We are told that to lose weight we need to follow a strict diet for life but a researcher thinks you only need to do so for a month at a time.
Dr Nick Fuller is an obesity expert from the University of Sydney whose research shows that in order to make weight loss stick, people must eat well and exercise for a month – then have a month off.
‘Traditionally weight loss programs promote a continuous caloric restriction to induce a continuous weight loss,’ he explained in Interval Weight Loss for Life.
‘However a weight loss plateau tends to kick in around three to six months and a person will start to regain the lost weight.’
Dr Nick Fuller is an obesity expert whose research shows that in order to make weight loss stick, people must eat well and exercise for a month – then have a month off (stock image)
He said this often results in 95 per cent of people failing their attempts to shed the kilos.
This isn’t because of a lack of willpower, but because of the ‘biological protections left over from our time on earth as hunter gatherers’.
Dr Fuller explained that when the body is put under stress it goes back to its starting weight as it isn’t possible for people to lose weight without their body fighting it.
‘The only way to prevent these biological processes kicking into place is to impose ‘diet breaks’ along the way – specifically, every second month,’ he said.
Dr Fuller said it is important that when trying to lose weight every meal is filled with carbohydrates and protein
Foods to avoid
He said coconut oil leads to weight gain, increases the risk of heart attack and blocks their arteries.
Swap it for: Olive oil
He said dried fruit is packed with too many calories and almost nothing to give us more energy.
Swap it for: Fresh fruit
Although the popular snack is a great source of calcium, vitamin B12, and protein, Dr Fuller said cheese is also full of fat and calories.
Swap it for: Skim milk, yoghurt or nuts
‘And hence, the only way to meaningfully lose weight and sustain it is to follow a month on, month off approach,’ he added.
He said this is because putting these kinds of breaks in place stops the body from thinking it’s on a diet and therefore doesn’t slow down your metabolism.
It will then accept its new set point after a maintenance month.
‘It’s important you only lose around two kilos in your weight-loss month – any more will trigger your body to fight its way back to normal,’ he said.
To aid this weight loss technique Dr Fuller said people need to include carbohydrates and protein with every meal as they are ‘essential for a properly functioning body’.
They also help people feel fuller for longer, aiding long-term weight loss.
‘It’s important you only lose around two kilos in your weight-loss month — any more will trigger your body to fight its way back to normal,’ he said (Dr Fuller pictured)
Dr Fuller’s research has been shared in Interval Weight Loss for Life
Dr Fuller said it’s also important that people’s meals get smaller as the day goes on.
In his research Dr Fuller explained that although no foods are off limits, some should be eaten sparingly.
You can have one treat food and one meal out a week during weight-loss months, and double that during maintenance months.
‘You only end up craving the food you’ve omitted. This is a long-term program, not a diet, so it has to be inclusive of all foods,’ he said.
In terms of exercise people need to do 30 minutes of varied exercise six days a week to succeed in weight loss.
It is important to reduce the intensity and bring this down to five days a week during maintenance months.
Dr Fuller said it’s also important that people weigh themselves weekly to ensure that they don’t lose too much weight too fast.