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This is When You Should End Your Reverse Diet

Avatar Nutrition Staff

September 27, 2017


So you’ve made the commitment to reverse diet, but as calories climb higher and higher one huge question looms in your mind — how do you know when it’s time to stop reverse dieting and choose your next goal?

The answer to this question is actually fairly simple.

Depending on your reason for reverse dieting, you will either continue to reverse until you’re comfortable with the amount of food that you’re eating, or you will push the envelope until weight gain becomes linear.

Here’s the best way to find the stopping point that’s right for you!

Know Your Reason for Reverse Dieting

When determining a stopping point for your reverse, the most important question you should ask yourself is why you chose to reverse diet in the first place!

When push comes to shove, there are really two main reasons a person would embark on a reverse diet. The first is to bring calories up to a more comfortable level, and the second is to get metabolism running as absolutely fast as possible.

If any of the following described you at the start of your reverse, your goal simply may have been to increase your food intake to a more comfortable level:

  • You were fighting an overwhelming urge to binge
  • You were sick of being hungry all of the time
  • You were struggling to maintain your body weight on miserably low calories
  • You just finished a diet and wanted to maintain weight loss while eating more food

In each of these situations, the main goal of reverse dieting wasn’t necessarily to push your metabolism to its absolute upper limit, but rather to increase calories to the point where you’re binge-free and satisfied. In this case, the next step is easy! Simply stop reversing as soon as you’re happy with your food intake and begin eating at maintenance (or choose the maintenance goal setting if you’re using Avatar Nutrition).

On the other hand, if any of the following described you at the start of your reverse, your goal was likely to stimulate your metabolism to burn through as much fuel as physiologically possible:

  • You wanted to lose weight but needed more calories to work with
  • You hit a weight loss plateau and needed to restore metabolism to lose more weight
  • You needed calories as high as possible to fuel athletic performance and put on muscle
  • You love food and wanted to eat as much as possible without gaining a ton of weight

In each of these situations, stoking the metabolic furnace to get metabolism running as fast as possible is critical to success. To do this, you will need to proceed to step 2 and continue reverse dieting until weight gain becomes linear!

Reverse Diet Until Weight Gain Becomes Linear

As you reverse diet, you will very likely get to a point where you start to gain some weight. At first weight gain might fluctuate—you gain a little weight one week, none the next, lose some one week, and gain even more weight the following week. This is no real cause for concern, as it can take some time for your metabolism to adjust to the increased calories and start burning through fuel faster. Inconsistent weight gain followed by weight plateaus can be a sign that your body is continuing to adjust to higher calories.

But when you gain a substantial amount of weight for several weeks in a row, this can mean that your metabolism is becoming less responsive to the surplus calories. For a while, the extra food each week will stimulate your metabolism to burn through fuel at a faster rate. But at some point, you will reach an upper limit where metabolism is no longer increasing to burn off some of those extra calories you’re giving it. Instead, it will store the extra calories mainly as fat each week, and this will reflect on the scale as consistent substantial weight gain.

Avatar Nutrition has an acceptable rate of weekly gain for each reverse diet setting. If you are consistently gaining too much weight by system standards and your macros are frozen for 3 or 4 cycles in a row, weight gain has become linear and you should consider ending your reverse diet!

Stay on Ending Calories

After you have completed your reverse diet, Avatar Nutrition recommends continuing to eat your final target macros for several weeks to a few months. During this time, there may be a lag in response as your metabolism continues to fully adapt to the higher calories. By ensuring that your metabolism has adequate time to adjust, you will maximize your chance of success with your next goal!

A Special Consideration: Concern About Weight Gain

You should expect to gain at least a little bit of weight over the reverse dieting process, which may take upward of 4 – 6 months depending on your starting point, goal, and the rate at which you increase calories each week.

It’s very rare for a person to lose or maintain their body weight over an entire reverse, particularly as calories climb higher than 2,500 for females and 3,500 for males.

Therefore, how comfortable you are with weight gain is a final consideration that may come into play when deciding where to end your reverse diet. If you’re particularly concerned about weight gain, you might set a weight limit for yourself and stop reversing when you hit it. If you’re more concerned about getting intake to a certain level or maximizing metabolism, follow the step-by-step instructions previously outlined in this guide!