The Research On Diet Breaks

Chances are if you’re subscribed here, you’ve heard about diet breaks. If you haven’t, here’s a quick rundown. While there is no “set” definition, this is what most people practically implement.

As it sounds, it’s a break from your diet. Typically this is represented by several days or a full week (the lucky ones sometimes get 2 weeks!) eating at maintenance calories. So while it’s a break, it’s not a literal break from dieting where all #fatspo hell breaks loose (we could only wish, right).

Diet breaks can be incredibly helpful as someone has been dieting and the deficit starts to really kick in. How you implement them will look different depending on if your goals. Are you stepping on stage? Are you dieting for a specific end date? Or are you simply looking to change your body composition for the long haul? Lots of factors influence if and when and how long your diet breaks will be executed.

From a coaching perspective, I’ve seen these work great with certain clients in the right scenarios. Mentally it’s extremely refreshing to have more food, training intensity will increase and the client will likely have a week of great sleep.

What about the research? There’s not much but there is something!

The MATADOR study was the first highly controlled study to look at taking “breaks” with your diet (what they deem as intermittent). If you want to read the full study, click here to nerd out.

If you don’t give two shits about reading the paper, I’ve summarized the key points and takeaways in this Science Simplified video.

I’ve also made an application based Science Simplified video covering the topic as well where I walk through a few of the options for you guys.

While the MATADOR study was amazing and very well designed, the population was obese, sedentary men who were not exercising during the study. However, given the exciting promise of these findings coupled with the popularity of diet breaks in the physique community, the University of South Florida Physique Lab will be conducting research soon on diet breaks in resistance trained population. Dr. Campbell’s lab has been pumping out great research, but I’m particularly excited about this one!

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