Researchers found that the group participating in diet breaks actually lost more weight than the group following the continuous restriction diet.
Research published in the International Journal of Obesity has revealed that the proportion of some gut bacteria may be connected to how much weight a person is able to lose under certain circumstances.
There you are, fastidiously maintaining a ridiculous calorie deficit, missing out on all kinds of good, delicious foods...and the scales aren't moving.
As part of the study, the men were randomly assigned to one of two diet groups.
The length of those breaks varies greatly: some people only eat within a certain hours during the day; others eat a lot some days then eat very little on subsequent days (the approach that underpins the popular 5:2 diet); or adopt longer windows like the two-weeks-on, two-weeks-off cycle in the new study.
Researchers from the University of Tasmania, Australia, studied two groups of participants in a 16-week diet which cut out calorie intake by one third. During their break weeks the group ate enough calories to keep their weight stable.
'Human intestinal bacteria have been linked to the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity, and scientists have started to investigate whether the intestinal bacteria can play a role in the treatment of overweight, ' says co-author of the study, Professor Arne Astrup. And while it's common to regain a few pounds after returning to previous eating habits, the two-week dieters kept the pounds off, maintaining a almost 18-pound loss six months after the study.
The study analyzed 47 obese men, from 30-50 years of age, who were trying to lose weight.
They were instructed to follow either the New Nordic Diet (dark greens, berries, wholegrains) or the Average Danish Diet (lean meat, eggs, lettuce, coffee, no grains) and were grouped based on how much of two different types of bacteria - Prevotella and Bacteroides - they had in their gut. Before any medical recommendations can be made, the results need to be repeated in larger groups. I think that's an important facet of this study.
Not only that, but the intermittent group also gained less weight back after the trial was over.
Michelle vanDellen, an expert on motivation and self-regulation at the University of Georgia department of psychology said While biology, not psychology, was the focus of Byrne's study, there could also be a psychological component to the results.
Many people who started trimming down earlier this year in a bid to get a "beach body" in time for summer will be increasingly tempted by naughty treats in the run up to Christmas.
According to Nyrne, this diet helps combat the phenomenon called "the starvation reaction".