A new study conducted at the University of Tasmania suggested that avoiding continuous dieting might be the key to losing weight.
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The findings of the randomized trial that was published in the International Journal for Obesity showed that taking a break of two-week during dieting can increase weight loss.
In order to investigate the ‘famine reaction’ of the body to continue dieting as well as to find its impact on weight loss in obese men, this NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia) funded study evaluated two groups of participants who took part in a 16-week diet.
In the diet, the calorie intake was reduced to one third.
The participants of the first group maintained a continuous diet for 16 weeks; whereas, in the second group, after the completion of two weeks, the participants took a break for two weeks and repeated the cycle for a total of 30 weeks in order to ensure the 16-weeks period of dieting. During the time of break, the participants were allowed to eat simply to keep their weight stable.
The findings suggested that the participants in the intermediate group were the ones who lost more weight; also, after the completion of the trail, they were identified to have less weight gain.
When compared to the continuous diet group, after 6 months from the completion of the diet, the intermediate group sustained an average weight loss of more than 8 kg.
The study was led by Professor Nuala Byrne, the head of School of Health Sciences, University of Tasmania, along with a team of collaborators from the University of Sydney and Queensland University of Technology.
According to Professor Byrne, a set of biological processes inside the body is altered by dieting, leading to slower weight loss, and possibly weight gain.
She explained that while dieting, the energy intake is reduced, leading to the decrease in resting metabolism further than we expect. This phenomenon, termed as adaptive thermogenesis makes weight loss harder to achieve.
However, this famine reaction, which served as a survival mechanism for humans in the past millennia when food supply was not consistent, is presently (where there is a consistent supply of food) contributing the growing waistlines.
While prior researches indicated that as dieting continued, weight loss became difficult, Professor Byrne said the latest MATADOR (Minimizing Adaptive Thermogenesis and Deactivating Obesity Rebound) study closely analyses how to decrease the famine response and improve success in weight loss.
However, she is in an opinion that other popular diets which involved series of fasting and feasting are not more effective than continuous dieting.
Also, even if the study provides basic support for the intermittent dieting model as an alternative to continuous dieting, Professor Byrne points out the need of further investigations in this approach.