Research has found that a “two-week on, two-week off” diet can help people who are trying to lose weight to keep the weight off on the long run. More research is needed in order to fully understand the biological effects of this intermittent dieting approach.
According to recent research, a “two-week on, two-week off” diet is a more effective way of keeping a slimmer body on the long run.
The study analyzed 47 obese men, from 30-50 years of age, who were trying to lose weight. After random assignment, a group of participants were set to follow the “two-week on, two-week off” diet and the control follow a strict diet for a period of 16 weeks. The diet period for both groups required them to cut their caloric intake by a third. They repeated this cycle for about 30 weeks.
"The intermittent group lost more weight and they kept it off for a longer period of time. We certainly think part of the reason this diet is working is because of the rest periods," said Nuala Nyrne, one of the researchers and professor of health sciences at Tasmania University.
Not only that, but the intermittent group also gained less weight back after the trial was over.
Why Does It Work?
According to Nyrne, this diet helps combat the phenomenon called “the famine reaction.” A reason why many people find it quite difficult to stay on a strict diet for longer than a few weeks, is because the body tries to compensate for the sudden lack of food that its not used to.
She said that dieting alters several biological processes, leading to a slower rate of weight loss - and even eventual weight gain.
She explained: "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.
"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."
She also said: "There is a growing body of research which has shown diets which use one to seven day periods of complete or partial fasting alternated with ad libitum food intake, are not more effective for weight loss than conventional continuous dieting.
"It seems that the 'breaks' from dieting we have used in this study may be critical to the success of this approach.
"While further investigations are needed around this intermittent dieting approach, findings from this study provide preliminary support for the model as a superior alternative to continuous dieting for weight loss."