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What is reverse dieting?

Updated: Apr 16, 2022

Reverse dieting is as the name suggests, it is a diet or way of eating that aims to reverse the impact that dieting has on the body.

Many people have tried a form of diet. Often these involve restricting calories, food groups or time during the day to eat.

As we go through a dieting phase, our survival mechanisms will eventually start to kick in. We will experience changes in our metabolism (as well as other changes, not discussed in this post!).

Our body will cling onto the energy we get from food and reduce the energy we use throughout the day. In the short term this can slow weight loss and lead to various uncomfortable symptoms such as those in the gut, disturbances in sleep, irregular periods and tiredness. In the long term, there may even be lasting reductions in metabolism.

This is an undesirable outcome for most (if not all). Cue reverse dieting. This aims to reduce these symptoms by gradually increasing calories over time, allowing a more “normal” diet that is less restrictive and safer.

But does it work?

Evidence is lacking in scientific trials, but anecdotally there is some evidence that this has helped some. Typically this is seen alongside an increase level of activity levels (possibly as a result of increased energy levels). Therefore, it may not be a miracle cure so it is important to look at the bigger picture still.

If you are interested, I would always recommend approaching a dietitian or registered nutritionist first. This may not be suitable for someone and it may be less likely to work without proper guidance.

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