New studies show that cutting back on calories slows your body’s metabolism and makes it easier for it to lay down fat. So burn kilos with some outdoor exercise!

If the festive period is likely to leave you reaching for trousers with an elasticated waist, and the New Year comes with a weight loss resolution, beware going on a diet to achieve your goals. hydration 2

New scientific studies reveal how a significant cut in your calorific intake can lead to post-diet weight gain. While cutting back on calories does lead to initial weight loss, it also reduces your body’s energy expenditure, changes your muscle composition from fast to slow twitch, and makes it easier for your body to lay down fat when you resume a normal diet.

Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tracked the body composition of 32 men over a six-week period. For the first week they ate 50% more than their energy needs, followed by three weeks at half their energy needs, and finished with a fortnight at 50% more than their energy needs.

The results showed that the period of half rations led to 6kgs of weight loss, but not all of this was fat. In fact their fat-free mass, which includes skeletal muscle, liver and kidneys decreased more sharply than fat. The harsh diet also led to a significant reduction in resting energy expenditure of -266 kcal/day, a 14% fall in heart rate and a 22% decline in the calories burnt when walking.

Basically, this suggests that under reduced calorific dietary conditions the body closes down its calorie-burning functions to conserve energy, making it harder to lose weight.

These findings were echoed by a study conducted by Dutch scientists at the University of Maastricht and published in Nutrition & Metabolism.

This also found that the body adapts to energy restriction with a decrease in resting and exercise-induced energy expenditure, both during and after the diet.

After eight weeks on a low calorie diet, a trial group of 48 men and women’s total energy expenditure had slipped by an average of 17.5%, including a decline of 10.8% at rest and a massive 22.8% fall in activity-induced energy expenditure.

Meanwhile, in the Frontiers of Physiology, researchers who semi-starved then re-fed rats found that fat storage accelerated after the period of restricted diet. In effect, muscles stopped burning as much energy.

“These energy-sparing effects persist during weight recovery and contribute to catch-up fat,” said the scientists.So if you’re looking to drop a few pounds, the consensus suggests a better long-term strategy is to burn fat through exercise rather than diet your way to weight loss.”