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Reverse Dieting: Eat More and Maintain Weight

spaghetti squash chicken salsaUnfortunately, it is not as simple as just consuming more food and labeling it “reverse dieting” but this is a concept you can likely benefit from.  Additionally, reverse dieting is not just another term for bulking. If you are finishing up with a contest prep or more likely have been consuming a restricted calorie diet for an extended period of time, chances are your metabolism is not in an ideal state and jumping straight into a bulking phase or simply just abandoning your calorie deficient diet can often lead to undesirable and increased fat gain.  Utilizing the calculated concept of reverse dieting can help to improve your poor metabolism, provide more energy, a better state of mind, and keep you in a physically superior state of being.  The goal of reverse dieting is to increase the volume of calories your body requires for maintenance aka, eat more and maintain the same body weight.  If you read my earlier post on refeeding you had some exposure to the hormone leptin and its effects on the human body.  Here again, in this situation you will be working with the natural response of your body to produce the desired outcome – eating more and staying the same weight.

The basic concept of reverse dieting is simple – slowly introduce more calories into your diet over time. However, the way in which you introduce those calories will be a little more calculated.  Think about this – your body has adapted to survive on the calorie deficient diet you have been living on where it has coped by utilizing your fat stores for energy. Now if you jump straight into a bulking phase or drop off your diet completely, you are going to flood your system with a surplus of caloric energy.  In response, your body is going to act as if it is raining money and being to store all those additional calories for later – you guessed it, in the form of fat.  So how do we deal with this? – reverse dieting! Don’t believe me or want to read the more scientific version of that explanation: Adaptive changes in energy expenditure during refeeding following low-calorie intake: evidence for a specific metabolic component favoring fat storage and Effect of 6-Month Calorie Restriction on Biomarkers of Longevity, Metabolic Adaptation, and Oxidative Stress in Overweight Individuals.

Now, if you are coming from contest prepping or serious dieting, chances are you’re intimately familiar with your current maintenance calories  and/or macro ratios.  If you are just trying to fix your out of whack metabolism or simply have no idea what your maintenance calories might be, you may need to do a little work to figure them out.  If you are really lost – email me as this will be part of my future planned personal health coaching.

When reverse dieting, you will slowly introduce more carbohydrates and fat into back into your diet. Protein in this case (even if you are going to be transitioning into a bulking phase) is not as important. You can keep your protein intake at 1-1.5 grams per pound of body weight even as you increase your overall calorie consumption.  This means that your macro ratio (comparison of protein, carbohydrates and fat) for protein will continue to drop as you increase your overall calorie intake.

blue cup of oatsAt what rate do you introduce these additional calories?  You will increase your carbohydrates 80-100 calories (or 20-25 grams) each week and adjust your fat intake so that it maintains 20-30% of your total food consumption.  Remember, you are taking the scientific approach here so you will be taking measurements (your body weight) weekly to determine the affect of these added nutrients on your system – and adjust accordingly.  The goal is to continue to increase the calories consumed without increasing the number on the scale.  If the scale begins to move at the end of the week, throttle back the rate at which you are adding calories.  Keep in mind this increase in consumption is not a temporary state for a short period of time as in refeeding, you are building up your maintenance calories.

After reverse dieting for a period of time you will come to a point where you have maxed out on the level at which you can increase your maintenance calories (without gaining weight).  Unfortunately there is no logical calculation by which to determine this point – everyone is different and you will need to keep adjusting until you hit that mark.  Once you are there and the world is at peace you have two choices to make: continue increasing your calorie consumption and begin bulking (aka adding muscle) or start back towards the way you came and drop body fat through a calorie deficient diet.  With either option, it is wise to stay at your new maintenance calorie level for a period of time to give you and your body some homeostasis and a fresh point at which to start your new transition.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of the term reverse dieting and you can choose to implement this method to help smooth your transition from losing weight to gaining muscle or to simply help level set your poor metabolism.  Either way, this method helps you to eat more food and maintain your weight, which sounds like a win-win to me!

Need more nutrition help? Check out our Nutrition Calculator and Reverse Diet Planning Tool!

247 Responses to Reverse Dieting: Eat More and Maintain Weight

  1. Melina says:

    Hello and thank you for all the great advice!

    I am 5’3 and at 112lbs, eating 240c/130p/40f

    I have been counting macros for years, competed in 6 shows and reverse dieted as well.

    In 2012 I was eating around 2,200 cals and maintaining at 112lbs while lifting 5 days per week and 3×20 min sessions of cardio (not much). I decided to prep for a show which had 2 high carb days of 1840 cals and 5 low days around 1,550. My show weight was 107 but I continued to lose at this until I hit 102 (the only cardio change was the addition of 2×16 min HIIT sessions, again very little cardio). I began to reverse and ended up at 1,840 at 108 lbs lbs (back to 3×20 min LISS sessions per week). I should have continued to reverse but stopped and stayed there until Jan 2015 (over a year at this weight and macros).

    In the past 3 months with no changes I have started to gain, and now at 112lbs still eating 1,840. While this is not terribly low, there were no macro changes and per my history, you can see I have maintained at this same weight around 2,200.

    I am not as lean as I was at 108 (obviously) and don’t want to continue gaining. Do you think I stalled my metabolism and should do a reverse or do a mini cut and do a proper reverse? None of my clothes fit and I can’t believe I am gaining with no changes.

    Thoughts? Thank you.

    • Melina says:

      Oh and the 2,200 I was eating initially in 2012 was after doing a reverse post competition from early 2011. My 2011 show macros were the same as they were in 2012, so same macros and that was my end/macros weight before another prep. My weight was also around 107 for the 2011 show.

    • Hey Melina,

      At 112lbs your maintenance calories are 1,550 which is why you are gaining weight at 1,840.

  2. Amber says:

    I have been eating around 500 calories a day for about 3 months and I am supposed to have 1,500 a day. how do I increase my calorie intake without gaining the weight I’ve already lost back? should I start by adding 100 calories a week? If I do gain weight do I just wait for it to go back down before adding more?

    I have a medium frame I am 5’2 and 125 pounds currently.

  3. Great post on reverse dieting! I have had personal experience with reverse dieting and it was my last resort when I couldn’t lose anymore weight, even with a low calorie diet. Reverse dieting enabled me to eat higher calories (2000-2500) while managing to lose those pesky pounds too. I never thought my metabolism was damaged, but reverse dieting did repair it back to its fat burning state. I wrote a post about my journey on my blog which you can get to here.

  4. Eddie Levit says:

    It has been 2 weeks since I have started my reverse diet and I have LOST 2 lbs…Should I keep going? I have indeed been keeping track of my calories and I think I have even gone over the 100 cal recommended point…My initial weight was 172. I’m 5-8. I know that my maintanence should be somewhere from 2400 to 2700. Cunrrelty, I am at 2300 and am planning to switch to 2400 on this upcoming Sunday…I have been counting my calories accurately. I have been using a food scale.

    • Eddie Levit says:

      Another Question I forgot to ask: Am I losing muscle or has this drop in weight (2lb) been fat loss? I am working out a bit less now with less intensity than before because I am recovering from a shoulder strain. I am hitting my lower body with the same intensity as before but I’m not doing too much with my upper body of course…I am planning to get a bodyfat caliper to check if my body fat% has indeed decreased—if this is the case, then I have just lost fat rather than muscle. Please let me know, thank you.

  5. weihan says:

    Due to a very low calorie diet, I lost a lot of weight and fat, but was seriously losing muscle mass too. That’s why I went and got a metabolism test via a korr metacheck machine (indirect calorimetry). The results came back saying that my rmr’s only about 500 cal/day, when according to formulas like harriet, etc. it should be about 1100 cal. Do you think, then, it would be safe to start my reverse diet on 400-500 cal/day, which is about 300 cal more than my current cal intake? I know a lot of people’d tell me to go find a nutritionist, but I don’t have the money right now. Just gove me your opinion, and I’ll take it into consideration as a 2nd opinion.

  6. Amanda says:

    Normally would never post on something like this, but your answers to everyone have seemed so straightforward and honest. Hoping to get a little insight into my situation.
    I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. Was over 230 in high school. (I’m 5’4″). Dropped 50lbs in college through lifting and cardio. Gained that back and then a couple years ago started running. Initially I lost about 30 lbs but then my weight lost stalled. Trained for half marathons and ran several at about 200 lbs but could never get below that weight. I was also eating clean at about 1500 cals a day.
    Last year I went through a certification process for work that was a lot of work. I ate like crap and didn’t work out for about 6 months and my weight went up to 228. In August 2014 I decided I’d had enough and jumped back into working out lifting and cardio 5-6 days a week and eating 1500-1600 calories which is what my fitness pal gave me for numbers. I was incredibly strict with my diet and had cut out all soda, coffee, alcohol etc. By October I had only lost 4 lbs. At that point I had a dr appt. My thyroid is fine and my cholesterol is awesome. In the 140s with LDL at 67 and HDL at 69. My glucose is low. My dr told me I am super healthy and this just might be my body type which is incredibly frustrating to hear.
    At that point I bought a bodymedia band to see how many calories I was burning a day. If ended up being between 2300-2400 calories a day. At that point I had heard about IIFYM and decided to give it a go. I used the info from my band and calculators to get my macros. I increased to over 1900 cal a day 165p/192c/60f. In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have jumped up that many calories so soon, but it worked. I’m very, very slowly losing weight and body fat. I’m currently 211 lbs and my body fat went from 42.6% to 40.4%. I still work out 5-6 days a week. I lift heavy (my brother competes and has a degree in exercise science so I feel pretty solid with my workouts) and do a couple HIIT workouts.
    While I’m happy to be seeing progress my question is should it be faster? I’m thinking my metabolism is screwed up. I saw the weight times 14 calculation and according to that I should be maintaining at 2954 calories. I wear my body media band every day and the only time I even get close to that number is on leg day or if I lift for an hour and a half and then run 3 miles. Even then I’m at 2600-2700 cal burn but usually its 2400-2500. On non workout days it’s about 2200.
    Could a reverse diet help me? I initially thought you shouldng reverse if you have weight to lose but now I’m thinking my metabolism might need a jump start. I know I might give up progress in the mean time but if would be worth it if I could lose fat faster later. Or is the rate I’m currently losing at decent? I should mention that I’m pretty meticulous with weighing/measuring/tracking so there shouldn’t be an issue with that.
    Thank you for your time and suggestions. I just want the outside to match what I’m capable of. I feel like an athlete but don’t look like one and I can’t tell you how frustrating that is.

    • Hi Amanda,

      I am glad to hear you are finding success. Don’t be discouraged about the speed of your weight loss. You are losing weight, which means what you are doing is working! I would suggest continuing what is working until it no longer works. You are losing weight slowly which is the healthy way to do it. You did not gain the weight overnight, it is healthier not to lose it over night. Keep up the good work!

  7. sarah says:

    hi jason!
    thanks for the great article. Question for you…Im recovering from a restrictive ED and i know i have killed my metabolism. I’m 5’6″ and 79lbs. i eat 1120 calories a day and im basically maintaining on that. based on most calculators, i should be able to eat more than that and maintain. do you have any advice on how i should go about fixing my metabolic damage? say if i go up to 1200, do you think i’ll gain? i just want to be able to eat a “normal” amount of food while maintaining my weight! thanks!

  8. abeer says:

    i’m a female 23 years old ,i have been dieting for years with not cheat meals at all because i tried that once and i gained 0.5 kg the next day
    i’m 158 cm & 51 kg
    i’m craving food all the time but i can control it very well ,,, but i’m very tired (psychologically ) .. it has been so long since i can eat like a normal person.. i don’t want to live like that forever :S
    i don’t know my exact intake of calories but i’m sure it’s between 700 and 1000 calories
    i’m afraid to increase my intake because i’m sure i’ll gain weight and it’s very very hard for me to drop pounds. i do some cardio exercises at home for about 20 to 30 minutes 5 to 6 days a week & i go for a long walk 3 days a week but my weight is the same
    please help me to eat normal again without gaining weight.

    • Hello Abeer,

      First thing is first, you need to start measuring and weighing your intake so that you know how much calories you are eating regularly. Right now you are basically driving a car without a gauge to tell you how much gas you have left. Once you understand how much calories you are eating regularly you can adjust from there. The best thing to do is to slowly increase your DAILY calories by 50-100 each week. With this small amount you should not see much change on the scale. If you do, you can remain at the same number of calories for another week and try increasing the following week. This is basically what is called reverse dieting.

  9. Mallary says:

    Can a person who had gastric bypass 6 years ago benefit from reverse dieting? My mother has been working out everyday for some time now and hasn’t been able to lose the 50lbs she regained after her initial weight loss. She estimates her daily caloric intake to be under 1000. After her surgery she was rx from the dr to this low intake and to be high protein low carb. She’s lifting weights as well as cardio. I’m certain her caloric intake is the reason for her not loosing. Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Mallary,

      I am not familiar with gastric bypass patients and nutrition. However in my experience when someone is not losing weight (I would imagine even a mild calorie reduction would result in weight loss with bypass patients) it is because they are OVER estimating their caloric consumption. Ask you mother to measure and weigh her intake so that she is not estimating and is able to be more exact. I would bet that she is eating massively more than she suspects.

  10. kaileigh says:

    Hi, can you tell me what you think of my situation? So basically a background of 2 years of ED, then I have been trying to get out of it by reverse dieting. I was at a healthy weight, 130lbs, but through “reverse dieting” with my PT, I have gained 15 pounds! I’ve only gone up 280 calories over 3 months. About a month and a half ago, I started feeling really awful, and dropped calories just a little, a slice of bread here and an apple there, but the weight just raised even faster. My trainer put me on a cut, but I still gained weight!!!
    This past week I’ve been all over the place, from 1500 to 1000 and getting back up now, but I’m so nervous to gain even MORE WEIGHT because I am already so far out of my comfort zone. I only lost 2 pounds.
    What should I do? Should I jump back up to where I was and stick with it?
    Was skimping on calories a bad idea in the first place and caused me to gain weight?
    Is it water weight, and if it is how long until it comes off?!
    I just really don’t won’t any more fat on my frame, will jumping back to 1500 make me gain crazy weight after a week of being lower?
    Can you please tell me what I can do to minimize any weight gain?
    Thank you so much!!

