c/50f 170p/330c/75f 170p/115/35

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Where do I even begin? This book would not have come to fruition without the help of a
number of people.

Layne Norton, first and foremost, of course, for having the faith and the trust in me to
toil away at this project many months ago; for patiently answering every text, phone call,
and email as I barraged him with hundreds of questions; and for providing invaluable
resources, including full scientific papers, access to his clientele base, and connections to
other highly respected fitness professionals. You have been a mentor and a friend and I
can’t thank you enough for the countless opportunities you’ve provided for me thus far.
Thank you for believing in me.

Adam Bornstein, for helping me peel my face off the ground and pummel through the last
few phases of this project. Without your business mentoring, this book would still be a
half-finished Word document buried somewhere deep in my laptop. I’m grateful for your
weekly phone calls and for your keeping me on my toes.

Evan Walsh, my fiancé, for watching me wrestle with this for months on end. You sat by
me on those nights I had to stay up late finishing up chapters and did a superb job at
feigning interest as I ranted my frustrations and worries. Your unconditional support is
what got me through to the end and I love you.
Reverse Dieting

My clients, for so generously granting permission to post their pictures and for providing

And all my mentors and colleagues over the years who have pushed me to be my best –
thank you.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Reverse Dieting


Coach: Layne Norton
Before reverse dieting End of reverse dieting End of post-dieting fat loss

184lbs 185lbs 177lbs

250p/255c/66f 250p/450c/99f 250p/405c/77f

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Anti-starvation mechanisms (n): biological mechanisms by which the body prevents not
only starvation but also weight loss

Apoptosis (n): programmed cell death

Body fat setpoint (n): the level at which the body strives to maintain homeostasis by

manipulating hunger and metabolic rate

Emergency macros (n): food items that are portable and keep well and therefore can
serve as an emergency source for last-minute situations; examples include tuna packets,
protein powder, nuts, and candy

Flexible dieting (n): an approach to eating in which the majority of food intake consists of
whole food sources while allowing for a small proportion of treats, or “junk food”; a diet in
which no food is considered off-limits, though sufficient protein and fiber is advocated

Ghrelin (n): hunger hormone associated with appetite; weight loss and caloric restriction
increases ghrelin levels, lending to increased appetite

Homeostasis (n): process by which the body’s internal conditions are maintained in spite
of the varying external environment
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Hyperplasia (n): increase in cell number of a normal tissue or organ

Hyperphagia (n): excessive hunger; increased appetite

Hyper-responder (n): an individual whose body elicits an exaggerated response to an

increase in food intake via a decrease in body fat

Hypertrophy (n): an increase in size of skeletal muscle via increase in size of its cells

Lipolysis (n): the breakdown of lipids; fat mobilization

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
Macronator (n): an individual of reasonable body fat (i.e. relative leanness) who is able to
consume an extremely high intake of carbohydrates while maintaining bodyweight

Macros (n): macronutrients; the three chemical elements – proteins, carbohydrates, and
fats – consumed by humans in the largest quantities that provide the majority of energy

Metabolic adaptation (n): synonymous with metabolic damage; see below

Metabolic damage (n): a term coined by Scott Abel that describes the phenomenon in
which an individual experiences symptoms including but not limited to hypothyroidism,

lack of vitality, osteoporosis, loss of menstruation (for females), and inability to lose weight
despite chronically low calories, typically due to multiple cycles of poor dieting methods

Metabolic efficiency (n): the process by which the body becomes more efficient at
carrying out tasks; increased metabolic efficiency means reduced energy expenditure than

Post-starvation fat overshooting (n): the process by which extra body fat is gained
following a weight loss cycle, usually resulting in greater scale weight than before

Rebound (n): excessive weight gain that occurs as a result of post-dieting ad libitum high
calorie food consumption

T3 (n): thyroid hormone associated with metabolic rate; weight loss and low calorie dieting
reduces T3 levels, which can then contribute to reduced lipolysis and increased fat storage
Reverse Dieting

Thermogenesis (n): the process of heat production in organisms

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton

P. P. : 5’5”, 31 Y/O
Reverse Dieting

Coach: Sohee Lee

End of fat loss End of reverse dieting

127lbs 133lbs

High: 140p/170c/45f High: 140p/300c/53f

Low: 140p/135c/60f Low: 140p/235c/82f

“ After a six-month long very strict diet (very low calories) I started looking for “an exit”. The
diet was very successful as I was able to lose fat while maintaining lean mass. However, I

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
knew that I couldn’t be on a diet like that one forever.

