We have good news for those of you that want to lose weight, but don’t want to be on a diet every day of the week: Research suggests that you might lose more weight if you don’t diet every day.
You read that correctly! British researchers have found that women who essentially gave up carbohydrates for only two days a week, and ate normally the rest of the time, dropped almost twice as much as those who cut back to around 1,500 calories every day.
“We came up with the idea of an intermittent low-carb diet because it enables people to still have foods that are very satisfying,” said the study’s lead author Michelle Harvie, a research dietitian at the Genesis Prevention Center at the University Hospital in South Manchester, England.
The researchers followed women for four months and divided them into three groups. One group was put on a Mediterranean-type diet that restricted calories to about 1,500 per day. A second group was told to eat normally most of the time, but two days a week to cut carbs and also calories to about 650. The third group was also to cut carbs two days a week, but there was no calorie restriction on those days.
At the end of the four months, women in both of the intermittent diet groups had lost about twice as much weight as the women who were on a diet every day of the week. Harvie said that there seemed to be a “carry over effect” on the two-day diet, which means that the benefits continued on the days when women ate normally. Women weren’t tempted to overeat on unrestricted days.
The women in the intermittent diet groups not only lost more weight, but they also had better improvements than daily dieters in the levels of hormones-insulin and leptin-that have been linked with breast cancer risk.
While Harvie and her colleagues plan to continue their studies on this regimen and its health benefits, you can try this diet tactic at home. Just eat protein and healthy fats on the two low carb days, but skip bread, pasta and root vegetables like potatoes, carrots and parsnips to get to the 50g limit. Other foods you can eat on the low carb days include: nuts and green, leafy vegetables, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant, cauliflower and a piece of fruit.
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