All About Reverse Dieting: Everything You Need To Know

Medically reviewed by Maria Sarino, MD FACT CHECKED

The average person has likely heard of or knows someone who has gone on a diet. 

But what about the opposite? What is reverse dieting, and how does it differ from traditional dieting? 

Reverse dieting is a slow and steady process that helps your body adapt to an increase in calories after a period of restricted eating. 

Contrary to popular belief, reverse dieting does not mean eating whatever you want. It is still important to make healthy food choices during this time.

Reverse dieting is a nutrition and weight management strategy employed to slowly add calories back into a person’s diet after implementing a calorie deficit to lose weight.

The goal of reverse dieting is to avoid gaining the weight back by slowly increasing calorie intake over time.

Thereby allowing the body to adjust to the new caloric levels without experiencing a sudden influx of calories that could lead to additional weight gain. 

Reverse dieting can also help improve metabolic health and increase energy levels.

How Does Reverse Dieting Work?

Reverse dieting is a technique employed by many bodybuilders and fitness models before competitions.

The goal of reverse dieting is to slowly add calories back into the person’s diet, to restore the metabolism to its pre-diet state.

Additionally, it can help combat metabolic slowdown and food cravings that often occur after periods of restrictive eating.

The theory behind reverse dieting is that, after a period of caloric restriction (such as a cut or a competition prep), the person’s metabolism has slowed down as a result.

Reverse dieting can help “reset” your metabolism and increase your calorie burn. After significantly restricting your calories, your body has essentially gone into starvation mode.

So, by slowly adding calories back in, you’re telling your body that it can start burning more again. This can also help reduce cravings and make it easier to stick to a healthy eating plan in the long term.

The factor on which reverse dieting works is metabolic adaptation also known as a starvation response. When you do diet or cut food/calories from your diet many factors occur, such as-

  • BMR, which is the basal metabolic rate of the body reduces, that is the energy required by a body, due to less intake of calories.
  • You won’t be able to do the heavy workout as now the energy available in your body is low and if you do so you will feel dizzy.
  • As your body needs nutrients to work the digestion will slow down.

Benefits Of Reverse Dieting

Reverse dieting has become a popular tool among athletes and bodybuilders who are trying to regain their strength and physique after a long period of calorie restriction.

But what about the rest of us? Is reverse dieting beneficial for people who are not looking to gain muscle mass? The answer is yes.

Reverse dieting has a host of benefits for people looking to lose weight or just improve their overall health.

Below are mentioned some benefits of reverse dieting-

  • Metabolic Advantages

    If done correctly your body will now start adapting to the calorie intake in the right manner, like

    1. The basal metabolic rate of the body will increase
    2. You will now be able to do more workouts or activities aside from workout
    3. Your digestive system will become normal
  • More Food to Eat

    As in reverse dieting, you will increase your calorie intake slowly and gradually, and you will be able to eat more food than before.

    But it is necessary to note that you won’t eat much more than required.

  • Controls Hunger

    When you do dieting you crave food and your body starves but in reverse dieting as you start increasing your diet this balances out and now you won’t feel hungry all the time.

  • Mental Relief

    No doubt dieting is a tough job and when you start your body starves on an empty stomach many times you also feel irritated and won’t be able to focus.

    Reverse dieting gives you a freedom and sense of fullness to your stomach which in all provide mental relief.

How To Do Reverse Dieting?

Understanding how to do reverse dieting is very necessary as you can not just start taking so many calories.

Below we have mentioned some steps on which you can monitor your calorie intake and do it properly-

  • Track Your Calorie

    Keep a note of how many calories you are taking in a day and start making a calendar, try not to rely on a memory basis.

    Caloric tracking is necessary because you don’t want to bring back the fat but just the weight.

  • Balance Of Nutrients

    To gain weight just protein is not enough, you need to balance all carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in the proper amount.

    To determine this and add it to your diet, you can do the following-

Let us say your daily diet calories are 2000. Then if you are adding eggs as a protein source or anything else find out how many calories they contain.

Like in an egg there are 155 calories and 13g of protein, one scoop of protein powder contains around 113 calories and 25g of protein.

Now subtract these calories from your daily diet and divide the remaining between carbs and fats.

There are many calorie calculators available online which can determine how many calories your body needs in a day according to your schedule.

  • Decide How Much Carbs and Fats To Add

    No doubt for muscle gain proteins are the most important nutrients to add to your diet, so you must decide on how much protein you want to take.

    Mostly it has been recommended that per kg of body weight one should have 1.8-2.4 grams.

    For example, if you are 60 kgs then you can have protein between 1.8*60 (108)- 2.4*60(144) grams of protein in a day.

Coming up to fats, try to have 20-35% of fats of total calorie intake.

For carbohydrates you can be flexible, whether you want to have more protein or carbohydrates as both of them could be beneficial for your body in different ways.

If you are entirely focusing on weight gain then carbohydrates could be helpful and for muscle, growth protein will be.

  • Monitoring Weight Gain

    Choose a few days a week for weighing yourself and evaluate and monitor.

    Make sure you are taking the weight measurement at a particular time of the day each time, or most preferably take it in the morning every time.

    If you are weighing too fast then you need to slow down your intake as you don’t want to get fat in your body again.

    If your weight is getting less try to add more to your diet. First, try to increase your diet up to 10-15% a week.

Why Do People Do Reverse Dieting?

After dieting one should not just resume their old habits of eating suddenly. 

It is simple math, to maintain your weight then eat enough to just fuel your body at that time, to lose weight consume fewer calories, and gain weight have calories more than you are having now. 

But the point to note is that, try not to increase/decrease the calorie intake or otherwise suddenly but do it on 10-15 % a week target. 

When you restrict your calorie intake your metabolism also gets slow, this is known as metabolic adaptation.

This does not hold for long and people feel like starving after that so your body requires food to work with energy. 

If not done properly then reverse dieting could fire back so try to maintain the diet plan you made and increase the calorie intake in that.

Drawbacks Of Reverse Dieting?

Anything which requires precision if done wrong could lead to bad effects. 

Reverse dieting needs maintenance and continuous monitoring of calories, if you count your calories more than you may consume more than you require. 

Also, people think that dieting is all about having less food and forget to add the proper amount of nutrition in their diet which leads to less energy to do anything for the body. 

Mostly before starting anything proper research or consultation is necessary, if you don’t know much about how calorie intake or reduction affects the body then ask for help from a professional before jumping into it.


Reverse dieting can be a great way to slowly reintroduce calories and carbs back into your diet after a period of restriction. 

By following these tips, you can reverse your diet successfully and avoid any unwanted weight gain. 

By slowly increasing your calories and macros, you can avoid the dreaded “rebound effect” often associated with traditional dieting. 

Remember to listen to your body and make sure you’re eating enough to support your activity levels. 

With careful planning and execution, reverse dieting can help you reach your fitness goals while keeping your health and well-being a top priority. 

And last but not least, don’t be afraid to enjoy the foods you love in moderation.