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Reverse Dieting: A Step-by-Step Guide to Rebuilding Your Metabolism

Losing weight can be a challenging and frustrating experience, especially when you hit a plateau and no matter how much you reduce your calorie intake or increase your physical activity, you don't seem to make any progress. However, what many people don't realize is that by drastically cutting calories or following a very low-calorie diet for a prolonged period of time, they may actually slow down their metabolism, causing their body to burn fewer calories than it needs and store more fat.

Reverse dieting is a method that aims to counteract the negative effects of dieting by slowly increasing your caloric intake while minimizing fat gain and improving your metabolic rate. In this article, we will explain what reverse dieting is, who may need to consider it, how it works, and a step-by-step plan to execute it.

What is Reverse Dieting?

Reverse dieting is a gradual and strategic approach to increasing your daily caloric intake, usually by 50-100 calories per week, until you reach your maintenance level, which is the amount of calories you need to maintain your current weight. The goal of reverse dieting is to minimize the metabolic damage caused by prolonged calorie restriction, which can slow down your metabolism and make it harder to lose weight.

Who May Need to Consider Reverse Dieting?

Reverse dieting may be a suitable approach for people who have been following a low-calorie diet for an extended period of time, such as people who have lost a significant amount of weight and are struggling to continue progressing. This can occur when your metabolism slows down due to long-term calorie restriction.

How Does Reverse Dieting Work?

When you consume fewer calories than your body needs, it enters a state of energy deficit, which can lead to weight loss. However, if you sustain this deficit for an extended period of time, your body adapts to this new state by reducing your metabolic rate, which means your body burns fewer calories than it needs to function. This is known as metabolic adaptation, and it can make it difficult to continue losing weight or maintaining weight loss.

Reverse dieting works by gradually increasing your caloric intake, which signals your body to increase its metabolic rate and become more efficient at burning calories. By slowly increasing your caloric intake, your body has time to adapt to the new energy input without gaining excess fat. As your metabolism becomes more efficient, you will be able to eat more food while maintaining your weight or even losing weight.


In summary, reverse dieting is a gradual and effective way to improve metabolic rate and prevent negative effects from prolonged calorie restriction. You can achieve this by increasing calorie intake gradually over several weeks or months, while also choosing nutrient-rich foods and maintaining regular physical activity. If you believe reverse dieting is the answer you're looking for, I've made It simple. Below you will find a step by step plan to help you begin reverse dieting. Remember to be patient and stay consistent, despite the ups and downs on your journey.

Step-by-Step Plan for Reverse Dieting

  1. Determine your current caloric intake: Before starting a reverse diet, you need to know how many calories you are currently consuming. This can be done by tracking your food intake using an app or a food diary for a few days.

  2. Calculate your maintenance calories: Your maintenance calories are the number of calories you need to maintain your current weight. This can be estimated by using an online calculator.

  3. Increase your caloric intake: Start by adding 50-100 calories to your daily intake each week. For example, if your maintenance calories are 2000, you would increase your caloric intake to 2050-2100 for the first week.

  4. Monitor your progress: Keep track of your weight and body measurements weekly to ensure that you are not gaining weight too quickly. If you notice that you are gaining weight faster than you anticipated, you can slow down the rate of increase or adjust your caloric intake accordingly.

  5. Choose nutrient-dense foods: As you increase your caloric intake, focus on incorporating nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats into your diet. These foods will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally and support your metabolism.

  6. Maintain physical activity: While reverse dieting, it's important to maintain regular physical activity to help support your metabolism and prevent excess weight gain. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.

  7. Be patient: Reverse dieting is a gradual process that can take several weeks or months to complete. It's important to be patient and consistent with your approach to allow your body to adapt slowly to the increase in calories.


  1. Trexler, E. T., Smith-Ryan, A. E., & Norton, L. E. (2014). Metabolic adaptation to weight loss: implications for the athlete. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), 7.

  2. Campbell, B. I., Aguilar, D., Conlin, L., Vargas, A., Schoenfeld, B. J., Corson, A., & Colquhoun, R. (2018). Effects of high and low energy availability on resistance training outcomes. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 50(3), 534-543.

  3. Helms, E. R., Aragon, A. A., & Fitschen, P. J. (2014). Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), 20.


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