What Is Reverse Dieting? A Nutritionist Explains
When I first heard of reverse dieting, I was confused by the terminology. My initial assumption was that it somehow implied weight loss by eating more rather than less. Instead, reverse dieting is all about how to add back calories after a diet ends. Here’s a summary of how this is carried out, and my thoughts on why it’s not necessary if you’re trying to lose weight safely and sustainably.
How reverse dieting works
Reverse dieting is essentially what to do after a restrictive diet. Let’s say you’ve cut your calorie intake to a low 1,200 per day in order to lose weight, and you’ve subsequently shed some pounds. Proponents of reverse dieting suggest gradually increasing your calorie intake by 50–100 calories per week for about 4–10 weeks, rather than simply reverting back to your pre-diet eating pattern. People who advocate for this approach claim that it can help increase metabolism, normalize hunger hormones, and reduce the risk of binge eating or rapid weight regain.
What does the research say about reverse dieting?
There is no research specifically on reverse dieting. Some of the studies used to support this practice are based on the negative impacts of dieting on metabolic rate and hormone balance. But that’s very different from a controlled study that applies reverse dieting to one group compared to a control group, in order to examine outcomes such as changes in metabolism, hormone levels, or other factors.