What is reverse dieting?

What is reverse dieting?

Team ErbologyErbology

If you want to lose weight for health or aesthetic reasons, there are a plethora of different options out there to help you do so. However, a diet which promises that you can eat more while maintaining a low weight is surely the most appealing of them all! But what is reverse dieting, is it good for you, and can it ever actually work for weight loss?

April 27, 2022 4:26 pm

What is reverse dieting?

Many people believe that reverse dieting means adopting a diet which increases your caloric intake, yet still allows you to lose weight.

However, this is a misconception.

The term ‘reverse dieting’ actually refers to the period immediately after a strict diet, when you gradually begin to reintroduce more calories. The goal of reverse dieting is to maintain the low weight you achieved on your previous diet, or minimise any weight gain from reverting to a higher calorie diet.

So, for example, if you have been on the keto diet for a period of weeks or months and want to come off it, you may use principals of reverse dieting. The aim would be to make sure your weight doesn’t go up dramatically once you start eating carbohydrates again.

Similarly, if you’ve been restricting your caloric intake to lose weight, you may want to use reverse dieting techniques to reintroduce higher calorie foods. Some athletes and bodybuilders may also use reverse dieting to slowly go back to their normal eating patterns after undertaking a special diet (for example, in preparation for a competition).


beetroot carrot salad

How does reverse dieting work?

The idea behind reverse dieting is that, by slowly increasing the calories you consume, you can speed up your metabolism.

The theory goes that your faster metabolism will therefore be able to burn off the additional calories you consume.

Thus, you can eat more without gaining weight, as these calories are burnt off rather than being stored as fat.

In reverse dieting, it’s recommended to increase your caloric intake by as little as 50-100 calories per week until you get back to your pre-diet calories.

Theoretically this gives your metabolism a chance to catch up.

What is your metabolism?

‘Metabolism’ is a word we read a lot in health literature, but its meaning can seem rather fuzzy. Before we get into what dieting does to it, let’s stop and clarify what your metabolism actually is.

It’s quite a wide-ranging term, but in a nutshell your metabolism is the sum of all the reactions in your body which produce or consume energy.

To go a little deeper, turning food into energy is your ‘core metabolism’. Within this definition, there are three subdivisions of different chemical processes needed to keep you alive.(1)

The first involves breaking down molecules to release energy (catabolism). The second revolves around glueing building blocks together to make new molecules needed for bodily functions (anabolism). And the third and final subdivision concerns itself with getting rid of waste products.(1)

Your metabolism is constantly running – even when you’re asleep.

The speed at which it carries out these energy-producing or consuming activities varies from person to person.

It’s of interest to people who want to lose weight because a faster metabolism means you’ll burn through calories from food faster. Therefore, ‘boosting’ or ‘speeding up’ your metabolism is an attractive idea if you’re trying to bring your weight down.