Cheat days really are the ideal diet tool, a new study has found.
Counting calories is one of life’s biggest drags, but as waistlines around the world continue to expand, the diet business shows no signs of slowing down. However good news if you’re just about the embark on a healthy eating regime; having some down time away from your diet can actually be more beneficial than eating right all the time.
Researchers from the University of Sydney looked at mice for their new study, putting the test group on a calorie controlled diet. Half of the mice were kept on the diet for all 12 weeks of the research, while the other half stayed on the diet for six days and then had up to three days of unrestricted eating. Authors note that the food still needed to be healthy, but just not as controlled as the diet days.
Results showed that when done properly, a few days of unrestricted, but healthy, eating sped up weight loss in the mice. The team of experts predict results will be the same in humans.
“Our study suggests that if you're trying to lose weight, then taking a break from dieting could give you better bang for your buck in terms of the amount of weight you lose relative to the effort you put in,” lead author Amanda Salis told Coach.
Eating more every few days can help stop the body from going into starvation mode. Starvation mode happens when too few calories are consumed and the metabolism slows down so much that the body enters a state where weight loss stops completely.
For those who are serious about losing weight shouldn’t gorge themselves on fatty and sugary snacks on off days though.
“If you do find yourself sometimes eating more than you intended, it may not have any adverse effects on your overall progress, so don't get discouraged – just get back on the wagon and keep going,” Amanda advised.
“If the results of this study apply in humans, as we predict they will, then when you return to a more careful diet after your weight loss holiday, your break could actually improve the efficiency of your weight loss.”
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