Episode 22 – Thoughts on Reverse Dieting

Key Topics Covered

  • Definition
  • Does it actually work
  • Benefits
  • Disadvantages

Reverse Dieting

  • Definition – Reverse dieting is when an individual gradually adds calories back (~50-100cal/week) after dieting.
  • There’s a difference between reverse diet and recovery diet.
    • Recovery diet – formulated for bodybuilders post show, to manage nutrient deficiencies, eating disorders, etc. Calories significantly increase to maintenance or higher in a controlled way.
    • Reverse dieting – Gradually adding calories post diet. This would not be beneficial for the bodybuilders post show since it means they stay in an undesirably lean state from a health perspective for longer than desired. However, for the average person who’s goal is to be lean and build up calorie intake, it can have benefits.

Does it actually work?

  • There are benefits, however the people do over amplify them.
  • Many coaches claim to have increased clients metabolisms massivley. However, there have been multiple studies showing that individuals under report their calorie intake by up to 80%. On average underreporting of >20% is to be expected.
  • Because of this, studies fail to demonstrate individuals actual calorie maintenance. Therefore, identifying whether their metabolism has increase or not would also be inaccurate.


  • Reverse dieting is beneficial for people who are anxious about gaining weight after a diet.
  • It does undo metabolic adaptations. For individuals who are on low calories for an extended period of time, their metabolism is likely to slow down accordingly. If they reverse diet back to maintenance, it will theoretically undo that metabolic adaptation.
  • It’s a controllable way to transition back to maintenance calories. It’s difficult to go from dieting to not dieting, from a mental, hormonal and physical level.
  • People can get leaner within the first few weeks of reverse dieting, because they’re still in a deficit.


  • Not necessary. You could just jump straight back to maintenance calories immediately if you wanted to undo metabolic adaptation and reduce hunger associated with dieting.
  • Prolongs the dieting process.
  • This processes requires tracking macros precisely and for a long period of time. This isn’t for everyone.


  • It is a useful tool. We’ve seen many people deliver it effectively and achieved great results.
  • However, you don’t NEED to use it. For such a tedious process, there are many other options available to transition back to maintenance calories.

Relevant Links/ Resources

Studies Mentioned

Calorie Counting in Smart Phone Apps

Discrepancy between self-reported and actual caloric intake

Useful Resources

Calorie Counter – MyFitnessPal

Blog Posts

Reverse Dieting: Everything You Need to Know

What is Metabolic Adaptation and Why Does is Occur?