    • Hi Kaileigh,

      I am sorry that you are dealing with ED. Have you been getting help with the non physical side of things? This will help you out greatly. I am not completely clear from your comment on how much you weigh currently. If you are at 130lbs, eating even 1500 calories is still a deficit and should not have you gaining weight. I am not going to suggest measuring and weighing your food as that is not something beneficial to your fight against ED. My advice to you is to continue to reverse diet from where you are at now up to your maintenance calories. I would suggest simply adding 50-100 calories each week (a piece of fruit for example). When your weight starts to move, stay at those calories for another week and then try adding more calories again. If your weight continues to move then you likely have found your maintenance (which should be closer to 1800 at 130lbs). I would also highly suggest not weighing yourself any more than once a week and to do so in the morning when you wake up at the same time each week. Best of luck with your journey and please, if you are not getting assistance with the mental side of the battle, please do so – it will greatly improve your success all around.

  11. Nicole Rawnsley Hill says:


    I just stumbled across this article and really enjoyed reading it! I was wondering if you may be able to offer any advice :). I’m competing in my first figure competition in March and I wanted to reverse dieting to increase my calories before prepping. I strength train 5 days a week and do 20 minutes of cardio three days a week. I am 5’10, 149-150lbs. I started on Monday and have set myself at 187P/177C/60F for a total of 2,000 calories. I would like to reverse diet until I reach my maintenance. Does this sound like too much to start out with? I was eating around 1900 before but I don’t believe my fat intake was ever this high. Thank you very much!

  12. Shane says:

    Hey I just wanted to ask, is it possible to reverse diet whilst doing keto? So instead of slowly raising carb intake for the calories, could i increase my fat intake in replacement? So I keep my carbs the same (below 30g) and increase fat over time?

  13. Vichell says:

    Hi there!
    First off, thank you for the informative article. It was a great read.
    I’m hoping I can get your opinion on this..
    I’m a 20 y/o female, and I have just finished a pretty intense 30 day cut. I went from 26% body fat to about 17%, and went from 140lbs to 130lbs. I am impressed with this progress, and I am looking forward to putting on more muscle and gaining more strength. But I want to make sure I do this properly.. I workout 6-7 days a week on this program. Each workout consists of weight training and a combination of HIIT and steady state cardio. I’ve been eating at a caloric deficit as well.

    I started off eating 1438 calories a day with 162g of protein, 158g carbs, and 18g of fat. I lowered my calories by 100 each week. Throughout each week I would lower my carbs while increasing my fat intake, but the grams of protein would remain the same. So now, at the end of my diet I am eating about 1138 calories with 162g of protein, 74g of carbs, and 22g of fat.

    So I am wondering to reverse diet, should I just adjust my macros and calories the same way I cut down? Kind of go back the way I came I guess haha. Should I lower my protein intake by 10% and increase carbs and fat intake with the remaining calories?

    And also, for training should I just ditch the steady state cardio while upping my weights?

    Thanks in advance for your help! It is greatly appreciated!

    • Hello Vichell,

      I am glad you enjoyed the article. As for reverse dieting, you seem to have the concept down – simply reverse what you did to lean out. No need to change your protein however, but it would not hurt your results. As for training. If you enjoy cardio you can keep it, but if not feel free to ditch it. Increasing your weights will influence your body to begin to build muscle as you will slowly be providing it the fuel it needs to build it! Best of luck.

  14. diana says:

    I am a 19yr old female, 5’3″, and 90lb. I began lifting lightly about 1month ago and seek to get toned.
    I have been doing iifym for a while knkw, but i feel my carbs are too high. If i follow the recommended 1g protein, then that leaves me with 90gP/250gC/36gF. I currrently eat 1580cals. Do you recommend i increase protein and decrease carbs? What macros do you recommend if i want to gain muscle? Thanks!

    • Hi Diana,

      Macro recommendations are based on your goals and current body condition. If you are interested in a custom nutrition plan, please visit the nutrition coaching section for more information.

  15. Erwin says:


    Very good read. I have been researching and would like to begin a Cyclic Ketogenic Diet. My only concern is that for this diet to be efficient I am going to have to increase my fat intake and also decrease my carb intake to ~30g/day. I’m a 172 lbs 21 year old male in pretty decent shape. My overall goal is to lower my overall body fat with this diet and because I know that my body will become very sensitive to carbohydrates I want to know how reverse dieting would apply in this case as far as the carbs and fats go. Since this diet is low carb/hight fat do I slowly increase my carb intake while simultaneously decreasing my fat intake? Also, Friday-Saturday I plan on doing a carb loading day where for both days I will eat between 600-800g carbs but approximately 70-80g fats. How should I approach this reverse diet when coming from such extreme carb/fat ratios?

    • Hello Erwin,

      I may be interpreting your comment wrong, but it sounds like you are trying to do two things at once, or at least trying to apply a tool for the wrong purpose. Reverse dieting is not going to help you lose weight. Reverse dieting is used to help recover your body AFTER a period of long or drastic calorie reduction. Maybe check out my post:

      • Erwin says:

        Hi Jason,

        You interpreted it wrong, sorry that I wasn’t clear. Right now I am working on my meal/workout plan to begin a cyclic ketogenic diet. However, it isn’t until AFTER I am done with that diet that my body will be very sensitive to carbohydrates and used to receiving high amounts of fats. If I were to reverse diet in order to bulk, how would I go about that? I know I should reintroduce carbs slowly back to my body by adding a little more each week but should I simultaneously decrease my fat intake? Once again my question regarding what to do for my reverse diet is for AFTER I am done with the ketogenic diet. Thank you for your fast response by the way!


        • Hey Erwin,

          I think things are cleared up now … After you diet and when you start your reverse diet, you will as you said slowly increase carbohydrates. However you should also increase fat, not decrease it. Personally I like to keep my fat around 20-30% of my intake to facilitate appropriate hormone levels. As you increase your carbohydrates and maintain your protein during reverse dieting, if you do not also increase your fat intake it will over time become less of a percentage of your diet as your carbohydrates and overall caloric intake increases. This is why it should also mildly get increased as you increase your overall calories.

  16. Stephanie says:

    Hey Jason,

    I’m really impressed with the responses and advice you’ve been giving people. I just started reverse dieting with IIFYM so let me first start out my saying I’m first and endurance cyclist however I spend about 3 days a week lifting at the gym. I saw no result and would actually feel tired and worn day i was eating 1200 cal a day and eating back 1/2 f the calories I burnt off however I would not eat more than 1200-1300 on a day I didn’t exercise. I completely killed my metabolism says my doctor by not eating enough on recovery days and not eating enough over all calories, I messed up my hormones and didn’t even have a menstruation menstruation cycle for 6 months(sorry if that is TMI but just trying to explain how bad I messed my body up) I’m 137pounds female 25 and 5’6″. Currently I’m sitting at about 23% body fat and would like to get down to 19%bf I don’t care how much I weigh I just want to lose the extra body fat and build a better figure. I’m eating 1580 cals (138carbs/138protein/53fat so it works out to 35/35/30)a day lifting 3 times and week and riding about 100-150km a week. Is this going to work for fat loss or do I have to adjust my macros?

    • Hey Stephanie,

      Thank you for the kind words! I try to help others as much as I can. In your case at 137 pounds, 1580 calories a day would be a pretty decent calorie deficiency and if you were to eat this rate you should be burning fat. However that is not taking into account the large number of calories you are burning. What I would do is estimate the calories you would typically burn in a week and divide that by seven days a week, then add this additional amount of calories to your daily intake. The concept is to keep only the approximately 400 calorie deficiency you initially had from your diet and replace the calories from your activity. I would suggest eating the same calories every day as it is much easier than trying to compensate differently on different days. Don’t worry, your body is resourceful and will use them appropriately even if you eat more one day and burn more another. Since it is more difficult to estimate calories burned than calories consumed, continue to monitor your progress week by week and if you are losing MORE than a pound per week, you know you need to consume more calories daily, LESS than a pound per week consume less calories daily. When adjusting, don’t adjust too drastic, only 100 calories at a time and give it a week before taking measurements to determine change. Best of luck!

      • Stephanie says:

        Awesome, Thanks for the advice. I think my biggest issue right now it repairing the metabolic damage I’ve done as I have been on a deficit for so long and not seen any weight change, I’m still not seeing any weight change eating more and watching my macros. I feel like I hit a plateau with my weight when I stalled my metabolism. What should I do since I’m not seeing any weight change?

        • Hey Stephanie,

          Typically when I hear someone is on a calorie deficient diet and not losing weight, the first thing I suspect is that they are not accurately measuring and weighting their intake. If this is not the case, implementing refeeding is a great way to keep metabolism optimized when on a long or drastic fat loss regimen.

  17. Greg says:

    i’ve been reverse dieting for almost 2 months. my current macros are 56gfat/150gcarbs/185gprotein and I have a high day once a week(54g/240/180). my weight now is 179, down from 183 from the start. I got as low as 177 but has gone up since.I have been increasing my macros every two weeks 2g of fat and 10g carbs. i’m due to increase this weekend. Should i increase? or stay the same since my weight has been going up? or go down in macros?

    • Hey Greg,

      Reverse dieting can only be done so long. If your weight has been going up then you may be at your limit. I do not understand what a high day is and what the purpose is? It sounds like an excuse to over eat like a cheat meal. If its for a mental break then I can understand but you are already increasing your calories each week so why would you need a day that is even more increased?

  18. Ana says:

    Hello there!
    Thank you for your great post on reverse dieting. I have a question on the post. It reads that while increasing carbs, protein will not be as important and protein grams will decrease as the calories increase with the carbs. I am confused on this. Are we able to keep fat (at 20-30% of total calorie intake) and protein (at 1g per body weight) and just increase the carbs as suggested (20-25 g)? In other words, can the other micronutrients stay the same and only have carbs increase weekly by 20-25 g? Is this the correct method of reverse dieting?
    Thank you in advance for your repl!

    • Hello Ana,

      I believe you are simply just misunderstanding a statement in the article. Protein stays the same, but as you increase carbohydrates and fat, the ratio of protein to fat and carbohydrates goes down (because it stays the same and the other two increase). The ratio is what goes down not the amount.

  19. coral says:

    I’m 17.5 height 1.60 meter and my weight is 45-46 kilos.
    I have been trying to lose body fat for over a year now, working out with weights at home almost everyday, when that didn’t work out for me I starting cutting my calorie intake more eating around 700-900 calories a day. Today I eat about 1100-1200 just to maintain my weight, is this normal? I feel very frustrated. I know now that I only caused harm. my metabolism was very fast before I started dieting but know I find myself extremely obsessed with the scale weighing myself everyday and never eat more than 60 gr carbs a day, most of my calories come from protein and I try to stay as far as I can from carbs. I would really like to change that because I’m a true carb lover and I find myself very depressive often and tired. I know about reverse dieting for a while now and I really want to know if I should try it ?
    I’m extremely obsessive with my weight and feeling fat makes me feel horrible so I’m very hesitant and unsure about it and afraid I’ll gain weight.
    I’m extremely confused about my macros and calorie intake because I was given so many different answers, so I was really hoping you can help me by telling me how many carbs am I suppose to eat day? because I’m short and I weigh low I really don’t know what my calorie or carb intake should be to maintain weight and to lose weight. I once tried checking in a macros calculator and my macros were 1600 calories, and 160 carbs, is this a mistake ? or is the problem with my metabolism?
    thanks for your time

    • Hello Coral,

      It sounds like you could use some reverse dieting. At your weight you should need about 1400 calories to maintain. It sounds like you are eating just a bit under that and maintaining. This could mean you are not as accurate about your tracking, or it could be your metabolism is under performing. Either way, I would suggest slowly adding more carbohydrates each week. Don’t worry too much about what you should be eating right now. Eat what you have been eating PLUS 100 calories of carbohydrates more per day for a week. If you experience no weight gain then add another 100. Continue to do this until you see your weight change and hopefully then you will be eating more calories and carbohydrates daily.

      • coral says:

        thank you for replying.
        I have been doing intense cardio for the past week and a half- I have been running daily 5 kilometers which takes me about 30-35 minutes and I lift a bit. I am eating much more than I used to I eat about 120 gr carbs daily, I haven’t seen a difference in the scale at all, but I do see results-something that never happened to me before. is this possible ? to lose fat without seeing a difference on the scale?
        again, thank you so much for your time it means a lot :)

        • Hey Coral,

          When reverse dieting you are basically walking the fine line of fat burning/maintenance/muscle building. You may see strange results while walking this line but they are typically due to changes in your body’s balance of sodium and water. However it sounds like you are making great progress so keep at it!

  20. Daphne says:

    Hey Jason!
    Thankyou for all the information above! Has really helped me grasp the whole idea of ‘reverse dieting’.
    I recently competed 9 days ago as a fitness model and am now trying to reverse diet. All my macros are fairly low (105 carbs, 128 protein, 22 fat) and my calories at the moment sit at 1135 daily. I am 20 years old, I weigh 53.8kg and I am 165cm tall. I also weight train 5-6 times a week (with the exception of the next few days as im quite sick)and do 10-15 mins of HIIT 4-5 times a week. I’ve used multiple macro calculators to work out a goal intake and most have suggested an intake of 280g carbs, 120g protein and 45g fats to maintain a weight of 54-55kg. I’m just a little confused as to how I will increase everything as my current intake is so low. Would i be correct in increasing carbs at about 10g a week? Any kind of advice would be greatly appreciated!! :)

    • Hello Daphne,

      Congratulations on your competition. To start your reverse diet, you will want to increase your daily carbohydrates 20-25g each week. Increasing by only 10g will have the same effect but will take much longer. The faster you are able to recover your metabolism and start eating at a more reasonable caloric intake the better for your body.

      • Daphne says:

        Hey Jason!

        Thanks for the speedy reply!! Would 20-25g a week be too much? I’m a tad worried I’ll pile on the kilos. And how often would you suggest I check my weight to see if the scales are going up/down etc. Once a week? Once every few days?

        Thankyou so much in advance!

        • Hi Daphne,

          20-25g should not be too much, it really only comes out to a few calories. But the way the methodology works is if you see the scale change then you stick at that intake for another week. I would suggest checking the scale only once a week and it should be at the same time – mornings are typically best. I typically use Saturday or Sunday morning as soon as I wake up. This way there are less variables involved.

