Give Your Diet An Break
If you are always dieting but not losing weight, the issue might be that you are constantly dieting. Just like you will need to take a simple week after a tough week of exercise to help your body recover, you might also require a rest period from calorie restriction to keep your metabolism from plummeting.
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Researchers at the University of Tasmania had 36 guys follow a weight-loss program that cut their daily calorie consumption by 33%. Half the men were advised to stick to the program for 16 weeks straight, while the other half took a break every 2 weeks.
Though both groups recovered some weight once the diet has been completed, the intermittent group maintained an average weight loss of almost 18 pounds over the constant group six months afterwards.
The study group was relatively small and follow-up studies are necessary for verification. But for now, the researchers believe their findings are due to what is called the “famine response,” or a procedure where your body cools its resting metabolism when you are eating less, because it thinks you are starving and would like to keep you alive until you discover food. Eating a bit more every 2 weeks during a diet seems to help you stay out of starvation mode and prevent weight-loss plateaus, and of course the yo-yo effect of dramatic losses and gains.
Diet fractures may also be worth trying from a mental standpoint, says my Bike Your Butt Off co-author Leslie Bonci, a sports nutritionist that has been helping cyclists and other athletes create healthy weight for 35 years.
“When people are in diet mode, it may be energy-draining and emotionally painful after some time,” she says. “Being able to bring a vacay in the diet may encourage greater buy-in and much more long-term success, since it might be easier to stick to a strategy for a couple of weeks, then have a rest and be able to restart with the exact same attention and dedication you have when you are first starting out.”
Bonci warns that through those short vacations, you ought to be “eating because you were before, when you were keeping your weight.”