Is Reverse Dieting the Solution to Yo-yo Dieting?


Losing and regaining weight repeatedly, known as yo-yo dieting, can be incredibly frustrating and disheartening. 

Fortunately, there is a solution that can help you break this cycle and maintain your hard-earned physique: reverse dieting. 

In this article, we will explore the concept of reverse dieting, its benefits, a better name for it, and how it can support your long-term success.

What is Reverse Dieting?

Reverse dieting is a method employed after a dedicated phase of fat loss. Instead of continuing to restrict calories for weight loss, reverse dieting focuses on gradually increasing your caloric intake while sustaining your current weight. 

It provides a strategic approach to transitioning from weight loss to weight maintenance. Since the goal of reverse dieting is to find your new maintenance caloric intake and not to return to your previous intake, reverse dieting would better be called maintenance. 

Determining the Need for Reverse Dieting:

If you have successfully completed a fat loss-focused period and want to sustain your weight loss, reverse dieting is the logical next step. 

On the other hand, if you have experienced minor weight fluctuations despite multiple diet attempts, it may be necessary to seek a personalized plan tailored to your unique personality, environment, resources, and preferences.

Avoiding Pitfalls:

One common mistake people make after completing a fat loss phase is reverting to their old eating habits and consuming “normal” foods. 

However, to sustain your weight loss, it is important to continue making smart food choices and maintaining a structured approach. 

Understanding the root causes of cravings and food choices is crucial for developing a sustainable fat loss approach that prioritizes long-term progress and sustainability.

Dispelling Misconceptions:

There is a misconception that reverse dieting is necessary to fix a damaged metabolism caused by repeated unsuccessful weight loss attempts. However, this is not accurate. 

Reverse dieting is only relevant if you have consistently achieved a caloric deficit and experienced weight loss. It is important to recognize that the body adapts to the stimulus it is exposed to, and a well-designed fat loss approach can reverse previous weight gain.

Why “Reverse Dieting” Might Be Better Called “Maintenance”:

While reverse dieting is commonly used to describe the process of gradually increasing caloric intake after a fat-loss phase, it might be more accurate to call it “maintenance.” 

The purpose of this phase is not to reverse the progress you’ve made or return to old eating habits but rather to find the appropriate caloric intake for sustaining your results and maintaining your current weight.

By shifting the focus from the term “reverse dieting” to “maintenance,” we emphasize the goal of finding a new balance that supports your desired physique and overall well-being. 

The term “maintenance” better reflects the ongoing efforts to sustain the progress you’ve achieved and prevent the frustrating cycle of yo-yo dieting.

Transitioning to Maintenance Intake:

After making progress toward your goals, transitioning to maintenance intake becomes essential. 

This process, often referred to as “reverse dieting” or better described as transitioning to maintenance, allows you to effectively manage cravings, hunger, and maintain your hard-earned fat loss results. 

The exciting part is that after a fat-loss phase, you can increase your caloric intake.

Why Increase Calories?

During the reverse dieting or maintenance phase, increasing caloric intake brings forth a range of benefits that support your long-term success:

  1. Reaching Maintenance Calories: To sustain your current weight, it is crucial to consume a higher caloric intake than during the fat loss phase. By finding the appropriate level of intake that supports weight stability without further loss, you can effectively maintain your progress. This approach mitigates hunger, provides sufficient energy for daily activities, and promotes overall well-being.
  2. Restoring NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis): When in a caloric deficit, your NEAT tends to decrease as a result of adaptive metabolic changes. NEAT refers to the energy expended through non-exercise activities such as walking, standing, and fidgeting. As you transition out of the deficit, increasing your caloric intake restores NEAT, boosting your metabolism and allowing for the introduction of more food. This restoration of NEAT not only contributes to a healthier metabolic rate but also supports weight maintenance and overall energy expenditure throughout the day. 

By strategically increasing your caloric intake during the reverse dieting or maintenance phase, you create a balanced approach that supports your long-term success. Reaching your maintenance calories helps you sustain your hard-earned results, while restoring NEAT optimizes your metabolism and enhances your overall energy expenditure. 

This comprehensive approach promotes not only weight maintenance but also improved well-being and a healthier lifestyle.

Things to Consider:

During the reverse dieting process, it is important to consider a few factors:

  • Individual Adjustments: Calculated numbers obtained from websites or previous maintenance figures are rough estimates. Each person has unique biological factors, deliberate exercise routines, and Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) levels that need to be taken into account.
  • Body Water Fluctuations: Fluctuations in body water, especially when following low-carb diets, can lead to changes of up to 2% on any given day. It is advisable to take several body weight measurements throughout the week, under similar conditions, and calculate the average to obtain a more reliable measure of actual body weight.
  • Stick to What Worked: To maintain your progress, it is advisable to stick to the nutritional approach that helped you achieve your desired results. The saying “Dance with the one who brought you” applies here. While transitioning out of a successful fat loss phase, sticking to many of the same foods and strategies that were pivotal in achieving fat loss, but simply increasing calorie intake by 10-15% from the previous deficit.


Reverse dieting is a scientifically supported approach to sustaining your hard-earned results after a focused fat loss phase. It offers a valuable strategy for breaking the frustrating cycle of yo-yo dieting and promoting long-term success. 

By gradually increasing caloric intake and maintaining weight, reverse dieting allows you to find a new balance that supports your desired physique and overall well-being.

It is important to understand that reverse dieting is not about going back to old eating habits, but rather finding a sustainable approach that aligns with your goals. By avoiding the pitfalls of returning to unhealthy eating patterns and making smart food choices, you can sustain your weight loss and achieve long-term progress.

Determining the need for reverse dieting depends on your individual journey. If you have successfully completed a fat loss-focused period and want to maintain your weight loss, reverse dieting is the logical next step. However, if you have experienced minimal weight fluctuations despite repeated diet attempts, seeking a personalized plan that suits your unique needs is essential.

Transitioning to maintenance intake allows you to effectively manage cravings, hunger, and maintain your hard-earned fat loss results. Increasing calories during the reverse dieting phase helps reach maintenance levels and restores NEAT, boosting your metabolism.

Throughout the process, it is important to consider individual adjustments, fluctuations in body water, and stick to the nutritional strategies that initially led to success. Seeking guidance from a qualified nutrition professional or coach can further enhance your reverse dieting experience and ensure a tailored approach that aligns with your specific goals.

In conclusion, reverse dieting provides a strategic approach to sustaining your physique and preventing the frustrating cycle of yo-yo dieting. 

After achieving your fat loss goals, embark on your reverse dieting journey with confidence, and maintain and optimize your hard-earned results for long-term success. 

With dedication and a well-designed plan, you can achieve sustainable weight maintenance and enjoy the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.