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Taking a break from dieting could help you lose weight

A new study suggests that two weeks on, two weeks off is a more successful model for lasting weight loss than continuous dieting.
"Diet on, diet off!" says Mr. Miyagi. Photo: Sony Pictures

Everyone agrees dieting is le worst. Well, here is some good news for everyone: according to new research, taking breaks from your calorie counting can actually help you lose more weight and keep it off in the long run! You no longer have to beat yourself up for veering off your diet or indulging in one too many cheat days.

A new study published in The International Journal of Obesity found that continuous dieting is actually self-defeating when it comes to weight loss. 

Nuala Byrne, a professor in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Tasmania in Australia, and her colleagues divided 51 obese men ages 25 to 54 into two groups. In one group, the men followed a continuous diet, no breaks, for 16 weeks, while the other group followed the same exact diet, but took two-week breaks every two weeks for a period of 30 weeks total. 

And the findings showed...The second group lost more weight! Moreover, when the researchers checked back six months later, the second group had successfully kept off around 8 kg. (17 pounds) more than the first group. 

What’s the scientific reasoning behind this great news? Byrne theorized that starving yourself can trigger a “famine reaction,” in which our body responds to the reduction in calories by lowering its metabolism, making it harder to shed the pounds in the long run. Byrne explains it as “a survival mechanism which helped humans to survive as a species when food supply was inconsistent in millennia past.” 

But Byrne points out that not just any break in dieting will be successful.  Medical News Today cites a recent JAMA study which showed that obese subjects who tried alternate day dieting didn’t lose more weight that those who dieted continuously. 

Now, to the tune of Mr. Miyagi: Diet on, diet off!