What is reverse dieting and should you do it?

Reverse dieting is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. We’re doing the opposite of dieting! The 1,200-calorie plan is in the past. She’s in the rearview mirror. She is no longer.

But why would you do this? Well, lots of reasons:

  • You’re struggling with weight loss resistance
  • You feel like literal garbage every day
  • No matter how much more you decrease your calories, the scale WILL NOT budge
  • You’re sick of not seeing muscle gains in the gym
  • You feel okay but can’t keep living restricted to your current calorie range
  • You know you’re not eating enough on a regular basis

There are even more scenarios, but they all boil down to this: whatever it is you’re doing isn’t working anymore. Your metabolism needs a reset. We’ve got to increase your metabolic rate and overall health. 

Think of it like your metabolic fire has come to a small, dim flame. Reverse dieting is like slowly adding more fuel to the fire so it can burn bright and strong again. 

You’re returning to eating enough food so that you can reach your highest metabolic potential. 

What will a strong metabolic fire do for you?

  • Plow through your weight loss resistance (what plateau??)
  • Way better energy
  • Your body composition changes start heading in the right direction
  • You’re actually able to build muscle and burn fat (AKA: you can see gains)
  • You’re able to eat a TON more food

How exactly do you reverse diet?

First things first, we have to figure out your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). This is how much energy your body requires to keep your organs functioning at baseline and support all the things you do in a day! Getting out of bed, running around the house, working out, etc. 

You can figure this out by using an online calculator. 

(Hint: it’s going to be WAY higher than 1,200 calories.)

Note: TDEE is different from your BMR. Basal metabolic rate is just how many calories your body needs to keep you alive if you lay in bed all day. TDEE takes your activity into consideration!

Now that you have this information, you’ll need to break these calories down a little bit further to find an ideal macronutrient distribution. AKA: how many grams (roughly) of carbs, fat, and protein you’ll need. 

Most people can use these ranges:

Protein: 25-35%

Fat: 25-35%

Carbs: 40-50%

So, if your TDEE is 2,200 calories, these would be your approximations:

Protein: 2,200 x 30% / 4 calories per gram = 165 grams

Fat: 2,200 X 30% / 9 calories per gram = 73 grams

Carbs: 2,200 X 40% / 4 calories per gram = 220 grams

Now, if you’re currently eating way less than your TDEE…go. slow. Like really slow. The goal is to very gradually increase your calories (in a balanced way) over many months. You can increase your calories by ~50-100 every 2-4 weeks. Like I said, the slower the better. 

If you were to jump your calories up to TDEE suddenly, weight gain is not out of the question. 

How do you prevent weight gain while reverse dieting?

Same as before, the key is a very gradual increase in nutrients over time. Your body needs time to adjust and respond to a new normal. 

Think of it like this: if your metabolism decided that 1,400 calories are the benchmark to maintain weight, if you’re all of a sudden eating 2,000+ calories, you have just created a surplus. It doesn’t matter if your TDEE is 2,200 (for example). We have to slowly increase your “metabolic benchmark.” 

For anyone going through a reverse dieting process, weight loss, weight maintenance, or weight gain are all possible, no matter how gradual things are. We just don’t know how the body will respond to a big change like this.

This is why working with an expert is really helpful (btw we’d love to help). Your coach from our team has a sixth sense about this kind of thing. Should we increase calories? Stay the same? What’s the ideal balance of macronutrients? What are some outside factors we need to pay attention to? Are we getting enough micronutrients into the picture? You get the idea. 

Should everyone reverse diet?

Not necessarily. It just depends on where your metabolism is currently!

If you’re currently able to eat quite a lot of calories and your weight is maintaining, you probably don’t need to reverse diet right now. Areas like blood sugar control, getting enough sleep, and truly managing your stress might need some problem-solving to better support your weight loss goal first.

You should also not reverse diet if you have some significant “under the hood” issues, as I like to call them. For example, your mineral balance or hormones are really off track right now. This could be from years of being extremely stressed and living off cortisol. This could be from years of IVF treatments. It could be from taking nutrient-depleting medications. These situations may need high-touch support, testing, and a specific diet protocol. 

Reverse dieting might also not be for you if you haven’t mastered the basics yet. You’re not properly supporting your metabolism. You’re not balancing your blood sugar. You’re not getting enough sleep. I would start with the foundations before reverse dieting (we teach you these inside Metabolism Makeover!). This could prevent the need to reverse diet at all and/or prevent weight gain while attempting to reverse diet in the future.

Reverse dieting when the body isn’t an ideal candidate can be like spinning your wheels even longer OR taking some major steps backward. You may need some deeper support first and we don’t want you to stall your progress even longer. This is why we have Coach Cassie on our team. She is our functional nutrition practitioner and is quietly fixing her clients’ metabolisms behind the scenes every day. Just casually working her magic…but literally changing lives on the daily.

Do you think you need to reverse diet?

We would love to help you! While I hope this post gave you some helpful insight into the process, please know that doing it alone is not always a walk in the park. Having a coach in your corner to problem-solve through plateaus and keep the metabolism as happy as possible from beginning to end can make all the difference. 

This also prevents a ton of overwhelm on your end! You already have enough to think about, let us guide you through this process and get you feeling like your old self sooner than later. 

VIP coaching has 2 different options and you can check them out here at this link. If you’re ready, fill out an application and we’ll make sure you’re a good fit!

Happy *not* dieting,

Coach Elle

You might also like...