Should you be doing a REVERSE diet?

Should you be doing a REVERSE diet?

What the heck is a REVERSE diet? A reverse diet means different things to different people. But here’s how we define it:


“A reverse diet is a method to INCREASE calories and energy expenditure while limiting unnecessary fat gains”


When you chronically undereat, especially with extreme weight loss diets, for a long time, your body adapts to the sparse calories. The fancy term for this is metabolic adaptation. Reverse dieting, put another way, is a way in which you can INCREASE the number of calories you eat every day without gaining unnecessary bodyfat.


Why would you want to increase your calorie needs? Well, who doesn’t love food?! Plus, having a higher calorie need means you have more flexibility in your diet and means you can get more important micronutrients and fiber…which will help you feel your best!


Think of this as the “diet after the diet”. In an ideal world, you would continue your fat loss journey until you reach your goals, and then just maintain it forever. But sadly, this isn’t how this always works. Many times, by the time you reach your goal, your calories are low and not sustainable.


So, how do I implement a reverse diet?


For starters, you are going to want to head to our free macronutrient calculator and select “maintenance” as your goal. One you have calculated your maintenance calories…


  1. Conservative approach: this approach has a goal of less than or equal to 0.2% of body weight gained per week. This approach is for people who want to minimize as much fat gain as possible, while still increasing their calorie capacity. Use your maintenance calories + 10%.
  2. Moderate approach: this approach has a goal of 0.5% of body weight gained per week. Use your maintenance calories + 10-20%.
  3. Aggressive approach: this approach is for people who wish to increase their calories quickly and are okay adding some body fat in the process. This method has a goal of 0.8% or less of body weight gained per week. Use your maintenance calories + up to 30%.


Remember, a REVERSE diet is intended to help you increase your calorie capacity after a successful dieting period while minimizing body fat. But what if you aren’t there yet, but you are struggling with low calories?


A diet break is a dieting protocol which is intended to (1) give you a mental break from the struggles of dieting and (2) negate the metabolic adaptation from losing weight.


What are the two main benefits: (1) taking diet breaks can improve weight loss outcomes (although it takes longer because of the "break days") for the same number of days in a caloric deficit, and (2) helps reduce metabolic adaptation meaning as you lose weight you can eat more food. These are in reference to this research:


How to do a diet break: after dieting for 3-8 weeks or on an as-needed basis, increase your calories to maintenance levels (head to our free macronutrient calculator and select “maintenance” as your goal) for one-week. Do not over-consume calories when you are taking a break and continue to track your food (after dieting, maintenance calories will feel like a ton anyways)!


Have a question? Just reach out and a NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist will help answer your questions!

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