This review contains my professional opinion about Reverse Health
A ton of you have asked me to do a Reverse Health review, so I’ve finally done it.
Reverse Health is meant for menopausal women, the new target for the ever-predatory wellness and weight loss industries. I’m immediately suspicious about any weight loss program that’s specifically for menopausal women. Most of them entail unhealthy calorie restriction, ridiculous ‘rules,’ and are generally unsustainable.
Reverse Health makes the following commonly made claims:
Sounds good? We’ll see.
How does Reverse Health work?
I actually signed up and paid for Reverse Health to see what it’s all about. It kills me to give these people money, but here we are.
The program starts with a 20-question quiz that’s the same standard nutrition app quiz that I’ve seen so many times. It asks obvious questions like height, weight, and goal weight, whether you have any food allergies, and your physical activity level.
It also asks whether you have any existing health issues, but I noticed that it doesn’t include ‘eating disorders’ as a choice. And yes, I always look for that.
Two of the questions weren’t actually questions at all – they were slides promoting Reverse Health, lest you take the quiz and decide not to sign up for the program.
One showed before and after photos of a woman in a red bikini with the title “Typical body transformation our active members experience: on average our members have an extra 9kg to lose”. This is approximately 20 lbs.
The other slide read that the “program authors are certified dietitians, health coaches, physiotherapists with extensive experience in weight loss”.
The co-founders of Reverse Health are Matt Jones and Monika (whose last name eludes me).
Matt calls himself a ‘sports and exercise nutritionist.’ The term nutritionist is not protected by law; anyone can call themselves a nutritionist.
Monika’s credentials are ‘Mindset and Lifestyle Coach,’ and on a blog post she describes herself as a “holistic women’s health coach with health and life coaching certification, an MBA, as well as yoga instructor and mindfulness training and many years of experience under my belt”.
I actually found zero evidence of any registered dietitian presence in this program.
I asked the ‘chat bot’, Jam, if there were any dietitians on staff, and she told me “professional dietitians Monika and Matt can give you professional advice to guide you with the meal plans that will suit you best!”
I looked into Monika and Matt’s credentials, and as we know, neither of them are dietitians.
What a shock!
After taking the quiz, I was shown these infuriating slides:
Why, if I input my height as 5’4” and weight as 138 lbs, would this program say my health ‘may be’ at risk? With these parameters my BMI is 23.7, which is normal. Based on BMI alone (which is outdated), I am far from being at risk.
It also doesn’t specify at-risk for what? We know that there are links for being overweight with a number of health conditions (diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac disease) but being low on the weight scale can also put you at risk for some things.
I’ve written before about the challenges of these online surveys and apps not understanding you, as a person, well enough to make tailored health recommendations. Even worse, using partial and incomplete health data sell weight loss products and advice is, in my opinion, unethical.
On a different quiz attempt, I put in that I had cancer and wanted to lose weight, and it wasn’t flagged as a risk. This, along with the lack of questioning about disordered eating is unacceptable. It seems very hard to trust an app that doesn’t factor in these major red flags into their program.
Next, a slide tells me that my metabolic age is 55 (I’m 50 years old).
Really laying on the fear and shame. How do they even know what my metabolic age is from the information I gave them?
Hint: THEY DON’T! This is just another tactic to sell programs.
Finally, a slide with another graph tells me that Reverse Health is estimating I can reach a 90.7 lb target in 12 weeks (and that it will stay off!!).
First, I never said I wanted to reach 90.7 lbs (I said my goal weight was 95lb, still far too low for me).
This is a ridiculous, dangerous amount of weight to lose in a week. If it’s medically necessary, rapid weight loss should be supervised by a licensed professional. Even worse, their proposed 90.7 lbs would put my BMI at 15.6, which is not only underweight, it’s the BMI that is seen with severe anorexia nervosa.
Here’s where we’re at: I’m a normal weight woman, and Reverse Health has told me my health can be at risk if I stay at my current weight and that I should strive to lose so much weight that I’d be severely underweight.
Finally, I’m asked to enter my e-mail to see how I can reach 90.7 lbs. With a heart emoji.
Warning: Once you enter your e-mail address at the end of the quiz, you are opening yourself up to very frequent reminders that your ‘special offer’ is waiting. Like, at least once a day.
What strikes me the most is the unhealthy obsession and emphasis on NUMBERS. Weight. Target weight. BMI. And their association of these numbers with health. How much we weigh tells us very little about our health. Those claims I posted at the top of this review? How do they factor in? Are they the result of weight loss?
We have no idea.
In the FAQ section of the Reverse Health site, there’s a question of “Is the Reverse Health Program safe?”. The response, verbatim: “Absolutely, our program authors are certified dietitians, health coaches, physiotherapists with extensive experience in weight loss.”