  21. Jessi says:

    Hi Jason! I am an endurance athlete and I currently do not lift weights (going to start incorporating two lifts a week though). I am around 5’4″ hand a half and I weigh 128 pounds. I am not fat but I’m obviously heavy for a distance runner, especially one that will be running at the college level. A few years ago I got down to 117 lbs by eating anywhere from 800-1300 calories a day. I stopped counting calories and ate intuitively and did eventually gain the weight back. I have been tracking for the better part of a year now, at first eating around 1300 calories and for the last month have been around 1600, give or take 100 calories a day. This summer I am building my aerobic base for cross country and have been building up to 60 miles per week (currently at 55). I want to increase my cals but I am afraid of gaining more weight. I don’t understand how I have maintained my weight with the level of workouts I do (running year round with lots of intervals in fall and spring). Should I reverse diet now and attempt to get leaner once my metabolism is higher? I just don’t want to walk onto my college cross country team this fall and be the fat one, not even for aesthetic reasons but primarily because I know I’ll run faster if I lose some weight. Thanks for your help!

    • Hey Jessi,

      Right now you are eating at a calorie deficiency (if you are eating 1600 a day). Additionally, you are increasing your exercise which puts you at an even further deficit. This means that you should be losing weight. You are not at a very drastic deficiency so you will not be seeing pounds drop off each week, but you should see pounds disappear maybe bi-weekly or monthly. You said you have been on the same deficit for over a year, being only a slight deficit, I would not suggest reverse dieting as I do not know that it will help with your running goal. I would however suggest maybe you try incorporating refeeding which may help by providing you additional energy as well as to keep your leptin levels boosted an allow you to drop some additional weight.

  22. Laura says:

    I was reading a lot of the comments and since you where really helpful with everyone I was hoping you could maybe help me as well. So I am a 18 year old girl, I weigh about 130 pounds, and I’m 5″4. I eat around 1400-1600 calories daily. I exercise 5 days a week normally for 30 minutes. Sometimes for an hour but always for at least 30 minutes. (I do the T25) I’ve battled with eating for a long time constantly restricting my calories. The thing is that I have been doing various workout programs (p90x, t25, hip hop abs) and have been experiencing little to no results from them. It’s almost like no matter what workout I’m doing or how healthy I eat (I’m vegan and eat no sugar, junk food, only drink water, ect ) I feel like I am getting nowhere. I am hoping that maybe I’ve hit a plateau that can be fixed through upping my calories. I’d love some advice. :(

    • Hello Laura,

      Often when someone gives me a range of calories for what they eat daily, they are not accurately measuring and weighing their food and really have an inaccurate concept of how much they are eating. I would suggest measuring and weighing your food for at least a week to get a more accurate understanding of what you are consuming. It is my guess that you are actually consuming more calories than you believe which is why you are not seeing any changes in your weight.

  23. Lauren says:

    Hi! I am hoping you will be able to offer some advice because I’m not sure what to do.
    I’m 21 and 5’4, ~123 lbs. I am a few weeks into my prep at 1620 calories (44f/174c/132p) but just found out I need to have surgery in a month to repair a hernia and to fix some bad bloating issues :( I’m thinking now would be a good time to reverse diet and then from there I can bulk and build some more muscle. I’ve been at these calories for a few months, and even lower in the spring when I competed last. I want to do it slowly bc I’m terrified I’ll just gain weight or bloat up especially if I have to cut back on the workouts for recovery time!! Please let me know what changes you think I should make to my current macros and how to figure out how to adjust once I cut back on lifting during recovery. Thank you soooo much in advance!

    • Hi Lauren,

      I am sorry to hear you will need to face surgery. According to the information you provided, it seems as though you are only on a very mild deficit. You are only roughly about 150 calories under your maintenance. You can reverse diet by slowly adding back in calories but honestly I would be surprised if you see any gross difference between just jumping right to maintenance and then slowly increasing into your bulk.

  24. Diana says:


    I see that you have helped a lot of people and I wanted to know if you can help me out too? When I am 20 and I consume roughly 1300 calories to 1500 at maintenance. I am between 5’1 to 5’2″, closer to 5’2″ though. How would I go about doing this?

    Here’s the kicker, I know I need to gain weight. I have been only doing bodybuilding weightlifting to gain muscle three days a week. I am currently 81lbs or so. Can you please, please help me?


    I am so tired of looking thin and fragile. Bring on the (muscle) gains!!
    P.S. I am not tired, I am very energetic and always on the go.

    • Hi Diana,

      At your weight eating 1300-1500 calories you should be gaining weight (just shy of a pound a week). If this is what you are eating and are not gaining weight, I would first guess that you are not accurately measuring your intake. That aside, in order to gain weight and build muscle, you simply need to eat more. Try adding something additional each day for a week say a piece of fruit which would be approximately 100 additional calories. If you do not start to see any weight gain, add something else to your daily intake, say a tablespoon of peanut butter (another 100 calories). Keep increasing your intake slowly until you start to see your weight increase then hold at those calories until you stop gaining and slowly add more again.

  25. sofi says:

    Hi I’m really impressed with all the responses you’ve given people and hope you can help me too. I’m 24 yrs old, 5’7 and 106lbs but I also suffer from bad peripheral edema so I’m not sure how much I truly weigh. I’ve had anorexia for 8 yrs and want to get healthy again. Before I swelled up I was maintaining 94 lbs eating 1400 calories 5 days a week and then 2000 calories twice a week. I was doing about 30 to 40 min of dance every day. Although nothing too intense. Now I’m 106 and maintaining on 1500 to 1700 doing no exercise. I’m stuck at home since the edema is painful to go out. I’m interested in upping my calories but don’t want to gain tons of fat. I eat only turkey breast meat, tuna and salmon along with a 2 – 3 tbsp of almond butter a day and cucumbers….I have limited food choices due to severe ibs from the eating disorder. I almost always ate above 1300 calories throughout my anorexia. Only a few time I ate 800 to 1000. I’m not sure if my metabolism is slow. I always feel hot. I don’t eat carbs so I’m wondering how to increase it with ought gaining. I’ve read lots about how you shouldn’t combine fat and carbs because it causes rapid fat gain. Sorry if I was all over the place. If you can give any insight I would appreciate it.

    • Hello Sofi,

      I am glad to hear you are doing better with your ED. However I am not sure you are actually going to be able to accomplish what you have set as your goal. At 106 pounds maintenance calories would typically be somewhere between 1400-1500 and you said you are currently eating 1500-1700 and maintaining weight. I do not see it very likely that you will be able to push your metabolism any further keeping your weight the same. I do not know your body composition so I am not able to suggest trying to increase your weight or simply maintain. Personally as far as eating fats and carbs at the same time causing fat gain – I don’t believe it, I honestly eat every combination of macro nutrients all the time and never see any difference at all.

      • sofi says:

        Thank you for responding.
        Would it be possible that I could increase my metabolism? I have maintained 96lbs eating 1500 to 1600. So I thought there was a possibility I could raise my calories to 2000 and maintain. My whole family is naturally very skinny. They all eat alot. My oldest brother is 6’2 and 145lbs. He has to eat like a lion to keep on the weight. He’s super lean and muscular. Any ways I’m getting off track.. would it be possible you can give suggestions of what kind of macros I should eat? And whether I should exercise? I only do light walking because I’m on my feet all day taking care of my grandparents and little brother. I eat super low carb. I just raised my carbs to 60 up from 30 g …yikes. I tend to over eat lean protein. Like 200g 😛 thank you

        • Hey Sofi,

          I would always advocate for exercise. Physical activity is great for all around health not just losing weight. As far as raising your metabolism, I would wager a guess that it is fairly likely that you are not accurately measuring and tracking your intake. I would bet that you are actually consuming less than you believe. However, if this is not the case, then you are one of the fortunate VERY few. Even if you are inaccurately tracking your food as long as you are doing it consistently it doesn’t really matter and you can use reverse dieting to try and further increase your caloric intake. According to your current macros, it sounds like you should be looking to bump up those carbs big time. If you need more specific guidance with actual calories and macro nutrient splits, please check out our nutrition coaching offerings.

  26. Andrea says:

    Hello, I’m a 5’7 female weighing in at 108 lbs. I used to weigh about 130lb in 2009 and I went on a diet in May of 2010 where I got down to 117 LB by eating 4 meals a day : 4oz egg whites , 4 oz cottage cheese and 1 oz almonds, and 5 cups of spinach/ mixed greens salad no dressing and 6 oz chicken,. I’d say it was around 1400 a day. Everything was going great, I was maintaining my weight and going to the gym 6x a week (1hr eliptical and 30 minutes of full body weightlifting.) then my mother was diagnosed with a serious illness and I fell off the wagon with my fitness routine. I became depressed and for all of 2013 I would eat very sporadically, lost my period, and I would work out only 3 times a week.
    Then in January of 2014 I took it too far and began to eat very little. For example my daily intake: 4oz chipotle chicken and 4oz of grilled veggies (400 cal) and 100 cal worth of those dried seaweed snacks (4g carbs total and about 6g fat). Also I did the elliptical for 2 hours a day and chewed a pack of sugar free gum a day.
    My weight would fluctuate from 104-110 during this time.

    Now in June 2014 I want to make a change and be healthy. I want to be a teacher and I’m going to start an intense program in September. I won’t have time for my daily 2 hour workouts! So I have started my reverse diet, very slowly, because I do not want to suddenly pack on the weight.
    Ex: for the past week I have been doing 1 hr and 40 min on the elliptical for 6 days a week, which means I took 20 minutes off. So next week I will take another 15 minutes off of my routine. (So 1hr and 25 minutes a day on the elliptical) I also added in 3 days of weight training for 35 minutes each (after my cardio).

    I also added 4 oz of egg whites because I had almost no protein ! My protein was only about 30 g a day and I still wasn’t super thin . I was flabby, whereas in 2011 when I was eating more and exercising less (or smarter because I was building muscle) I had a nice flat and toned stomach.

    So I’m asking for some help or advice. From my understanding, since I’m not gaining weight (even with less cardio and the extra 50 cal), I’m still at 108lb. Would my plan to continue cutting 15 minutes off of my cardio(until I get to 1 hour max), and adding about 50 more calories a week, sound like something that is manageable? My goal is to be more toned but not to gain much weight. I’d be fine with 5 extra pounds. Do I keep weighing myself each week and balancing out my intake or excercise?

    So my dream/goal would be to be around 108-110lb wit 45 min of cardio & 35 min of weightlifting 3 times a week and a nice balance of food intake. Please help let me know if what I’m saying makes any sort of sense. I feel like I’m obsessing over something trivial, but it would finally like to be comfortable. I understand that it takes time to accomplish, I’m just frustrated because I had what I wanted with fitness/body image in 2011 and now I can’t seem to find my way back without beating myself up.

    Thank you for all of your sound advice and help! You’re so kind.

    • Hey Andrea,

      Well the good news is that it sounds like you have decided to change your life for a healthier option. Also, it sounds like the methodology you are taking is gong to be effective. I agree with what you are doing; continuing to slowly increase your calorie intake and decrease your cardio. Once you have achieved the more manageable exercise routine and more appropriate nutritional intake, I would then suggest you start swapping out some cardio for weight training. In most cases I find that people interested in a particular type of body don’t realize that the real way to get there is to build muscle tone through weight training versus simply maintaining a low body weight through extensive cardio. Best of luck and thank you for your comment.

      • Andrea says:

        Thank you for your advice. So with the increase in muscle building and weight lifting, what would be a reasonable amount per week to see a difference in a few months? (I know it takes time) i

        Would you say that starting to lift weights (full body circuit) for 1 hour, 4x a week on opposite days (MWFS), will be enough to achieve that toned look? And help with my fat loss. I found that decreasing calories and increasing cardio only made me very thin and a bit flabby in wrong places( like my arms and belly)

        • Hi Andrea,

          With reverse dieting you should be maintaining weight, so no change. However after you have reached your limit you will start to see your weight increase slowly. This is how you will build muscle from weight training. Building muscle will allow you to achieve the “toned” look versus the skinny look. Inevitably you will also gain some fat with this new muscle but that is to be expected. Simply continue on this path until you have gained more fat than is reasonable and then you will want to slowly come back to a calorie deficiency to eliminate the fat and start the cycle over again. It is a slow process but that is the way the body works. Add fat and muscle, remove fat, add fat and muscle, remove fat, again and again until you are happy with your body composition.

    • Lindsay says:

      I can and am relating to everything Andrea is saying. Im currently in the same boat except I dont exercise currently and Im about 5’4.5″.
      Im trying desperately to calculate my macros for reverse dieting and it is confusing. When I see it written to slowlt increase “PER WK” DOES THAT MEAN U INCREASE YOUR WK BY 30 EXTRA CARBS ÷ 7 days or 30 xtra carbs per day the first wk…then wk 2 increase more

      My cal are low and so is my protein…fat…im ready to change and adapt to this Reverse Dieting. THANKS IN ADVANCE!!

      • Hello Lindsay,

        When calculating for reverse dieting, actually for virtually any nutritional calculation, usually calories and macros are discussed in daily increments. So each week you would adjust your daily intake by 30 extra carbohydrates. For example, each Sunday you increase what you have eaten each day by 30 carbs until the next Sunday when you will increase it again. Hopefully this helps to clear things up for you.

        • Lindsay says:

          Thank You. I think it does! Its just a matter of figuring out that starting pt and building from there. I know from yrs of being in the figure world compiled with the last few yrs of sinking back into an ED I have a major rd ahead..again its just getting that starting pt which always confuses me as far as how much p/c/f I need esp from being so restrictive in all areas!

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  28. Ashley says:

    Hi there! Thank you so much for this informative article. I found it googling–you’re at the top! Here is my question–I have been battling an ED for 4 years now. I am now at a healthy weight (approx 120 lbs and 5’4″). However, I am still overexercising and not taking in as many calories as normal just to maintain. I do anywhere from 1.5-2 hours of high intensity cardio 6 days a week, plus 3 days of lifting with a trainer for an hour each day–circuit style. I also do some occasional hour long walks at approx 4 mph. I am now working on reverse dieting to restore my metabolism. I want to cut back on the cardio and focus on heavy lifting. My ideal workout would be 6 days of lifting and 3 days of HIIT or 6 days of lifting and 4-5 days of hour long moderate intensity cardio. Contrary to most, I actually like cardio–I think it’s the endorphins. I eat approximately 1200-1300 calories a day–mostly protein and green vegetables, and I allow myself an apple as my fruit. I try to avoid any processed foods, although peanut butter and I have a love/hate relationship right now. I do measure and track everything I eat. My concern is going down in the cardio and putting on a ton of weight while reverse dieting. I know that I will probably gain some weight-I am not naive–however, I would like it to be more in the realm of lean muscle rather than a ton of fat. If I cut back to an hour a day of cardio, along with 45 mins to an hour of lifting (with one rest day) what do you think my reasonable expectations would be if I start out at arou 1500 calories and go up from there?? Thank you so much for your time in reading this!

