What is Reverse Dieting: 4 Easy Steps to Lose Weight

When you hear the term “reverse dieting1,” you may imagine yourself surrounded by all of your favourite foods without having to worry about your weight. It sounds like some fantasy, doesn’t it?

You would be shocked to know that something like this actually exists. Yes, there is a type of dieting called reverse dieting, though it’s not exactly what you are imagining.

Whether men or women, everyone want to look and feel their best. One such thing that almost everyone is conscious about is their weight. Weight management2 has never been an easy thing for the majority of people, at least. So, while I was searching for ways to manage my weight, I came across the interesting term ‘reverse dieting.’

You will have heard about it if you are a bodybuilding enthusiast. If you’ve never heard of it or want to know more about it, you are at the place. In this post, we will talk about what exactly reverse dieting is, how it works, and how it is different from your normal dieting.

What is Reverse Dieting?

Reverse Dieting
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In essence, a reverse diet is the polar opposite of a calorie-restricted diet. With a reverse diet, you carefully and deliberately add back the calories you’ve removed, usually from carbs and fat, as opposed to gradually reducing them over several weeks to try to lose weight.

We all know that the main goal of dieting is to reduce your caloric intake, but reverse dieting entails gradually increasing your caloric intake over time. Your body experiences this, which speeds up your metabolism and allows you to burn more calories throughout the day.

A reverse diet is far more of a slow and controlled method to restore your body to its pre-diet functionality gradually.

Many of you would have experienced being left frustrated after you tried to lose weight on a diet to gain it all back as soon as you stopped. At times like this, reverse dieting is one of the best solutions. That’s why it is often referred to as “the diet after the diet”.

Instead of resuming your normal eating habits3, starting a reverse diet will provide your body with the push it needs to resume burning more calories.

Why do People Regain Weight After Dieting?

Reverse Dieting
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It is a common happening for many people who have ever tried dieting. Following some sort of dieting, you lose weight. The weight loss then reaches a stop. You eventually return to your former weight. Why is long-term weight loss4 so challenging?

The misconception is that people regained weight because they became unmotivated, lazy, and fell off the wagon. Others feel that you just need to cut your calorie intake even more. But the truth is that when we lose weight, our bodies actively work to make us want to gain it back. Our body senses we’re not eating as much as usual when we restrict calories. Your body doesn’t sense that it is dieting; instead may assume there isn’t much food available.

Because of this, your body decreases the rate at which your energy is being burnt. Also, it results in hormonal changes and decreased metabolic rate to make adaptations to your body for its survival. Additionally, you are now more hungry than ever. You eventually start eating more, and the weight slowly begins to creep back on.

It is a survival strategy that our body uses when there is little food available for consumption. Even while it may appear as though our bodies are working against us, there are things you can do. Exercise has been demonstrated to boost metabolism and enhance signals that control appetite.

You’ll see that this goes against the adjustments your body makes when you restrict your calorie intake5. Research has also shown that those who exercise frequently are better at balancing their calorie needs with their dietary intake, which lowers their risk of overeating.

So, the important thing is not only to just lose weight but also to avoid regaining weight after you have lost it. This is where reverse dieting comes into the picture and can help you avoid regaining weight after your diet.

Benefits of Reverse Dieting

Reverse Dieting
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There is much more to reverse dieting than just weight loss. Below are a few more reasons why you should not ignore reverse dieting.

1. Supports a Healthy Metabolism

Your body turns the food and liquid you consume into energy through a process known as metabolism. Your body constantly receives energy from your metabolism for vital processes like breathing and digestion. The basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is the minimal number of calories your body requires to maintain these processes.

In a restrictive diet, you cut calories in your daily diet; because of low daily calorie intake, the size of the body gradually shrinks, which causes the metabolism to slow down. Thus, if you want to continue losing weight, you must reduce your calorie intake.

Even if someone reaches their target, the number of calories they can consume to maintain their weight does not equate to a substantial amount of food. It feels pitiful and is really challenging to follow. As a result, extra calories start to return, the weight continues to increase, and they have to begin their low-calorie diet again.

Whereas reverse dieting helps increase your metabolic rate. Increasing your calorie intake can aid in boosting your metabolism, which will cause you to burn more calories through thermogenesis6. Therefore, your body will continue to burn calories even if you do simple activities like walking, sleeping, or moving around.

2. Keeping your Appetite and Cravings Under Control

Low-calorie diets can be challenging, and eating less can result in increased appetite and a sense of deprivation. Many of you would have experienced feeling hungry or craving high-calorie goods while on a diet.

While reverse dieting involves slowly increasing calorie intake. By gradually increasing your calorie intake, you may convince your brain that you will be returning to your normal eating habits. Though not too much but it will allow you to have more food and even, at times, treat yourself with meals you enjoy.

You might experience an increase in satiety as well as improvements in digestion and other physiological functions, including sleep and rest.

