The Reverse Diet Myth

Have you ever heard of reverse dieting? There is a plan to increase the amount of food consumed to lose weight. OK, but does it work?

Reverse dieting is a model that chooses to increase calorie intake to maintain body weight. The creators claim that an increase in energy intake can accelerate basal metabolism and lead to an imbalance in the calorie balance in favor of weight loss.

The truth is that there are few studies that prove the effect of reverse dieting. Regardless , this approach is not just about energy, but also about the distribution of calories throughout the day.

What is reverse dieting?

This type of diet appeared for the purpose of improving body composition. The main characteristic is an increase in calorie intake, but with a different distribution. It chooses a larger consumption during the morning and lunchtime, and then people end the day with a fairly light dinner. They should take in most of the calories before 5 p.m.

Apparently, this plan can help reduce appetite and avoid anxiety, which determines adherence to many diets. However , the increase in calorie intake must be gradual to experience the desired effect. People can try it after following a hypocaloric diet.

How does it work?

According to the proponents of reverse dieting, increased calorie intake provides a greater thermogenic effect from food, as well as an increase in basal metabolism. Thus , the body should use more energy instead of storing it as fat.

In addition, eating large amounts of food reduces the secretion of leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism. This is responsible for slowing down the metabolism, promoting energy savings. However, these effects have not been scientifically proven.

A woman who cooks.
Calorie counting must aim to change the basal metabolism by reverse dieting.

The science behind reverse dieting

As we mentioned above, there are few studies on reverse dieting out there. However, most weight loss research suggests the opposite model – a hypocaloric diet. In this context, it is possible to stimulate fat mobilization and oxidation, according to a publication in Nutrition .

There are some alternative protocols to traditional diets that rely on meal restrictions, such as periodic fasting. These have shown benefits in terms of weight loss. However, there is a reduction in energy intake beyond the physiological effects.

Dietary restrictions have also been proposed, but not energy restrictions, as for the ketogenic diet. This model aims to increase insulin sensitivity and generate greater fat oxidation. It effectively stimulates weight loss according to a study published in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes .

However, it is not possible to find references that show that an increase in intake will result in a reduction in subcutaneous adipose tissue. At least not in the absence of any pattern of physical exercise that increases energy consumption.

What determines weight loss?

The truth is that weight loss is not just the result of a mathematical equation. There are other factors that can have a decisive influence. One of them is insulin sensitivity, which modulates the body’s use of fat as an energy source.

Maintaining a healthy gut microbiota can also have a significant effect on body composition. Digestion and absorption of nutrients, as well as their subsequent utilization and transmission of inflammation, all depend on the intestinal microbiota.

Finally, a good night’s sleep routine is another factor that makes a difference. This is because the body’s recovery processes mainly take place during rest. As you can imagine, not getting enough sleep can change your metabolism or appetite.

A woman sleeping.
Sleeping well to lose weight is scientifically proven, so adequate rest should be a part of any nutrition plan.

Tips for effective weight loss

There are better options than reverse dieting if the goal is to lose weight. Obviously there must be a low calorie intake, but other measures are just as important. The first is to train strength exercises to cause muscle gain.

In addition, you need to sleep seven or eight hours per night. When it comes to diet, the key is to eat fresh foods and avoid industrial ultra-processed foods. Also reduce the intake of refined flour and any derivatives and increase the intake of fermented dairy products.

There is not much scientific basis for reverse dieting

The scientific literature does not really support reverse dieting as a method of losing weight. In fact, there is no evidence to support this at all.

It does not make much sense even from a physiological point of view. This is because there are better alternatives that are supported by health authorities.

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