Eat more and lose weight? It’s not magic — here’s the science and method of reverse dieting.
If you’ve dieted for a while and are worried you damaged your metabolism, reverse dieting might be the answer you’re looking for.
Because here’s the truth: at some point you can’t cut calories any more. But, you still want to lose weight or maintain your weight loss!
A restrictive, increasingly reduced calorie intake can slow your metabolism over time. Reverse dieting is slowly and strategically increasing your calorie intake after a calorie-restricted diet over several weeks or months to boost your metabolism. When done right, it means you eat more food than you were before but still gain muscle and lose fat. Plus, you have more energy. It’s a way to set yourself up for sustainable, long-term success.
We know that it may seem scary to eat more because you’re afraid you’ll gain weight. It’s counterintuitive to the concept of “calories in, calories out” where you eat less calories than you burn to lose weight.
But when you’ve eaten a low calorie diet for an extended period of time, your body can go into a “starvation response”. Starvation response is your body’s metabolic adaptation to eating less and is associated with decreased basal metabolic rate, decreased energy availability for exercise, slowed digestion (which increases energy in), and reduced energy out during daily activities.
But your body will adapt in the opposite direction if you increase your calories the right way. Your basal metabolic rate will rise, your digestion returns to normal (which decreases energy in), and you increase your energy out during daily activities.
Effectively reverse dieting requires;
- Knowing your current caloric intake and demands
- Determining the intervals and amounts to increase calories
- Establishing your macronutrients
- Tracking your food intake (calorie and macro tracking is best)
- Adjusting your physical activity accordingly
Once you’ve picked your plan, begin! Then, monitor your progress and adjust as needed.
Monitoring your progress can include;
- Knowing your trending weekly weight gain or loss
- Tracking body composition through a body composition test or measuring body circumferences
- Taking progress pictures
- Evaluating workout performance
- Noting subjective measures like energy levels, hunger/satiation, digestion
By monitoring your progress you can adjust your calorie intake, but increasing slowly (about 10-20% above current calories) every 2-4 weeks is a guideline for most people. The amount of time spent reverse dieting is best done in proportion to the time you spent dieting. For example, if you spent 2 months eating low calorie your body might need 2 months to re-adjust.
You can choose to stop reverse dieting based on your goals. This can take weeks or many months depending on how long you’ve been in a calorie deficit, your weight, and/or if you’re interested in eating more.
Once you’ve achieved your reverse dieting goals you can eat more intuitively, cut calories to lose weight again, or maintain your current intake to maintain your weight and metabolism.
Reverse dieting takes experimentation, effort, and attention to get it right, so keep tracking your progress to adjust your calories so you optimally eat a comfortable amount of food while not gaining weight.
Eating more to lose weight isn’t magic. It’s science.
If you want to know whether you’ve damaged your metabolism and how to effectively reverse diet, schedule your metabolism test. Or if you have questions about your metabolism and whether reverse dieting is right for you, book a free phone consult.