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Why taking a diet break can help you burn calories

It may sound far-fetched, but taking a two-week break from your diet can actually help you burn more calories. A new study published in International Journal of Obesity claims “cheat weeks” are a great way to help you lose weight. Australian researchers created two groups out of 51 obese men between the ages of 25 and 54, with one group following a 16-week diet that reduced their normal daily caloric intake by a third. The second group consumed the same diet for two weeks before taking a two-week break from it. This eating regimen was repeated eight times.

The Surprising Results

The group that went on the two-week break lost about 50 percent more weight compared to the other group. Both groups gained weight six months after participating in the experiment; however, the “break” dieters weighed about 18 pounds lighter than those who maintained their diet.

Why It Happened

When we reduce our energy (food) intake during dieting, resting metabolism decreases to a greater extent than expected; a phenomenon termed ‘adaptive thermogenesis’—making weight loss harder to achieve,” Nuala Byrne, head of the University of Tasmania’s School of Health Sciences Professor and study lead author noted in a statement about the study. “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.”

Going Overboard

Taking a short break from your diet does not mean eating five donuts and many servings of French fries every day. It simply means consuming the correct amount of calories for you instead of restricting them. You can still indulge so long as it does not become an everyday occurance.

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