You’ve probably been in this situation a couple of times in your life – you find what you consider to be a diet perfect for you, make the arrangements, start following it and after a couple of weeks, you realize that you’ve actually fallen short and failed.
For many people, it is unbelievably difficult to stick to a strict dietary or exercise program for more than a few weeks, especially for those who have no experience with dieting whatsoever. But let’s skip right ahead to the good news, as research suggests that having intermittent breaks from your diet may actually help you keep the weight off in the long-term.
A number of studies conducted recently on the topic of the importance of weighing yourself daily have received a lot of public attention. Apparently, weighing yourself every day is paramount in adjusting your food and exercise intake and can help you achieve a clinically significant weight loss over a two-year period if you take frequent breaks from your diet. The important bit is that this doesn’t require a fixed calorie-counting exercise regime (or one that is structured, for that matter). What it does require, however, is to record your weight daily, as well as to monitor the trajectory over time.
This is commonly referred to as the “Caloric Titration Method,” in which weight loss is achieved gradually and in small amounts. The individual is required to lose 1 percent of their body weight and is then encouraged to maintain their new weight for at least a week. This period of ‘weight maintenance’ allows for the individual to eat more or even exercise less than they would if they were to try and lose weight with a standardized program. After that, the individual is required to lose an additional 1 percent of body weight, followed by yet another “break” (weight maintenance). The routing would then be repeated and followed through until the final weight-loss goal is achieved.
You need to make sure not to forget to weigh yourself at the same time each day, but you also need to pay close attention to the weight-loss trends over the week or month. Day-to-day fluctuations may (and probably will) happen and will vary significantly with various types of food – this is a reflection of the change in body water content much rather than fat mass, like carbohydrates that bind more water than proteins, for instance. Set your mind on making small changes, aim for deficits of 100 calories per day. It might not seem like much, but if you skip dessert a few times per week, occasionally use a meal replacement for lunch or dinner or eliminating snacking on pre-packaged foods, you will end up with nice results after some time.
Another approach that is also harnessing a lot of attention is that of “intermittent fasting” or “alternate day fasting.” What it does is that it combines reduced-calorie days with “normal” eating on the other days, thus resulting in a more balanced diet suitable for weight-loss. A recent study conducted on mice, one group was handed a continuous diet while the intermittent group was allowed to eat as much as they wanted for fixed periods of time each week, from one to three days. Interestingly enough, both groups achieved absolutely the same weight loss over the 15-week period, despite the intermittent diet essentially eating more food. What’s also interesting is that evidence for this approach seems to be increasing in humans too.
Why is this so? Even scientists are not sure yet, but they believe that having a break from a diet or exercise regime allows people to keep their goals longer because their lifestyles are not affected and it feels as if they are being “treated” every once in a while. Research shows that people often lose motivation after a certain period of dieting if we lose sight of the bigger picture.