Is this the trick to maintaining weight loss?
Losing weight can be a battle, but keeping it off in the long-term is another challenge altogether. That’s where reverse dieting may help.
The Australian weight loss industry is now said to be worth around $477 million a year.
And while plenty of consideration is given to which diet may best help lose kilos, maintaining weight loss once can often be the bigger challenge.
How can reverse dieting help?
The basic principle of weight loss is you need to consumer fewer calories than your body expends.
While doing that may be effective initially, long-term sustenance of a weight loss plan is much more challenging.
And that’s where reverse dieting may help.
“Instead of continuing to eat less, as per traditional dieting, reverse dieting involves slowly eating more to boost your metabolism over time and avoid weight regain,” says Nicole Dynan, of Dietitians Association of Australia.
Sports dietitian Chloe McLeod says reverse dieting is often used by people who have just finished a long or intense period of calorie restriction.
“Calories are slowly increased, and weight is closely tracked to increase energy availability and minimise fat gain,” says Chloe, founder of Health and Performance Collective.
- Tough opponent: Why hormones might be putting the brakes on your weight loss
What are the benefits of reverse dieting?
The idea behind reverse dieting is you can come out of a “diet phase” and maintain most of your progress while steadily increasing your calories.
That give you more flexibility with your food, Chloe explains.
She says eating enough to fuel your body effectively helps body systems function as they need to, which can in turn improve things such as concentration, energy levels, mood, training performance and capacity.
- Debunked: The biggest weight loss myths
Is reverse dieting suitable for everyone?
While it can work for some, reverse dieting isn’t for everyone, says Chloe.
That’s because it requires tracking calories, which some may find incompatible with their lifestyle.
Nicole, founder of The Good Nutrition Co, says the calorie counting required means reverse dieting also wouldn’t be recommended for those who may have suffered from an eating disorder in the past.
She also says results can be highly individual.
“Reverse dieting relies on the fact that our metabolism is influenced by calorie intake alone,” Nicole says.
“In fact, diet has very little effect on our basal metabolic rate – the energy required to keep us alive – but rather it is influenced by our genetics, age, weight, sex, muscle mass and exercise.”
Ultimately, there are no guarantees reverse dieting will keep the weight off.
“You may still gain weight,” Chloe says.
“Just because reverse dieting has worked well for another person, does not mean your body will respond in the same way.”
- Trust your gut: The no-diet way of eating that can actually help weight loss
Talk to a professional about reverse dieting
As with any weight loss plan, it’s worth talking to a professional to take you through how to maintain weight loss.
Both Nicole and Chloe recommend talking to dietitian or sports dietitian before undertaking the dietary changes required when reverse dieting.
“Often the additional guidance can help with optimising the process, and in turn may result in improved outcomes,” Chloe says.
- Diet tweaks: 10 easy weight loss swaps
Written by Tania Gomez.