What Is Reverse Dieting And Is It Good For Me?

You have probably heard the term “reverse dieting” as it has become more of a mainstream idea lately. Maybe you’ve been unsure of exactly what it means but wondered if it’s something you should try. Perhaps you simply wonder why people reverse diet! In most cases, reverse dieting is thought of as the diet that follows a diet. That sounds like a strange statement, doesn’t it? Why would you “diet” after you’ve dieted? Maybe you’ve noticed that a good percentage of the population is taking part in some form of diet or specific nutrition plan. Maybe you feel like you’ve been chronically dieting yourself trying diet after diet hoping for results? These are great thoughts and questions! Throughout this article we will discuss what is reverse dieting and is it good for me.


What is Reverse Dieting?

belly-body-calories-diet

Reverse dieting is most commonly known as a way for competitive athletes to return to their normal eating patterns after preparing for competition with restrictive dieting (i.e. bodybuilders eat specifically to show the most muscle definition). For the general population, reverse dieting can be used after reaching a weight loss goal and/or after following a certain diet plan (keto, low-carb, etc.) In order to reintroduce foods (those higher in carbs, for example) without destroying the progress that was made, reverse dieting does this in small increments. Most often reverse dieting refers to calories but that often goes hand in hand with carbohydrates so we will consider both of them throughout this article. Just remember that reverse dieting is very gradual and completely controlled. It’s not like you just add food without being conscious of what and how much you’re adding to your diet.

red-lunch-green-knolling

Essentially, reverse dieting allows people to come out of a diet that restricted carbohydrates and/or calories in a manner that the body can respond positively instead of negatively. Reverse dieting allows time for the body to get used to having more calories and/or carbohydrates. Most of you probably know that a sudden increase in carbohydrates or calories sets the body into panic mode. It simply doesn’t know how to handle that drastic of a change. Adding them in slowly, over a period of time, the body can adjust and use the calories or carbs for energy instead of stocking it away and storing it as fat.

checking calories

Reverse dieting can provide a lot of benefits and get you out of chronic dieting. We will talk about some of these benefits in a little more detail in a bit, but we wanted to address the idea of chronic dieting. If you are someone that was on a diet plan, cut calories, watched macros and found success in losing weight and/or gaining muscle, you might wonder what to do now. Do you continue to eat as you were while you were dieting? Do you return to how you ate before dieting? How will the body respond to either of these scenarios? For most people, if you continue to eat according to your diet, you will find the body adapting to this metabolically and you may start to gain weight, lose muscle or just hit a plateau and not see results. It is highly probable that if you return to how you ate before the diet (which for most people is high carb and/or high calorie), you will gain weight, find yourself bloated, or just not feeling well. Now that we understand what reverse dieting is, let’s take a look at how it works.

How Does Reverse Dieting Work?

Let’s look at an example! Meet Julie; she has been preparing for a bodybuilding show. She has worked hard doing strength training, doing cardio, and tracking every calorie and macronutrient for at least six months, if not longer. It’s been a long, focused process but she is now ready to step on stage and win! After her competition, she might feel like overindulging in carbohydrates and calories which would undo all her hard work pretty quickly. On the other hand, reverse dieting allows her to slowly incorporate these things back into her diet with success. If she did go back to her normal eating patterns right away, it’s likely that she will bloat, gain weight, and lose muscle. Surprisingly, this can happen pretty quickly -which is generally very frustrating for anyone that has worked hard to prepare for competition. Following a reverse diet prevents her body from holding onto a carbohydrate overload and allows her to go into maintenance mode without overdoing it.

maintenance mode diet

Now, you might be thinking… I am not a body builder why do I need reverse dieting? As mentioned, reverse dieting is the “diet after the diet.” Let’s look at another example. Meet Joshua, who followed a low-carbohydrate, low-calorie nutrition plan for a year and lost 50 pounds. He wants to go back to a diet that includes more calories and carbohydrates, as he wants to begin some strength training. Instead of increasing carbohydrates from 50 grams per day to 150 grams all at once… he might try adding carbs slowly to his diet daily, increasing every few weeks for a period of time between 4 and 10 weeks. On that note, he may have stayed within approximately 2,000 calories on his low-carb diet and now his activity level can support him increasing to 2,400 calories each day. Again, doing this in small amounts over time (approximately 50 calories per week) will allow the body to adjust to processing them. You don’t want the body to hold on to all of the carbohydrates and calories, which is what happens if you make these changes all at once!

Is it Good for Me?

