If you’ve cut calories to lose weight, you may have unwittingly reduced the amount of calories you burn at rest — also known as your resting energy expenditure (REE). In the big picture, this could lead to weight rebound once you’ve stopped dieting. Not good.
Luckily, you can get around this. At the 2009 meeting of the International Society of Sports Nutritionists, researchers at Texas A&M and Baylor Universities presented a study showing that if you cycle your weight-loss diet for one week with a maintenance one for three weeks, you’ll lose while allowing for a rebound in REE during the maintenance phase. (The subjects’ weight-loss diets consisted of 1,200 calories, while the maintenance phase consisted of 1,500 calories; the women in the study weighed 158 to 233 pounds when the study began.)
This fluctuating strategy may be an effective way to promote weight loss without concomitant reductions in resting metabolism. This may be difficult to do while preparing for a bodybuilding show, but if you’re just trying to drop a few for health, it could be a successful long-term approach.