If you thought you knew everything you had to about weight loss, then you are in for a shocker, according to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity. The study featured 51 men, who were divided into two categories. One of the groups was subjected to a diet that comprised only of 67% of what they would need to maintain their normal weight for 16 weeks. With the second group, the same diet was used, only that it was interchanged with their regular diet every two weeks.
After 16 weeks of evaluation, it was found that the men on breaks actually managed to lose 18 pounds more than those who were put on the continuous diet plan.
Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, an expert in weight loss, explains this biological feat. The doctor says that when we start losing weight, our rate of metabolism slows down. This goes on until our metabolic processes are so slow that we can’t keep up the rate of weight loss beyond a certain level. This is what Dr. Nadolsky refers to as adaptive thermogenesis. It is basically what happened to the subjects in the study who were put on a continuous diet plan.
In order to tamper with the action of adaptative thermogenesis, you will need to break up your meal plans such that the body careens between balance and deficit. It all starts with a hormone called leptin. This hormone is responsible for making sure you do not overeat. As you lose calories and weight, leptin levels decrease. When you take your meals in a cyclic fashion like happened with the second group in the study, then leptin levels increase without you having to worry about overindulging and hence stacking up on the calories.
The authors of the study however offer two caveats; the first one touches on the nature of the meals taken. The experiments took place in highly controlled environments. Food was given in exact portions and calorie composition. It is therefore practically impossible to mimic this in real life because people decide on what they want or don’t want to eat on their own.
Secondly, the researchers here did not consider the impact of physical exercise on the weight loss efforts of any of the two groups. It is therefore entirely possible that one of the groups participated in more physical activity than the other, which could explain the discrepancies in the amount of weight lost.
However, the general agreement is that the parameters in the study were adequate to come up with a pretty solid conclusion; that the breaks taken here help the body to get used to losing weight when the circumstances are right.
Would diet breaks really work for you?
Dr. Spencer Nadolsky seems to think so. He advises that as long as there is a careful calculation of deficits and balances, then the results should be more than impressive.
If you are looking to start out on this regime, you will first need to calculate your daily calorie intake and knock 33% of the totals. Take two weeks of the reduced calorie amounts and alternate that with your regular diet, all the way to 16 weeks. During the breaks, give yourself treats but never go over the regular limits. Something to think about when you’re considering a meal service, or comparing something like Nutrisystem cost vs how much you normally pay. You want to make sure you’re on a diet that will pay off in the long term. That’s why you have to make smart choices, and why it’s worth researching before you try something new.