Reverse diet is a term used within the bodybuilding and competitive weightlifting communities to describe a period after a calorically restricted eating protocol during which you slowly work to increase calories back to a maintenance level. Reverse dieting is often described as “the diet after the diet.”
While some claim that reverse dieting can be an actual method to slope up weight loss and energy levels, others sack it as unnecessary and ineffective. Some believers of the plan also claim that it can boost energy levels, reduce hunger, and help break through weight loss plateaus.
Most diets involve lessening calorie intake to create a calorie deficit, meaning that you’re consuming fewer than you’re burning. Over time, your body starts to familiarize, slowing down your metabolism in an effort to conserve energy. Reverse dieting characteristically involves increasing calorie intake by 50–100 calories per week above your baseline, which is the number of calories you’re currently consuming to maintain your weight.
This period lasts 4–10 weeks, or until you reach your target, pre-diet intake. Because protein needs are typically calculated for body weight rather than calorie consumption, your protein intake can remain the same throughout the diet.
In addition, reverse dieting may normalize levels of circulating hormones, such as leptin, which regulates appetite and body weight. Research shows that leptin, which is produced and excreted by the fat cells in your body, decreases in response to reduced calorie intake. When leptin levels fall, appetite is increased and calorie burning is reduced.
Presently, research is limited on the effects of reverse dieting. Most of its benefits are only supported up by subjective indication.