Dieting: When to Take a Break
One of the most under-rated techniques in weight-loss is simply taking a break. A diet break is an excellent way to give yourself a psychological boost while on a restrictive eating plan because it’ll allow you to satisfy food cravings and get some brief relief from any hunger you may be experiencing while on the diet.
A break from dieting is also a jump-start for your metabolic rate, which may have slowed after getting the signal that you reduced calorie intake. This means when you resume your diet again – usually the next week, day or even meal – you are going to see much faster results overall.
Let’s look at some of the signals that indicate that it’s time to take a break from your diet, or at least reward yourself with a cheat meal.
- You’re hungry all the time. If you are hungry 20 minutes after you eat, this is a sign that your leptin levels are dropping. This signals that your body thinks energy levels are low and wants more food to use or store as fuel.
- You can’t remember the last time you indulged. Staying on a diet too long is reason for a diet break in itself since placing too much strain on your self-control can cause your motivation to bottom out.
- Your workout performance is decreasing. This indicates you could be low in muscle glycogen levels, which a short diet break can remedy.
- You’re always cold. This is a good indicator that the metabolism is slowing down, also indicative it’s time for a diet break.
- Your progress has slowed significantly. If you were losing a pound a week and for the last three weeks have lost nothing despite sticking to your plan, it’s time to take a few days off from your diet.
- You can’t stop thinking about food! Obsession about food indicates your body is asking for more, and one cheat day might be all that’s needed to turn off that train of thought.
- You’re having trouble sleeping. Dieting can impact sleep quality, and after so long, you may not be getting the restful sleep you need. A few days’ diet break can resolve this.
- You want to sleep all the time. Even if you’re having trouble falling sleep, wanting to oversleep may be your body telling you it doesn’t have energy for anything else.
- You’re having strong food cravings throughout the day, especially for carbohydrates. Due to a decrease in leptin after long-term dieting, you may find you crave carbs more than anything else.
- You’re feeling anxious and irritable all the time. Long-term dieting can take its toll on anyone’s patience and mood. Reset with a little break, like a cheat day or weekend off.
All in all, be sure to pay attention to how you feel while using your diet and the rate of progress you’re seeing. Your body will often tell you when it’s time to eat a little more for a little while. If you listen to it, you’ll get faster results and be more satisfied.
If you aren’t seeing these signs yet, know that it’s still a good idea to take a few days off your diet after every 5–8 weeks of dieting. Use that as a guideline to make sure you’re staying on course and supporting long-term success.