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Taking a Break from Dieting May Boost Weight Loss

Continuous dieting may be hindering your attempts at weight loss. A recent study suggests that taking a break from dieting may actually contribute to weight loss and to keeping the weight off.


Participants in this randomized controlled trial included 51 obese men who were given the same dietary intervention — a diet that cut calorie intake by one third — but were instructed to follow it differently. Half of the group followed the diet continuously for 16 weeks, while the other followed the diet for two weeks, followed by a two-week period where they ate enough to keep their weight stable. The second group repeated that pattern for 30 weeks in order to achieve 16 weeks of dieting.


At the conclusion of the study, the intermittent diet group lost an average 17.6 pounds more than the continuous diet group. They also gained less weight after the end of the trial.


The researchers theorized that the reduced calorie intake that occurs during dieting resulted in a greater than expected decrease in resting metabolism decreasing. When that happens, our bodies go into “famine mode” and weight loss is more difficult. Giving the body a break from dieting can release it from that “famine mode” and lead to greater weight loss.


Researchers from the University of Tasmania conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on September 19, 2017, in the International Journal of Obesity.

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