Have you found yourself trying diet after diet with no success? Do you have feelings of frustration and disappointment when you regain weight? Do you feel like you are in a constant state of food deprivation but are worried that adding more calories to your diet will cause you to gain weight? Are you afraid that eating more will undo all the hard work you have put in? If this sounds like you, you may be suffering from over-dieting and calorie restriction.

What If You Could Eat More And Still Lose Weight?

Research from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia has suggested that taking a break may actually assist in weight loss. The study involved 47 participants who were divided into two groups. Both groups had diets that were 1/3 of each person’s maintenance calories. However, while one group was told to restrict their calories for a total of 16 weeks straight, the second group was told to alternate between two week of restriction and two week periods of ‘diet breaks’. Both groups had a total diet time of 16 weeks (the first group finished the experiment in 16 weeks while the second finished theirs in 30 weeks). The findings showed that there was a significant difference between each group’s overall weight loss. The participants that took a two-week diet break were able to lose more weight and keep more weight off in the long run.


Why Was The Diet Break So Successful?

The findings supported previous hypothesis that constant restriction can lead to a survival mechanism known as the “famine reaction” and a theory known as “adaptive thermogenesis” .

The “adaptive thermogenesis” theory suggests that prolonged reduction in food intake during diet decreases our metabolism beyond what could be predicted from body weight. In other words, our bodies become super adept at managing on lower calorie levels. Therefore, when we add more calories after a period of dieting, our bodies begin to store more fat.

The “famine reaction” is thought to be a survival mechanism which helped humans survive when food supply was inconsistent in the past. To understand the “famine reaction” it is easiest to imagine a bear preparing for hibernation. A bear will put on a lot of weight before the winter when it knows that food will be scarce and it will have to survive. However, today, humans no longer struggle to find food!

Combined, the “famine reaction” and “adaptive thermogenesis” can make our modern dieting behaviours fail us.

What Can The Research Tell Us? How Can It Help?

By including the two-week diet breaks, we allow our bodies to feel safe and comfortable. Without the fear of prolonged deprivation, our bodies will not encounter the famine reaction. Moreover, by changing up our calorie intake (two-week diet followed by two-week diet breaks) we can prevent our bodies from becoming overly comfortable with less energy, therefore preventing “adaptive thermogenesis”.

Our therapists are experienced and up to date with current research in nutrition. Our team at WeightMatters understands that eating more can be scary and cause anxiety. Our team of therapists will help you overcome your fear of food and create personalized programs to help you achieve and maintain weight loss. We are here to listen to your story and patiently support you throughout your weight loss journey.