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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!

123 Responses to Reverse Dieting: Eat More and Maintain Weight

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

  11. 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 : /

  12. 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!!! :)

  13. 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?


  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

  21. 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 :/

  22. 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?

  23. 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!


  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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 !

  29. 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 :-)

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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!

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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!

  41. 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.

  42. 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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