3. Increase your Muscle Mass

Be it man or woman, who doesn’t like muscles these days! It is very difficult for muscles to rebuild themselves following resistance exercise, so they require a lot of energy to grow. The best strategy to encourage muscle growth is to increase your body’s intake of food and calories during strength training.

Building muscles while on a low-calorie diet can be hard. But a successful reverse diet can help you increase your muscle mass. After a restricted diet, you will undoubtedly be glycogen-depleted.

Your liver and muscles store carbohydrates as glycogen. By gradually consuming more, you can replace depleted glycogen, which raises the water content of your muscles. Your muscles will consequently grow in size.

4. Better Energy and Improved Performance

Reverse dieting may also make you feel more energized and, in turn, improve your performance. While on a restrictive diet, people often feel exhausted or feel like sleeping all day. But in a reverse diet eating more food may ensure a greater intake of various nutrients and micronutrients.

Gaining access to a wider range of nutrients is also beneficial for cognitive activities like learning and can fuel your workouts.

There’s a good chance that as your caloric intake rises, you’ll have more energy for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), which includes activities like walking, vacuuming, tapping your foot, taking the stairs, and other types of movement that you typically engage in without even realizing it. This results in increased calorie burning and can aid in preventing weight gain.

Not having to eat less and doing rigorous cardio can make your energy levels return to normal, and this will undoubtedly lift your body and mind.

5. Mental Vacation from Dieting

Diets can be draining physically as well as mentally. But that is not the case with reverse dieting. Reverse dieting has a significant positive psychological impact.

A restrictive diet can wear you out not only physically but also frequently causes emotions of deprivation and constraint. You might occasionally feel lethargic, worn out, and angry as a result of it. It can also hinder your lifestyle and different aspects of life like relationships and your work life by distracting you towards hunger pangs and lethargy. This can disrupt your psychological health and even lead to stress or depression.

You can safely end your caloric deficit with reverse dieting, which should provide some psychological relief, especially if you’ve been dieting for months. By giving yourself more freedom in your eating habits, you might discover that your desire to maintain a healthy diet lasts longer and that you’re more motivated to improve your eating habits after the reverse dieting has ended.

How to Reverse Diet to Lose Weight?

HOW TO REVERSE DIET // 4 Steps To Speed Up Your Metabolism & Stay Lean

Reverse dieting is a fairly easy and simple process, but one has to do it correctly to get its benefits. So let’s look at some steps you can follow to implement a successful reverse diet:

Step 1) Determine your Calorie Target

The first thing you need to do is to determine your calorie target by choosing an appropriate tracking method. You must keep track of your calorie intake in order to account for the food you consume each day accurately. There are several ways you can track your calorie intake. The easiest and most time-saving way among them is using a reliable nutritional tracking app.

You can also estimate the number of calories you need to maintain based on your weight and activity level. Another way is to go for a Body Composition Test, which can help you better understand your daily calorie requirements and metabolic adaptations.

Determine the maintenance calorie you must meet to keep your body weight stable. You may easily find nutritional apps or calculators to determine your calorie target. Tracking your calories should be done meticulously and diligently for proper weight management without gaining back any extra fat gain.

Step 2) Determine your Macro Targets

Once you have determined your calorie target, the next thing you need to do is determine your macro target. Your macro targets are made up of protein, carbs, and fat. When you reverse diet, the macronutrients you consume will be crucial if you want to speed up your metabolism effectively.

One of the most important parts of a reverse diet is protein intake. This is one factor that makes a higher protein diet better for enhancing body composition than diets with low protein content. A higher protein diet seems to boost muscle protein synthesis and reduce protein breakdown, which should result in increased muscular growth.

There are many calculators available on the internet which can help you in determining your macro targets. Use a calculator that is more precise and descriptive when performing calculations. Also, calculate the balanced carbohydrates and fats ratio to avoid rapid weight regain and keep your hormones at healthy levels.

 Step 3) Increase your Calorie Intake in Small Portions

After figuring out how much food you could consume while maintaining weight, you can gradually increase your intake to match it. A 10% increase in your carbs and fat is an excellent place to start if you decide to follow a more conservative path.

For instance, you can increase your calorie intake by about 100 or 150 calories at a time if you are currently consuming 1000 calories per day but can maintain your weight by eating 1500 calories per day. The most common approach is to increase your calories by 100 each week until you reach your maintenance calories.

Step 4) Track your Progress and Make Adjustments

Once you have started with your reverse dieting, you need to track your progress along the way to see if a reverse diet is working the way you want it to. Some of the ways you can track your progress are:

  • Weigh yourself at least once a week. Keeping a record of your weekly average weight change may help decide the necessary adjustments for your diet.
  • Take pictures of your progress, which may help depict changes in your body’s composition.
  • Take measurements of your waist, hips, and other body parts since they may more accurately indicate changes in body composition.
  • Use a food tracking app to determine how many calories you consume daily from food and drinks. This will enable you to assess your success in adhering to your new daily calorie requirements.

According to your data, check whether you need to make any adjustments to your current reverse dieting plans.

