When should you take a break from dieting? Here’s a tricky question to answer – and as cliche as it is to use this phrase in a weight loss context – it depends.
Taking a break from dieting when you’ve still got 30+ lbs to lose is going to be different from the lady that is nearing her preferred target weight range.
Are more frequent breaks preferred over infrequent ones? Again, it all depends. How long has the diet been going for? Are you on week 10 or week 26?
Generally speaking, the more weight you have to lose and the more body fat you have, the easier it will be to go longer durations without taking a break. This is because when you have more stored energy and are further from an ideal weight range, the less likely your body is in dire need of you holding onto the weight. Your hunger levels will be lower and your hormonal response won’t be as bad (i.e. your tummy will grumble a lot less.)
Saying that, you might be a total beginner with some serious food relationship issues and cannot string a few consistent weeks together, so it might be worth having more frequent breaks to keep you in the game.
It’s impossible to give you an overall guide that accurately covers the ‘just right’ in all situations since every situation is different, but generally speaking here are some good time frames:
Seriously slim and a few lbs off goal weight range (like about to step on a stage in a bikini) – every 1-4 weeks
Within a healthy weight range and only a few lbs off target – every 4-6 weeks
Less than 10 lbs to lose – every 4-8 weeks
More than 14 lbs to lose – every 6-12 weeks
More than 30 lbs to lose – every 8 – 12 weeks
More than 45 lbs to lose – every 12 – 24 weeks
Obese with a history of yo-yo dieting and disordered eating – 3 weeks on, 1 week off pattern repeated
Struggling with keeping hunger levels under control, stressed out or experiencing general diet fatigue – every 1-4 weeks
Works away a lot and has a hectic schedule which may include foreign travel – every 2-4 weeks
At goal weight and looking to maintain – not required
Looking to gain muscle and improve overall physique – not required (you may even consider the opposite of a diet break and diet for a few weeks if you feel you are gaining a little too much body fat.)