    • Hi Ashley,

      First congratulations on battling ED – not an easy task. To answer your question, I would personally take a stepped approach. Instead of adjusting multiple things at once, try adjusting one at a time. Adjust your exercise or nutrition first to see how that impacts things and then adjust the other second. Basically you are trying to find a balance between calorie burn and use. Since it is difficult to estimate calories burned maybe try jumping to your ideal exercise plan and see how your body reacts given your nutrition for a few weeks.

  29. Lucero says:

    Hi! This article explains a lot but I’m still confused as to what is best that I do. I want to grow and put on muscle and then maybe lean out for first time comp…for the past months I’ve been on and off on my eating habits. When I do try to stick with my macros, meaning I weigh and measure everything I put in my mouth.. I’m hitting for 50gF/125gP/125gC. I may be under eating? Not sure. I’m a 21 yr female, 5’3, weigh 147 lbs, and starting back again to lift weights 5-6 times a week. I’m not sure if I should stick to those numbers or figure out others numbers as to my starting point with reverse dieting? Thanks for the help!

    • Hello Lucero,

      It sounds like you have been inconsistent with your nutrition. For this reason I would not say that reverse dieting is the optimal choice for you at this point. I would suggest looking into the nutrition coaching we offer to help get you on track and keep you on track to achieving your goals.

  30. Jay says:

    I would like to increase my metabolic capicity as I am only eating 1300 calories a day with one refeed, not trying to get leaner but just get more food in so when i have time to cut i have food to take from…are refeeds still implemented with reverse dieting?

  31. Jay says:

    do you refeed while reverse dieting?

    • Hello Jay,

      Good question. No. Refeeding is done to stimulate the body’s leptin production while on a calorie deficiency. Reverse dieting slowly increases your calories up to and above maintenance which should also increase leptin levels.

  32. sophie says:

    HI ,

    Im 5,7 I weigh 60kg I started the gym and lost only 4kg in 3 months what’s not so great but I do have 2 cheap meals on a sat and sun and have to take 2 a little chocolate sometimes like a cube or two , I am worried that reverse dieting will make me gain weight or not feel flat is this possible ? also can you recommend anyone that would be able to give me a plan for reverse and cutting ?

    • Hi Sophie,

      First, losing 4kg in 3 months is actually good. Losing weight slowly is arguably the best method as it is least traumatic on your body and will allow you to maximize your fat loss while minimizing your muscle loss. If you are comfortable with your current weight and body composition, reverse dieting done correctly will not cause you to gain weight as the concept of the methodology is to increase your caloric intake while maintaining weight. As for a recommendation on a plan, please email me and I can talk to you about our nutrition coaching options.

  33. Leena says:

    I’ve been reverse dieting for about two months now and I’ve gained 3 lbs.! I can tell it’s not just water weight because my clothes fits tighter. I started at 1400 calories (which I had been consuming for about 5 months now to maintain at 116 lbs.) I’ve been adding about 30 calories a week but for my height and activity levels I’m still much under my assumed maintenance calories.(I’m 5″1′ and do moderate exercise 5x a week.) What am I doing wrong? Am I stuck at 1400 for the rest of my life?

    • Hello Leena,

      My first question would be are you sure you are consuming 1400 calories? If you are not measuring and weighing your food I would wager to guess that you are consuming more than 1400 calories. Since your maintenance is 1600+ then at 1400 you would be losing weight and you had indicated that you have actually gained 3 pounds. It is very often I find clients claiming they are eating a certain number of calories when in reality there is a great deal of approximation on intake going on and they are actually consuming more calories than they believe.

  34. Linda says:

    I have been dieting for a long time and lost over 20 kg ( dont know what that is in ibs). i Cut down to 1500-1600 kcal a day and that worked great, but the longer time that went by my weight lost slowed down and then I hit plateau. I got help from an online coach who had me on 1000 kcal a day with a minimum of 2 hours of cardio plus 1 hour weightlifting. In four weeks I only lost 1.3 kg and now two week after I’m currently eating 1200 kcal a day, which he told me is what I need to maintain my current weight. I’m really into iifym and flexible dieting but you can’t be very flexible with 1200 kcal. The plan was to lean out for summer then go on a light bulk wintertime to build a booty :) but im having trouble losing weight and fat%. So my question is: should I go on a reverse diet now and then start dropping or wait until after summer and when I hit my maintenance calorie go straight into bulk? Because I really don’t want to risk gaining wait before summer! I’m wondering if there is enough time to slowly build up my metabolism and hitting my maintenance and dropping the weight before bikini season 😉

    • Hello Linda,

      20 kg is 40 pounds – which is significant weight loss. Without knowing your current weight I cannot understand what type of a calorie intake 1200 calories is for you. If you have been dieting for a long time, reverse dieting is a great way to recover your metabolism and then you can simply transition into a bulk. I am not sure when bikini season is for you but reverse dieting and bulking take time and so does cutting if you want to do everything properly and as healthy as possible. I would really need more details about your time frame and your current situation to give you better advice.

      • Linda says:

        I currently weigh between 64-65 kg and I’m 176 cm so I’m not overweight I just want to drop in fat%. and bikini season was maybe the wrong term but I meant during summer season which in Sweden is June – August. But I am more focused on getting my metabolism on track so if it take longer, so be it. I really don’t have a clue on how long it takes but I am ready to give it time

        • Hey Linda,

          I would recommend reverse dieting for some time and then transitioning in a bulking period. The timing may not line up for you but in the end you will likely be more pleased with the results.

  35. Helena says:

    Hi there,
    Thank you for this great information. I am 18, 150ish lbs, and have a screwed up metabolism after recovering from anorexia. I want to try this to increase my metabolism, and get it back to a normal, fit person of my weight and height and age. I also want to lose 10 lbs in healthy way after struggling with metabolic damage relapse weight. As of now my RMR is 1500, 4% below average :( I want it to be the normal, about 1800. Will this work for that? Or have I already found my “max maintenance” by knowing my RMR, and I can only lose weight by doing a calorie deficit?

    • Hi Helena,

      I am sorry you have been battling an eating disorder. Unfortunately the only way to lose weight is eating under your maintenance calories. However, coming from battling an eating disorder, it would seem logical to apply reverse dieting to strengthen your metabolism. Reverse dieting is not going to allow you to lose weight, but it will likely be the best way to get you into a more healthy state.

  36. nicole says:

    Hey Jason,
    Funny I googled reverse dieting to find the first site written by you, used to go to my gym. I am currently 6 weeks in my first cut and have not seen the scale go downward at all although I seemed to have gained a good amount of muscle. Im 25 5’5 132 lbs. Lift heavy 5days a week. IM taking in 1300 CALS per day. P/C/F IS 40/40/20. Because I not losing any actual weight, should I consider reverse dieting? I am just so confused by at such a deficit how could my numbers not be going down. Any suggestion is appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hey Nicole,

      Small world – glad to be the top page for a google search :) I moved a while ago which lead to me changing gyms. It sounds like you are on track with a pound a week deficit so my first question would be are you really eating 1300 calories? Meaning are you measuring and weighing food? Under estimation of intake is typically the reason for stalling in weight loss when something doesn’t seem to add up. For example, what you eyeball as a serving of peanut butter usually turns out to be two + servings which can be a 200+ calorie miscalculation.

      • nicole says:

        Thanks for you response. Since the beginning of this cut I have been measuring out and weighing EVERYHING doing meal prep multiple times a week and entering everything my food log. Is it possible that I am gaining muscle at the same rate I’m losing fat causing my weight to stay the same? I’ve heard that is possible during a cut but extremely difficult and rare.

        • Hi Nicole,

          Honestly it is fairly unlikely that is the case, especially at the rate of calorie deficiency you are at as it would mean you are gaining a pound of muscle a week which is pretty difficult. If you are 100% sure you are recording your intake correctly it is possible you are on too much of a deficit when you factor in calories burned from exercise and your body is low on leptin causing it to go into “starvation mode”. Are you saying that in 6 weeks of 1300 calories you have not lost a single pound? If that is the case I would need to take a look at your food logs to give you a better assessment because that would mean something is not adding up.

          • nicole says:

            I was afraid that I might be at too much of a deficit. That is why I looked into reverse dieting. But yes to answer your question.. Eating at 1300 cals a day for 6weeks I have not lost a single pound but I feel much leaner.

          • Hey Nicole,

            I don’t necessarily know that it is too much, as that should theoretically net you one pound a week weight loss and at that deficit for 6 weeks you should have lost something, which means to me that something is not adding up. I would suggest recording everything you eat including anything like a cheat meal. However I am not a big fan of cheat meals as I prefer to make what you want fit into your nutrition plan and for long periods of dieting to incorporate refedding. It is not likely that your one cheat meal is 3,500 calories (although there is potential especially if you go out to eat and include drinks and dessert in the meal), so I am still feeling as though something is off with your estimation of your intake. If you would like to email me your logs ( I can take a look and offer advice if you are interested in nutrition coaching.

          • nicole says:

            I do have 1 cheat meal a week but it is only 1 meal not a day and I do not go crazy …just eat what ever it is that I am craving. Sometimes that means even a salad with grilled chicken sometimes is some pizza. I never add in my cheat meal though …maybe I should start

  37. Victoria says:

    I am wondering if this reverse dieting is for me. I’m currently 6’4 and only weigh 150lbs. I have been trying to increase my caloric intake but can’t seem to gain the pounds I lost, back. I am also a very active athlete which makes it hard for me to truly gain the weight I would like.
    Do you have any advice on what to do? Should I do this reverse dieting?

    • Hi Victoria,

      If your goal is to gain weight then NO, reverse dieting is not for you. The goal of reverse dieting is to maintain weight. With your goal of trying to increase weight you simply need to eat more calories. Eating more calories than your body burns will cause you to gain weight. As someone who struggled to gain weight in the past I realized I needed to eat more calorie dense foods. Be sure to get plenty of healthy fats and complex carbohydrates (for example peanut butter and sweet potatoes) as they should help you to start gaining weight.

  38. Christine says:

    Hi Ryan Jason,

    Great article. I’m a little lost right now in terms of dieting. I cut back from 29.8% bf to 24% since last May. I had significant improvements after meticulously counting my macros with 1000-1200 cals 40/40/20 c/p/f ratio. Made insane lean gains within a short amount of time. I had a bit of an emotional crisis and used food to compensate…so I fell off the wagon, put of 5lbs, and I am now sitting at a plateau. I decided last month to go low carb, after I tried and miserably failed last summer because I didn’t know how to count my macros. I definitely leaned out a little bit, but energy was limiting. I was lead astray by some online articles so I decided to go back to 40/40/20. Didn’t notice too many changes, I had more energy, but was not getting leaner or gaining weight. About a week and a half ago I went back into low carb (1080 cal 15/40/45 CFP 20g net carbs) and just had a refeed today. I was on vacation, and stuck to my 20-25 net carbs but didn’t really fill the rest of my calories too well (around 700-1000)because I wasn’t going to the gym, just lots of walking. Now that I know about reverse dieting. Do you think it would be a good idea at the point I’m at right now, or should I continue low carb for longer until I reach my goal body fat? I realize that I messed up back when I cut my cals right down to 1000, because with my activity and high intensity workouts I should be around 2400cals, or at least 1680 ‘if dieting aggressively’. I’d like to get up to that level because food is great, but I’d like to stay lean and potentially cut down to 17-18% bf. (I’m 5’7 143lbs around 24% body fat, lift heavy weights ~4-6x/week and cardio every weightlifting day 20-30mins ~350cals burned)


    • Hello Christine,

      When I read your comment, what concerns me most is that you have jumped and altered your nutrition plan quite frequently in what seems like a short period of time. My suggestion would be to stick with something that seems to make sense to you for a set period of time (maybe 3 months depending on what your goals are and what plan you choose to follow). If you need someone to help you more specifically with your goals, I would suggest checking out our nutrition coaching options.

  39. Ryan says:

    Thank you for the great article! I was hoping to further get some advice. I’m 6ft 247lbs 31 years old. Been attempting to cut on 2100 cals. Struggling to lose anything. Maybe 10 lbs in 6 months. I weigh my food and track macros carefully, weight train 5-6 days a week. HIIT cardio 15 min x 3 days a week. Almost 2 gallons of water a day. HOWEVER 2 years ago used an ECA stack for 4 months and pretty much didn’t eat anything, KETO diet. Got down to 195lbs. I currently eat healthy and workout, been tested for thyroid issue but came back negative.

    I think I may have screwed up my metabolism. Do you recommend I reverse diet and then try cutting? Or jump up to my maint calories then try a deficit for cut? Current body fat is 25. So def need to lose weight. What are your thoughts?

    • Hello Ryan,

      It sounds to me like you are on TOO drastic of a calorie deficiency and your body has taken this as a sign of starvation. If you have been eating 210 calories for 6 months, I would suggest reverse dieting back up to maintenance and then applying a milder deficiency (500 calories). I think you will get better results. Best of luck and please feel free to share your progress.

      • Ryan says:

        Thank you, exactly what I thought you would say. Will start reverse dieting and update you and everyone here.

        • Hey Ryan,

          I am always trying to share more first hand experience. If you consistently track data on your weight, body fat, food intake etc and would be interested in sharing, feel free to email me and maybe we can put something together to share your experience.

          • Ryan says:

            Hey Jason,

            Just wanted to follow up with you. Been reverse dieting now for 6 weeks. Started off 2100 calories and currently at 2700. I am currently eating 250+ grams of carbs a day. And I’ve lost about 10-12 lbs. My body is responding well to the reverse on IIFYM. Still able to eat pizza, ice cream, etc and been getting great gains in my lean muscle, PRs on lifts up too. Just want to say thank you for your help. When I end my reverse, hopefully around June sometime and at 3000-3100 cal, I will email you all my info. Thanks again

          • Hey Ryan,

            Thank you for following up and I am glad to hear that everything is working out well for you. IIFYM and reverse dieting are awesome tools when utilized and can really take the headache out of achieving your goals. Keep up the good work and be sure to follow up again!

