Research: A Break From Dieting May Help Weight Loss

Research - Boggle LettersResearch - Boggle Letters

Intermittent dieting improves weight loss 

Five very obese fat men on the beach
Five obesely fat men on the beach

For years I have been told that the key to dieting is consistency.  You must start and remain on a diet to be successful with weight loss.  You must use the changes as a means to develop a new lifestyle and consistency is the key to that learning process.  Your body responds to energy restrictions by adopting compensatory changes that will make it harder to lose weight in the future.  Can we alter this adaptation?  

The key consideration is an intermittent energy restriction is not a return to the old habits.  It is also not the old day-off technique that has been popularized in the past.  The vacation days in which you splurge is not a part of this research.  Instead, this study focused on alternating 2-week blocks of energy restriction with 2-week blocks of energy balance.  After a period of energy restriction, the caloric requirement was recalculated for the new balance.  This way you only take in the number of calories to support your weight and no more.  

The Crack of Obesity
The Crack of Obesity

In 2017, the MATADOR or Minimizing Adaptive Thermogenesis and Deactivating Obesity Rebound study was released​[1]​.  This journal article, “Intermittent energy restriction improves weight loss efficiency in obese men: the MATADOR study” was published in the Internation Journal Of Obesity.  The study compared intermittent calorie and continuous calorie restriction.  The study was a randomized 16-week study that enrolled fifty-one subjects.  The study found that there was a significantly higher weight and fat loss in the intermittent energy restriction group.  The resting energy expenditure was essentially the same between the two groups, but when adjusting the resting energy expenditure for body weight, the result points significantly better reduction of resting energy expenditure in intermittent dieting.  

The bottom line: Intermittent energy restrictions resulted in greater fat and weight loss.  It also appears to reduce the compensatory drop in metabolism that commonly occurs with weight loss.  More research is needed but this is very promising.  

[1]Byrne et al., “Intermittent Energy Restriction Improves Weight Loss Efficiency in Obese Men: The MATADOR Study.”


  1. Byrne, N M, A Sainsbury, N A King, A P Hills, and R E Wood. “Intermittent Energy Restriction Improves Weight Loss Efficiency in Obese Men: The MATADOR Study.” International Journal of Obesity, August 17, 2017.

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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