In an encouraging new report, scientists offer what may be a reliable antidote to one of the most predictable (and dreaded!) effects of dieting—a slowdown in metabolism and subsequent robust weight regain. For this intriguing new study, scientists placed men into one of two different diet groups. Diet group 1 cut their daily calories by one third continuously for 16 weeks straight. Diet group 2 did likewise, but took a two-week break, resuming normal caloric intake between every two weeks of calorie restriction. In other words, two weeks of dieting followed by two weeks of normal eating and repeating this cycle. Both groups ultimately restricted calories by a third for 16 weeks’ total.
Interestingly, there were stark differences in success between the two groups. The intermittent diet group lost significantly more weight and regained less weight after the study’s completion. In fact, six months after the study ended, those in the intermittent diet group maintained an average weight loss of 18 more pounds than the continuous diet group.
The study authors speculate that breaking up prolonged periods of calorie restriction mitigates the well-documented downturn in metabolism (aka the “famine reaction”) that dieting typically triggers.
International Journal of Obesity, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/ijo.2017.206
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