Usually, when you go on a diet, any diet, all you are focused on is losing excess weight by sticking to the tenets of the diet for as long as possible. But most diets are actually calorie-restrictive, meaning that they require you to cut back on the calories you consume every day to ensure you lose weight. This creates a calorie deficit which spurs weight loss.
Once you’ve shed a few kilos or when continuing with the diet becomes more difficult, most people tend to go back to eating just as much as they used to before starting on the diet. What this leads to is a yo-yo like weight pendulum. You lose some weight by dieting and gain it all back by reverting back to your old ways. This trend is also the reason why reverse dieting is becoming popular these days.
A diet after your diet
Reverse dieting is what you’re supposed to do when your weight loss diet is done with. This eating plan involves gradually increasing your calorie intake over a period of time to but also making sure you don’t completely undo the progress you made. Proponents of reverse dieting believe that slowly increasing your calorie intake instead of jumping right back to your previous habits helps boost your metabolism, burn calories and overcome weight-loss plateaus.
How reverse dieting is done
The best method to start reverse dieting is by counting calories. After you’ve followed a diet for a while, you’re likely to be consuming a set number of calories per day to maintain your weight loss. Reverse dieting works by increasing this baseline calorie intake by 50 to 100 calories per week. Over a period of weeks, your calorie intake gradually increases and your metabolism acclimates to these changes. As you reach your pre-diet calorie intake levels, you are able to maintain your weight loss.
Benefits of reverse dieting
Proponents of reverse dieting believe that the key benefit of this eating plan is to maintain the weight you’ve lost through a diet and to encourage further weight loss by keeping bad, post-diet habits at bay. Taking up reverse dieting after a diet suggests that while you’re getting back to normal calorie intake levels, you are at no point overeating or binge-eating.
Calorie restriction is believed to reduce the levels of the hormone leptin in your body, which is required to regulate your metabolism and lose further weight the healthy way. So, reverse dieting ensures that your leptin levels get back to normal and your metabolism functions just fine. Reverse dieting is also believed to increase your energy levels and reduce the risk of mood swings and hunger pangs too.
The downside to reverse dieting
Perhaps the biggest problem with reverse dieting is that there is very little research or scientific backing for it. This is a major negative as diet and nutrition are immense factors that affect health outcomes and toying with them unnecessarily can be counter-productive. The other problem is that reverse dieting centres on counting calories alone, while weight loss and maintenance depend on many other factors like sleep, stress, exercise and hormone fluctuations.
Detractors of reverse dieting therefore point out that while it may work well for bodybuilders and professional athletes, it may not be the most holistic approach out there for the general population. It’s also this constant focus on calories that usually makes reverse dieting very difficult to follow through in anything but the strictest of environments. It’s a time-consuming, measured and meticulous eating plan that can be challenging for most people.
For more information, read our article on Common weight loss mistakes.
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