To address what is reverse dieting and is it good for me, let’s look at why people reverse diet. Most people reverse diet to return to their pre-diet intake. This generally has to do with the number of calories they are eating daily. What are the benefits of reverse dieting? Is it good for you? Many people end up staying in their caloric deficit after they’ve lost weight or prepared for competition. They don’t know what to do or how to do it, so they stay there forever! Doing this can create problems for the body metabolically.

weight-loss

Others struggle while trying to lose weight… yes, even if they’re dieting. They hit a plateau and all progress stalls. Why does this happen? Your body can down regulate, and the metabolism slows which stalls weight loss. If you’re not eating enough, the body doesn’t need to use as many calories because the metabolism has adjusted itself. Through this process the thyroid, hormones, etc. will down regulate to meet the body where it’s at because it’s not getting enough energy to function at its best. Of course, hormone imbalances and thyroid problems cause all kinds of other issues within the body. After going through a reverse dieting process and increasing caloric intake, some people see success in weight loss or muscle growth because they’ve repaired their metabolism. This is one reason that reverse dieting, when done properly, can be good for you as the risk of damaging your metabolism lowers significantly.

tape-fork-diet-health

One main reason that reverse dieting can be good for you is that it can help return to pre-diet calories without creating problems in the body as we have mentioned already. There are several other things that reverse dieting can do for the body. First, it is possible that reverse dieting will boost your metabolism which adapts to your “diet” level of caloric intake. This process was described, in part, above. Second, it has also been shown that reverse dieting can help with hormone levels including that of leptin. Leptin is a hormone that is related to managing weight and appetite. The fat cells in your body are responsible for producing leptin. When calories are decreased, leptin levels fall which increases appetite and lowers calorie burning. Lastly, you can eat more each day when reverse dieting which can correlate to increased energy levels and reduced hunger.

Reverse Dieting vs. Maintenance Calories

diet-calorie-counter-weight-loss-health

Now that you know how reverse dieting works and some of the benefits it provides, you might be wondering how it compares to returning to “maintenance calories” without the slow and incremental increases. First, let’s look at what we mean by maintenance calories. For the most part, there is a specific number of calories for everyone to maintain their current weight. Going above that number in caloric intake makes them gain weight and going lower causes them to lose weight. This is what is considered their magic number for maintenance calories. Simply put, maintenance calories keep you where you’re at metabolically… generally speaking staying here does not contribute to weight gain or loss.

With that in mind, reverse dieting is often done to help someone get from their “diet” caloric intake back up to their maintenance caloric intake. As mentioned in our examples of Julie and Joshua above, if they jump from their diet level of calories to maintenance level of calories without reverse dieting, they will likely gain weight and lose ground on the progress that they made while dieting (whether it is for competition or weight loss doesn’t necessarily make a difference here).

run

It is incredibly common for people to gain the weight they’ve lost back and often this happens very quickly! Why does this happen? This most likely occurs because they don’t reverse diet and allow their metabolism to catch up to having more calories (energy) to use. In order to avoid gaining weight back, doing reverse dieting and adding calories back slowly allows the metabolism to work with the body instead of against it. It gives the body time for the metabolism to adjust back up to meet the level of calories you are consuming. Once you’ve reached the maintenance level, your body now knows what to do because it’s been working slowly to balance the metabolism.

Collagen Recipe

One last important note regarding reverse dieting, maintenance calories, and well… nutrition in general. When we talk about increasing calories and carbohydrates back up to a “normal” (pre-diet) level, we want you to be incredibly mindful of how you do this. For many of us we ended up on a diet or specific nutrition plan because we were eating things that weren’t the best for us with empty calories and full of carbohydrates that do no good nutritionally. When we talk about reverse dieting, we’re not suggesting that you increase your calories by adding in a bunch of carb heavy pasta, bread, chips, and candy bars. Rather, we suggest that when you are taking steps to reverse diet to be thoughtful and intentional about adding calories and carbohydrates. We recommend that these increases come from whole foods that are nutrient dense. Consuming low-nutrient foods will definitely cause problems in your metabolism and hinder all of your efforts. Consuming foods that provide the body with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients will help balance metabolism and increase the chances of your reverse dieting to be successful.


In Summary

walk

Reverse dieting can help you move out of a restrictive nutrition plan. It often gives people a little more freedom and yet helps them feel like they are in control. Reverse dieting can also help if you are moving toward strength training or adding activity to your lifestyle and need more carbohydrates that you’ve been used to. For those that have been on a low-carb or low-calorie plan, they can feel scared off by the idea of adding more carbs or calories. We want to encourage you to consider reverse dieting to add healthy carbohydrates back into your diet. We hope that through this article, you have found many answers to the questions what is reverse dieting and is it good for me. If you are someone that is struggling with finding results with your current nutrition, you could try reverse dieting and see what happens. We think you might be surprised at the results!

Check out our “Keto Recipe Tips for Beginners” Ultimate Guide.