Foods to Eat While Reverse Dieting to Avoid Fat Gain

Reverse Dieting
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In reverse dieting, an important step is adding calories to adjust your body to your normal eating habits. But this doesn’t mean you can eat anything. As much as reverse dieting looks flexible, it won’t work out if you are not careful about what you are consuming.

To be clear, as long as you are meeting your daily calorie and macro requirements, the kind of food you eat will not affect your ability to grow muscle or lose body fat. But in terms of micronutrients, the various nutrients and minerals, the foods that your body consumes do matter, and it will also affect the way you feel, like your energy level, sleepiness, or hunger.

For this reason, if you want to maintain your weight the right way, try to consume nutritious and good food for your body. As discussed before, high protein meals are one of the most crucial parts of a reverse diet. Consume food that is good for health, such as vegetables, nuts, bread, oatmeal, spinach, meats, rice, yoghurts, etc.

It doesn’t mean you have to be fixated on healthy food; at times, you can also eat things you like, ice creams, desserts, or other things you like. Remember that this kind of food should be less than 25% of the total food you consume daily.

Furthermore, when reverse dieting, you should frequently prefer foods rich in volume relative to calories because they will help you feel fuller for longer. Lean meats, vegetables, beans, and potatoes are examples of foods that are particularly ideal options because they can fill you full with more food for fewer calories, making it simpler to keep to your diet plan.

Click here to know about the best high-fibrous food to add to your daily diet.

How Long Should you Reverse Diet?

Reverse Dieting
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The question now is, how long should you reverse your diet? There is no standard rule regarding how long you should reverse your diet. The process might take four to five months for some people, while it might take well over six months for others.

You should pay attention to your body rather than planning a reverse diet with a fixed time frame or target number of calories. Your weight and body fat will alter when you consume more calories, affecting how long your reverse will be.

While reverse dieting initially, weight gain may fluctuate; you might put on a little weight one week, then none the next, lose a little weight one week, then put on more the next. I think you should stop reverse dieting when your weight becomes consistent. Since it may take some time for your metabolism to acclimate to the extra calories and begin burning through fuel more quickly, it may indicate that your body is still adjusting to the larger calorie intake when you experience irregular weight gain followed by weight plateaus.

But eventually, you will reach a point when your metabolism stops growing, and you won’t be able to burn off some of the extra calories you’re giving. Instead, it will store the excess calories as fat each week, resulting in a continuous, significant weight increase over time. That is the point in time you can stop your reverse diet.

What is an Exit Strategy in Reverse Dieting?

Reverse Dieting
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What are you supposed to do after ending your reverse diet? Do you get started with your weight loss diets again, or start keeping records of your calories again? Well, the first and primary thing you should do is ‘maintenance’. Following a reversal diet, you should be sticking to maintenance calories for at least two to three weeks so that your bodies can acclimate to a baseline intake.

Your body dislikes conflicting signals. It is recommended that everyone going off a reverse diet enter a period of maintenance. If you take your time with the reverse, you should be able to sustain considerably greater calories than previously. This helps your body identify this as your new baseline. The same rule for restrictive diets also applies to this situation: You cannot alternate between extremes.

You are more than welcome to switch to another weight loss plan or embark on bulk in the future if you want to add some extra muscle. The reverse diet has the convenience of clearing your plate for you and giving you full reign over your subsequent nutrition decisions.

In the End

Reverse Dieting
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It can be just as challenging to keep the weight off as it is to lose it. You can avoid gaining weight with a reversal diet while returning to a healthy eating routine. Make sure to eat healthily and exercise regularly to keep your weight instead of attempting to speed up your metabolism. It’s also crucial to start by losing weight in a healthy method.

The goal of reverse dieting is all about control. Because so many of us have trouble controlling our bodies, we may believe that we lack the willpower to diet or that our bodies are too resistant to losing fat. We are mistaken. You need to put in some effort and be patient. Lastly, be aware that weight can change. So instead of concentrating on how you weigh, think about how good you feel.

  1. Plan, Vegan Meal, and Cardio Conversion Table. “Reverse Dieting: Hype, Or Miracle Diet?.” ↩︎
  2. Clark, Matthew M., et al. “Self-efficacy in weight management.” Journal of consulting and clinical psychology 59.5 (1991): 739. ↩︎
  3. Polivy, Janet, and C. Peter Herman. “Diagnosis and treatment of normal eating.” Journal of consulting and clinical psychology 55.5 (1987): 635. ↩︎
  4. Wing, Rena R., and Suzanne Phelan. “Long-term weight loss maintenance–.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 82.1 (2005): 222S-225S. ↩︎
  5. Ingram, Donald K., and George S. Roth. “Calorie restriction mimetics: can you have your cake and eat it, too?.” Ageing research reviews 20 (2015): 46-62. ↩︎
  6. Lowell, Bradford B., and Bruce M. Spiegelman. “Towards a molecular understanding of adaptive thermogenesis.” Nature 404.6778 (2000): 652-660. ↩︎

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