Reverse Diet: Switching Breakfast for Dinner
The Reverse Diet is the creation of Tricia Cunningham who was able to lose 172 pounds in 9 months simply by switching dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner.
She joined forces with nutritionist Heidi Skolnik to detail a lifestyle that involves having a larger meal at the beginning of the day and then smaller meals and snacks as needed in the later part of the day.
Reverse Diet Basics
Cunningham claims that by switching the bulk of your calories to breakfast this will significantly change the way that your body uses calories.
Breakfast is followed by an entire day where you are involved in physical activity, which will allow those calories to be burned whereas dinner is generally followed by a long period of inactivity, which will promote calorie storage.
Dieters are advised to never skip breakfast and to eat a medium sized lunch and a small dinner and to only eat when hungry (apart from the mandatory breakfast).
If feeling full before the end of the meal the leftovers should be saved to snack on for later.
There are three phases to The Reverse Diet:
- Phase 1 – Weight Loss
- Phase 2 – Stabilizing the loss and the introduction of your former foods
- Phase 3 – Maintaining your goals and utilizing your knowledge
- All vegetables are allowed including potatoes.
- Recommended fruits include berries, peaches, pineapple, apples, grapes and plums.
- Tofu, eggs, fish, chicken, turkey.
- Low fat dairy products.
- All spices especially garlic.
- Oatmeal and shredded wheat.
- Extra virgin olive oil.
- Orange juice.
- Low salt margarine.
Sample Diet Plan
Chicken breast, boiled potato and steamed vegetables
Tuna salad sandwich
Tofu berry smoothie
Shredded wheat with orange juice
Costs and Expenses
The Reverse Diet retails at $14.95.
- Eating breakfast is associated with a greater likelihood of weight loss as well as many other health improvements.
- Eating protein and vegetables for the first meal of the day will reduce appetite and cravings for the rest of the day.
- A light evening meal may promote better sleep especially for those with digestive problems.
- Many people do not have a large appetite or the time to prepare and eat a large meal in the morning.
- May be disruptive to family life, as it will require a change in the entire approach to regular meals.
- Extremely difficult to eat dinner out on a social basis.
- Makes claims that are not confirmed by scientific research.
- Overemphasizes tofu in the diet recommending up to four servings daily, an amount that could potentially lead to nutrient imbalances.
- Recommends margarine, which is a source of extremely unhealthy trans fats.
Calorie Reduction is Key
The Reverse Diet’s claims regarding any unique effect on metabolism by altering the timing of calorie intake are clearly not supported in the scientific research.
However, eating a high protein breakfast is associated with a greater weight loss success as it tends to reduce the likelihood of overeating later in the day and this is the strength of this plan.
If dieters are able to lose weight on this plan it will be due to a reduced appetite and other lifestyle changes that may result in a subsequent reduction of calories and thus weight loss.
For many dieters The Reverse Diet system of eating will not be practical as it is too disruptive for normal social activities and family life.
It seems possible that simply following the practice of eating a nutritious protein rich breakfast daily rather than overhauling the entire eating pattern would provide most of the advantages of this program.
- Baron, K. G., Reid, K. J., Kern, A. S., & Zee, P. C. (2011). Role of sleep timing in caloric intake and BMI. Obesity, 19(7), 1374-1381. link
- Ma, Y., Bertone, E. R., Stanek, E. J., Reed, G. W., Hebert, J. R., Cohen, N. L., … & Ockene, I. S. (2003). Association between eating patterns and obesity in a free-living US adult population. American journal of epidemiology, 158(1), 85-92. link