What is Reverse Dieting, and How Does it Work?


Have you ever come across the term reverse dieting? If you are intensely into dieting and nutrition, you might have. For others, this is a more elusive diet that isn’t exactly at the forefront of the movement right now.

What is it all about, how does it work for the body, and what are its benefits? These are frequently asked questions that we’re aiming to answer with this article.

Technically, the word “diet” refers to the kind of food that a person habitually consumes. Of course, the marketing industry has looked to monetize dieting and there are countless diets out there for different reasons. We’re going to take a closer look at how exactly reverse dieting fits into the diet world and how it may be beneficial for you.

Reverse Dieting by Definition

Reverse dieting, as the name implies, is the opposite of dieting (for weight loss). It is usually done after an average weight loss diet when the restricted calorie intake ends. Reverse dieting increases the calorie intake for a 4-10 week period.

During a weight loss diet where calories are restricted, the body slowly adapts to this system. However, after the diet ends and people jump into their regular diet with a couple of thousand calorie increases, it’s no surprise they start gaining weight right away.

After analyzing this situation, nutritionists came up with the idea of reverse dieting. This reverse diet helps to slowly ease you back into your regular diet without gaining the weight you have lost. Instead of your body being shocked by a sudden calorie increase, you are eased back into it.

What are the Effects of Reverse Dieting on the Body

Like any diet, your body won’t go un-changed, and that’s the point. Here are some of the more immediate effects you’ll see if you decide to take up reverse dieting following a weight loss-related diet.

1.  Long-time weight loss

Reverse dieting prevents immediate weight gain after a diet specifically geared toward weight loss. It’s not uncommon to hear the complaint that after stopping a diet, people gained weight back immediately; sometimes even more than they’d lost. Reverse dieting helps you maintain the weight loss instead of gaining.

2.  Helps the body to adapt:

Using this method will help support the body’s metabolism to adapt to the increase in calories slowly. Therefore, the calories are increased bit by bit to avoid sudden weight gain and stress.

Why Reverse Diet?

If you are just coming off of a diet focused on weight loss, you might be concerned about that weight gain you often hear about. It can be a defeating feeling to see all that weight pile back on after weeks, or even months, of hard work.

What reverse dieting does is help your body’s metabolism adapt to a more varied and calorie-filled diet after a calorie-restricted one. This way, your body shouldn’t be shocked back into weight gain and should be able to handle and process the extra calories.

When Should you try Reverse Dieting?


The only real way reverse dieting works is if you implement it immediately after coming off of a weight loss-based diet. Just as you eased your body into cutting down on calories (or whatever else the diet you used regulated), you’ll be easing your body into adding on calories.

The period of reverse dieting should last around 4-10 weeks before resuming a regular diet fully.

The increase in calories also depends on the amount restricted during the diet. Each diet has its unique calorie intake restrictions, which is why we have such a large period of time to work with in building your intake back up. If you didn’t cut much out, you’ll be closer to the 4 week timeline; if you restricted your diet drastically, it’ll take you longer to work back up to your “normal.”


How Does it Work?

Reverse dieting includes increasing your calorie intake by about 50-100 calories every week. This increase continues over the course of 4-10 weeks, or until you reach your regular calorie intake. (By regular, we also mean healthy – you still shouldn’t be consuming more calories than is healthy from a nutrition standpoint.)

Protein consumption remains the same because it is based on body weight and not calorie intake.

This diet may boost metabolism and increase weight loss in everyday activities such as talking, walking, and more. It enhances the production of a gene called leptin, which circulates the body and regulated appetite. Leptin also increases with the number of calories consumed. If calorie intake is decreased, this gene’s production also decreases, which results in lower calorie burning.

The Benefits of Reverse Dieting

This diet was created because it has something to offer. It’s a logical approach to getting back to your “normal,” although that doesn’t mean your diet should shift back to mostly processed or sugar-filled foods. Make sure you’re still balancing out what you put in your body.

Here’s a comprehensive list of benefits you can reap from taking on a reverse diet.

1.  Eating more food

Increased calorie intake means you can eat more. The downside to many weight loss diets it hat you’re really restricting not only what you can eat, but how much. Reverse dieting will help you get back to bigger, but still controlled, portions. This is a good thing for a person who has been fasting for a long time.

You get to eat more food, enjoy yourself, and relax more while still maintaining your health.

2.  Reduced hunger

A hungry man is an angry man (or woman, or whatever you identify as!). When calories are decreased, you may get cranky and annoyed until your body adjusts. Or, unfortunately, across the entirety of the diet. Dieting is hard, and not everyone copes well with it.

However, when you start reverse dieting, you can start eating properly, which will not only cut back on your hunger pangs but improve your mood. And at this point, your body is hopefully ready to maintain its new weight and get back to a norm.


If anything has a benefit, it will have its drawbacks as well. Luckily the reverse diet is a little easier to navigate and understand, as it doesn’t have as many rules or restrictions as other diets.

1.  Weight gain

Unfortunately, it is still possible to gain weight during this diet. The science supports the fact that easing back into calorie consumption should keep the weight off, but everyone’s body reacts differently. Especially depending on how quickly you’re upping your calorie intake.

2.  Limited research

This diet is used by many and recommended by a lot of nutritionists. However, there is limited research to give a resounding “yes!” or “no!” in terms of whether it works 100%. Because people are so unique, there are a lot of variables to take into consideration that can affect the outcomes per person.

3.  Based on calorie intake

The diet bases its operations on the number of calories consumed over time. But your focus shouldn’t just be on counting calories, since calories alone can’t change your body for the better. You’ll also need to shift your lifestyle a bit and incorporate better habits, such as exercising more and drinking more water.


Reverse dieting following a weight loss diet shows a lot of promise in terms of maintaining your new body and keeping the pounds off. The period for this diet is 4-10 weeks. Although there is not much research on this diet, it is recommended by lots of nutritionists and follows logic.

The most important part of deciding whether or not you can benefit from reverse dieting is simply knowing yourself and your body. Find out what works for you to maintain long-term happiness and health. The world of dieting is not “one size fits all”!

Autumn is an Editor @ WholeYum, passionate about holistic health and nutrition.


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