The two-week diet

Get lean with a calorie-cycling plan that keeps your metabolism humming

June 17, 2003
The two-week diet
Stop starving yourself and still lose bodyfat!

Sound too good to be true? Experts now believe you can get rid of excess fat--and just as important, keep it off--without constantly being hungry. Credit one Swedish researcher who may have discovered a cycle diet that works (1): Reduce your calorie intake for two weeks, eat more reasonable portions for up to a month, then begin again.

While many kinds of cycle dieting are disastrous as far as your figure is concerned, this new eating regimen is proving useful for some individuals. Timing, say experts, is everything.

Avoid Crash Dieting
As everyone knows, crash diets don't work--sooner or later you lose control and overeat. Muscle loss is also common, robbing you of firmness in your arms, chest and glutes. Worse, because dieting causes a drop in metabolism, fat loss slows to a whimper (even when you don't eat much) and the fat threatens to return when you resume normal eating patterns. Women have been praying for a more efficient way to lose fat for years, and science may have delivered.

In the Swedish study at the Obesity Unit of Huddinge University Hospital, three two-week periods of very strict dieting separated by a month proved better than six weeks of continuous dieting. Initial fat loss was basically the same for all subjects, but the phased dieting produced less muscle fatigue and other side effects. Over time, the cycle dieters lost more fat than the controls, achieving greater fat loss at three months (32.8 pounds vs. 28.2 pounds) and six months (34.1 pounds vs. 28.2 pounds).

Staying Low Calorie
Better yet, weight lost during the very-low-calorie phases stayed off when subjects went back to a less-restrictive low-calorie diet, even when it was for a whole month (1). Apparently, either two weeks was short enough to prevent some of the drop in metabolism that can occur with long-term dieting--and the dreaded "fat rebound" that comes after it--and/or metabolism was restored enough during the less-restrictive periods that fat regain was prevented.

Because the women studied were extremely obese, healthier women wishing to lose fat may benefit from a more balanced approach than the one researchers used. Our optimally balanced 1,400-calorie eating plan is even designed to preserve underlying muscle (see "Diet-Day Meal Plan"). Tired of the diet ups and downs? Give this fat-blasting program a try.