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Reverse Dieting: What Is It, How To Follow, Benefits, And More


Reverse dieting is nothing but a dieting plan specifically created to increase the calorie intake gradually over time, ranging from a few weeks to a few months.

Surprisingly, this diet plan is not to gain weight for people with skinny body types. However, one could healthily maintain weight if they follow this diet.

When a person does not lose weight anymore with the simple formula of diet and more exercise, it can be harmful in some cases, and this is where reverse dieting helps a person get results.

You could classify this as a diet after diet. It may as well promote long-term weight maintenance.

What Does Reverse Dieting Do?

The usual protocol of people after losing weight is often a bad method to maintain weight where they return to binge eating and increase calorie consumption in the body to an extent out of par for the body to face.

Consistent calorie control is very vital in body weight. When a person is involved in a diet with less calorie consumption for a long time, the body becomes used to the type of consumption.

This, in return, slows down your metabolism[1] to save energy but when the same person wants to return to a normal diet to maintain his weight or wishes to reduce more, the results might not be the desired ones.

In these cases reverse dieting is adopted where a person can easily return to his usual diet or a diet to cut more calories but gradually.

Weight loss and maintenance need a track to few factorials in your daily life one being deficiency of calories in your body if any.

How To Follow Reverse Dieting?

A reverse diet generally increases a person’s calorie consumption by 50-100 calories per week above the usual calories you follow to lose weight.

Therefore you gradually eat a few calories more than your usual consumption and gradually increase it instead of increasing it in a single go.

This process goes on for four to ten weeks.  The one component unaffected in this diet is protein since the protein in the body should be according to the body weight of the person.

In reverse dieting, you may improve your metabolism by increasing your calorie intake.

Apart from working out, you will become more likely to participate in walking, etc. as you will have more energy now.

These come under the criteria of NEAT thermogenesis also known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis which boosts the calories your burn. A plus point also involves normalizing hormones like leptin in the body.

Leptin in the body is a product of fat cells which is decreased by a less calorie consumption diet and due to less leptin in the body the appetite of the person increases which then reduces the calorie burning.

The one important factor while following reverse dieting is to calculate your calories and establish the targets accordingly since jumping in calories too quickly is pretty harmful to your progress.

Therefore, you need to calculate your current calories and then increase the diet to increase calories based on the findings while you have to regularly keep your calories in updates.

Do keep in mind that you need to keep your calorie intake as vast as possible from as many nutrients as possible to witness the best results.

After that, you also have to keep track of the carbs in your body and only keep and consume the healthy carbs and fats.

With this, you also have to gradually reduce your cardio exercise and indulge yourself in weight lifting to use the power injected in you with the food taken in.

Once you have reached the desired goal[2] you then have to gradually make further changes and keep your body in action with either gyming or exercises that can be further effective to your body for even better results.

Reverse Dieting And Weight Loss

The researches about reverse dieting are merely anecdotal and not backed by strong tests but it is a proven fact that increased calorie intake in a healthy manner boosts your metabolism.

It may also normalize your hormones henceforth increasing calorie burning. 

Reverse dieting can reduce the risk of binge eating henceforth making your fat with unnecessary junk in your body which is a common issue in people with strict diets.

Yet it is to be proven that reverse dieting can help a person regain and increase their metabolism so they can lose weight efficiently afterward.

Potential Benefits Of Reverse Dieting

Research lacks info on the potential health benefits of reverse dieting which may or may not come out to be more or less. Yet here are the following observational benefits and positive outcomes of reverse dieting

  1. You Can Eat More

    Reverse dieting is an easy diet where you do not have to be strict with the timings and amount of the food intake and it allows you to eat more, preventing you from feeling starvation throughout the day.

    Due to this reason people prefer opting for reverse dieting where you technically do not have any limits on the food intake.

  2. Increases Energy

    Due to the intake of more calories, the body is filled with an abundance of energy[3] which can further help give you the power to work throughout the day.

    You can even indulge in a more power-intensive workout to maintain or gain only small amounts of weight.

    Where restricted diets may have their drawbacks involving low energy levels and mood disturbances or even nutritional deficiencies which can be seriously alarming.

    Reverse dieting on the other hand resolves the downsides of such diets by slowly increasing the calorie intake.

  3. Reduced Hunger

    When calorie intake is reduced, leptin levels reduce alongside too which in turn influences hunger, therefore, increasing appetite which can turn out otherwise for a person trying to reduce weight.

