You may have heard the term "reverse dieting" while investigating different diets and methods for cutting back on calories in order to lose weight. Reverse dieting is the opposite of that, with a goal of increasing your metabolism instead of helping you with straight weight loss.
If you're curious about reverse dieting and open to trying it, there are a number of different things that you need to know, starting with some of the basics of the diet. So, let's go over it in some depth here.
What Is Reverse Dieting?
Unlike standard diets, when you cut back on food groups in an effort to lose weight, reverse dieting has you establishing a baseline and then slowly increasing the number of calories that you eat every day. The main goal of a reverse diet is to maintain your weight loss and supplement it with regular workouts, so it's not something that you can start right now if you want to lose weight. Instead, you need to wait until you're at your goal weight.
The main goal of a reverse diet, besides allowing you to increase the amount of food that you eat slowly over the long term, is to help you maintain your current weight by increasing your metabolism. Once you start an exercise routine, you immediately jumpstart your metabolism. It kicks into gear and begins to go to work, helping you digest calories faster.
This, combined with a diet that consists of fewer calories, helps you lose that weight. However, over time, your workouts aren't enough to keep your metabolism kicked into gear. Instead, you need to find another method of doing so, which is where a reverse diet comes into play.
Are There Other Reasons To Follow a Reverse Diet?
When someone reaches their goal weight, they often want to stay there, not gaining or losing any more pounds. At this point, the temptation to go off of their diet entirely and begin eating whatever they want again appears, and some people do start doing this and wreck their progress.
Instead of jumping back into eating every type of food again and not counting calories anymore, it's better to start a reverse diet where you carefully begin to increase the amount of food that you eat very slowly. This way, you remain in control of what you eat, and you can increase your metabolism as well, ensuring that you will stay at your goal weight.
A reverse diet plan is very popular with bodybuilders, as they know that they can start adding new foods to their diets after hitting their goal weights without harming their progress. As a result, they see their metabolisms increase so that those additional calories are usually burned during the course of a day.
How To Set Up a Reverse Diet
Although it's tempting, you can't just declare yourself on a reverse diet and then start eating whatever you want. This is a good way to throw your progress off track and a bad way to stop your restricted-calorie diet.
Once you hit your goal weight and are ready to start increasing the number of calories that you eat, you need to calculate the following:
- Your BMR – This stands for Basal Metabolic Rate. The number of calories that you burn every single day, without working out, is your BMR. Remember that even when you're lying in bed, doing nothing, your body is still burning calories. That is what the BMR measures.
- Your TDEE – This number is a bit different. Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure is the number of calories that you burn while doing your daily activities. Exercising, working, walking, talking, and everything else that you do during the day are included in this number. This is the number of calories that you need to eat just to maintain your current weight.
Once you know those two numbers, it's time to move on to the next steps.
Calculating Your Calories
How many calories are you currently eating every day? Hopefully, if you've been following a specific diet plan, you've been tracking exactly what you eat and how many calories are in those meals. This provides you with a baseline to start with when determining what your reverse diet plan will look like.
For example, if your current diet plan consists of 1,200 calories every single day, then that's where you start. However, if you have a plan that switches between a certain amount of calories per day, such as going from 1,500 one day to 1,300 the next before switching back, then you need to determine which number you want to have as your baseline.
Consider What Your Calorie Count Should Be
At this point, you need to think about your BMR and TDEE and how they fit in with the number of calories you've been eating every day. You also need to consider what your workouts consist of, how many calories they burn, and how often you intend to do them in the future. In addition, think about how quickly you'd like to raise the number of calories you eat.
Since this part of the process is so particular and dependent on what your current diet looks like and how you'd like to proceed in the future, it's hard to put an exact number of what your reverse diet plan should consist of. With that in mind, however, here are a few tips:
- Consider raising your calories count weekly or bi-weekly instead of daily.
- Don't forget to think about the intensity of your workouts and whether or not you'll increase them.
- Be prepared to go slowly, especially if you're reintroducing food groups (such as transitioning from a keto diet to once again adding in more carbs).
- Use an online calorie calculator or consult an expert nutritionist if you run into issues.
With that said, you'll need your calorie count goals for the next step.
Calculate Your Macros
Taking your increased calories counts, it's time to determine your macros. If you've followed a diet, like keto, that required you to count them, then you're already familiar with what macros are.
If not, they consist of three things that need to be included in every daily plan: carbohydrates, protein, and fats. The exact ratio of each depends on your goals, as well as which particular diet you're following. For example, in a keto diet, you'll eat fewer carbs and more protein and fats.
When you're switching from a strict diet to a reverse diet, where you slowly increase the number of calories you're eating, you need to pay attention to your macros. Each one, protein, carbs, and fats, needs to consist of a certain percentage of your daily diet.
Depending on how many calories you burn a day (your BMR and TDEE) and how many you plan to eat, you can determine your macro ratio. Start with protein, then once you have that calculation in place, do the ones for fats and carbs.
Then, tweak those numbers as you increase the number of calories you eat per day. As long as everything stays in balance, your reverse diet might just be successful. However, this requires some additional math each week to plan out your meals. It's worth it, though, if the reverse diet works.
Issues With Reverse Diets
While a reverse diet is a better idea than going off of your diet entirely and eating whatever you want, there are some issues that may mean it isn’t the best option for you. Here are some of the biggest concerns:
Reverse Dieting Doesn't Always Work
The whole purpose of a reverse diet is to help you increase your calorie consumption (albeit slowly) and increase your metabolism at the same time.
This doesn't always work as planned because everyone's metabolism is different. Just because you start eating more protein and change your macro percentages, this doesn't mean that your metabolism will change as well.
There's A Lot of Math Involved
Following a reverse diet requires careful calculations. You have to keep your macro ratio in balance and track your calories and exercise habits as well.
Reverse Diets Can Help With Long-Term Weight Maintenance
Reverse diets work for many people, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. With so many different things to keep track of, it can become overwhelming for those not used to doing these calculations. As a result, you may just give up and stop following a reverse diet, going back to eating whatever you want and possibly ruining your current weight loss progress.
However, this method is definitely worth a try. So, if you’re at your ideal weight and want to keep yourself in check, try reverse dieting. You may just love the results!