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How reverse dieting works
Reverse dieting is essentially what to do following a restrictive diet. Suppose you cut 1,200 calories per day to lose weight, and you shed a few pounds later. Proponents of reverse dieting suggested to gradually increase their calorie intake per week by about 4-10 weeks, rather than reverting to their pre-dietary eating patterns. Those who advocate this approach claim that it can help increase metabolism, normalize appetite hormones, and reduce the risk of binge eating or rapid weight gain.
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What does research say about reverse dieting?
There is no research specifically on reverse dieting. Some studies used to support this practice are based on the negative effects of dieting on metabolic rate and hormone balance. But this is very different from a controlled study that applied reverse dieting in a group compared to a control group to examine outcomes such as changes in metabolism, hormone levels, or other factors.
Why reverse dieting is unnecessary
The main reason for reverse dieting is not necessary is to avoid starting with a strict or low calorie diet. While a low-calorie diet can cause weight loss for some, it can also trigger physical and emotional side effects including nutritional deficiencies, irritability, mood or depression, fatigue, and obsessive thoughts about food and weight.
In addition, calorie counting is tedious and stressful for many people. One study found that cortisol levels increased after a 1,200-calorie diet and monitored calories, a stress hormone known to increase abdominal fat. In the same study, people who were not asked to limit their calories but were required to track the increase in stress levels experienced.
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How to lose weight without strict dieting
Conventional weight loss approaches that focus on calories, calories are outdated. With my personal practice clients, I focus on factors such as food quality, food balance and timing, and tuning in hunger and fullness cues and addressing emotional eating.
In terms of quality, replacing processed foods with whole foods has been shown to increase calorie burning after meals. This means that you can trade anything like pastries or sugar grains in the morning for oatmeal with berries and nuts, positively affecting weight loss, regardless of calories. Processed food has also been shown to affect intestinal bacteria in ways that affect weight control. This is one of the reasons that simply eating more vegetables, increasing fiber and reducing meal times can reduce weight without the need to be deprived.
When my clients who struggle with emotional eating start finding healthy coping tools that do not include food, their calorie intake drops automatically – not based on rules or numbers, but their relationship with food Change in In other words, dieting is not the only way to lose weight, and it is certainly not the most successful or sustainable approach.
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Bottom Line: Adhering to a strict diet with continuous calorie monitoring for one or two months via reverse dieting (especially with such small increases requires precise tracking) adds to stress. Furthermore, there is no evidence that reverse dieting helps in reducing weight over a long period of time. A healthy lifestyle comes from permanent lifestyle changes that nourish your body adequately. Any method you use to lose weight should not require diet after diet. It should optimize your overall well-being, not compromise it.
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is HealthNutrition Editor’s contribution, a new York Times The best-selling author and a private practice performance nutritionist who has consulted for five professional sports teams.
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