What Is Reverse Dieting And Is It Good For Me?

You have probably heard the term “reverse dieting” as it has become more of a mainstream idea lately. Maybe you’ve been unsure of exactly what it means but wondered if it’s something you should try. Perhaps you simply wonder why people reverse diet! In most cases, reverse dieting is thought of as the diet that follows a diet. That sounds like a strange statement, doesn’t it? Why would you “diet” after you’ve dieted? Maybe you’ve noticed that a good percentage of the population is taking part in some form of diet or specific nutrition plan. Maybe you feel like you’ve been chronically dieting yourself trying diet after diet hoping for results? These are great thoughts and questions! Throughout this article we will discuss what is reverse dieting and is it good for me.


What is Reverse Dieting?

belly-body-calories-diet

Reverse dieting is most commonly known as a way for competitive athletes to return to their normal eating patterns after preparing for competition with restrictive dieting (i.e. bodybuilders eat specifically to show the most muscle definition). For the general population, reverse dieting can be used after reaching a weight loss goal and/or after following a certain diet plan (keto, low-carb, etc.) In order to reintroduce foods (those higher in carbs, for example) without destroying the progress that was made, reverse dieting does this in small increments. Most often reverse dieting refers to calories but that often goes hand in hand with carbohydrates so we will consider both of them throughout this article. Just remember that reverse dieting is very gradual and completely controlled. It’s not like you just add food without being conscious of what and how much you’re adding to your diet.

red-lunch-green-knolling

Essentially, reverse dieting allows people to come out of a diet that restricted carbohydrates and/or calories in a manner that the body can respond positively instead of negatively. Reverse dieting allows time for the body to get used to having more calories and/or carbohydrates. Most of you probably know that a sudden increase in carbohydrates or calories sets the body into panic mode. It simply doesn’t know how to handle that drastic of a change. Adding them in slowly, over a period of time, the body can adjust and use the calories or carbs for energy instead of stocking it away and storing it as fat.

checking calories

Reverse dieting can provide a lot of benefits and get you out of chronic dieting. We will talk about some of these benefits in a little more detail in a bit, but we wanted to address the idea of chronic dieting. If you are someone that was on a diet plan, cut calories, watched macros and found success in losing weight and/or gaining muscle, you might wonder what to do now. Do you continue to eat as you were while you were dieting? Do you return to how you ate before dieting? How will the body respond to either of these scenarios? For most people, if you continue to eat according to your diet, you will find the body adapting to this metabolically and you may start to gain weight, lose muscle or just hit a plateau and not see results. It is highly probable that if you return to how you ate before the diet (which for most people is high carb and/or high calorie), you will gain weight, find yourself bloated, or just not feeling well. Now that we understand what reverse dieting is, let’s take a look at how it works.

How Does Reverse Dieting Work?

Let’s look at an example! Meet Julie; she has been preparing for a bodybuilding show. She has worked hard doing strength training, doing cardio, and tracking every calorie and macronutrient for at least six months, if not longer. It’s been a long, focused process but she is now ready to step on stage and win! After her competition, she might feel like overindulging in carbohydrates and calories which would undo all her hard work pretty quickly. On the other hand, reverse dieting allows her to slowly incorporate these things back into her diet with success. If she did go back to her normal eating patterns right away, it’s likely that she will bloat, gain weight, and lose muscle. Surprisingly, this can happen pretty quickly -which is generally very frustrating for anyone that has worked hard to prepare for competition. Following a reverse diet prevents her body from holding onto a carbohydrate overload and allows her to go into maintenance mode without overdoing it.

maintenance mode diet

Now, you might be thinking… I am not a body builder why do I need reverse dieting? As mentioned, reverse dieting is the “diet after the diet.” Let’s look at another example. Meet Joshua, who followed a low-carbohydrate, low-calorie nutrition plan for a year and lost 50 pounds. He wants to go back to a diet that includes more calories and carbohydrates, as he wants to begin some strength training. Instead of increasing carbohydrates from 50 grams per day to 150 grams all at once… he might try adding carbs slowly to his diet daily, increasing every few weeks for a period of time between 4 and 10 weeks. On that note, he may have stayed within approximately 2,000 calories on his low-carb diet and now his activity level can support him increasing to 2,400 calories each day. Again, doing this in small amounts over time (approximately 50 calories per week) will allow the body to adjust to processing them. You don’t want the body to hold on to all of the carbohydrates and calories, which is what happens if you make these changes all at once!

Is it Good for Me?

