A new study has found that continuous dieting may actually hinder weight loss. Instead, the study found a 2 week on, 2 week off approach to be much more effective. Read on to find out how much weight you could lose by following this approach.
Dieting is rarely a fun experience, and that goes double when we are applying a strict policy of restriction.
No carbs or sugar, tiny portions that leave stomachs constantly rumbling, and substituting our favorite foods and beverages for alternatives with half the taste – it’s hardly surprising that countless dieters end up regaining any weight they shed once this period of relentless restraint is over.
Good news is on the way, however; according to a recent study from the International Journal of Obesity, dieting no longer needs to be an all-or-nothing cycle of feast and famine.
This study involved a focus group of medically obese men, aged 25-54, and reducing their calorie intake by one third of their daily requirement (around 1,700 daily calories, based upon a typical need of 2,500 calories for a healthy adult male).
These test subjects were then split into two groups.
The first group remained strictly on this diet for just over three consecutive months, which was referred to as the Energy Restriction phase in the study.
The second group, meanwhile, alternated this Energy Restriction with regular eating (described as Energy Balance) in two-week intervals, with the diet lasting seven months.
Should Somebody Trying To Lose Weight Try This?
According to the results of the study, absolutely.
The second group, which spent two weeks in Energy Restriction followed by two weeks in Energy Balance and back again, actually lost an astonishing 47% more weight than their counterparts that intensely fasted in Energy Restriction.
What’s more, this second group actually managed to keep these unwanted pounds off afterward – the dream of any dieter.
The group which had 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off lost an astonishing 47% more weight than the control group that restricted.
They also managed to keep their unwanted pounds off afterwards - a dieter's dream!
When we diet intensely, the body begins to panic and enter something akin to ‘starvation mode’ – worrying about where the next sustenance will come from and how long it may take to arrive.
The human body is ultimately like a computer – it relies upon particular messages and commands to meet our needs.
How Can This Help Somebody Lose Weight?
The body of a crash dieter will hold onto every precious calorie that it finds and work hard to burn as few of them possible.
This means that anybody concentrating on an intense, fasting diet could actually end up gaining more weight from eating less than somebody prone to tucking into high-carb, high-calories meals on a semi-regular basis.
If we take a periodic break from dieting, it confuses the body and keeps it guessing.
It takes longer than a fortnight to completely change the way our body works and sheds excess pounds, and this way the steady and incremental weight loss that takes place during the Energy Restriction phase sticks.
What’s more, it’s considerably easier to retain a diet and eating plan if there are regular breaks.
Think of this intermittent fasting as a more advanced variation on the popular 5:2 diet – a safer alternative at that, as with this eating plan you will not be fasting to the point of potentially dangerous starvation at any point.
Are These ‘Rest Periods the Same as ‘Cheat Days’ During a Week?
Not really. In many cases, a cheat day is an opportunity for a dieter to go to town and much on just about every item of food they can think of that they have been depriving themselves of, and feel no remorse for it.
We’re talking cake, cookies and donuts, cheese-laden pizzas, sugary sodas – the average cheat day involves gorging, and has elements of emotional eating.
The Energy Balance periods in this eating plan are a little different, as anybody following the diet will be expected to stay within the parameters of a typical healthy intake – approximately 2,000 calories for an adult female, and 2,500 for a male.
A pepperoni pizza, just to use an example, will eradicate that entire allowance in one fell swoop.
You’ll have to exercise a little restraint, but it will make it considerably easier to stick with an eating plan when you know that you can enjoy some of the finer things in life every fortnight – a tasty dessert here, a cool refreshing beer there, and the general sense of relaxation that comes from knowing that you are following a healthy lifestyle.
The MATADOR study is the first of its ilk to be published, and there are sure to be counter-studies to follow in the coming months.
The paper remains worthy of reading, however, and considering for anybody that struggles to lose weight and keep it off afterwards.
Both physically and psychologically, this eating plan is a kinder approach to dropping a jean size.