First, the diet required too much discipline and “willpower.” Second, I started to worry about having
my metabolism damaged.

I then started to research about reverse dieting and that seemed to me very logical: slowly increase
calories in order to boost your metabolism with minimal fat gain in the meantime. As it so
happened, Sohee was starting a reverse diet group and I decided to join it.

I started my reverse diet journey in November of 2013 and until April of 2014 it was a very smooth
ride: more food, better workouts, and no fat gained.

Actually, on April 1st, I was leaner than when I started. Later I found out that that made me a hyper-
responder and that I was in the minority.

In the beginning of April, I injured my shoulder which made hard to keep my workout routine the
same. After that, I ended up gaining some weight in the following month.

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the 9-month ride! People just can’t believe that I follow a “diet” because
there are no off-limits foods and the carbs are plentiful.
Reverse Dieting

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
1. “How Did I Let This Happen?” O, The Oprah Magazine, January 2009

2. A. W. Crescioni, J. Ehrlinger, J. L. Alquist, K. E. Conlon, R. F. Baumeister, C.

Schatschneider, and G. R. Dutton, “High Treat Self-Control Predicts Positive Health
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Behaviors and Success in Weight Loss,” Journal of Health Psychology (in press).

3. T. Mann, A.J. Tomiyama, E. Westling, A.-M. Lew, B. Samuels, and J. Chatman, “Medicare’s
Search for Effective Obesity Treatments: Diets Are Not the Answer,” American Psychologist
62 (2007): 220-33

4. N. L. Mead and V. M. Patrick, “In Praise of Putting Things Off: How Postponing
Consumption Pleasures Facilitates Self-Control,” 2011.

5. K. D. Vohs and T. F. Heatherton, “Self-Regulatory Failure: A Resource-Depletion

Approach,” Psychological Science 11 (2000): 249-54.

6. C. P. Herman and D. Mack, “Restrained and Unrestrained Eating,” Journal of Personality

43 (1975): 647-60.

7. K. D. Vohs and T. F. Heatherton, “Self-Regulatory Failure: A Resource-Depletion

Approach,” Psychological Science 11 (2000): 249-54.
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8. Abdul G. Dulloo, Jean Jacquet, and Jean-Pierre Montani. “How dieting makes some
fatter: from a perspective of human body composition autoregulation,” Proceedings of the
Nutrition Society 71 (2012): 379-89.

9. National Institutes of Health Technology Assessment Conference Panel, “Methods for

voluntary weight loss and control,” Ann Intern Med 119 (1993): 764-70.

10. A. Keys, J. Brozek, A. Henschel et al, “The Biology of Human Starvation,” Minnesota:
University of Minnesota Press (1950).

11. J. E. Blundell, G. P. Caudwell et al, “Body composition and appetite: fat-free mass (but

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
not fat mass or BMI) is positively associated with self-determined meal size and daily
energy intake in humans,” British Journal of Nutrition 107 (2012):445-49.

12. K.D. Hall, S.B. Heymsfield, J.W. Kemnitz et al, “Energy balance and its components:
implications for body weight regulation,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

13. E.T. Trexler, A.E. Smith-Ryan, and L.E. Norton, “Metabolic adaptations to weight loss:
implications for the athlete,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2014
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14. K. Sun, C.M. Kusminski, P.E. Scherer, “Adipose tissue remodeling and obesity,” Journal
of Clinical Investment 121(2011):2094-11.

15. A. Martinsson, “Hypertrophy and hyperplasia of human adipose tissue in obesity,” Pol
Arch Med Wewn 42(1969):481-6.

16. P. Arner, “Control of lipolysis and its relevance to development of obesity in man,”
Diabetes Metab Rev 4(1988):507-15.

17. M. R. Jackman, A. Steig, J.A. Higgins, et al., “Weight regain after sustained weight
reduction is accompanied by suppressed oxidation of dietary fat and adipocyte
hyperplasia,” Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 294(2008):R1117-29.