  40. Farah says:

    Hey there, I’ve recently started reverse dieting. I lost a significant amount of weight and doing that noticed I had required a very slow metabolism. I have now gained my cals from 1000-1200 to 1600 and in 2 weeks have gained a pound :/
    Am I doing this right and will I lose the weight?

    • Hello Farah,

      Unfortunately it sounds like you have miss interpreted what reverse dieting is used to achieve. I would suggest you read our other post: What Reverse Dieting is NOT

    • Farah says:

      Ah now I understand I should of slowly increases my calories not such a drastic increase damn. What do you recommend I do now …
      Would really appreciate some advice!

      • Hi Farah,

        I am not sure what your weight is or what your specific goals are but it seems you have increased your calories at least 500 which is typically enough to put on a pound a week. If your goal is not to gain weight then you have increased your calories too much. If you are interested in more specific and tailored information you can visit the nutrition coaching section of our site.

        • Farah says:

          I am just trying to maintain my weight currently to fix my metabolism then start cutting again at a later date to lose some more weight/ body fat and get lean. I am 5ft 3 and 124lb

          • Hi Farah,

            At this point I would suggest eating your maintenance (estimated as body weight x 14) for a few weeks and see if you are able to maintain weight. Then after a few weeks of status quo apply a mild calorie deficiency to lose body fat.

          • Farah says:

            Thanks ao much for the advice but what would you suggest doing if I continued gaining? Sorry for all the questions farah

          • Hey Farah,

            No problem. If you continue gaining than you are consuming more calories than you are burning and in order to remain at a constant weight you would either need to eat less calories or burn more to compensate.

  41. Dragana says:

    Firstly thanks for the informative post.

    I am currently in my second week of reverse dieting (in a 12 week plan) and have a few questions.
    I was eating 1100-1200 calories for about a year and a half. The restrictive diet was very (EXTREMELY) low on carbs. My carbs now are meant to be around 120g (compared to 25g).
    My weight is slightly up this week, but I know for sure I can’t have gained 2kg in a week, seeing as I’ve been eating at 1300.
    My question is – is water retention and bloating from increased carbs common on reverse dieting, and how long does it take for this to settle?

    • Hello Dragana,

      More than likely you are experiencing water retention due to the increase in carbohydrates. My first suggestion would be to keep your calories constant for another week, observe your weight change, and adjust accordingly. It may take your body more time to adjust to the change in diet, or it may be more beneficial for you to increase by a smaller amount to allow your body less of a change to deal with at a time. Best of luck and keep up the progress!

  42. Andrea says:


    I am kind of new to all this IFYM and reverse diet! I am a cronic dieter but in the last 5 months I gained almost All the weight i had lost in my last diet. Now I want to lose this fat eating more! I am 5’6 and 145 but I want to lose 15 lbs. What can I do? Should I add calories or just eat for maintaince for a while and then cut a little? I am sedentary but do a few hitts once in a while. Thanks :)

    • Hi Andrea,

      Unfortunately it sounds like you have miss interpreted the post. Reverse dieting is a method to slowly recover your metabolism following a drastic period of a calorie restricted diet. It is NOT a way to lose weight – please see our other posting:

  43. Mack says:

    Hi I just read your article and was intrigued to give it a try I’m 5’9 and weigh 124 pounds. I’m battling an eating disorder I currently allow myself no more than 1000 calories a day most come from carbs. If I go over I take laxatives. I need your help because this is unsafe but I don’t want to gain any weight I want to maintain it an my measurements. I do very little exercise, how should I go about reverse dieting to get my body out of starvation mode but not gain anything back?

    • Hi Mack,

      First, you should look for professional assistance to help you with your struggle. For your height, your weight seems dangerously low. I would suggest slowly adding more calories to your daily intake. Eventually you will gain weight (at your height you should be weighing more) but it will be with minimal fat gain. Applying resistance training while gaining weight should help you build muscle and keep you looking ideal in your eyes. Your current situation does not sound healthy to me and I strongly urge you to reach out for professional assistance so that you are better able to cope with the mental struggle and start to live a healthier lifestyle. The mental struggle with your eating disorder should be your highest priority right now.

  44. Annie says:

    Hi there
    First I would like to say its very impressive to see someone answer all the posts that come up,helping so many people is fantastic!
    I wonder would you advise me…I’m at the end and don’t know where to go for help.
    For years I just wanted to lose about 10 pounds after having my five children.
    I’m 44 and 5’2 and weigh 126 pounds.
    I’m not joking when I say I’ve been trying to lose this weight for 8-10 years!
    I eat clean with my macros at 40/40/20.%.
    I’ve been eating 1200 calories for at least the last 18 months and training 5 days a week cardio for 40 mins and weights 30 mins.
    I also walk 2 miles a day but don’t count this in my cardio.
    I try so hard and get nowhere.I havnt dropped a pound!
    In the last two weeks I’ve gone up to 1450 calories at the same % macros but already my clothes are getting tighter!
    What I want to know ….to increase up to 1750 I’m sure I’ll get really fat….I can’t increase my cardio as I just don’t have time….but I want to lose fat and at 1200 I wSnt doing that.
    Should I just keep going with calories,Slam on weight and then start cutting but only a small amount?
    Thank you

    • Hi Annie,

      First I want to thank you for your kind words. I really do try and help as much as possible. Now to your question … At 126 pounds you are correct that you should be able to eat 1,750 calories (to stay at 126 pounds). Honestly in 99% of the situations like yours, the person is not accurately measuring their nutritional intake. Are you weighing your food to know that you are consuming the caloric intake you estimate? I would believe that at either 1,200 (which is a bit low) or 1,450 calories you should be losing weight. Try going out and getting an inexpensive food scale and weighing food for a week to determine if you are actually consuming what you expect. Trust me, my idea of 2 tbsp of peanut butter is certainly more than the actual 32 grams that it should be!

      • Annie says:

        Thanks a million for your reply!
        I really appreciate you getting back to me.
        You see that’s my problem!
        I weigh everything….even my vegetables,milk in my tea….it all gets measured and everything tracked on fit day!
        Even when I was eating 1200-1300 calories and since January I’ve increased my cardio to about 25-30 miles a week and I still havnt lost a pound!
        Weights not as consistent as cardio but on average 3 days a week.
        This week I’ve upped my calories to 1550….highest for years (except Xmas or holidays).
        I don’t drink…I have an under active thyroid but I’m being treated for that!
        Any advise!
        Thanks in advance

        • Hello Annie,

          I am sorry you are experiencing such troubles. Have you spoken to your doctor about your weight loss? If you are truly measuring and tracking everything while eating a calorie deficiency, you should be losing weight. Your thyroid issues or medication could be contributing to your struggle. I would first suggest discussing the situation with your doctor to be sure that you are not trying to fight an uphill battle without being fully prepared.

  45. CS says:

    Thank you for an informing blog post!

    I would like to start reverse dieting/IIFYM.

    I already eat pretty low carb, but I have PCOS and have been struggling to lose weight ever since I remember. Currently I am doing the “5:2 fast diet” – where I “fast” 3 days a week (eating 500 calories) and eating 1400 calories on non-fast days. I do lose weight on this – however, I leaves me energy-drained due to the low overall calorie intake.

    So my questions is: how do I transition from fasting to reverse dieting? Should I just go and add 50-100 calories a week – or does it have to be eg. on my fast day that I only increase calories in the beginning?

    I am afraid to gain weight, since I have been eating low calorie for months now/low calorie for years. The PCOS does not help either – in fact I am very uncertain if it will even be possible to increase calories that much without gaining too much because of this stupid PCOS :/

    And how is reverse dieting done with regards to occasional meals that you dont know the calorie amount in? Would it hinder my progress if I add 50-100 calories pr week – and once in a while go out to dinner where I have to guesstimate the calorie intake – so the calories wouldnt be perfect on point?

    I mean, I am expecting that this process will take several months – and not to eat meals that are outside my calculations seem kind of unrealistic.

    So say I eat at at restaurant one meal some week – and I know that I went over my daily calorie intake – should I then not add any extra calories that week?

    Would love to hear your thoughts.

    PS: I workout 4 days a week, heavy strength training and recently started 3 HIIT sessions pr week. Looking to go from 144 pounds to around 115 at 5’5. I used to be 200 pounds.

    • Hello CS,

      Unfortunately I am not familiar with PCOS and am not a big fan of fasting type diets at all. I would recommend eating the same overall caloric intake in a more normal fashion with the same calorie intake each day. Then you can reverse diet from there. Eating out is a part of life, fortunately many places have their nutrition facts available pretty readily in trackers like myfitnesspal however when they are not available, you can simply guess. You are never going to be 100% perfect but you just aim for something … a grilled chicken salad at one place is not going to be exactly the same as another, however you can just make a rough guess as it will only be one meal a week which should not factor in all too much.

      Best of luck.

  46. Eliud says:

    Ok if I’m trying to gain muscle mass would the reverse dieting help and I weigh 174 so my calorie intake is 2,436 and I work out 3 times a week. So what would my calorie intake be I I do the reverse dieting

    • Hi Eliud,

      Reverse dieting is to allow you to transition from a calorie deficient diet. If you are looking to gain muscle mass you should be bulking or eating a calorie surplus diet. If you would like assistance with a nutrition plan we do offer nutrition coaching.

  47. Masha says:

    Hello! over the past year and half since i started working out and eating healthier , i started at 5’6 135 pounds and started out eating 1000-1200 calories at the time since i was misinformed and told that is how much my daily intake should be . how ever as i went on i started to get very tired and you know all faced all the other symptoms associated with under eating. for medical reasons i was weighed by a doctor in july in which i came in at 95 pounds. i started to eat more and went up to 110, but that was when i was diagnosed with anorexia . im in recovery for anorexia and have hit about 118 pounds (that is my estimate since i dont weight myself) my goal is 1500 calories a day , 163C/119P/41F i am currently training for track and field 6 times a week. as soon as track and field ends which is end of april i will be weight training 6 times a week , do you think this is a suitable and healthy goal? my goal is not weight loss but increase in muscle mass with minimum fat gain (or even fat loss) i really appreciate the time and effort you put in replying to the many posts you get ! thank you!

    • Hi Masha,

      Congratulations on your battle with anorexia. Your goal sounds appropriate to me. In order to gain muscle mass you will need to eat more than your maintenance calories. This may be difficult for you given your situation however your body needs the fuel to build muscle. I would suggest slowly increasing your calories just as you would with reverse dieting until you notice weight gain. Understanding that you do not weigh yourself it may be difficult to analyze weight gain. However you may be able to factor in other ways to determine this, possibly through strength gain in your lifts? Sorry I do not have better advice for this part.

  48. Anum says:

    This article is super informative, thank you! I have a question regarding my process of reverse dieting…so to begin with, my maintenance level would be my weight (lbs) multiplied by 15 (I weight train 5 days a week and do interval training). I’m 130 pounds so I get 1950 calories. I currently eat 1600 calories, and I’m trying to go up gradually. Once I hit 1950, however, is that the point at which I decide to either continue increasing, or, start decreasing from there?
    The thing is though, I especially don’t want to gain weight within the next two months, and want to only increase muscle mass if possible (big event coming up). So for this goal, should I still attempt reverse dieting during this time? Or should I stay around 1600 right now, and cut from there for this two-month goal?
    Thank you!

    • Anum says:

      To specify, at the END of these two months I want to lose fat and maintain or gain muscle, and look leaner over all. Also, if it helps, I’m a female with a fairly active lifestyle in addition to my workout routine

    • Hello Anum,

      The goal of reverse dieting is to increase your caloric intake without altering your weight. The end of a reverse diet is signified by your body adding weight, not at a specific caloric intake. Additionally, it seems you may have a slight misunderstanding in the abilities to alter your weight. You are unable to increase muscle mass without a caloric surplus, and this would lead to increased weight – something you said you are not interested in for the next two months. Compounding this, at the end of your two months you are looking to lose fat and gain muscle. Unfortunately this is not possible to do at the same time, you must do one first and then the other. Losing body fat is done through eating a calorie deficiency while increasing muscle is done by eating a calorie surplus – see why you cannot do them at the same time :) I would suggest reverse dieting slowly for the next two months then choosing what is more important (losing body fat or gaining muscle) and then adjust your nutrition plan accordingly afterwards.

      • Anum says:

        Thank you! So when it comes to cutting, would I just be cutting carbs rather than protein/fat? I’ve heard that initially cutting down 10-15% of your maintenance calories is a good way to start, rather than slowly decreasing calories – what do you think?

        • Hey Anum,

          In my opinion it is not as clear cut as just cutting carbs, but that is why we offer nutrition coaching. A drastic cut in calories can work but depending on your goals it is not always the best situation.

  49. stephanie burgos says:

    Hi! Thank you so much for your article! I read in one of the comments that you said that a rough way to calculate maintenance would be to multiply your weight by 14. I weigh 152 pounds and am 5’8 and 29 yrs old.. i was wondering if by multiplying by 14 am I calculating my maintenance i would need if i were not doing any exercise? Thank you

    • Hello Stephanie,

      You are correct, the estimate of the 14 multiplier is without incorporating exercise. To be most accurate you would need to adjust for any calorie burn as a result of exercise.

  50. Magen says:

    I get the concept of reverse dieting, but what I’d like to know is how slowly should you go about reducing the cardio you did prior to stage time? Should it be reduced in terms of sessions or in terms of minutes?

    • Hi Magen,

      Typically you would begin to reverse diet AFTER stage not before. Reduction is up to you. Depending on how much cardio you are doing you could simply drop it all together or if you are doing significant amounts you could drop it more gradually as you would with adding food.

  51. Jonah says:

    hey… I’m just curious your thoughts about free meals or days while reverse dieting… OR if I should wait out the 12 weeks… this my fourth week on the RD, and I’m looking for a mental break where I don’t need to count ANYTHING if at least for one meal lol

    • Hey Jonah,

      I am not really a fan of cheat meals or days but if you are mentally stressing that bad, a single meal shouldn’t have much of an effect. If you need it for mental stability go for it.

