How often have you started dieting made great progress for a while only to have it suddenly stop in its tracks?

Maybe you blame the diet. Maybe you blame yourself for not working hard enough or being committed enough. Maybe you just can’t ever lose weight?

I have seen this over and over again now before we give up all hope and cry-eat our way through a box of doughnuts lets step back a minute and look at what happens to our bodies when we lose weight.

  • You’re eating less, your burning less calories processing food
  • You weigh less, your body needs less calories try to maintain your weight
  • You have less energy, your activity levels outside the gym go down, you burn less calories
  • Your hormones change:
    • Ghrelin up, Leptin down – your always hungry
    • Cortisol up, Serotonin down – your more stressed
    • Testosterone down – this just sucks on many levels!
    • Thyroid hormones down – your burning less calories

To summarise dieting sucks, it really sucks!

It takes a great deal of willpower and grit to do so if you’ve lost weight well done! But determination can only take you so far and you can’t fight your body forever. Our body always want to maintain its current state and our metabolism will adapt to whatever you give it, if you diet it slows down, if you try and gain weight it speeds up.

So, if you have dieted down and find that your hitting a wall, this may seem like a terrible situation but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

A diet break, this is simply a period of time where you eat at maintenance calories.

It is not hugely talked about in the fitness industry purely because it isn’t very sexy or exciting. Maintaining weight is not what most people are looking for but it is the answer to the problems we experience dieting.

What happens when we spend time maintaining our fat loss gains?

Well basically exactly the opposite of what happens as we diet.

  • Hunger goes down
  • Energy levels rise
  • Stress comes down
  • Hormones come back to normal levels

We can reverse the adaptations our bodies make and can set ourselves up for greater success in the long term. You will feel better and be raring to get back to achieving your goals. Not only that but when you go back to dieting weight loss will come like it did when you first started dieting and on much higher calories than when you were spinning your wheels and not losing anything.

When and how do you execute a diet break?

Generally, if you have been stuck at the same weight for 3 weeks or more it’s time for a break, or around every 3 months is a good time to step back and reset.

A diet break should be at least 3 days in length anything less won’t bring about the desired changes, a cheat meal or an off day just isn’t going to cut it. Now these breaks can be timed to coincide with a weekend away, a busy time at work or hectic social responsibilities.

How long you spend at maintenance is completely up to you. If you feel like you’ve made good progress there’s nothing wrong with focusing your attention on other areas of your life for a while. Remember you’re not going to be going backwards in this time your maintaining your progress and when you do decide to refocus on fat loss you’re going to be in a much better position to succeed.

What should a diet break look like?

Well it’s going to look pretty much like your diet before, this isn’t an excuse to throw everything out the window and start hammering down pizza and doughnuts every day. We want to keep the healthy habits we’ve gained during our diet and simply add in more of the wholesome foods you enjoy.

How much you add in is going to be individual but a good rule of thumb is to increase your calories by around 20% of what you were on at the end of your diet. So, if you ended your diet on 1500 calories you would add in around 300 calories. If you are someone who doesn’t track their calories specifically don’t worry simply adding in an extra serving of carbohydrate (a large baked potato is around 300 calories) should get you on the right path.

This might seem scary to some of you and your going to worry about regaining that dreaded fat you worked so hard to lose but trust me this is increase a very conservative amount and I have seen this work time and again. You will more than likely see a jump in the scales, a pound or two is common, however this isn’t fat this will be water retention in the muscles and nothing to fret over.

Diet Breaks - Overcoming Your Fat Loss Plateaus
Diet Breaks
and fat loss plateaus by Kieron Fisher

Remember fat loss isn’t a race and if your goals are worthy of striving for it will take time.

If you’re hitting a wall after dieting consider a diet break and set yourself up for long term success.

And if you simply don’t know where to start with your diet in the first place…

Grab Your Free Copy of Our 30 Nutrition Guide to set you on your Path to Success!