Taking a break from dieting could be key to weight loss

Dieting altered a series of biological processes in the body, which led to slower weight loss and possibly weight gain.

Published: 20th September 2017 11:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th September 2017 11:45 AM   |  A+A-

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SYDNEY: Struggling hard to lose weight even with a controlled diet? Avoid continuous dieting and take a two-week break as this may help keep the kilos off, suggests a new study.

According to researchers, dieting altered a series of biological processes in the body, which led to slower weight loss and possibly weight gain.

"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," said lead author Nuala Byrne, Professor at the University of Tasmania in Australia.

In the study, published in the International Journal for Obesity, the researchers investigated the body's "famine reaction" to continued dieting and its impact on weight loss in people with obesity.

Two groups of participants took part in a 16-week diet -- while one group maintained the diet continuously for 16 weeks, the other maintained the diet for two weeks, then broke from the diet for two weeks. 

Participants who took a two-week break from their dieting regimes not only lost more weight, but also gained less weight after the trial finished.

They also maintained an average weight loss of 8 kg more than the continuous diet group.

"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," Byrne added.

While researchers in the past had shown that as dieting continued weight loss became more difficult, the latest study looked more closely at ways to lessen the famine response and improve weight loss success.

Moreover, other popular diets which included cycles of several days of fasting and feasting were not any more effective than continuous dieting, Byrne said.

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