Taking a break from dieting could actually improve weight loss, a study has suggested.
Research published in the International journal of Obesity found people who took a two weeks on, two weeks off approach to weight loss actually shed more kilos.
They were also found to keep if off for longer than those who dieted continuously.
Professor, Nuala Byrne, Head of the University of Tasmania’s School of Health Sciences, which carried out the study, explained dieting alters a series of biological processes in the body which can make weight loss harder to achieve.
He said: “When we reduce our energy intake during dieting, resting metabolism decreases to a greater extent than expected; a phenomenon termed ‘adaptive thermogenesis’.”
The body reacts to “perceived famine” which can explain why it is difficult the longer someone is on a diet to lose weight.
Professor Byrne added: “This ‘famine reaction’, a survival mechanism which helped humans to survive as a species when food supply was inconsistent in millennia past, is now contributing to our growing waistlines when the food supply is readily available.
Two groups participated in the research which involved a 16-week-long diet plan.
One group maintained a diet which cut calorie intake by one third for 16 weeks while the other maintained the diet for two weeks, had two weeks off, then repeated the cycle for 30 weeks, to ensure 16 weeks of dieting.
Those who had the breaks in the 16 weeks not only lost more weight but also gained less weight after the trial finished.
The group maintained an average weight loss of eight kilograms more than the continuous diet group, six months after the end of the diet.
Other research claims diet and exercise are not the only ways to lose weight.