  52. Nicole says:

    I just heard about reverse dieting and found this page while researching it more. I want to do this! My question is… In addition to weight training, I’m a distance runner. Almost weekly I have a long run or race where I’ll burn 800-1200 calories. On those days should I eat more or stay at the current calorie and macro limit for that week?

  53. Lindsay says:

    I know this has to be the successful tool and aid in my recovery from anorexia. I am trying to learn as much as possible as calculating macros etc has. Always confused me. Exactly why I had a trained professional for competing : /

  54. Danielle says:

    Hi there!!
    This is so damn interesting. I am a former NPC figure competitor and I am so used to the starvation dieting. I have been hearing about this if it fits your macros but I have no idea what to do. I want to bulk and out on muscle as I just had a baby 4 months ago and atrophied quiet a bit. Does this style of dieting require calorie counting each day? If so, can you eat the same things each day to make it easier? I do have a 4 month old and I go to school full time so hopefully there is a way to implement this so that it works!! Thanks !!

    • Hi Danielle,

      Congratulations! This nutrition methodology typically does include calorie counting (or macro nutrient counting, which is virtually the same thing). You can but are not limited to eating the same thing each day. The concept is that you do not need to eat the same thing but many like myself stick to a pretty standard daily intake.

      • Danielle says:

        Thank you!!! Motherhood is amazing but very demanding and time consuming :) ha! So, how do I go about starting this to see where my maintenance calories are? Is that what I need to determine first to then move on to a bulk?? Thank you so much!!! :)

  55. Benny says:

    I workout 6 times a week, 4 days of weight training and 2 times of cardio an hour each. I ate 3000+ calories during my bulk and I weight about 82kg, 5ft 5. But then I have been dieting for 3 months now, eating at about 1700 calories and have lost 10kg so far… However, I think I have potentially damaged my metabolism as I also binged a lot food every Monday. Right now I’m only eating 190carbs/140protein/36fat & what should I do to get my metabolism back on track? Would it be possible for me to increase a bit of calories whilst trying to lose fat? And also, how can I reverse back to maintenance and keep at it?


  56. Annah says:

    Hi there, just a question, any recomendations for amount of exercise to do whilst reverse dieting? How much steady state cardio is too much? Same for HIIT?

    Thanks, great article:)

    • Hey Annah,

      No recommendations, you can continue to do the same exercise protocol you had been doing prior. There is not really “too much” exercise, but you will need to offset additional exercise with additional food intake. Remember you are trying to increase the amount of calories your body requires for maintenance so you do not want to be eating less calories than you are burning.

  57. Bobby says:

    this is a very interesting article and I wish I had read it just one week ago. I need some advice with what to do. I was in a competition one week ago, and since then have not followed a diet at all. I was dieting really low calories, like 1000/1100 per day, consisting of 90g protein, fluctuating carbs (low 100g, avg 125g, high 150g), and 15g fat. I stepped on stage at about 134 lbs and I’ve gained maybe 5 lbs since (yes, in less than a week), which I thought might have been my body holding on to some water, but I have been eating everything and almost can’t help myself. Question is, is it too late to start reverse dieting and how do I go about starting back into it now? Do I go back to my pre-contest diet first and let my body stabilize on that before reverse dieting? How fast should someone on low cals like mine increase? Thanks for any advice you have!

    • Hey Bobby,

      I would imagine that some damage may have already been done (but don’t cry over spilled milk). What I would suggest is to simply start eating your maintenance calories for your current weight. See if you can stabilize your weight and then try applying the reverse dieting principal. Depending on how your body reacts you can try increasing calories by 100 each week.

  58. Misty says:

    Hi Jason!
    I found this article to be VERY helpful and it’s so awesome that you are replying to people and actually taking an interest in them :) you don’t see that much just in a forum anymore!

    Anyways, I was wondering if you would be able to help me out a bit. My whole life I’ve been pretty small, eating whatever I feel like and maintaining a body weight of around 140lbs, I’m 5’8″, so I was pretty lean as well. I started a pretty restrictive diet last May (160g carbs, 135g protein, 30g fat) that I stuck to most of the time – I wanted to compete in a bikini competition. I was working out 5-6 days/week consistently lifting and about 20 minutes of cardio/day. I had no clue what macros were, so I was just given a meal plan and I swapped things out not knowing what the specific nutrient contents were – realizing now that I added A LOT of carbs without even knowing it… Long story short, I made progress for 8 weeks then wasn’t seeing the “ideal” fast results that someone wants to see, so I fell off the healthy eating train and tried to go back to my original “eat anything in sight” diet. Not a good idea.
    As you described above, I gained ALL the weight back plus more. The eating anything I wanted did not work anymore and I could tell just after a month of not eating healthy my clothes didn’t fit. So after that, I tried to go back to the original eating plan with a few more cheat meals and such… Still wasn’t seeing the results I wanted so I tried looking into IIFYM and learning about my body! I started lifting and attending the gym regularly and was instructed to keep my macros for 2 weeks at 181g carbs, 136g protein and 42g fat. I was absolutely starving on that, so the trainer upped my fats to 52g. Still extremely hungry, I fell off this eating plan as well, also because I was seeing bulk again after losing some from working out consistently again for 4 months. I didn’t like counting every macro every day either, especially with flexibility to eat candy and what not. I needed structure.
    Now the exact same thing is happening as what I described previously! I went back to eating basically whatever I wanted and am gaining weight plus way more… VERY quickly!
    I was wondering if you would be able to help me with the refeed/reverse dieting so I can get my metabolism back to where it was before I decided to damage it with this crazy process I’ve been going through!! It would be MUCH appreciated!

    Thank you so so much :)

    • Hi Misty,

      I try to respond to every contact we get from this blog :) so thank you for the kind words! We can certainly help you with a structured plan, just check out our nutrition coaching section, complete the form and we can take it from there. I look forward to working with you to reach your goals!

  59. Megan says:

    I’ve been looking into reverse dieting for a while now. I’ve dealt with anorexia for about 12 years, and this past year finally recovered. I went from 50-80lbs while in treatment, then once getting out I continued to gain up to 104 (I am about 5’1-5’2). Most of the last gain was done through a restrict, binge cycle while I was also heavily exercising-4-5 hot power yoga classes/week, weight training 1-3hours 5-6x/week, and doing cardio at least 20-60:00 5x/week.

    I’ve scaled back the binging a lot and I’m trying to eat about 1300c/day (although some days I go up to 1700-2200, or down to 900). The problem is, I still work out to the same degree (probably 5 hours/day) and I’m pretty sure I burn off more than 1300c. I’m not sure where to start…decreasing cardio and sticking to weights? or reverse dieting so I can eat 1700 and not gain. (Even 1300 seems to be making me gain slowly.) Ultimate goal is to lose about 5lbs, but I’m hesitant to eat under 1200 and there isn’t enough time in the day for me to increase exercise! haha
    any suggestions?

    • Hi Megan,

      Congratulations on he positive outcome in battling ED! I think you need to decide on a goal. If your goal is to eat more then focus on eating more – it sounds like you may want to consume more calories to compensate for additional cardio. However you cannot do this at the same time as trying to lose 5 pounds. You need to focus on a single goal at a time and adjust accordingly.

      • Megan says:

        Thank you for your response! My goal is definitely to lose weight, and in theory looking at what I’m eating and burning, I SHOULD be losing weight. But I’m not, which is a bit frustrating. I even used my polar fit one day at the gym and I burn a minimum of 1000 calories per workout usually (I do this 5 days/week) and my calories average about 1300-1500.

        • Hi Megan,

          Usually when the numbers don’t add up it is because the numbers are off. In most situations like this people are not accurately understanding the calories they intake and often are eating more than they realize.

    • Amy Baez says:

      I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist Megan, but I’m going to guess that you need to eat more than 1300 calories a day, especially if you are burning that many calories in a 3 hour workout. ED tells us that food is evil and controls us. but food is not the enemy, our minds are.

      I was once in the same mindset, but the binge/purge cycle was shorter and i couldnt not eat for long periods of time . i weighed 106 and I am 5’1″. yes there are different body types (i noticed we are the same height) and i definitely did NOT look well. i have gained about 15 pounds since recovering and lift 6 days a week with 4 30 minute cardio sessions. I am only 2 dress sizes bigger and have the energy to make it through the day and food no longer controls me. please know that the number on the scale means nothing. how is your health? how is your energy? how is your mind? these are questions that we need to be asking ourselves and not how good will we look when we finally lose the weight.

      • Megan says:

        Thank you Amy, I can completely relate to your words. But I’ve never been over 100 pounds in my entire life! People tell me all the time how amazing I look and how they wish they had as much energy and determination as me…because I “look healthy” everyone assumes I must be happy and out of my negative mindspace but if anything it’s worse.

        None of my clothes fit and I’m embarassed to go out anywhere. I am afraid I’ve screwed my body over with the amount of activity I do, damaging my metabolism. I want to just lose 5lbs and get back to what I think is my set point since I’m pretty sure I’ve gone over it messing with restricting binging and exercising. Physically I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, but mentally I’ve never been this discouraged or depressed.

        • Hey Megan,

          It sounds like you are getting pretty focused on the number on the scale rather than what you see in the mirror and your actual health. Try not to concern yourself with your relationship to 100 pounds. Health is much more important, no one can see the scale but you.

  60. Larry Howard says:

    Hey I have been doing reverse dieting for a while and I want to give my body a chance to get to a good homeostasis for weight loss. But I have a spartan race coming up in April and I know I need to drop weight. My coach has discouraged me from changing the diet because he feels I’m not ready to diet down but I need to lose weight so I am considering keeping my macros the same by implementing fasted cardio. Do you thing this will get the job done?

    • Hey Larry,

      I think you need to focus on a single goal at a time. If your coach is suggesting you do not drop calories, you need to either follow their direction or decide you are going to lose body fat and cut calories. Unfortunately you cannot do both.

  61. Alice says:

    Hi there! I have a couple questions for you. I’m a female that’s 5’0”, weighing in at 110 pounds. I do cardio for an hour 3x a week, while on my feet for atleast 30 mins on 2 other days of the week. I plan on incorporating 30 minute walks on the weekend. I don’t plan on lifting until I have leaned out, losing 10 pounds or so.

    My main questions:

    1. What would my calories/macros be? Trying to lose weight and all, I’ve used multiple calculators with a whole bunch of different results. I would really appreciate it if someone would be able to figure out exactly what my macros are :O I know my calories should be somewhere around 1200-1400.

    2. What would my keto macros be?

    3. Because I don’t lift heavy (yet), I understand that I don’t have glycogen to deplete. So I don’t do carbups? But I do cardio 3x week, so I’m unsure if I still do carbups or not?

    • Hi Alice,

      Macro-nutrient break outs should really be specific to the individual. Generalized ratios can be a good starting point but for best results they should be customized. Keto is a nutritional practice centered around the utlization of fats for energy as opposed to carbohydrates due to a limited carbohydrate intake. Your macros while following Keto would be extremely low on carbohydrate intake. In response to your question about lifting … why are you not lifting now? Even if your goal is to lose weight, lifting will also help you do that. As for “carbups” this tends to be interpreted differently by different people. I would recommend refeeding if you are eating at a calorie deficiency for an extended period of time. Best of luck!

  62. Kevin says:

    I am currently reverse dieting adding only about 1g-5g of carbs a week but I heard from someone that adding calories too slow will result in more body fat? Can you clear this up for me? The reason I am adding so little is to make sure I put on as little fat as possible. Thanks!

    • Hi Kevin,

      There have been no studies I have found that correlate slower calorie increase with increased body fat. I personally would feel the opposite to be true, however at only 1-5g increase that is almost painfully slow. Even if you are overly careful, you should be able to get away with 25g + without noticeable difference from your current rate. Best of luck!

  63. Tiffany says:

    Hi there! I apologize first of all for a potentially repetitive story :/ I know you have to read these a lot.

    I’ll keep my story as short as possible. About a year ago I went on a super low cal/carb diet and lost about 15pounds but I was super underweight (108lbs,5’4)and most likely damaged my metabolism. I continued carb cycling until I was about 115lbs and mid summer I cracked. I ate whatever I wanted whenever but still worked out.I went up to about 119-121lbs. I dropped my calories back down for about a week or so at 1100cal and 70carbs. Then I heard about reverse dieting and boosting my metabolism back up so I decided to try it. I started August and ended 7 weeks ago. I went from 1100 cal, 70g carb to 1900 cal, 180g carb but I went from 121lbs to 136lbs. I didn’t like looking fluffy and thought I had finally fixed my metabolism. So I decided to cut 7 weeks ago. I have dropped about 7lbs. However, I’m only at about 1400 calories again…and I’m starting to plateau again when I’m supposed to be easily dropping fat.

    I most likely made a ton of mistakes while reverse dieting like increasing too fast..and plus I had only gotten a scale halfway through. Still, I thought I was making progress with my metabolism…sad to know that all that reverse dieting has gone to waste..

    So now I’m wondering if I should reverse diet again…I really hate to get back to how fluffy I was but right now I am depriving myself of carbs again…I was happy with my food intake when I was reverse dieting but frankly hated how I looked. Now I am slightly pleased with my cut but sad I have to eat such minimum calories. I still lift 5-6 days a week. My workouts have been the same throughout my whole change in diet. Except that I have added cardio since my cut.

    Some people have advised me to add high carb/refeed days to my cut but also to start reverse diet..again…so I’m at a loss of what to do..I am at about 1400 cal,110C, 130P, and 50F…

    please help ><

    • Hi Tiffany,

      First, I think you should define what your current goals are – lose weight or gain it. If your current weight is 130 and you are looking to lose weight, then eating 1,400 calories is just about where you want to be to lose a pound a week (considered healthy weight loss). I am not sure you are completely grasping the concept of reverse dieting as it sounds like previously you had been bulking – which is fine, just a confusion of terms. It is easy to get caught up in terms like reverse dieting, bulking, cutting and refeeding but first you really need to understand your goals and then the basics of nutrition to form a plan to achieve them. If you are interested in more specific assistance, please check out our nutrition coaching.

      • Tiffany says:

        thank you for the reply. I was actually indeed reverse dieting. I was slowly adding in 5-10g of carbs a week while trying to maintain minimum fat gain.

        My current goal right now is to lose weight, hopefully just fat while maintaining muscle.

