Reverse Diet: Permanent Abs

The Holy Grail of modern physical culture is a well-defined set of abs. But even if you’re one of the few who ever see their abs, it’s normally temporary. What if there was a way to keep them?

Joseph Westrupp before and after reverse dieting

Dieting is the best way to get lean, but most diets fail and result in quick regain of fat afterward. (See here for how to set up a diet.)

It’s a frustrating Catch-22, but thankfully there is a way to make it work.

Temporary Diets Fail

Fat rebound happens when diets are seen as temporary breaks from normal unrestricted eating. When regular eating is returned to, the sudden influx of food leads to a lot of fat storage and the dreaded rebound.

Permanent Diets Fail

So why not just stay on the diet?

The problem is that becoming very lean normally requires substantial caloric restriction. This leads to unwanted adaptations including mood disturbances, hormonal disruption, fatigue, and extreme hunger (I write about this in The Dark Side of Staying Super Lean).

As such, a low Calorie diet can be sustained short term, but not lifelong.

Even if you could resist the body’s powerful mechanisms urging you to eat more, maintaining a highly restrictive diet would reduce quality of life and impair health.

Metabolism Is Fluid

The rate your body uses energy, commonly referred to as the metabolic rate or metabolism, can change.

One of the problems with low Calorie diets is that they decrease metabolism. Therefore metabolic rate must be recovered to avoid unwanted fat storage when food intake is increased after a diet.

This is possible through reverse dieting.

What is Reverse Dieting?

Reverse dieting is a method of building up food intake. It involves small increases over time.

The progressive raising of Calories effectively boosts metabolic rate, but isn’t enough to overwhelm energy requirements and lead to fat gain. The more restrictive the initial diet was, the more gradual the reverse diet must be.

How Much Food and How Fast?

Human physiology varies, so there is no all-encompassing rule. Some people will tolerate fast increases in caloric intake with no fat storage, while others will require smaller increases over longer periods of time.

The best way to proceed is by carefully monitoring body fat levels and adjusting diet accordingly.

Be careful though, fat gain can be sudden and unexpected (see Reverse Dieting and Metabolic Whiplash for details).


I spent years in a demoralizing cycle of dieting myself lean and quickly regaining body fat afterwards.

Reverse dieting is the magic bullet that enabled me to stay lean while eating a normal amount of food.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like How to Eat Anything and Burn Fat.

Feedback is very welcome, I’d love to hear your thoughts and about your experiences. Just use the comment form below, or send me an email.

Thank you kindly for reading.

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