By Gabe Sanders PhD, NSCA-CSCS
By now you have heard the term, Yo-Yo dieting. Yo-Yo dieting refers to the process when people diet for a brief amount of time, then they successfully lose weight after a few weeks or months of regular dieting and then regain all the weight they worked so hard to lose.
The rollercoaster ride of Yo-Yo dieting often lead to increases in fat mass regardless of what the scale may tell you because every time you lose weight, you also lose a small amount of muscle. Then every time you regain weight, you typically gain pure fat.
Try restricting your calories for two weeks at a time!
To overcome the natural struggle of rollercoaster dieting and eating regimens that are set up for failure, try restricting your calories for two weeks at a time! Yes, you read that correctly, two weeks at a time! A recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that restricting calories for two weeks at a time can lead to more weight loss, fat loss, and improve the effectiveness of dieting.
This form of dieting is called intermittent energy restriction and appears to be an effective solution to long term, continuous dieting. Interestingly, the two-week dieters in the study did not experience a loss of muscle mass and they retained their weight loss more than the group of participants that aimed for long term caloric restriction.
Restrict your calories by 300-500 calories per day
A good solid recommendation for your two-week energy restriction period is to restrict your calories by 300-500 calories every day for two weeks. This means you will need to avoid your Friday or Saturday cheat meals during this time. However, your main goal for the following two weeks is to be modest in your gradual caloric increases.
The “off” two-week period is not a time to go wild and crazy and eat everything in sight, but it is designed to give you some freedom in your diet and food choices. To maximize the benefit of intermittent energy restriction, add daily exercise and plenty of physical activity to your regimen and you will experience successful weight loss!
*Before starting an exercise or nutrition regimen, consult with your healthcare provider and/ or registered dietitian.
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Byrne, N. M., Sainsbury, A., King, N. A., Hills, A. P., & Wood, R. E. (2017). Intermittent energy restriction improves weight loss efficiency in obese men: the MATADOR study. International journal of obesity (2005).