Why Intermittent Dieting Works!

Have you tried every Diet going?

Welcome to the lady that has tried all diets and found that maintaining any of them indefinitely is pretty much impossible without having a rather miserable existence. Being hungry all the time is hideous and do I want a life without an occasional cheese fondue, chocolate cake slab or chilled Chablis on a Friday night?! No, thank you! However, I am also not a huge fan of being overweight: been there, done that and got the photos to prove it. But sometimes I do lose weight deliberately. Every so often, I decide that there needs to be a little cut back and I consciously just eat less for a couple of weeks before returning to my normal eating habits. I also do yoga 4 or 5 days per week but I currently do not do any gym training myself and I eat pastries on Sunday mornings (connecting with my “married into” French roots ;)). I could be slimmer for sure but in the main, I am happy with my weight and I go about my weekly life unbothered about what the scales say. After years of being upset and unhappy with my weight, I will take that and skip on into the future! *

So when I stumbled across an article on the plane the other day, a few things clicked into place. Intermittent dieting is what I non-intentionally do! Intermittent dieting is where you reduce your calories for a couple of weeks and then return to normal again for a couple of weeks. You then keep repeating this until you are happy with your weight. As I said above, continually dieting over a long period of time just leads to feeling rubbish and hungry but you don’t have this feeling of deprivation if you know that it is only for a short period of time. You can make short-term sacrifices for long-term benefit. This study done at the University of Tasmania showed that after 30 weeks, the group that did two weeks off and two weeks on not only lost more weight than the continual dieters but also more of them kept more of the weight off.

Intermittent Dieters Lose More than Continual Dieters

What is the reason for this? One of the reasons that reduced-calorie diets often don’t work is because something happens called adaptive thermogenesis. This is where your metabolism eventually slows down to match the calories that you are providing. You initially may achieve some “weight loss” which will be a combination of both muscle and fat loss. The problem being that when you eventually give in to your appetite and cravings, your metabolism is slow and therefore you are likely to then gain only fat as your weight increases again. This cycle makes any future attempts to diet harder and harder, hence why diets notoriously do not work and why we get so disheartened by it all.

So how is the intermittent diet any different? The thought is that because the calorie intake is not reduced over a long period of time, the metabolism will slow less and as you return to “normal” eating, you are less likely to binge because you haven’t deprived yourself for as long. Therefore, over the months you are keeping your metabolism higher whilst still achieving a calorie deficit 50% of the time. This could also be the reason that the 5:2 diet is very effective for many people. Even though the ratios are different, the principle is the same.

What else can you do to give yourself the best chance at achieving weight loss?


1) Be sure to weight train to ensure that you lose the minimum amount of muscle.

2) Only reduce your calories by 20 – 25% as any more is too extreme and likely to trigger this “famine reaction” of metabolism reduction.

3) Exercise and keep as active as possible.

4) When you come off your restricted two weeks, make sure to take it easy. Have what you need to chill out the hunger hormones, but don’t go overboard.


Can you eat moderately?

If you are thinking “I’m an all or nothing kind of person, this sounds perfect!” then I am going to tell you something straight up. Whilst you continue to sometimes be an ALL kind of person, you will forever struggle with yoyo dieting. This isn’t about all or nothing; it is about restriction and then moderation. Can you eat moderately? Here are some questions that are likely to tell you whether this could work for you. If you can’t say yes to all of them then I suggest you put some groundwork in to achieving these basic habits first, before attempting to lose weight. Get the barriers down before you decide to run the race- give yourself the best chance at success.
  • Can you eat 2 or 3 biscuits and then put the packet back in the cupboard?
  • Can you take a few squares off a chocolate bar and put the sharing bar away?
  • Can you leave food on the side of your plate if you are full?
  • Do you ever feel full?
  • Do you eat on your own as you would in company?

If you answer no to one or more of the above, but don’t know why you have these habits and are struggling to change them then it may be a good idea to have a few sessions with a food counsellor or nutrition coach. These habits often go on for decades and are hard to change: don’t feel you have to go it alone!

Nutritional Advice

 At Free Spirit Fitness, we offer nutritional guidance and encourage a mindful approach to eating through food diaries. We also are lucky to have the support of a wonderful nutritional coach Tor Burrows, who can help you achieve all your nutritional goals.

Please contact us for more information or to book in with Tor: victoriajonespt@yahoo.co.uk

Eat well and be kind to yourself,

Victoria xx

*this isn’t me being smug or gloating in any way. There are many trainers out there with better bodies who are devoting more mental energy to food and exercise. What I like to help people achieve isn’t just weight loss, but a healthy relationship with their body and with food and exercise because happiness doesn’t come from a number on the scales but from how you feel inside: how you feel about you. Your PT berating you because you ate a cheese scone at the weekend or because you had a single beer on Saturday night isn’t helping that.

Victoria Mairiaux-Jones

I'm a Personal Trainer dedicated to improving my clients health and fitness. I work with people of all ages and levels of fitness, across Leamington, Warwick and Warwickshire. Lose Weight and get fit with Free Spirit Fitness Culture.

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