        So 1400 calories at 110g of carbs is fine for cutting at 130lbs?..I thought this was too low..for 5-6 days of lifting

        If you say that my intake is fine at that level then I should be relieved.

        One last question…if my calorie intake and carb intake is fine where it you simply advise that I do refeeds?

        • Hey Tiffany,

          1,400 calories would be appropriate for 1 pound a week loss without taking in account physical activity. I would suggest monitoring your loss and increase calories slightly if you are seeing more drastic of a weight loss. However you indicated that you have been seeing about a pound a week which is ideal. If you plan to stay on a deficiency for an extended period of time, I would recommend refeeds. Best of luck and keep me posted on progress!

          • Tiffany says:


            well see I do lift heavy 5-6 days a week now with HIIT cardio and fasted cardio on some days. Thats why I think its a little odd that I’d have to be in such a low deficit in order to see any weight loss. Sometimes I dont even hit the 1400 mark. I have been seeing results on the scale but I’m not sure about fat loss..I feel leaner but I was just questioning the progress I was making because of so much cardio and lifting plus low calorie intake.

            I will try to increase my carb intake slowly and see if my weight stays the same. If anything, a miracle will happen and will actually help me kickstart my cutting process :/

  64. AK says:


    For the past two weeks I have been tracking my macros and am trying to gain muscle mass. My maintenance calories I worked out are around 2500. I am currently eating around 250 cho, 250 protein and 93g fat which is around 2800kcal. I am 21 years old, male,142lbs around 10% body fat. I am 5ft 10 inches. For the past two weeks I have seen gains and am actually looking leaner to be honest as I’m eating very clean. I want to add some muscle over the next 4/5 weeks then begin to shed some fat for summer. How would you recommend doing this?

  65. Brie B. says:

    Hey Jason,

    I realize that you are getting so many questions a day, so if you don’t have time to reply to my question, I am completely understanding of that! I am just at a complete loss as to what to do for leaning out/losing body fat and need an answer. I came across your blog after searching “reverse dieting” and it was really helpful and has led me to believe that I DO need to increase my caloric intake.

    Just a background of myself, I am a female, 23 years old, only 5’1 and 110 lbs. I have a small frame and a muscular build (I weight train 6 days a week and lift heavy) and I do 2 HIIT cardio sessions a week and 3 days of 20-30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio. My diet is completely clean; I literally have 4 cheats a year (Christmas, Thanksgiving, and 2 other days a year). Every meal consists mainly of a lean protein, green vegetables, a healthy fat, and a complex carb (most always sweet potato/yam). Being such a small person, it is extremely hard for me to lean out or lose weight.

    I have a natural tendency to be overweight; I was pretty chubby (but not really “overweight”) all of my life until I was 17 and decided I wanted to have a good looking body. Unfortunately, I went about things the wrong way, only eating grapes, chicken, and mixed vegetables for almost 2 years. However, I was never hungry; my body just seemed to adapt to the immensely low calories I was feeding my body. I became VERY skinny and went from 112 lbs or so down to 88 lbs. I looked awful but didn’t realize it. While that was 6 years ago and I started eating a wider variety of (clean) foods and gained weight, I was still eating 1100-1200 a day, which I believe, after all of these years, has severely damaged my metabolism. I stayed around 100-105 lbs for the next few years and have recently put on more muscle and am now around 110 lbs.

    Being so short, my caloric needs are obviously different than those of a tall or even average sized woman. However, I have read in several sources that anyone eating 1,200 calories a day is putting their body at risk of adverse metabolic adaptations than will teach your body to conserve fat from whatever you eat. However, is this different for me because of my size? I was logging my meals in MyFitnessPal and it told me that in order to lose weight (I really just want to lose body fat) I needed to eat 1,200 a day. After tracking calories, I appeared to be eating an average of the 1,200 calories a day.

    This doesn’t seem to work for me, though. I really am NOT hungry and don’t think I could consume very many more calories if I were to do reverse dieting. I do think that my metabolism is out of commission though, so to speak, because even with only 1,200 calories a day, I cannot seem to drop any body fat even though my diet is completely clean and I workout so hard.

    Do you have any clue what’s wrong with me?! We are going to Cancun in May and I desperately want to look as lean as I once did a few years ago but my body doesn’t seem to want to cooperate with me to allow me to get there.

    Thanks so much for your time and taking your time to publish this blog. It is helpful to so many people!


    • Hi Brie,

      Thank you very much for the kind words. At your weight a little more than 1,400 calories should be your maintenance and 1,200 should have you losing body fat especially if you are working out as well. Because of your dieting past, you may have allowed your body to go into starvation mode due to low levels of leptin. If your goal is still to lean out (not sure if that is practical given your low weight already, but it is difficult to tell without a visual), I would highly recommend looking into refeeding which should help to keep your leptin levels from falling off the chart and allow you to continue to lose body fat. It is also a good measure to double check that you are measuring your intake correctly and that you are in fact eating the amount of calories that you believe.

      Thanks again for reading and please let me know how things work out for you!

      • Brie B. says:


        Wow, thank you so much for your response and your help!! I will look into refeeding and let you know how it works out! Have a lovely day!


  66. Sam says:

    I am a 21 year old male, fairly lean and experienced with lifting. Recently entered a dieting phase. Instead of gradually upping cardio, I began the diet with quite low (<2,000avg) calories and lots of HIIT and LISS cardio. After about 20 days of this, I increased my calories to ~2,500/day on average, and have scaled back the cardio. My question is, what will the effects of the initial, intense diet be on my results? I now feel that what I was doing was too much, too soon. I was eating around 3,000 calories/day before the diet. Thanks!

    • Hi Sam,

      Honestly I would not worry too much about what your past has or might have done. Focus on now and the future. You did not indicate your weight or your goals so I cannot give a more specific response, however I would adjust your nutrition and your workout according to your current health status and your desired goals, not worrying about what you had done previously. The body is very adaptive, don’t stress too much over the past.

      • Sam says:

        Thanks for your response. I am trying to diet to ~8-10% body fat. I am 6’2, 200lbs, around 12-14% body fat. My goal is to maintain strength and muscle. I do not have a specific time frame for achieving this.

        • Hey Sam,

          So if your goal is to reduce body fat, you will need to eat at a calorie deficit. If you are looking to maintain strength and muscle while doing so and do not have a specific time frame, then I would highly recommend a very slight deficiency (say only 250 calories). Also, be sure to look into my post on refeeding.

  67. Chanel says:

    I have been on so many diets. I would do whatevers popular at the moment, eating clean, keto, low carb, paleo, etc. and I think I’ve screwed up my metabolism. I don’t eat as healthily as I used to nor workout how I used to. I don’t track what I eat anymore so idk how many calories I intake a day. I feel like my body hates carbs but I love them! I would really like to enjoy whatever I want to eat but also get fit and lose fat. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    • Hello Chanel,

      Well I think you know what you need to be doing, working out and eating healthy more regularly. Start small and fine tune as you go. Start tracking what you eat and be sure you fit workouts in regularly. Getting these to become a part of your day just like brushing your teeth is the first step.

  68. Mel says:

    Hello! I’m overcoming an eating disorder/anorexia by using reverse dieting and IIFYM, currently at 45F 112P 200C- around 1650 calories. I’ve been increasing by 10g carbs every week and will continue to until i get to 250g C. I am a 16 yr old girl (166cm) and work out 6 days a week. Within the past month i’ve gained around 1kg or a little less (from 51kg-52kg) Is this normal and how much of it would be fat or muscle? My main goal is to achieve abs but i want to make sure that my metabolism and body is at a higher calorie level to do so. How long after I reach my peak carb level should i start cutting? Around March-May I will be competing for sport aerobics which requires me to were a leotard, so i would love to be able to drop the little fat that i have gained from reverse dieting. Thank you :)

    • Hi Mel,

      As you are recovering from ED, I would suggest you continue reverse dieting until you are at a healthy weight and maybe even continue into a bulking period and gain a little fat. Then depending on your body fat, using a plan to get you in shape for competition you can work on shredding the gained fat. If you are reverse dieting correctly you should only be putting on minimal fat, so don’t be overly alarmed. It sounds like you are on a good path.

      • Mel says:

        I am at a healthy weight range for my height now. I’m wondering if its normal to be gaining weight reverse dieting. Over the weeks (maybe some is muscle), I have been noticing the scale slowly increase and also my clothes feeling tighter. I do not feel comfortable at all. However, IIFYM website says that my maintenance is at around 1900-2000 calories. At the moment i’m at around 1700. Should i continue to reverse diet or start cutting?

        • Hey Mel,

          If you are gaining weight then you are no longer reverse dieting, you are bulking. The decision to cut or bulk is a personal one. However, if your maintenance calculation is accurate at 1900-2000 and you are eating 1700 and gaining weight, either your maintenance calorie calculation is off or you are not accurately tracking your calorie consumption. That is far too drastic of a difference to be accurate. I would suggest first being sure you are accurately tracking your consumption (measuring and weighing) to build a better understanding of your eating habits and portion size.

  69. Anna says:

    Reverse dieting is new for me and I don’t know if it’s the right timing for me to start or not. Im between 117-119 pounds 25 year old female..5’4 Fairly active and just started lifting heavier weights 5-6 days a week. I’ve been lifting for 3 weeks now and then after 4 weeks I’m going to start incorperating some cardio in. My goal is to LEAN OUT and be more TONED. my problem area is my stomach.. Theres a small-medium layer of fat that I would like to shed and hopefully see some muscle. Currently I’m eating very clean 1600 calories Macros at 140g Protein/ 140g Carbs/ 53grams fat… Then 1 day a week, (saturday or sunday) I have what I call a free day and dont track anything and eat what/when I want. Still nothing too terrible.. just lets me feel like I can still have a life on a with my family/friends. Then I get back on track and follow my macros again. I’d like to hear your thoughts and a little guidance if you could.Hopefully you dont think I’m too crazy :/ Thanks!

    • Hi Anna,

      Not crazy at all! It sounds like you are currently eating at about your maintenance calories, with a cheat day. In order to lose body fat you will need to eat below maintenance calories. I personally am not a big fan of cheat days but they do help with the mental aspect of dieting. If you are interested in a more detailed suggestion, please check out our nutrition coaching section.

  70. Tommy says:

    Hello there !
    so after my cut which was a good cut ! i started reverse dieting for about you can say a month close to two now, im just wondering, would i be able just to jump straight into a bulk ? im at my maintenance now, where4 im increasing my food slowly and staying the same, im enjoying it, eating more food is my favorite, i just want to know if i can just go back into a bulk straigth away or do i have to add in crabs slowly, which that is the case i’ve been doing the whole time !
    Thanks tommy !

  71. Natalie says:

    I have been on a reverse diet since September. I started with 1250 calories at 115 lbs . I am not at 1975 calories and I don’t know how much I gained but I am probably 1 or even 2 sizes up in pants. I have worked out 5-6 days a week till last month. I did 3-4 days weights with 20 minutes cardio on those days and 2 days of one hour cardio. The last month I got sick of doing weights and instead I started taking kettleball class and pilates and TRX 5-6 days a week and doing an hr of cardio after the classes 5-6 days a week. I have one week left for the reverse but i have been pretty depressed and unhappy with the way my body looks. I am supposed to go down to 1800 calories after the reverse diet. I was wondering if it is normal to go up almost 2 sizes during a reverse diet and if I am doing anything wrong? I track my macros meticulously and never really go overboard or cheat. What do you suggest I do?

    • Hi Natalie,

      Reverse dieting is not a miracle plan. If done correctly, it should allow you to eat more calories without gaining weight, but only slightly more. What you have done is reverse dieted into a calorie surplus. Without taking regular measurements of your progress, you passed the point at which your body was able to take in more calories and began to intake more than required for maintenance. However, this is not something to be alarmed with. During this time you had been working out and your body has been building muscles. Sure you also probable created some fat stores which is unavoidable. Your future plans seem to be on track – slightly dropping calories to stay at a maintenance level for a short period of time and then likely eating at a calorie deficit to begin losing that acquired fat and reviling that obtained new muscle. If you are looking for reassurance, then please consider this as it. You are doing fine, it just seems you were not aware of what you were actually doing :)

      • Natalie says:

        Thank you for your response. I feel better already :-)
        One last question I have is – you said: “slightly dropping calories to stay at a maintenance level for a short period of time and then likely eating at a calorie deficit to begin losing that acquired fat and reviling that obtained new muscle.”

        Does that mean if I go down to 1800 calories next week I would have to drop it lower to start losing the acquired fat? How low do you suggest?

        Thank you for your advice :-)

  72. kcessna88 says:

    I have been dieting since last january. At first my weight loss was slow I think due to bad counting and then once I started weighing and counting more accurately it started falling off until about mid-November when I stalled out at 144 (down from 200). It was suggested I do a type of reverse diet where I raised from 1650 to 1800 for 2 weeks and then 2000 for 2 weeks. I did this and started dropping my calories again in early-january at which point I lost 4 pounds right off the bat and stalled out again at 140. I exercise everyday, but 2 of the days are light yoga and stretching, the other days are a mix of strength training and cardio. I’d like to lose at least 10 more lbs. I’m now sitting at 5″4 140 lbs and I have been stuck now for about 3 weeks eating 1740 calories. Do you think I should do a better reverse diet or continue dropping my calories?

    Thank You!

    • Hello,

      It sounds like you have been making good progress so far. However, instead of reverse dieting, have you looked into refeeding while you are eating at a deficiency? This may help you to keep the weight coming off. Additionally as you were losing weight, did you recalibrate your maintenance calories? A deficiency at 200 pounds may be maintenance or a surplus at 144 pounds.

      • kcessna88 says:

        So to be honest when I first started tracking I was following myfitnesspal and adding my exercise calories back so i didn’t really have a good gauge of what I was eating as it depended on my activity for the day(tracked with a hrm watch). Around August I learned about TDEE and the iifym calculator and I started following that lowering my calories pretty religiously every 5 pounds sometimes less then that for fear that I would stall. Right now I am eating about 50 less than what iifym says I should be eating for my activity level. Also, I am aware of the concept of refeeds but I didn’t really think my carb intake was low enough to quantify needing one. I am eating 134 protein, 58 fat, and 174 carbs. Do you think I should start incorporating refeeds?

