Reverse Dieting: A New Way to Lose Weight and Keep It off
Are you tired of restrictive diets that don’t seem to work? Have you tried everything to lose weight and nothing seems to be working? Well, there’s a new approach to weight loss gaining popularity on social media and it’s called “reverse dieting.” Reverse dieting involves progressively increasing your caloric intake after being in a caloric deficit to restore your metabolism and lose fat. The result? You can eat more and still lose weight!
Tyla Gomez, a 24-year-old lifestyle content creator from Los Angeles, is one of many who have embraced reverse dieting. She initially tried to lose weight by limiting herself to just 1250 calories a day but wasn’t seeing any results. Frustrated and upset, she decided to try reverse dieting after seeing it on social media. “You can lose fat by increasing your caloric intake to restore your metabolism after being in a caloric deficit,” Tyla shared. “I eat around 1750 calories now, exercise more and I can fit into those jeans.”
Reverse dieting involves a three-phase cycle: calorie deficit, calorie increase (or reverse dieting), and maintenance. It first became popular among bodybuilders in the early 2000s, but more recently, it’s gained attention on TikTok with the hashtag #reversedieting amassing over 46 million views.
The calorie deficit phase involves eating less than the recommended daily calorie intake for your age group. After 8-12 weeks, the dieter begins to gradually increase their caloric intake by 50-100 calories each week over the course of 1-2 months. During this time, people incorporate treats like chocolate bars and cookies into their otherwise nutritious meals. The calorie increase continues until the dieter enters the “maintenance phase,” during which they eat between 2000-2700 calories daily without seeing an increase in weight.
Fans of reverse dieting claim that it helps speed up your body’s metabolism and burn fat by gradually increasing your caloric intake without gaining weight. However, experts warn that there is little scientific evidence behind reverse dieting and that it could ultimately harm your metabolism. Younger individuals may experience weight loss because their metabolism is still very susceptible, but following a restrictive diet that puts you in a caloric deficit is stressful on the body because your cortisol levels are up, your hormones are out of whack, your sleep is a mess, and your digestion is terrible.
Registered dietitian Abby Langer, of Toronto, warns that “reverse dieting is just a theory.” She cautioned, “When you increase your calories after a restrictive diet, you may not see weight gain right away. But eventually, you will.” A 2019 study by George Mason University found that “while there are anecdotal reports of successful reverse dieting, research is needed to evaluate [reverse dieting’s] real impact.”
Despite the lack of empirical data, reverse dieters like Jacey Lamb, a 25-year-old fitness coach from Dallas, Texas, sing the praises of the approach. She achieved and maintained her dream body through several rounds of the dieting cycle. “It helped me reshape my body, stabilize my hormones, and develop a healthy relationship with food,” she shared. She recently lost 10 pounds during a diet cycle where she started at a 1,700 calorie deficit and ended up at 2,400 calories a day. “I can optimize my metabolism, eat more, lose fat, and gain muscle at the gym,” Jacey said.
A key element of reverse dieting is strength training. Reverse dieters like Gomez and Lamb do 45-60 minutes of strength training three to four times per week to burn off fat from excess calories and replace it with muscle mass.
Danica Doble, a TikTok fitness influencer from Toronto, credits reverse dieting with saving her life. She initially thought she had to eat in a calorie deficit for the rest of her life to lose weight and keep it off. To sustain her weight at 140 pounds, down from 180, she typically reverse-cycles diets from 1,800 to 2,300 calories. “This allows me to put more food into my system and eat things that I love like waffles, chocolate, and spaghetti bolognese, which gives me the energy to exercise and tone up without gaining weight back,” she said.
In conclusion, reverse dieting is a new approach to weight loss that involves progressively increasing your calorie intake after being in a caloric deficit. Although there is little scientific evidence behind it, fans of the approach claim that it helps speed up metabolism and burn fat without gaining weight. However, experts warn that it could ultimately harm your metabolism, and further research is needed to evaluate its impact. Reverse dieters incorporate strength training to burn off fat from excess calories and replace it with muscle mass. If you’re looking for a new approach to weight loss that allows you to eat more and still lose weight, reverse dieting may be worth considering.
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