Can you take a break from “dieting”?
Yes, yes and a thousand times yes. As I said in the principles before, those who allow themselves some flexibility are more likely to succeed in the long term. A 2017 study indicated that having intermittent breaks from your diet may actually help you keep the weight off in the long term.
As part of the study, the men were randomly assigned to one of two diet groups. One group was required to follow a continuous calorie-restricted diet for a total of 16 weeks.
The men in the other group followed the same calorie-restricted diet, but they took 2-week breaks during which they increased their calorie intake enough to keep their weight stable. This cycle was repeated for 30 weeks, meaning that they also engaged in 16 weeks of dieting in total with 2 weeks on the diet and 2 weeks off it.
At the end of the study period, the researchers found that the men who took 2-week breaks from dieting lost more weight than those in the continuous diet group.
What is more, the team found that 6 months after ceasing the calorie-restricted diet, men who had engaged in intermittent dieting had maintained a weight loss of around 8 kilograms more than men who continuously dieted.
So – yes, be patient and take breaks, that is fine. But the key message here is also – it is a break, not cessation. Don’t forget you must re-commence the healthy food changes! So consider putting a reminder on your calendar or your phone as we are all very good at procrastinating. Don’t let yourself creep that break period longer and longer.