If you’re currently on a strict weight loss plan that’s designed to help you burn up body fat as fast as you possibly can, one thing that you absolutely must know about the process is that diet breaks are critical to success.
For most people though, the mere mention of a ‘diet break’ sends them running in the opposite direction.
Diet break?!? You might be thinking…why on earth would you take a diet break intentionally?
Most people have a hard enough time as it is sticking to a diet in the first place, the thought of taking a self-proposed break just seems silly.
But the catch is that it’s not. A diet break could possibly be the most important thing that you could do to help see ongoing success.
Let’s have a closer look at why this is and what you need to know about doing a diet break successfully.
Why Take A Diet Break?
So why take a diet break? The thing that you must keep in mind here is that when you reduce your total calorie intake, your body is going to think a famine is taking place. The lower you take your overall calorie consumption, the harder the signal the body gets that you are in fact starving.
As such, the body is going to react. While you may want to fit into those skinny jeans, your body has another mission in mind.
It’s going to do everything in its power once it realizes that you are losing weight and body fat and aren’t getting the energy in that your body needs to sustain life.
It’s going to start fighting you ever step of the way, making it feel next to impossible to stick with the diet that you’re using.
And trust me, when you are in a fight with your body, things are not going to be looking good on your end.
A diet break is essentially going to send the message to your body that the starvation period is over. When this happens, your body will feel safer speeding up the metabolic rate and getting back to feeling normal again.
Until that point though, it’s on high alert and is going to continually prompt you to eat and conserve fuel.
Fat loss will come to a screeching halt and you will find yourself in the dreaded plateau.
Who Needs A Diet Break?
When thinking about who needs a diet break, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, those who are using the most intense diet plans are going to need to do a diet break more frequently than those who aren’t. As mentioned, the lower your calorie intake is when on the fat loss diet, the more likely your body is to think that you are in fact starving it.
Therefore, the more often you need to send the message to it that everything is okay.
Second, those who are already very lean are going to notice that their body is fighting them harder. Basically, if you have 50 pounds of body fat to lose, some time at a lower calorie intake isn’t the end of the world. You have plenty of fat for energy stored up.
But, if you only have 10 pounds of fat to lose, now imagine how the tables are turned. Your body will be that much more worried about dying due to starvation and thus the signals get sent stronger and more often. Thus, diet breaks are required more frequently as well.
Finally, those people who have trouble sticking to a diet plan to start with may want to look at taking a diet break more often as well for the simple psychological relief it will provide them. For them, having the break can help reset their motivation to continue on, which they otherwise may not have.
What Are The Signs You Should Do A Diet Break?
The important thing as you go about the dieting process is to watch for the signs that indicate it may be time to take a diet break.
Some of the main warning signs include:
- Insatiable hunger that never seems to end
- High levels of fatigue – you never want to get off the couch
- Feeling very cold all the time (indicative of a slow metabolism)
- Having trouble waking up in the morning (more trouble than normal!)
- Slow rate of fat loss progress.
All of these indicate that your body isn’t functioning as well as it could be and that action should be taken to get you on a better path.
Doing The Diet Break Properly
So if you find that you are suffering from these side effects, taking action is the next step. What should you be doing?
First, immediately come off the diet. For a period of about 3-7 days, eat at a maintenance calorie level, which for most people is around 14 to 15 calories per pound of body weight.
Make sure with this intake that you are also getting in at least 100 grams of carbs per day, preferably more. Carbohydrates have the greatest influence on the metabolic hormones in the body, so you need to get your intake up high enough.
Still focus on healthy foods as you always did, but allow back some of the foods you may have been cutting out due to being on a diet plan.
Carry this out for the indicated time period and when you return back to your normal diet again, you should notice that you not only feel better, but your progress moves along that much faster as well.
Diet breaks should typically be done once every 3-4 weeks on a strict diet plan or if you are very lean, or once every 6-8 weeks if your diet is more moderate or you have lots of fat to lose.
Do not overlook this critical component of dieting however or you will sacrifice the results that you see.