Does reverse dieting actually work?

Reverse dieting, also known as recovery dieting, might help you ease out of a restrictive diet without gaining the weight back. Reverse dieting is meant to help you maintain the weight you're at now. 

Reverse dieting is used to slowly come out of a calorie deficit (which is how you lost weight) to an increase in calorie intake. Reverse dieting is supposed to be done over a period of weeks or months until you reach the calorie intake you need to maintain your current weight. This is a slow, gradual process that involves adding 50 to 100 calories per week (via Healthline). 

The goal is to help bring you back to a normal diet without adding weight. According to Healthline, some advocates of reverse dieting claim that it can help break through weight-loss plateaus, reduce hunger, and boost energy levels. 

Reverse dieting sounds like the best way to ease out of a more strict diet. But does it work? Are there studies to back up these claims?

Benefits and risks of reverse dieting

Increasing your calorie intake might give your metabolism a boost and help your body burn more through non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) (via the Journal of Physical Activity and Nutrition). NEAT includes burning energy through fidgeting, walking, and talking.

Reverse dieting could also help normalize levels of circulating hormones, such as leptin, a hormone that regulates body weight and appetite (via the Keio Journal of Medicine). Lowered levels of leptin cause increased hunger and decreased feelings of fullness after eating. 

This method could help reduce the risks of binge eating, common with anyone on high-calorie restriction diets and bodybuilders (via Appetite and the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry). 

However, there needs to be more studies done on reverse dieting and whether it's a healthy choice. Some potential cons of reverse dieting are that it's difficult to calculate how many calories you need precisely, and it focuses solely on calories instead of nutrients