Have you been dieting a while? Results not what you expected? Have you stalled in your weight loss? Reverse dieting could be exactly what you and your body NEEDS!
So What is Reverse Dieting?
Reverse dieting is exactly what it sounds like. It is the opposite of a diet. I don’t mean for you to go eat a bunch of junk food you’ve been craving though. That would be detrimental to your weight loss and healthy eating goals.
However, what you should do when reverse dieting or take a “diet break”, is to eat more calories than you have been. You want to eat at least your maintenance calories or maybe even slightly above. Don’t know what your maintenance calories are? Check out this calculator from What The Macro that can help you determine how many calories you should eat to lose weight, maintain weight or even gain weight.
Why Should You Take A Diet Break?
Metabolism is dynamic, it changes all the time based on caloric intake and activity level.
When you eat in a calorie deficit, like you would when dieting, over time your metabolism adapts. Our bodies are incredible systems that adapt depending on many different factors. The fact is, your metabolism can and will slow down over time while you’re eating fewer calories and dieting. Science agrees as well, as mentioned in a recent study .
When you eat lower calories or increase activity enough much to create a caloric deficit, your body will adapt and slow down your metabolism.
In order to combat this adaptation, you need to take a “diet break” or reverse diet. Come out of your diet, eat at your maintenance calories for a period of time so that your metabolism can get a boost before going back on your diet again.
Benefits Of Reverse Dieting?
- Restore Your Metabolism
- Mental Break
- Overcome Dieting Plateaus
When you’ve been dieting for many months it can take a toll on your mental health. By taking a short diet break, you can regain your sanity. Diet breaks can also help overcome plateaus as well. After dieting for 8 to 12 weeks, you may stall out or hit a point where you feel like you’re eating nothing and doing too much exercise but not seeing any more weight loss. It’s probably time to reverse the diet a bit. Add in 100-200 calories per week for 2 or 3 weeks and then hit your diet again.
Should I Reverse Diet?
When should you reverse diet and should you?
- If You’ve Been Dieting for Months or Longer
- You’ve Stalled In Your Weight Loss
- You’re Eating Good but Doing Toom Much Cardio To Continue Losing
If you’ve been dieting for many months, it’s good for both you and your body to take a break from it. You shouldn’t be in a calorie deficit for 6 months, you’ve gone too far. Take a break, add in some calories for a few weeks and then start cutting calories back down again. Cut back on the cardio too, your body will thank you.
If you have been following a strict diet, you know that you’re below maintenance calories but you’re not losing weight anymore. It’s probably time for a break!
How Do I Start Reverse Dieting?
Before you start, you need to know your TDEE or maintenance calories. What The Macro is a great tool to use for this.
Start slow, don’t just immediately go back to your maintenance calories right away. It’s a process and you should treat it as such. Start by maybe adding in 100 calories per week for a couple of weeks and see how you feel. Work slowly back up to your maintenance calorie level.
- First, use the macro calculator mentioned previously to calculate your maintenance or TDEE
- Second, get a food scale if you don’t already have one. Amazon has some great options for these.
- Slowly Increase Calories
- 100-200 Additional Calories Per Week
- Increase Until You Reach Maintenance Levels
- Remove Excess Cardio Sessions (Limit to 2-3 30 minute sessions per week)
- Slowly Start Easing Back Into Your Diet Again
How Do I Start Dieting Again?
The important thing to remember when going back on your diet is to also start out slow. If you cut calories too quickly and by too much your body will adapt and you’ll be left hitting a wall much sooner.
To start dieting again, you need to create a calorie deficit. Just like before, you need to know your maintenance calories by using a calculator like the one mentioned previously.
Create your calorie deficit by cutting about 100 calories every week or so. You can also add in cardio sessions instead. Do NOT add both in yet, choose one or the other. In the next week or 2 weeks you can add in a session of cardio or cut another 100 calories.
The goal is to diet on the most amount of calories as possible. This will slow down the metabolic adaptations that are bound to happen.
- Find your maintenance calories using an online calculator
- Get your food scale to track calories accurately
- Use an app like MyFitnessPal to track
Will Reverse Dieting Solve My Weight Loss Problems?
It could! Reverse dieting or a diet break could be beneficial to your long term weight loss goals. As I’ve stated before, if you’re dieting for a long time, your metabolism adapts. This adaptation can cause your weight loss to stall completely.
Reverse dieting can help restore your metabolism as you start slowly working your way up to more calories. Diets are meant to be temporary, you have to have an exit strategy as well. Reverse dieting is the way to go. This is also the method many bodybuilders and physique competitors use as well after a show. You ease back into more calories to limit the amount of fat you gain while boosting your metabolism to normal levels.