For most people, dieting isn't a particularly enjoyable experience. Usually because they involve ignoring the advice of nutritionists who suggest "everything in moderation" is the key to weight loss, and instead encourage you to cut out entire food groups (mainly the ones you love).
But if you're someone who's ever endured the torture of a diet, you'll be over the moon at this latest scientific discovery: Scrapping your diet for a couple of weeks could actually help you lose weight.
It sounds like an impossible feat. How could ditching your diet lead to more weight loss? But according to the recent study published in the International Journal for Obesity, that's exactly what they found.
The study took a group of clinically obese participants, and split them into two groups. Both groups were instructed to follow a 16-week diet which saw their usual calorie intake reduced by a third, however the groups differed in how they carried out this diet. The first group did the full 16 weeks consecutively, with no breaks, while the second group's experiment lasted 30 weeks—with participants switching from two weeks dieting, to two weeks not dieting.
On the "not dieting" weeks, the group were instead told just to try to eat a bit healthier. So they weren't going mad and binge-eating, but they weren't being super strict either by counting their calories and sticking to a regulated diet plan.
And interestingly, what the researchers found was that the "on/off" dieters actually lost more weight than those who stuck to it religiously for the straight 16 weeks. As well as that, an assessment of the participants six months after the study finished indicated that the "on/off" dieters lost on average 17 pounds more than the other group, suggesting they were more easily able to keep the weight off than those who had no breaks in their diet.
Attempting to decode it for us, the researchers explained that when you're on a diet, your basic metabolism slows down. This is because your body senses you losing weight, and its natural reaction is to try to preserve as much body fat as it can. This slower metabolism means you take longer to burn off your food, and therefore you take longer to lose weight.
There's also the added bonus that doing a diet in shorter bursts can make it feel mentally more attainable, which might encourage more people to stick at it.
So don't beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon every now and then; just don't use that as an excuse to go bat shit crazy eating all the fatty, fried foods you could dream of, and you might actually see some improvement.
[H/T Women's Health]
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.