Taking a Break from Dieting Reduces Hunger, Increases Adherence to Diet with No Detriment to Fat or Weight Loss

A sustained energy deficit with restricted food intake and increased physical activity is accepted as a reliable means to reduce body weight and body fat. However, most individuals find maintaining adherence to these conditions difficult in the face of increasing hunger urges, reduced metabolic rate and reduced diet satisfaction. Intermittent dieting has been proposed as an alternative method of weight and fat loss, by interrupting the dieting phase with temporary phases of increased food intake (referred to as a diet break) before returning to the diet. To this end, investigators randomized 61 adults to 12 weeks of a traditional continuous diet, or an intermittent diet whereby each three weeks of dieting was alternated with a one-week diet break consisting of increased energy and carbohydrate intake. This research showed for the first time that taking diet rest periods or “diet breaks” during weight loss reduces hunger, increases satisfaction and makes it easier to stick to the diet protocol (with less people dropping out from the diet break group). Importantly, these benefits were achieved without slowing weight or fat loss compared to not having breaks.