        • Refeeds are not really a correlation with your carbohydrate intake. During a refeed you are temporarily increasing your carbohydrate intake, but the reason is because carbohydrates are most effective at raising leptin levels as compared to fat and protein. The goal of a refeed is to kick up your leptin levels, carbohydrates just happen to be the tool, not the reason.

  73. Valeria says:

    Hi! I have been dieting for almost a year, at first it was fine but since august i started binging almost every week. Sometimes i don’t do it at all, sometimes i do it the whole weekend. Using mfp, i think my calories are around 1400 – 1500, normally, but after the occasional binge i guess i have pretty much a higher weekly number. Should I start reverse dieting? Or trying IIFYM at 1500 cal to try to avoid the binging pattern?
    I workout with weights 4 days a week, cardio 3 days. I need help!

    Sorry if my english is not good.

    • Hello Valeria,

      I would suggest to try and get yourself on a stable nutritional plan and eating consistently. If you need assistance you should check out our nutrition coaching. Once you are on a steady plan you are more likely to see results and can then make adjustments accordingly such as reverse dieting (if that is in line with your goals).

    • Jacob says:

      Please help! Long story summed up, I am 18 117 lbs and 5’9. I have struggles with anorexia and severe caloric restriction when I was 13-15. I am eating 2100 calories a day and still tend to gain weight on that low of calories :-( my protein is high (280-300g) I eat 150g of NET carbs. My only starch is sweet potato post workout the rest is minimal fruit and lots of veggies. I weight train 70 minutes 5 days a week and do 25 minutes of HIIT bike cycles every 4 days. Any suggestions as to how I can increase y calories and still maintain or even lose weight?!

      • Hi Jacob,

        At 117 pounds and 5’9 why are you trying to maintain or lose weight? Obviously I do not have a picture but I can imagine you are very slim (just simply comparing to the short me at 5’7 and 150 pounds). I believe you will be more comfortably with your appearance if you continue to eat the calories you are at and focus your efforts on strength training to build muscle. I understand this may be an issue since you have suffered from anorexia in the past, but you need to trust that in the end you will be more happy with your body and healthier too. I have not had to live through anorexia, but I have my own personal struggles when purposely trying to gain or lose weight. For me it comes down to being able to trust the plan you are following and know that in the end the results will be worth the temporary visual discomfort.

  74. darryl says:

    Currently I am losing nearly 2lb a week. I am 180lbs and plan to start reverse dieting in 5 weeks. Ive been cutting for nearly a year doing a 4 day split + 2 days H.I.I.T . My macros are pro 220 fat 55 card 165 with a weekly refeed( pro 190 fat 55 carb 390)

    Would my 1st step be to drop cardio Followed by adding 20g carbs in week 2

  75. Ally says:

    Hi! I am currently 124lbs, 5’2 … fairly active .. hiit 2-3 x week, WT 2-3xweek… and I have been trying out intermittent fasting! (12/8 and at times 20/4).. I am eating approx 1350-1450/day .. but I am not really seeing a loss of weight. I’m thinking my calories are too low and I would like to reverse diet.. (even though I want to lose bodyfat).. I’d like to increase my metabolism a bit so that I don’t have to eat much less as this is not very much alreeady.. where would you say my maintenance calories should be at before I start eating at a deficit for body fat loss again? Thank you! Any thoughts on IF? — I only do it so that I can actually sleep… otherwise my body goes into insomnia mode and I’m up for a few hours in the middle of the night feeling hyperstimulated and restless. For the last month with IF.. I have finally been sleeping! Only lost 2 lbs since Jan 1 though.

    • Hi Ally,

      As far as IF goes, I am not personally a big fan. I am not going to say it does not or cannot work for some people, however to me it just seems like unnecessary torture. For your weight I would estimate you should be eating approximately 1,725 calories at maintenance. Coming from a deficiency in my opinion it would be wise to apply the reverse dieting methodology as you journey back to your maintenance calories, but I am not so sure now would be the appropriate time. If I am understanding correctly, you have only been eating at this deficiency for a short period of time and since January have lost 2 pounds. This is actually good and appropriate weight loss based on your deficiency and bodyweight. If losing body fat is your goal, I would suggest to stick with your current deficiency as your current rate of weightless is appropriate and sounds right on track.

  76. Keily says:

    I’ve never been overweight in my life, however about three years ago I decided to eat healthier so I could achieve a more toned body. I was 128 lbs at 5 foot 6 inches before I started my health and fitness journey. For about the first two years, I only consumed 1500 calories a day, eating 80-90% clean and I lost 8-10 lbs during that time. I only worked out a couple of times a month during those two years. Recently, I upped my calories to 1650 but I have not been paying attention to macronutrients. I’ve just been eating clean about 80-90% of the time. I weighed myself about 2 weeks ago and weighed in at 127 lbs. This is the heaviest I have been since I started eating healthier three years ago. The last couple of weeks I have been very serious about working out (lifting weights) and still only track calories, eating around 1650 a day. I haven’t weighed myself since I weighed in at 127 lbs. I want to start IIFYM and I want to reverse diet so I am able to eat more to feel satisfied after meals. What do you suggest? I’m scared to reverse diet because I don’t want to gain more weight like I did when I upped my calories from 1500 to 1650. I gained like 5-7 lbs doing that. What do you suggest? Should I follow IIFYM for a couple weeks and then weigh to determine if I’m still at 127 lbs and then reverse diet from there?

    • Hi Keily,

      Are you actually weighing and measuring what you consume? The reason I ask is because at 1,650 calories a day you would technically be at a very moderate deficiency if you weigh 127 pounds. Do you have a goal in mind? Understanding what your goal is would help to determine next steps for you. Reverse dieting is used to repair metabolism after drastic or long periods of calorie deficiency. If you gained back 10 pounds then you were eating a calorie surplus, not a deficiency. Nutrition coaching may be beneficial to you, providing you with a plan so that you can make continuous progress towards your goal.

      • Keily says:

        Ok thanks!! I do measure almost everything I eat. The only thing I do not measure is peanut butter. I usually eyeball a tbsp or fill a regular sized spoon and count that as a tablespoon. I was eating 1500 calories a day for close to 3 years and about a month ago I upped to 1650 calories so I think that is why I gained 5-6 pounds back. My body was used to eating 1500 for so long and upping 150 calories was probably too much at that one time. I want to be able to maintain while eating as much as possible, keeping in mind that I lift weights 5x a week.

        • Hey Keily,

          Eating only 150 calories extra, it should take you about 23 days just to put on 1 pound. You are saying you gained 5-6 pounds in 30 days. My guess is something else has changed. Not measuring peanut butter can be a dangerous thing. I know how much of a nuisance it is to measure, but it is difficult to eye up 32 grams which is typically a single serving. The reason it can be dangerous is because a single gram of peanut butter (probably more than is what is left on the knife when you dispense it) is 6-7 calories. With such a calorie dense food, you can easily be eating a few hundred extra calories than you are realizing. I would suggest either start measuring your peanut butter and see how your body reacts.

  77. Renee says:

    Hi- I have been reverse dieting for about 4 months now and have gained about 5 lbs. I am 5’0 128lbs and currently at 170C/65F/150P but am told I should be able to intake much more carbs but I am scared that I will just continue to gain weight as i increase my carbs. At one point do I stop adding carbs in? Do you think I should be eating more at my height? I work out pretty hard 5x a week. Thank you!

    • Hello Renee,

      With translating your macros to calories it appears you are eating approximately 1,865 calories a day. This is typically the maintenance calories for someone weighing 133 pounds. I would say that this is an indication you are doing pretty well on your reverse diet. In my opinion your macros seem to be ideal. Carbohydrate adjustment would depend on your goal. If your goal is to continue to slowly add mass, you could continue to increase your carbohydrates if you are not gaining weight at your current intake which is only a very slight surplus at this point.

  78. Shannon says:


    I just reached the end of a 16 week reverse diet where I got my overall calorie intake 2195 with 62 grams of fat 287 grams of carbs and my protein has stayed at 123 grams which was my starting bodyweight. I am now around 115 to 117 maybe? and I feel much leaner and stronger than before. I was given a set of rest day macros and a set of workout day macros with the suggestion of using the workout days 3 days a week and staying on the rest day macros 4 days a week. I work out, pretty hard 6 days a week unless I am sick or something. My question is somewhat twofold. One, I feel like I would like to keep increasing my overall numbers and probably my protein as well because it is hard for me to keep it so low, I love protein what can I say ha. But I don’t know if I need to stop increasing and revert to the rest day/wrokout day macros I have. What would you suggest?

    Also, the rest day macros I have been given seem really low and I am worried I would be starving ha after eating so many carbs and fats for so long. The suggested rest day numbers are 1,947 cals, 65 fat, 218 carbs, and 123 protein. The fat I can handle i have a hard time eating that much fat as it is but the carbs seem really low would it be a bad idea to up that 20 or so grams? My workout day macros are 2379 cals 84 fat 283 carbs and 123 protein. I feel like 84 fat is crazy ive never gotten close to that the whole reverse diet and I am not sure if thats smart either.

    I guess I am just asking for a little guidance at the end of this reverse diet!
    Should I keep increasing, or go to the suggested rest day/workout day?

    Thank you so much for your help and I am SO sorry this is insanely long!

    • Hi Shannon,

      First, congratulations on your accomplishment! I am not sure where your nutrition information was obtained from, but it is not really aligned to the methodologies I have come to know and trust. I do not advocate changing intake on rest days versus workout days, but rather consuming the same macros everyday. Without understanding where your nutrition guidelines came from and the methodology behind them, I am not really sure on how to give you more advice in regard to your question about your rest day nutrition. It seems as if you may already have someone helping you with your nutrition goals, but if you are looking for more individualized guidance, please check out our page on Nutrition Coaching.

  79. Kevin says:

    I’m going into my first competition this march and after hoping to reverse diet after it. Would I keep my once a week refeed day?

    • Hey Kevin,

      I would not suggest keeping your refeed day. I would simply increase your calories weekly instead of your refeed day.

      • Kevin says:

        Okay I like my refeed as mental reward so if I do take it out could I put it back in after repairing my metabolism at the end of my reverse diet? Another question, once you reach the end of your reverse diet do you recommend that you stick at that calorie intake (as high as you can get your maintenance calories) for any specific period of time or could I go straight into bulking?

        • Hey Kevin,

          You can simply look at your weekly increased calories as your reward. The goal of a refeed is to keep your leptin levels in check when on a calorie deficiency. You will be slowly working towards and then past your normal maintenance calories so there is no need for a refeed. Once you have reached the point where you can no longer push your maintenance calories, I would suggest staying there for at least a week before transitioning into a bulk period.

          • Kevin says:

            Thanks for all your help. I can tell you know your stuff because I knew the point of refeed days was to increase your leptin levels, but wasn’t aware there was no need for that on a bulk. Still learning, so I appreciate it.

          • Hi Kevin,

            Not a problem. While you are bulking you will not be on a calorie deficiency and therefore should not need to worry about low leptin levels. I appreciate your questions, and good luck with your transition into your bulk!

  80. Jay says:

    im eating lower calories and a cheat meal once a week, how would one go from that to reverse dieting?

    • Hey Jay,

      Instead of the cheat meal, you should be adding carbohydrates to your daily intake and slowly increasing your total daily calories consumed each week (so long as your weight stays the same). I am not a big fan of cheat meals as they are typically consistent of high fat content which is not exactly helpful for the goals of most people.

  81. Annie says:

    This is such a helpful explanation!

    Does it make sense for a non-body builder to try reverse dieting? I’m a 5’4, 106 lb runner, lifting weights 2x a week. I’m not really interesting in bulking, but would like to increase my 1200-1400 cal diet and achieve a more toned core if I can. I assume iifym and reverse dieting could still apply to me? Thoughts?

    • Hi Annie,

      Reverse dieting is not only for bodybuilders. You can certainly try reverse dieting to increase your daily calorie intake, and yes, IIFYM would still apply. Depending on your definition of toned core, after reverse dieting your plan of action may vary. If by toned core you mean less fat, more visible muscle, then likely you would follow your reverse dieting with a calorie deficiency to start shedding body fat.

  82. lili says:

    I also have a question… I want to start with a reverse diet but the last time I tried I gained weight very fast…
    What should I do?
    You also said if at the end of the week if I’m gaining weight I have to throttle back to the old macros,but what if I gain again after the following week?
    thx for your help (and sorry for my bad english)

    • Hello,

      No worries about the English, I was able to figure out the message just fine …

      This time when you reverse diet, try increasing your calories by a lesser amount each week, maybe only 50 additional calories each week. If after one week you weigh yourself and your weight increased, you don’t need to throttle back, but rather remain at the same calories until the following week. If the following week you still increase in weight, then it is likely that you have hit the maximum you are going to be able to push your maintenance calories. Depending on your goals, you can then continue to increase calories to add muscle, maintain calories to maintain your weight, or reduce calories to begin losing weight.

      • lili says:

        OK thx:)
        I will try it!
        I’m just worried that my maintenance macros aren’t a lot higher than 1200-1500kcal a day…

        • Anytime! Are you sure you mean kcal not cal? 1,500 cal is typical maintenance for a 107 lb person. Hopefully that gives you some point of reference. Also, be sure you’re measuring and weighing food correctly too!

  83. Madison says:

    For the 80-100 calories a week, would you suggest eating all those extra calories on the first day of the week? Or gradually increasing throughout the week (eg. 20 extra calories Monday, 40 extra calories Tuesday, 60 extra calories Wednesday etc)?

    • Hey Madison,

      What I would suggest is to select a day during the week to check your weight and increase your calories. Say your day is Sunday. Each Sunday you will weigh yourself and add the 80-100 calories to your daily consumption for the following week. Don’t spread out the additional calories, add them all to your daily consumption day one and that will become your new daily intake.

  84. Josue Charry says:

    When you say increase calories to 80-100 a week… You mean Monday to Sunday a total of 80 cals extra (11.4 a day).. Or 80 cals a day for whole week (560 cals total)?

    • Hey Josue thank you for your question, hopefully I can help clear things up:

      The increase should be to your daily calorie consumption. For example, if you are currently eating 2,000 calories a day, you would increase your intake to 2,100 calories a day and that would become your new daily intake. The following week you would again increase by 100 calories to your new daily intake of 2,200 calories. You would continue this pattern so long as you maintain body weight.

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