18. R.L. Leibel, “The role of leptin in the control of body weight,” Nutr Rev 60(2002):S15-9.
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19. R.L. Leibel, “The role of leptin in the control of body weight,” Nutr Rev 60(2002):S15-9.

20. M. Rosenbaum, H.R. Kissileff, L.E. Mayer, et al., “Energy intake in weight-reduced
humans,” Brain Res 1350(2010):95-102.

21. H.R. Kissileff, J.C. Thornton, M.I. Torres, et al., “Leptin reverses decline in satiation in
weight-reduced obese humans,” Am J Clin Nutr 95(2012):309-17.

22. M. Moreno, P. de lange, A. Lombardi, et al., “Metabolic effects of thyroid hormone

derivatives,” Thyroid 18(2008):239-53.

23. P. Sumithran, L.A. Prendergast, E. Delbridge, et al., “Long-term persistence of

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
hormonal adaptations to weight loss,” N Eng J Med 365(2011):1597-604.

24. D.S. Le, N. Pannacciulli, K. Chen, et al., “Less activation of the left dorsolateral
prefrontal cortex in response to a meal: a feature of obesity,” Am J Clin Nutr 84(2006):725-

25. H.R. Berthoud, “Metabolic and hedonic drives in the neural control of appetite: who is
the boss?” Curr Opin Neurobiol 21(2011):888-96.
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26. K. S. Labar, D. Gitelman, T. Parrish, et al., “Hunger selectively modulates corticolimbic

activation to food stimuli in humans,” Behav Neurosci 115(2001):493-500.

27. G. Petrovich, B. Setlow, P. Holland, M. Gallagher, “Amygdalo-hypothalamic circuit

allows learned cues to override satiety and promote eating,” J Neurosci 22(2002):8748-53.

28. M. McGuire, R. Wing, M. Klem, et al., “What predicts weight regain in a group of
successful weight losers?” J Consult Clin Psychol 67(1999):177-85.

29. J.O. de Boer, A. J. van Es, L. C. Roovers, et al., “Adaptation of energy metabolism of
overweight women to low-energy intake, studied with whole-body calorimeters,” Am J Clin
Nutr 44(1986):585-95.

30. M. Lahti-Koski, S. Mannisto, P. Pietinen, and E. Vartiainen, “Prevalence of weight

cycling and its relation to health indicators in Finland,” Obes Res 13(2005):333-41.

31. A.M. Prentice, S.A. Jebb, G.R. Goldberg, et al., “Effects of weight cycling on body
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composition,” Am J Clin Nutr 58(1993):853-7.

32. Milgran, Stanley, “Behavioral Study of Obedience,” Journal of Abnormal and Social
Psychology 67(1963):371-8.

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton

HEATHER S.: 5’7”, 40 Y/O

Reverse Dieting

Coach: Sohee Lee

End of fat loss End of reverse dieting


High: 135p/200c/62f

Low: 135p/170c/74f

“ Over the years, I’ve been through several rounds of figure competition prep and various
meal plans to refine my body. I’m fortunate in that I’ve never worked with a coach that

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton
prescribed me a dangerous and unhealthy caloric intake and cardio regime. However, my body was
still in need of a rest from being in a deficit for so long.

I started reverse dieting with Sohee in November of 2013, and over that time, I experienced a
significant increase in both strength and energy. My food choices were able to expand greatly. I was
planning fun and wonderful family meals with lots of great carbs and there was never a reason to
feel bad about anything because it was all a part of my plan. Fruits, starchy veggies, breads, pastas,
sweets…whatever I wanted was within reach as long as I made it part of my plan. Oh, and I also
maintained or, at times, lost weight while increasing my caloric intake!

Above all else, the most important benefit to me of reverse dieting is that it allowed me to learn a
new, balanced way of eating. On top of that, I didn’t need to worry about having a negative impact
on my impressionable three-year old daughter.

I have learned how to be a positive role model for eating healthy, balanced, and moderate, and in a
way that is going to fuel my body for success.
Reverse Dieting

Sohee Lee with Dr. Layne Norton