Lifestyle Mindset Nutrition

Gain Muscle and Lose Fat: A Beginner’s Guide to Reverse Dieting

Written by Amanda Wilks

Have you ever fought your way through a weight loss diet with hundreds of days of self-control and calorie counting under your belt, only to watch your hard work go to waste as soon as your eating habits start to normalize again?

Are you concerned your diet may be something you have to stick to strictly for the rest of your life?

It’s not uncommon for a post-diet crash, but it turns out taking a reverse dieting approach to your eating might be the key to avoiding unexpected rebound weight gain.

The concept of a reverse diet is simple: While you diet, your body slowly but surely adapts to its level of caloric intake through a process known as metabolic adaptation. The process of metabolic adaptation refers to the ways in which your body changes during weight loss and intense training.

With a very strictly controlled flow of calories to work with over long periods of time you will naturally start to adapt to the energy available to you. That’s a good thing when it comes to shedding pounds and there’s nothing inherently wrong with being a more efficient calorie consumer.

When it comes to getting back to eating proper full meals after a restricted calorie diet, however, it’s a different story entirely.

Reversing Your Diet: A Primer

The foundations of metabolic adaptation are well researched and understood in a number of areas, so taking this into consideration is vital for crafting a solid diet plan.

You may shed pounds quickly in the early stages of your diet and workout routine, but you’ll probably see some tapering off as the weeks go by.

Over time you might stop losing weight altogether, leaving you at a weight or muscle plateau you’re unable to overcome.

Beating this requires a touch of foresight on your part. Your diet plans will change as your diet continues, for better or worse, and knowing this ahead of time can make the transition easier.

Good news, though: You’ll be able to eat more as you go!

Make sure you’ve already got a decent handle on your workout routine and a knowledge of your exercise limits, as well as any equipment required to handle those needs.

Exercise equipment may be important, but kitchenware is just as vital when you’ll be preparing food for yourself. Make sure your cookware is solid. You might want to think about getting a pan that will last throughout your cooking spree without burning your food.

Planning A Dietary Shift

Diet shifts are generally necessary when you start seeing difficulties maintaining your weight after extended periods of calorie-watching and exercise. Therefore, starting to eat hearty meals again will be a pleasant and welcome change in your dietary routine.

Slowly but surely, you’ll work your calorie intake back up by eating more to a higher level of maintenance but not so quickly that your body has a chance to put those calories to work storing excess fat.

Your reverse diet will take time, but it’ll also give you a chance to get back to eating foods you really enjoy. Keeping a flexible meal plan while reverse dieting gives you a better chance of coming out with a more desirable body structure and more muscle.

That’s a good train of thought to follow because it will motivate you to keep striving.

Make sure you’re still taking in enough protein and nutrients to power your exercises while avoiding going too heavily into carbs on a daily basis. The perfect post-workout ratio is 30 to 40 grams of carbs to 10 or 15 grams of protein.

Just know that it’s fine to have a slice of pizza here and there. It’s better to take in a bit of cheat food than to give up on your diet entirely and gorge the most sugar-laden foods you see.

However, make sure not to exaggerate with cheat days and start having them once or twice a week. A slice of pizza once or a small serving of fries once a month is fine, but anything more than that certainly isn’t.

Achieving a Healthy Balance

Around twenty percent of your calorie intake needs protein-based with the rest of your diet falling to your discretion. This helps your body self-regulate naturally to taking all those calories back in again.

If your goal is to work more fat back into your diet or to reintroduce carbs when you’re not performing strenuous activities, this is beneficial for resetting your body’s calorie intake abilities. Leafy greens, protein-heavy meats and low-calorie fruits are always going to be a better choice than pre-packaged meals soaked in sodium and preservatives. Eating organic and nutritious meals powers your body with clean energy which you can use both in your workouts and your daily life.

Remember that your goal is to help your body re-adapt to normal eating. It’s not an excuse to go crazy with foods that will hurt your waistline.

In short: Increase your daily caloric count by around 150 calories. Keep this up for a week, then increase by another 150 until you start to notice changes in your weight.
Find the appropriate calorie count that keeps your body healthy and in shape while also giving you the energy you need for the day. Don’t start eating everything in sight.


A diet doesn’t have to be a permanent or intimidating part of life.

Sometimes taking a reverse dieting approach is just what your body needs to adapt to life after a restrictive calorie intake. You’ll feel happier for adding all those calories back into your meals once your weight is healthier and your diet is less restrictive.

Any excuse to eat more of the foods that you enjoy is a good excuse, right?

About the author

Amanda Wilks

Amanda Wilks is a part-time writer and a cooking enthusiast. She firmly believes that a balanced lifestyle means focusing on good habits, such as exercising, healthy eating, and reducing stress. If you’re interested in reading more of Amanda’s work, go on Twitter (

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.