Yes, more evidence that chronic dieting leads to fat gain, not loss

Yet another study demonstrating that “chronic dieting” leads to fat gain, not fat loss.

Yes, you read it right: if you always eat less calories than your body needs, your body will respond by storing more fat.

I’ve talked about this before but given that there is new research providing further proof of it, I thought I’d address it once again.

As this article explains, this is even a bigger problem for athletes, and especially middle and long-distance endurance athletes (runners, cyclists, etc).

As the article explains, it is not the “dieting” or even the “calorie restrictions” that are the problem. It’s the “continuous” aspects of dieting.

In other words, cutting calories “from time to time” does NOT cause a problem.

In fact, my advice to many looking to drop fat is to cycle periods of significant calorie restriction (dieting) with periods of sufficient consumption of calories so that our body does not go into “self-defense” mode and store fat.

As you probably already know, I’m a big fan of intermittent fasting. I will do 24 hour fasts once a week, and 48 hour fasts every month.

I do this for a variety of health reasons (longevity, anti-cancer, etc). But this also helps from a body composition point of view: the 24-hour fast means my total calorie intake for the week is down by 2000 or more calories, but because I’m eating regularly on other days (i.e. giving my body what it needs), my body never feels the need to switch to “self-defense” mode and store fat).

One last note on this: combining dieting with exercise is a recipe for disaster.

Exercise is a physical stress, so you’re telling your body: I want you work harder, and do more work.

Dieting is a physical stress, so you’re telling your body: I’m going to give you less resources than what you need.

Combining the 2 for long periods of time means you’re telling the body: I’m going to ask you to work harder, do more work, and at the same time I’m going to give you far less resources, and I’m going to do this every single day!

Your body’s response to this is completely natural: since you’re asking me to do more work with less resources, I’m going to try to save as many of my resources as possible (fat).