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Do Diet Breaks Really Work?




Are you struggling to lose weight despite your efforts? Consider a diet break—a temporary pause from calorie restriction that could kickstart your progress. Let's delve into whether diet breaks really work and how they can benefit your weight loss journey.


What are Diet Breaks?

Diet breaks involve temporarily increasing your calorie intake to maintenance level or slightly above. They provide a break from the constant calorie restriction typical of weight loss diets, allowing your body to reset both physically and mentally. Most people face a hard time constantly trying to stay in a deficit and this allows for a break so that the “dieting” portion becomes more sustainable. 


The Science Behind Diet Breaks

Studies suggest that prolonged calorie restriction can lead to metabolic adaptations that hinder weight loss progress. Adding diet breaks makes the process a little easier to handle, only focusing on 1-2 weeks of a deficit versus trying to stay in a deficit until the extra weight is lost. Diet breaks temporarily boost metabolic rate, regulate hunger hormones, and provide relief from psychological stress associated with calorie counting.


Benefits of Diet Breaks

  • Metabolic Reset: Diet breaks prevent metabolic slowdown by boosting metabolism temporarily.

  • Hormonal Balance: They regulate hunger hormones like leptin and ghrelin, aiding appetite control.

  • Gives a Needed Break: Diet breaks ease the stress of constant calorie restriction, supporting long-term adherence.

  • Maintain Muscle Mass: They help preserve lean muscle mass, crucial for metabolic health and weight maintenance.


How to Incorporate Diet Breaks

Strategically plan to take a diet break for anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks (dependent on the dieting approach taken) in an 8-12 week cut. You can either choose to add in a couple re-feed days a week OR push your deficit for a few weeks to go back to maintenance calories for a week or two. It all depends on how well you can adhere to a weight loss plan, and what works best for your life. 


Diet breaks can break through weight loss plateaus and foster long-term success. By adding them into your plan, you can regulate metabolism, and hunger hormones, and achieve a healthier relationship with food. Stay consistent and balanced, adjusting your approach as needed, for sustainable weight loss results. In the end, don’t be afraid to take a break if it helps you maintain your weight loss long-term. 

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