Reverse Dieting Claims You Can Increase Food Intake And Lose Weight – But Does It Really Work?

It’s typically thought that dieting means restricting calories or consuming less food – but one too-good-to-be-true-sounding diet promotes eating lots more to lose weight.

‘Reverse dieting’ encourages people to gradually increase calories and food consumption to teach the body to maintain fat levels while at a slightly higher maintained weight.

The claim is that the change will jump-start the metabolism, which often slows down and burns less calories after a long period of decreased calorie intake, called adaptive thermogenesis.

Kim Kardashian West’s trainer Melissa Alcantara recently discussed reverse dieting on Instagram, where she revealed she is in the process of increasing her calories to “bring my metabolism back up to speed.”

“Goal here is to take me up to 100 cals every couple of weeks till about 2,300 calories at a consistent weight, so that when I lean down a bit I can be lean at much higher calories, somewhere around 1,900,” she wrote.

To correctly reverse diet and see results, a technique often used by bodybuilders, you still have to control what you eat – but you get to eat more, with the goal of doing so without gaining fat.

Although the diet method has not been studied thoroughly as a weight loss plan, some experts say it can be beneficial for losing weight if you’ve plateaued.

“In order to combat the physiological plateau, that’s actually a pretty good idea to up intake,” Monica Auslander Moreno, MS,RD, nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition told Shape.

However, reverse dieting requires control and gradual calorie increases – as it won’t work if you simply choose to begin indulging in more food.

But, as with any diet, reverse dieting isn’t recommended as a long-term sustainable diet plan.

Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, nutritionist and creator of the Ditch the Diet Challenge, told The Independent: “All diets – including ‘reverse dieting’ – teach you how to follow external factors, in this case by counting calories, rather than listening to your body. Diets cause you to get more out of touch with your body’s feelings of hunger, fullness and satisfaction so it’s easier to feel out of control around food and overeat.”

Additionally, any diets that rely on calorie tracking aren’t advisable – as they can lead to unhealthy relationships with food and increased cravings.

“Counting or tracking calories is likely to make you feel obsessive and out of control around food. This can cause cravings and overeating,” Rumsey said. “Rather than relying on calorie counting, focus on building a healthy relationship with food. Tune into your body’s signals of hunger, fullness and satisfaction. Use these signals as a cue to begin and end eating. Tune into your internal signals around when (and why) you want to eat certain foods, in certain amounts, rather than listening to external signals (i.e. diets).

“Over time this will naturally help you to eat what you need.”

While reverse dieting may work in certain situations as a short-term plan, learning how to have a positive relationship with food is still the best way to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle and avoid cravings.

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