Researchers out of the University of Tasmania placed 51 obese men on a strict diet in which their calories were cut by a third. Half of the participants stuck to it for 16 weeks and the other half repeated a cycle of dieting for two weeks, then eating enough to keep their weight stable for two weeks, for 30 weeks.
They found that the on-off dieters lost more weight overall AND kept it off after the study concluded.
Head of the University of Tasmania’s School of Health Sciences Professor Nuala Byrne, explained the findings in a statement.
“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,” Professor Byrne said.
“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.”
And while she praised the success of intermittent-dieting, she says the evidence doesn’t back the claims of intermittent-fasting – a popular eating philosophy of late.
“There is a growing body of research which has shown that 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,” she said.
“It seems that the ‘breaks’ from dieting we have used in this study may be critical to the success of this approach.”