Reverse Dieting: Does It Really Work?

If you’ve been dieting for what feels like forever, being told that reverse dieting is now a thing might sound a little contradictory. But for some individuals, it can actually be an effective method of maintaining weight loss. 

The word ‘reverse’ doesn’t mean undoing all of your progress in one go. It’s about slowly increasing your calorie intake to boost your metabolism and potentially decrease the risk of binge eating;  a common problem amongst people on highly restrictive diets. Here’s everything you need to know about reverse dieting and whether it will work for you. 

What is reverse dieting?

In short, reverse dieting is when you slowly increase the amount of food you eat after being in a calorie deficit to promote long-term weight maintenance. It’s a way of resuming your normal eating habits after a cut without having to worry about gaining it all back. 

How do I start reverse dieting?

You should start by increasing your calorie intake by 50-100 calories per week above your current maintenance calories. This period typically lasts 4-10 weeks, or until you reach your target, pre-diet intake. The amount of protein you consume can remain the same as this is based on your body weight rather than calorie consumption. 

Can you lose weight whilst reverse dieting?

Though research is currently limited on the effects of reverse dieting, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to support this way of eating. 

The idea is that increasing your calorie intake could boost calorie burning and normalise hormone levels, which may promote weight loss and maintenance. Of course, it’s worth keeping in mind that this might work for some, not for all. It’s about finding what works best for you and your body. 

It’s also been suggested that reverse dieting can reduce the risk of binge eating. The theory is that it works by easing your transition back to a normal diet. 

The benefits of reverse dieting

Here are the main reasons why individuals start reverse dieting: 

  1. It allows you to eat more – falling into the trap of restrictive dieting can leave you feeling tired and hungry a lot of the time, craving the foods you’ve stopped yourself from eating over the last month or so. On the other hand, reverse dieting allows you to eat a wider range of healthy foods throughout the day so that you’re not left wanting more. 
  2. Increased energy – Restrictive eating can have a negative effect on your mood, sleeping habits, and energy levels. When you begin to increase your calorie intake, you’re fuelling your body with the nutrients it needs to function adequately. 
  3. Less hungry – It’s no secret that if you’re constantly hungry, you probably aren’t eating enough. Depending on the amount of exercise you do a day, you need to increase your calorie intake accordingly so that you’re in a healthy, non-restrictive calorie deficit. 

As with any diet, there are some downsides to reverse dieting:

  1. Difficult to execute – When you’ve stuck with the same eating habits for a while, it can be really hard to adjust your mindset and start increasing your calories; it goes against a lot of what we’ve been taught about weight loss. Plus, measuring your portions and keeping track of calories can be really time-consuming. 
  2. Lack of research – Aside from anecdotal evidence, there isn’t any research that delves into whether or not reverse dieting is effective for weight loss. 

Reverse dieting: The takeaways

As the weight loss effects of reverse dieting are unsupported by science, it’s probably best you make sure you’re eating a balanced diet or even try intuitive eating before giving this type of diet a go. Our maintenance meal prep plans are both tasty and balanced to help you keep up your weight loss without any restrictions. Simply choose your favourite dishes from our menu and we’ll have your healthy food to your door in no time at all.