How is telling someone – even someone without a potential eating disorder or cancer – that they can go from 138 pounds to 90.8 pounds, safe?
This apparent lack of credibility and misinformation is shocking.
The Reverse Health App
The Reverse Health app itself is pretty easy to navigate. It has a ‘Tracker’ section to track meals, water intake, exercise, weight, and daily steps. This seems tedious. I never recommend daily weigh ins.
There are meal plans, recipes, and shopping lists. Under the ‘Supplements’ tab, you can buy the company’s branded supplements like Reverse Health ‘Women’s Collagen’ ($54.95), ‘Women’s vitamin K2+D3’ (24.95), and ‘Women’s whey protein’ ($54.95).
I’m not sure what the difference is between these ‘women’s’ supplements and their unisex counterparts.
In the FAQ section of the site, we’re told that Reverse Health “offers a holistic health program where supplements are one of the most important parts to success.”
Interesting. As a dietitian, I’d say that supplements should be the least important part of weight loss and health success.
The app also includes videos from Matt and Monika, exercise content, and a place to connect to the Reverse Health Facebook group and ‘coaches,’ aka my bot named Jam.
Nothing about this app is novel to menopause management – mindfulness, exercise and dieting are pretty general. Many apps have superficial ‘skins’ to help them feel personalized to a certain demographic: in this case menopause.
Reverse Health seems like a generic platform masquerading as a customized solution.
The Reverse Health Meal Plan
The Reverse Health meal plan shows how little food followers get, and how poorly-planned the recipes seem. To clarify, who in the world develops a recipe that calls for one quarter of a pomegranate? 1 cup of carrot juice? Or a snack that’s a pre-packaged bar with 12 grams of almonds and an apple? Weird.
There also doesn’t seem to be opportunity to batch cook, which is usually helpful for people who work long hours.
Day 1 example:
Breakfast – egg muffins – 127 cal/serving
Lunch – turkey chili with rice – 289cal/serving
Dinner – (dinners seem to be VERY salad heavy) – cucumber, avocado and chicken salad – 304cal/serving
Snack – raspberry and flaxseed smoothie bowl – 240kcal/serving
Total calories = 960
I feel weak just looking at that total.
Maybe if we try a different day.
Day 2 example:
Breakfast – avocado, feta & pomegranate toast – 322cal/serving
Lunch – quick and cheap tuna lettuce wraps – 316 cal/serving
Dinner – quick chicken, wholegrain rice and spinach – 460 cal/serving
Snack – apple, almonds and Fiber One chocolate brownie bar – 200 cal/serving
Total calories = 1292
A little higher, but not high enough…for a toddler, never mind an adult.
How can this diet be sustainable when the daily calories aren’t even adequate for a child?
In the what seems like a thousand e-mails that I’ve received from Reverse health, they emphasize that the meal plans are just for guidance.
If the meal plans are just guidance, then effectively this program is just providing a target calorie restriction per day. Keep your calories ridiculously low every day for 12 weeks, and you too will lose weight. This isn’t something you need to pay Monika and Matt to teach you – I will tell you that for free…and then I’ll tell you not to do it.
You know how I feel about restrictive diets – not a fan! The physical fatigue and emotional suffering that intense calorie restriction, rapid change in eating habits, and the guilt from being unable to follow and sustain these crazy diets are real! This can further worsen someone’s problematic relationship with food.
And for menopausal women, it’s a cruel and unusual punishment that is often levied onto us in an attempt to prevent or remedy midlife weight gain. It’s actually sickening.
What do you think happens when you go off the Reverse Health diet plan? Yup. You’ll probably end up right back where you started, except poorer and more frustrated…well, unless you buy their upgraded 12-month plan, which they claim helps 92% of people maintain their ‘dream weight.’
Wow. It doesn’t get more spammy than this.
But wait! Right on the front page of the Reverse Health site, they say you can ‘delete the app after 12 weeks, because you have all the tools you need!’
Reverse Health Review: In Short
Reverse Health is a low-calorie diet that doesn’t appear to be evidence-based. There is nothing novel to menopause management in this app that I can determine. It will likely cause weight loss, but is most likely to be unsustainable in the long-term (or even for 12 weeks).
One of the most egregious things for me is that the company doesn’t screen during the intake quiz for eating disorders, and it doesn’t flag extremely low goal weights.
When the 12 weeks is up, what are you left with after all the tracking? It seems like you would be lost, especially after becoming dependent on the app for ‘guidance’ and tracking.
Reverse Health doesn’t appear to be ‘personalized’ at all. This seems like an illusion concocted to sell programs. It also seems extremely spammy and focused on numbers.
HARD PASS ON REVERSE HEALTH.
Written by Lise Wolyniuk and edited/approved by Abby Langer RD