Losing Weight and Maintaining Weight Loss
To lose fat, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. However, if you diet for too long, this can eventually slow your metabolism in a process called “metabolic adaptation,” which makes it difficult to continue losing weight. To combat metabolic adaptation, you can use a strategy called “reverse dieting” whereby you gradually increase your caloric intake to raise your metabolism. Although this sounds contradictory; increase calories to lose weight, this ultimately helps you burn more calories. The findings of a controlled study (The MATADOR study) of 51 obese men made at the Queensland University of Technology, Australia showed conclusively the benefits of intermittent dieting also known as reverse dieting.
The MATADOR Study
The MATADOR (Minimising Adaptive Thermogenesis And Deactivating Obesity Rebound) study examined whether intermittent energy restriction (ER) improved weight loss efficiency compared with continuous ER and, if so, whether intermittent ER attenuated compensatory responses associated with ER.
The 51 obese men were split up into two groups:
Group “A” dieted continuously for 16 weeks, taking in 67% of the calories they would need to maintain their weight.
Group “B” adhered to the same calorie intake during dieting but alternating their diet in a two-week cycle for a total of 30 weeks. 2 weeks on / 2weeks off. This group dieted for the same amount of time (16 weeks) as group “A” but over a longer period of 30 weeks.
Greater weight and fat loss was achieved with group “B” who lost up to 18 pounds more than those in group “A” who dieted consistently for half the time. This concluded that Interrupting the diet with energy balance ‘rest periods’ may reduce compensatory metabolic responses and, in turn, improve weight loss efficiency.
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