A recent study suggests that taking a break from your diet is helpful to your weight management plan.
According to the Australian researchers who conducted the study, two weeks on and two weeks off your diet is a more effective approach to weight loss and management than continuous diet.
Continuous vs Discontinuous Diet
The study was published recently in the International Journal of Obesity. It shows that those who alternate their date, breaking from it from time to time, are more likely to keep at it for a longer time. The reason for this is that a continuous diet alters the natural biological processes in the body. This makes it harder for one to lose weight.
As explained by Professor Nuala Byrne, the head of School of Health Sciences at the University of Tasmania, “when we reduce our energy intake during dieting, resting metabolism decreases to a greater extent than expected.”
Famine Response and Weight Management
The body naturally reacts to the dieting which, when done continuously without a break, becomes more difficult for an adult or senior to lose or even maintain weight. This is otherwise known as “famine reaction,” a normal body response, which explains further why a break improves weight management and weight loss.
To substantiate the study and to further investigate the “famine response” and how to lessen it, the researchers conducted a trial, which they called the MATADOR trial. This was funded by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
The effect of the diet also went beyond the 16-week period
Two groups participated as subjects for the trial. In the trial, the two groups were asked to go on a 16-week diet. The diet focused on cutting calorie intake by one-third. The aim was to see if there is a difference between continuous and discontinuous diet. One group was asked to go about it continuously for 16 weeks. However, the other group was asked to follow a two weeks on and two weeks off approach. This lasted a total of 16 weeks. In other words, the second group went on a diet intermittently, following a two-week alternating pattern.
The result of the trial matched that of the theoretical study. The group who went on an intermittent diet lost more weight. The effect of the diet also went beyond the 16-week period. In terms of weight management, the intermittent diet group was able to maintain an average weight up to six months after the end of the trial.
Therefore, the breaks help in reducing the “famine response”. This in turn make it easier for people to maintain and lose weight. The study concludes that the superior model is the “breaking” diet approach compared to continuous dieting.
More work to determine effects for elderly
However, this still needs further investigations as to its applicability in seniors. For now, the important thing is that there is already an alternative weight management approach to the traditional continuous diet.
This may provide radical changes in how people see diet and nutrition in the near future.