Breaks from dieting could be the key to losing weight

Image: Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

According to experts, taking a fortnight between your healthy eating habits rather than the type of diet you follow is the best way to shed the pounds.

Researchers from the University of Tasmania, Australia, came to their conclusion after monitoring 47 obese men aged between 30 and 50, and cutting their calorie intake by a third. Participants were split into two groups, one of which followed the diet for 16 weeks while the second cluster broke it for a fortnight after two weeks, following this pattern for 30 weeks in order to also reach 16 weeks of dieting.

Results showed that those in the alternating group shrunk in size, boasting an average weight loss of 8kg more than the continued diet group six months after the end of the trial.

Study leader Professor Nuala Byrne explained how dieting triggered biological changes in the bodies of those who stuck at it for 16 weeks, which caused slower weight loss and even the chance of putting on pounds.

“When we reduce our energy (food) intake during dieting, resting metabolism decreases to a greater extent than expected - a phenomenon termed 'adaptive thermogenesis' - making weight loss harder to achieve,” the specialist said.

“This 'famine reaction', a survival mechanism which helped humans to survive as a species when food supply was inconsistent in millennia past, is now contributing to our growing waistlines when the food supply is readily available.”

It is this reaction which can cause our bodies to store more fat once we begin eating normally again after cutting calories, resulting in it being harder to burn the extra weight off.

"It seems that the breaks from dieting we have used in this study may be critical to the success of this approach," the expert added.

"While further investigations are needed around this intermittent dieting approach, findings from this study provide preliminary support for the model as a superior alternative to continuous dieting for weight loss."

The full study was published in the International Journal for Obesity.

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