To address what is reverse dieting and is it good for me, let’s look at why people reverse diet. Most people reverse diet to return to their pre-diet intake. This generally has to do with the number of calories they are eating daily. What are the benefits of reverse dieting? Is it good for you? Many people end up staying in their caloric deficit after they’ve lost weight or prepared for competition. They don’t know what to do or how to do it, so they stay there forever! Doing this can create problems for the body metabolically.

weight-loss

Others struggle while trying to lose weight… yes, even if they’re dieting. They hit a plateau and all progress stalls. Why does this happen? Your body can down regulate, and the metabolism slows which stalls weight loss. If you’re not eating enough, the body doesn’t need to use as many calories because the metabolism has adjusted itself. Through this process the thyroid, hormones, etc. will down regulate to meet the body where it’s at because it’s not getting enough energy to function at its best. Of course, hormone imbalances and thyroid problems cause all kinds of other issues within the body. After going through a reverse dieting process and increasing caloric intake, some people see success in weight loss or muscle growth because they’ve repaired their metabolism. This is one reason that reverse dieting, when done properly, can be good for you as the risk of damaging your metabolism lowers significantly.

tape-fork-diet-health

One main reason that reverse dieting can be good for you is that it can help return to pre-diet calories without creating problems in the body as we have mentioned already. There are several other things that reverse dieting can do for the body. First, it is possible that reverse dieting will boost your metabolism which adapts to your “diet” level of caloric intake. This process was described, in part, above. Second, it has also been shown that reverse dieting can help with hormone levels including that of leptin. Leptin is a hormone that is related to managing weight and appetite. The fat cells in your body are responsible for producing leptin. When calories are decreased, leptin levels fall which increases appetite and lowers calorie burning. Lastly, you can eat more each day when reverse dieting which can correlate to increased energy levels and reduced hunger.

Reverse Dieting vs. Maintenance Calories

diet-calorie-counter-weight-loss-health

Now that you know how reverse dieting works and some of the benefits it provides, you might be wondering how it compares to returning to “maintenance calories” without the slow and incremental increases. First, let’s look at what we mean by maintenance calories. For the most part, there is a specific number of calories for everyone to maintain their current weight. Going above that number in caloric intake makes them gain weight and going lower causes them to lose weight. This is what is considered their magic number for maintenance calories. Simply put, maintenance calories keep you where you’re at metabolically… generally speaking staying here does not contribute to weight gain or loss.

With that in mind, reverse dieting is often done to help someone get from their “diet” caloric intake back up to their maintenance caloric intake. As mentioned in our examples of Julie and Joshua above, if they jump from their diet level of calories to maintenance level of calories without reverse dieting, they will likely gain weight and lose ground on the progress that they made while dieting (whether it is for competition or weight loss doesn’t necessarily make a difference here).

run

It is incredibly common for people to gain the weight they’ve lost back and often this happens very quickly! Why does this happen? This most likely occurs because they don’t reverse diet and allow their metabolism to catch up to having more calories (energy) to use. In order to avoid gaining weight back, doing reverse dieting and adding calories back slowly allows the metabolism to work with the body instead of against it. It gives the body time for the metabolism to adjust back up to meet the level of calories you are consuming. Once you’ve reached the maintenance level, your body now knows what to do because it’s been working slowly to balance the metabolism.

Collagen Recipe

One last important note regarding reverse dieting, maintenance calories, and well… nutrition in general. When we talk about increasing calories and carbohydrates back up to a “normal” (pre-diet) level, we want you to be incredibly mindful of how you do this. For many of us we ended up on a diet or specific nutrition plan because we were eating things that weren’t the best for us with empty calories and full of carbohydrates that do no good nutritionally. When we talk about reverse dieting, we’re not suggesting that you increase your calories by adding in a bunch of carb heavy pasta, bread, chips, and candy bars. Rather, we suggest that when you are taking steps to reverse diet to be thoughtful and intentional about adding calories and carbohydrates. We recommend that these increases come from whole foods that are nutrient dense. Consuming low-nutrient foods will definitely cause problems in your metabolism and hinder all of your efforts. Consuming foods that provide the body with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients will help balance metabolism and increase the chances of your reverse dieting to be successful.


In Summary

walk

Reverse dieting can help you move out of a restrictive nutrition plan. It often gives people a little more freedom and yet helps them feel like they are in control. Reverse dieting can also help if you are moving toward strength training or adding activity to your lifestyle and need more carbohydrates that you’ve been used to. For those that have been on a low-carb or low-calorie plan, they can feel scared off by the idea of adding more carbs or calories. We want to encourage you to consider reverse dieting to add healthy carbohydrates back into your diet. We hope that through this article, you have found many answers to the questions what is reverse dieting and is it good for me. If you are someone that is struggling with finding results with your current nutrition, you could try reverse dieting and see what happens. We think you might be surprised at the results!

Check out our “Keto Recipe Tips for Beginners” Ultimate Guide.
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2019-06-15T02:55:48-04:00