Dump Your Diet to Lose More Weight?

Losing weight is one of the most physically, mentally, and emotionally draining feats an individual can undertake in life. Depending on how much fat you have to lose, you could be dieting anywhere from a few weeks to over a year.

For many, that sounds as pleasant as a weekly root canal from their dentist. While adherence to one’s diet is paramount for successful long term weight loss, new research indicates it might benefit you to take some time off from dieting every now and then.

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The Weight Loss Study

Published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers from the University of Tasmania in Australia sought to investigate methods to enhance weight loss success based on individual’s eating patterns. The team analyzed the diets of 51 obese men over a four month period.

For the purposes of the study, the men were split into two groups:

  1. The first group cut ? of their calories for all four months of the trial.
  2. The second group followed the same diet, but did so on a two week on / two week off protocol for the duration of the four months.

At the conclusion of the trial, researchers analyzed the data and observed that the group following the intermittent dieting protocol (2 on, 2 off) lost 50% more weight than those who dieting non-stop for the four months. Furthermore, those taking the 2 week break also dropped more body fat than the steady dieters.

Unfortunately, six months after the study’s conclusion, both groups of men regained their weight. Still, the intermittent dieters were roughly 18 pounds lighter than the continuous group of dieters on average.

Explanation of This Study

How is it that the on-again, off-again dieters were able to lose more weight during the trial, when common fitness advice is to never deviate from your fat loss diet? Researchers hypothesize it has to do with the manner in which dieting can affect various biological processes in the body.

Co-author of the study, Nuala Byrne said:

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. 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.

Essentially, when dieting for prolonged periods of time, your body adapts to the decreased caloric intake and downshifts your metabolism as a survival mechanism of sorts. This can lead to weight loss plateaus, and the inevitable frustration and hopeless feeling that comes with stalled weight loss. Taking breaks in a sense may prevent or “trick” your body so that it doesn’t get used to one chronically lowered calorie intake and downshift your metabolic rate.

Byrne added:

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

Intermittent fasting (IF) is all the rage right now in the dieting world, but is intermittent dieting the “next big thing” to overcome the masses? How do you structure your own fat loss diet cycles?

Leave a comment down below with your thoughts.

1) Byrne NM, Sainsbury A, King NA, Hills AP, Wood RE. Intermittent energy restriction improves weight loss efficiency in obese men: the MATADOR study. Int J Obes. September 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2017.206.
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Amy Kilian - December 31, 2017

I’ve heard a lot about this concept of diet cycling lately and I think it’s really intriguing. It would be interesting to see a similar study in non-obese overweight men and women. I will be starting a cut soon to lose 20lbs and I’m going to ask my coach what he thinks about this approach.

aliya tudor - November 5, 2017

When I was recovering from having my gallbladder removed I completely went off my diet & obviously exercising was out of the question for 6 weeks. I didn’t gain any weight during the 6 weeks of recovery. As soon as I went back to my usual diet & training routine I put on a few pounds. I know it’s a result of eating Keto before the surgery, (I’m convinced it’s the reason my gallbladder gave out in the first place) eating a “normal diet” during recovery and then trying to get back on Keto after that 6 week break. In my opinion anyways…..

Brennen Pacheco - October 21, 2017

Yea, it’s important to eat what your body needs. Going into a calorie deficit really freezes up progress. When I cut I do it slowly on just 100 calorie per day deficit

Joshua Henline - October 4, 2017

Is there a program on here that someone can link to use with this 2 on 2 off ??

Evan Stewart - October 3, 2017

Couldn’t a similar effect be achieved with say one cheat meal or cheat day a week?

Joshua Henline - October 2, 2017

That is great . Keep Killin it man. Injuries suck and I know the feeling.

craig ballurio - September 29, 2017

I lost 40 changed diet around seemed to have leveled off need to lose another 30 to get to 200 that’s my feel good weight after patrol car accident spinal injury I had to retire and weight piled on. It’s slowly coming off I cut carbs to under 100 take 200 grams protein try to get most from food I take Isopure zero carb on work out days optimum nutrition casein non work out days cut alll soda and fast food my sugar averages 100 to 130 now banana fruits in morning low sugar fruits I avoid grains

Muscle Mania - September 28, 2017

Depends on the results you want.

Muscle Mania - September 28, 2017

I like the references and research put into this article. Personally, I believe that if you want to lose fat and maintain muscle mass (although hard for advanced lifters) is to do 0.3-0.5g of fat per pound of bodyweight, 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight, and the rest carbs. Also, make sure to get the micronutrients in there. Drink lots of water. And cardio will help. Make sure that calories in must be less than calories out, and I’m not saying to starve yourself but do get the proper macros in.

GRANT SLATER - September 28, 2017

Would’nt a small calorie change over years work?

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