What is Reverse Dieting and How to Do It: A Beginner's Guide
General Nutrition • • minute to read • By INFS, INFS Faculty
If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight, you may have heard of the concept of reverse dieting. But what exactly is reverse dieting, and how can it help you achieve your fitness goals? In this article, we’ll explain the basics of reverse dieting and provide practical tips for how to implement it effectively.
What is Reverse Dieting?
Reverse dieting is a dieting strategy that involves slowly increasing calorie intake after a prolonged period of calorie restriction. This can help to prevent weight gain, increase metabolic rate, and normalise hormone levels.
When you diet for an extended period, your body adapts to the reduced calorie intake by reducing your metabolic rate. This is known as metabolic adaptation or “starvation mode.” When your body goes into starvation mode, it reduces energy expenditure to conserve energy and stores fat to preserve fuel for survival.
Reverse dieting is a method that can help you increase your metabolic rate without gaining the lost fat. The goal is to slowly increase calorie intake each week (typically by 50-100 kcal) until you reach your maintenance calories, which is the amount of calories required to maintain your current weight. During reverse dieting, you should maintain adequate protein intake and increase either carbohydrate or fat intake (preferably healthier options) according to your preference.
How to Do Reverse Dieting
Reverse dieting is a gradual process that requires patience and consistency. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do reverse dieting:
Calculate your current maintenance calories: To determine your current maintenance calories, you need to track your calorie intake and weight for at least two weeks. Once you have this data, you can calculate your average calorie intake and weight. If your weight remained stable, then your average calorie intake is your maintenance calories.
To find your maintenance calories, check out FITTR’s free tool here.
- Determine your target calorie intake: Once you know your maintenance calories, you can determine your target calorie intake by adding 50-100 kcal to your current maintenance calories each week.
- Monitor your progress: During the reverse dieting process, it’s important to monitor your progress regularly. Keep track of your weight, calorie intake, and how you feel. If you notice any changes in your body, adjust your calorie intake accordingly.
- Maintain protein intake: Ensure that you’re consuming enough protein to maintain muscle mass. Aim for 1-1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
- Increase carbohydrate or fat intake: Increase your carbohydrate or fat intake (preferably healthier options) as per your preference, while maintaining your protein intake.
- Be patient and consistent: Reverse dieting is a gradual process that requires patience and consistency. It’s essential to be consistent with your calorie intake and track your progress regularly.
Reverse Dieting Meal Plan
Reverse Dieting becomes easier when you include whole, nutrient-dense foods in your diet. Here is an example of a meal plan for reverse dieting:
Meal 1 – Breakfast (Total calories: 350)
- 2 whole eggs (140 calories, 12g protein, 10g fat)
- 1 roti (100 calories, 3g protein, 2g fat, 18g carbs)
- 50g of paneer bhurji (110 calories, 10g protein, 7g fat)
Meal 2 – Mid-morning snack (Total calories: 200)
- 100g of curd (80 calories, 6g protein, 4g fat)
- 1 small banana (120 calories, 1g protein, 0.5g fat, 31g carbs)
Meal 3 – Lunch (Total calories: 450)
- 100g of cooked brown rice (108 calories, 2g protein, 1g fat, 23g carbs)
- 100g of dal (120 calories, 10g protein, 1g fat, 20g carbs)
- 50g of sauteed vegetables (18 calories, 0.8g protein, 0.2g fat, 3g carbs)
- 50g of raita (60 calories, 4g protein, 4g fat)
Meal 4 – Mid-afternoon snack (Total calories: 250)
- 50g of sprouts (20 calories, 1.4g protein, 0.2g fat, 4g carbs)
- 100g of fruit salad (150 calories, 1g protein, 0.5g fat, 39g carbs)
Meal 5 – Dinner (Total calories: 400)
- 100g of vegetable curry (60 calories, 1.2g protein, 4g fat, 6g carbs)
- 100g of brown rice (108 calories, 2g protein, 1g fat, 23g carbs)
- 50g of salad (30 calories, 1g protein, 5g carbs)
Total calories: 1650
- Protein: 93.4g
- Fat: 29.7g
- Carbohydrates: 273.5g
Please note that this is just a sample meal plan and may not be suitable for everyone. It’s important to consult with a coach before starting any new diet or exercise program. They can help you determine your specific calorie and macronutrient needs based on your individual goals and health status.
- What is the meaning of reverse dieting?Reverse dieting is a dieting strategy that involves slowly increasing calorie intake after a prolonged period of calorie restriction. This can help to prevent weight gain, increase metabolic rate, and normalize hormone levels.
- Can reverse dieting help me lose weight? Reverse dieting is not typically used for weight loss, but rather for maintaining weight loss or increasing metabolic rate after a prolonged period of calorie restriction. If your goal is weight loss, you may need to focus on reducing your calorie intake and increasing physical activity.
- How long does reverse dieting take? Reverse dieting is a gradual process that can take several weeks or even months to complete, depending on your starting point and goals. The process requires patience and consistency to achieve optimal results.
- Can I do reverse dieting without tracking calories? While it’s possible to do reverse dieting without tracking calories, it can be more challenging to monitor your progress and adjust your intake accordingly. Tracking your calorie intake and weight can help you determine your maintenance calories and track your progress.
- Is reverse dieting safe for everyone? Reverse dieting can be safe for most people, but it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian before starting any new diet or exercise program. People with certain medical conditions or who are on certain medications may need to avoid reverse dieting.
- Can I still exercise while doing reverse dieting? Yes, you can still exercise while doing reverse dieting. In fact, exercise can help to increase metabolic rate and maintain muscle mass. Just be sure to adjust your calorie intake based on your activity level and track your progress to ensure you’re not gaining weight.
Who should do reverse dieting?
Reverse dieting can be helpful for those who have been on a prolonged period of low-calorie diets or those who have hit a plateau in their weight loss journey. It’s also beneficial for athletes who need to increase their calorie intake to fuel their performance without gaining unwanted weight.
For how long should you do reverse dieting?
The length of reverse dieting varies depending on an individual’s goals and current condition. However, the process usually lasts between 4 to 12 weeks, depending on how much calorie intake needs to be increased to reach maintenance level.
Who should not do reverse dieting?
People who have underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, should consult their healthcare provider before starting a reverse diet. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not start a reverse diet without consulting their doctor. Additionally, reverse dieting is not recommended for those who are significantly underweight or have a history of eating disorders.
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