Whether you’re cutting down on calories, fat, carbs, or any combination of them, dieting means restricting yourself from certain favorite foods. But if your goal is to lose weight, you may want to consider taking a break from your diet. Yep, according to new research, it could be the secret to keeping weight off, for good this time.
A study recently published in the International Journal of Obesity monitored eating patterns of 51 obese men over a period of four months. They asked one group to cut one-third of their regular calories daily and asked the other group to enforce their diet for two weeks, then take a two-week break. And the results proved that the group that embraced the two-week cheat system lost a whopping 50 percent more weight than those who tried to maintain their diet the entire time.
Granted, both groups of subjects regained some weight after the study ended, but those who were taught to cheat—and cheat properly—were still about 18 pounds lighter than their counterparts.
“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,” co-author Nuala Byrne wrote in a statement. “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.”
If you’ve already been aboard the Cheat Day train, this is great news for you. It’s even further proof that taking a scheduled pause with your restrictive diet, and still eating somewhat healthy on your day off, can mean more sustained weight loss over a longer period of time. And isn’t that what we all want? To not only lose weight, but also maintain it?
So if you just so happen to slip from your pre-planned diet or can’t help but indulge in a friend’s scrumptious birthday cake, don’t beat yourself up about it. Chalk it all up to the long run weight loss goal. It’s this break that could make sure you’re even more successful with your diet months into the future.