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Diet Breaks: Key to Long Term Success

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

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Most clients freak out when I tell them that it’s time for a diet break. Why? Because of the misconception that weight loss means dieting forever, and eating more means weight gain.

A diet break is really just a 10-14-day break from your current eating routine. Yes, I know it seems scary because you may be thinking… “Sis, I’m going to mess up my winning streak” or “I’m going to gain weight”. But no, you aren’t messing up your good streak, you’re actually helping it. YES, you MAY gain weight, but it will not be anything too crazy. Some clients actually continue to lose weight because a diet break resets the hormones that regulate metabolism. With extensive dieting, the hormones responsible for regulating your metabolism can slow down over time. A diet break gives your hormones time to reset to normal which will slow down metabolic adaptation and potentially prevent a plateau from occurring (we all hate those).This in turn will help you continue to lose weight once you go back into a caloric deficit.

Don’t understand this?

Let me break it down for you….

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body needs to maintain normal body function (i.e. breathing, circulation). Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is the number of calories your body needs for physical activity and is also the number of calories needed to maintain your current weight. A caloric deficit is a percent reduction in your TDEE that will cause weight loss. During a caloric deficit your body learns to adapt to a lower number of calories and this in turn will affect how efficient your body is in burning calories. If your body remains in a caloric deficit for too long, your body begins to interpret a diet that is too low in calories as starvation. The body will then begin to hold on to calories to support basic body function since the body thinks that it is starving and not receiving enough calories. As a result of lower calories and insufficient energy to properly power your body, your body simply begins to SLOW-DOWN to conserve energy. In which your thyroid hormones, which help regulate your metabolism, will “throw water on the flame” (your metabolism) and slow down as well. And this my friend is called metabolic adaptation. Therefore, if your goal is to lose weight you must be strategic in slowing down this process or use strategy to overcome it.

This is where a diet break comes in. A diet break takes you out of a caloric deficit and allows you to eat at the number of calories that will maintain your weight for about 10-14 days. This provides the body with more calories so that it can reset to normal to prevent or recover from metabolic adaptation. On average, because of the higher carb content, people MAY gain 2-5 lbs., but this will be all lost once they go back into a caloric deficit. The bottom line is that a diet break must be incorporated into your weight loss plan for long term success, and it should not be something that you run away from.

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So how do you know that it’s time for a diet break? Well if you have been dieting for longer than 3-4 months I hate to break it to you, but it is time for a diet break. And if you have been dieting for longer than 6 months you will likely need a reverse diet. Click here to learn more about reverse dieting.

When doing a diet break you should plan to eat at the number of calories that will maintain your weight to minimize weight gain. As for me? Well I took a 14-day diet break! I did not meal prep for 2 weeks (first time in almost 3-4 years), went on vacation in Barbados for a week, and simply enjoyed my time with my husband. I did not track or calculate calories to ensure that I was eating at maintenance, because I simply wanted to enjoy my time away. All diet breaks are not created equally. I always encourage my clients to tell me how they feel about tracking before taking a diet break. If a client is emotionally and mentally drained from tracking then I recommend that they do what I did and to just enjoy themselves during the break. Weight loss is not just about physical wins, you must always check in on your mental and emotional health to ensure that they are also in line with your physical wins. True success during weight loss is a result of a strong, healthy mind and it is of most importance for continued wins.

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Are you struggling to lose weight despite cleaning up your diet and/or slashing calories? My 1:1 coaching can help you get on track and continue to lose weight. Click here to learn about my 1:1 coaching and how I can customize a macro plan to meet your weight loss goals without jeopardizing your taste buds and lifestyle.

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