Pile of broccoli as example of veggies in metabolic reset diet

Does the metabolic reset diet work? A look at the pros and cons

Medically reviewed on August 1, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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In the late 2010s, the metabolic reset diet took the wellness community by storm—especially as professional athletes like former NFL player Steve Weatherford touted its effectiveness for weight loss. [1]

The metabolic reset diet claims to increase your metabolism by adjusting the foods you eat. Metabolic reset diet plans encourage dieters to reduce their carbohydrate intake and focus on eating more lean protein.

But, does the metabolic reset diet actually work? In this guide, we’re demystifying the metabolic reset diet. We’ll define it, explore the pros and cons, and answer a crucial question—does it actually work for weight loss?

What is the metabolic reset diet?

Firstly, what is metabolism? Metabolism is a vital process. It is the sum of reactions that occur in the body within each cell that provide the body with energy. [2]

The metabolic reset program is purportedly aimed at improving metabolic health and preventing metabolic disorders.

It’s important to note that there isn’t currently a dietitian-approved metabolic reset program that’s clinically proven as effective in peer-reviewed medical literature. As such, there isn’t just one metabolic reset diet plan to discuss—the plans that do exist are written by people with varying degrees of nutritional expertise, and their instructions vary widely. [1]

However, the stated goal of most metabolic reset diets is the same—increasing metabolic rate to break down food more efficiently and facilitate weight loss. [3] To accomplish this, diet plans typically recommend:

  • Reducing overall caloric intake
  • Incorporating exercise into your wellness plan
  • Cutting back on carbohydrates
  • Increasing protein intake

However, there’s little evidence to support that food intake, nutrition timing, or macronutrient restriction can change human metabolism significantly enough to lead to weight loss. Licensed dietitians generally agree that: [3]

  • Increasing lean muscle mass can increase your metabolic rate
  • Human metabolism, like lean muscle mass, generally decreases with age
  • No magic foods can speed up or slow down human metabolism
  • Hormones can play a role in lean muscle mass building and maintenance, which, in turn, impact metabolic rate

Potential benefits of a metabolic reset diet

While the premise of a metabolic reset program is flawed, the methods generally recommended in metabolic reset diet plans may lead to weight loss.

The central tenants of this type of diet are, in fact, the only scientifically proven way to lose weight: [4]

  1. Decreasing caloric intake
  2. Increasing activity (and, in turn, increasing calories burned each day)

That said, a significant advantage of metabolic reset diets is that they encourage exercise and caloric restriction. If dieters lose weight while following a metabolic reset plan, these are likely the only reasons why.

The importance of exercise vs. weight loss

In addition, significant new research has shown that physical activity is a more effective indicator of longevity than body weight: [5]

  • A 2019 meta-analysis determined that weight cycling (or repeated cycles of weight loss and gain) was associated with a 36% higher risk of cardiovascular disease and a 41% higher risk of all-cause mortality.
  • People who exercise generally have lower ectopic fat—a type of body fat associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In numerous studies, exercise-based interventions are associated with decreased cardiovascular risk profiles even if participants didn’t lose any excess weight.
  • Older studies assessing BMI and its impact on mortality often failed to explore the differences between cardiovascular health and body mass—a distinction that led to an overemphasis on body size as an indicator of physical health.

Potential disadvantages of the metabolic reset diet

While metabolic reset diets do encourage physical activity and weight loss, metabolic reset diets may also lead to negative health outcomes:

  • Unnecessary macronutrient restrictions – If your goal is to lose weight, the only way to do so is to reduce your caloric intake and/or increase your physical activity to create a caloric deficit—eating fewer calories than you use. [4] Many metabolic reset diets encourage carbohydrate restriction. However, reducing your carbohydrate intake will only lead to weight loss if you achieve a caloric deficit.
  • Negative nutritional impacts – Numerous healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are high in carbohydrates. Restricting them could lead to malnutrition or insufficient vitamin and nutrient intake. [6]

Perhaps the most significant negative element of metabolic reset diets is that they don’t have a basis in peer-reviewed scientific evidence. Their claims to “reset” the metabolism (or impact it significantly in any way) aren’t dietetically sound.

Does the metabolic reset diet actually work?

As we discussed above, a metabolic reset diet could lead to weight loss. By increasing your physical activity, and decreasing your overall calorie intake, you can create a caloric deficit that may lead to tangible weight loss.

However, the metabolic reset meal plan doesn’t do what it claims to do—that is, altering your metabolic rate. Only hormonal changes and increased lean muscle mass can increase the rate of human metabolism. [3]

Monitor your metabolic process with Everlywell

If you’re looking to lose weight, metabolic reset diets shouldn’t be your first choice—a combination of physical activity and mindful nutritional choices will lead to more tangible, healthy outcomes than attempts to speed up your metabolism and improve overall metabolic health.

But, if you’ve experienced unexpected weight gain, you may be undergoing hormonal changes that impact your body composition. When you need answers about your health, Everlywell is here to help. Our at-home Metabolism Test measures three hormones that can influence your metabolism and may help you understand unexpected changes in energy level or weight.

Our collection of at-home testing kits makes it easier than ever to explore your wellness without having to visit your healthcare provider or make an appointment with your local lab. Simply collect a sample at home, mail it to one of our CLIA-certified labs, and await your secure digital results.

With Everlywell, you can harness the power of wellness from the comfort of your home.

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  1. What Is The Metabolic Reset Diet and Can It Help You Lose Weight? Women’s Health Magazine. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  2. Metabolism NIH. Physiology. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  3. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  4. Interested in Losing Weight? Nutrition.gov. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  5. Obesity treatment: Weight loss versus increasing fitness and physical activity for reducing health risks. iScience.. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  6. Malnutrition. World Health Organization. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
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