15 Sep How A Diet Break Can Help You Bust Through A Fat Loss Plateau
What if I told you I have been helping my clients break through their fat loss plateaus by INCREASING their calories and DECREASING their cardio for two weeks.
AND what if I told you that this method is evidence based and backed by some pretty impressive research.
You’d probably think this was too good to be true, right?
Well, it’s not.
Truth is, I’ve been implementing diet breaks with my clients for the last few months and the results have been astounding.
First off, let’s define what a diet break is.
Simply put, it’s a periodization of your fat loss protocol where you increase calories (and decrease cardio in some instances) to where your estimated levels of maintenance calories would be.
Periodization means taking a break from your program. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make with their fat loss programs is trying to stay in a calorie deficit for months, or even years without ever giving their bodies a break!
Logical thinking would leave you to wonder: “If I’m trying to lose body fat, why in the hell would I want to increase my calories. Won’t that cause me to gain weight?”
The research says otherwise!
A popular study referred to as the MATADOR study showed that a fat loss group who took intermittent breaks in dieting (as mentioned above) actually saw greater overall fat loss over a 16 week period compared to the control group who remained in a calorie deficit for the entire 16 weeks without taking a break.
What does this mean in layman’s terms?
Taking breaks from a calorie deficit seems to have benefits on your overall ability to hit your end goal and see better results compared to staying in a calorie deficit without a break!
How is this possible?
If you’ve followed my content for awhile, you will recall I’ve taught you that your body is built for survival, and not to be lean and muscular.
When your body begins to burn it’s stored energy supply (body fat) it will resist this change by implementing what’s called metabolic adaptations to slow this process down.
This might sound like a bad thing in terms of achieving your slim midsection goals, but your body is doing it’s job which is to maintain homeostasis (a happy internal environment without change.)
How does a diet break help YOU achieve your end goals?
What we can tell from the limited research (and what I can tell you from first hand client experience) is a scheduled diet break offers benefits in delaying or preventing metabolic adaptations with fat loss.
This means you see better results with fat loss with less chance of negative side effects such as increased hunger, increased stress, and plateaus with your progress. #win!
Plus, it’s a great psychological break.
Two weeks of a diet break and higher macros allows for different types of foods in your program, and may allow you to go out to eat a bit more or fit in some alcohol into your daily numbers. This mental break allows you to feel refreshed and recharged when it’s time to go back into a calorie deficit.
I’ve also noticed that the ensuing fat loss always seems a bit easier for my clients after a diet break. I can’t back this up empirically, but it’s something I do notice in quite a few clients after their diet break concludes.
When should you implement a diet break?
There isn’t a text book answer that exists here. The signs that I look for with my clients to suggest a diet break could be beneficial are:
Increased hunger during the day.
Decreased ability to hit their daily macro goals without being tempted to go over.
A plateau in their progress after several weeks of consistency with their program.
When they just needs a mental break from a calorie deficit and can benefit from more liberalized macro goals.
What’s the final verdict on diet breaks?
From an anecdotal and an evidence based perspective there appears to be nothing but positives from implementing diet breaks in a clients fat loss protocol.
One thing we know for sure with fat loss is the body WILL fight the process sooner or later by trying to preserve it’s stored body fat.
Our goal in a fat loss program is to mitigate the negative side effects as long as possible, making the process easy and enjoyable for you.
At the very least, a diet break offers a mental break from a calorie deficit and will allow you to feel mentally refreshed and recharged after the break to recommit to your fat loss goals.
The best case scenario allows for you to see better sustainability and results after taking the diet break.
Either way, what do you have to lose?