    Leptin is responsible for promoting fullness in the body which can be triggered oppositely when a person is constantly on a low-calorie diet.

    Reverse dieting promotes slowly increasing calorie intake which balances[4] the levels of the hormones, both leptin, and ghrelin(which are responsible for stimulating the feeling of hunger).

    Hence reducing hunger levels in the body. Even so, these analogies are yet to be proven while they are merely anecdotal.

Drawbacks Of Reverse Dieting

While it may seem to look like a good option to choose, reverse dieting may also have its drawbacks as the others.

  1. Difficult Execution

    As amusing as it sounds, reverse dieting isn’t as easy to execute. While in theory, it is easy to increase your diet to lose weight or regain it yet increments of 50-100 calories each week isn’t a cakewalk.

    Where people usually underestimate the calorie content of a meal, a small amount of 50-100 calories is hard to be increased gradually in a maintained form.

    It is very vital to note that extra snacking or incorrect measurements in diet can disrupt your progress in a major sense hence worsening the result.

    Another factor that comes as a hindrance to the diet is the time consumption of the process which can be pretty exhausting and long.

  2. Calorie Focused

    The one thing that comes out as an obvious drawback is the focus of this diet being solely on calories[5] only where it completely overlooks the other factors’ consideration and importance.

    It is important when following this or any other diet not to neglect the importance of sleep and stress[6] in weight loss which fluctuates the body weight in some sense.

  3. Lack Of Evidence

    Reverse dieting is very evidently lacking the supporting research to back its potential and benefits it may hold to itself which is a very big drawback that opens itself to pretty obvious reasons to not follow this type of diet.

    Cases and anecdotes are the only evidence to back reverse dieting with some material yet it is unclear to the question – whether reverse dieting works or not.

    It is vital for reverse dieting to be proven with scientific facts to prove its efficiency.

    Even so, anecdotal evidence is the primary proof that the effects of this diet are not enough for reverse dieting to be declared a very efficient diet plan.


To conclude, we discussed what reverse dieting has to offer to the one who performs it.

A regular-based application of reverse dieting with vigorous exercising can help a person lose weight without cutting much on food whereas it also helps a person effectively gain weight.

Even though there aren’t any studies to prove the credibility of the success of reverse dieting yet there are many anecdotes to back the usage.

These are the benefits of reverse dieting where a person increases their energy gradually by little in this diet, but there are a few drawbacks to it too involving the difficult execution of such a diet.

Yet, a reverse diet is a diet that helps you maintain or effectively gain weight.


Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Eric T Trexler, Abbie E Smith-Ryan, Layne E Norton. Metabolic adaptation to weight loss: implications for the athlete. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014; 11: 7. Published online 2014 Feb 27. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-11-7.
  2. University of Colorado, Denver. Feasibility and Preliminary Efficacy of a Reverse Diet as a Novel Weight Loss Maintenance Strategy for Weight-Reduced Adults With Overweight/Obesity. First Posted : June 18, 2018. Available from: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03560635.
  3. Michelle Harvie* and Anthony Howell, Amanda Sainsbury, Academic Editor and Felipe Luz, Academic Editor. Potential Benefits and Harms of Intermittent Energy Restriction and Intermittent Fasting Amongst Obese, Overweight and Normal Weight Subjects—A Narrative Review of Human and Animal Evidence. Behav Sci (Basel). 2017 Mar; 7(1): 4. Published online 2017 Jan 19. doi: 10.3390/bs7010004.
  4. M D Klok, S Jakobsdottir, M L Drent. The role of leptin and ghrelin in the regulation of food intake and body weight in humans: a review. Obes Rev. 2007 Jan;8(1):21-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2006.00270.x. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17212793/.
  5. David Benton and Hayley A. Young. Reducing Calorie Intake May Not Help You Lose Body Weight. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2017 Sep; 12(5): 703–714. Published online 2017 Jun 28. doi: 10.1177/1745691617690878.
  6. Neil A. Schwarz, B. Rhett Rigby, Paul La Bounty, Brian Shelmadine, and Rodney G. Bowden*. A Review of Weight Control Strategies and Their Effects on the Regulation of Hormonal Balance. J Nutr Metab. 2011; 2011: 237932. Published online 2011 Jul 28. doi: 10.1155/2011/237932.

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