If you're reading this article, chances are you have tried some diet that requires a prolonged period of eating fewer calories. What most people have NOT heard of is a concept called a diet break.
What it is: A diet break is a dieting protocol which is intended to (1) give you a mental break from the struggles of dieting and also (2) negate the metabolic adaptation from losing weight.
What are the two main benefits: (1) taking diet breaks can actually improve weight loss outcomes (although it takes longer because of the "break days") for the same amount of days in a caloric deficit, and (2) helps reduce metabolic adaptation meaning as you lose weight you can eat more food. These are in reference to this research: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28925405/.
How to do a diet break: after dieting for 3-8 weeks or on an as-needed basis, increase your calories to maintenance levels for one-week. Do not over-consume calories when you are taking a break and continue to track your food (after dieting, maintenance calories will feel like a ton anyways)!
How to calculate maintenance calories: use our free calculator and select "maintenance" as your goal.
Okay, now we covered the basics and you have calculated your maintenance calories using our free calculator. Here's how you can adjust your nutrition goals within MyFitnessPal to do a one-week diet break (using an iPhone):
1. After opening MyFitnessPal, click the "more" tab in the bottom right hand corner
2. Next, click "goals"
3. Click "calories, carbs, protein and fat goals" under the heading Nutrition Goals
4. If you are not a premium member (you don't have to be to do this), change the calories and then adjust the percentages to make the grams of protein, fats, and carbs as close to what our free calculator determined what your maintenance numbers were. If you are a premium member, you can just add those macronutrients automatically
5. That's it! Your Home Screen should now reflect your maintenance calories and macronutrients so you can take a one-week diet break. Remember, it's important to still track your meals and eat as close to those maintenance numbers as possible to get the benefits listed above
What a diet break is NOT: you may have seen The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) eating copious amounts of food which he calls his "cheat meals" once a week. That is NOT a diet break.
Have a question? Shoot us an email and a NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist will help guide your nutrition journey!