Breaking diet may lead to more weight loss, Uni of Tasmania study

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 20th September 2017

Taking a break from your diet may be the key to losing more weight and keeping the kilos off say University of Tasmania researchers.

In a study published online by the International Journal of Obesity, researchers studied those who had a break and those who did not, and found those who had a break loss more weight and kept more of their weight off.

Two groups of men were studied whilst on a 16-week diet which cut their calorie intake by one third. After every two weeks, one group would break from the diet for two weeks and “eat simply” to keep their weight stable. They repeated this cycle to achieve 16 weeks of total dieting.

Those who took the regular breaks lost more weight and gained less weight after the study was over.

The intermittent dieting group lost an average of 8kg’s, more than the continuous dieters.

Lead researcher, Professor Nuala Byrne, said dieting alters a series of biological processes in the body that can lead to slower weight loss and possibly weight gain.

“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,” Professor Byrne 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.”

Professor Byrne said further investigation was required around having these types of breaks when fasting but that the study provides preliminary support for it as a superior alternative to continuous dieting for weight loss.


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