MATADOR Study Dieting

Hey CT,

I would love to get your opinion on the diet from this paper:

They took two groups and put them on a diet for 16 weeks. One group dieted continuously while the other group alternated between dieting 2 weeks and eating maintenance for 2 weeks. So the on/off group took 32 weeks for the 16 diet weeks.

The on/off group had significantly less metabolic adaptation and lost more weight and fat mass.

I’ll try this diet soon. I hope to preserve more strength and feel less shitty at the end of the diet.

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There was an article written about this a while back. I also followed the diet for a few weeks but was having a hard time complying during my maintenence weeks so i decided to stop.

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I have no doubt that it would work. It would even allow you to go harder (greater deficit) during the dieting periods as there is no risk of metabolic adaptations.

The one issue that SOME people will have with this approach (myself for example) is the tendency to overeat during the “maintenance” weeks, especially if you went at it hard during the dieting weeks.

It’s one example of something that will work really well if you follow it to a T, but that could backfire if you don’t.

Also, personally, I couldn’t do it because I’m an extremist and function by passion: I have ONE goal and will do everything possible to achieve that goal until I get it. For me, having to “stop dieting” after 2 weeks if I haven’t reached my goal would kill my motivation, even if I intellectually understand the benefits.


Have you never tried experimenting with an approach that’s something in the middle? Instead of going two weeks on two weeks off, I’ll have my clients diet continously (with 1-3 maintenance weeks after every 12 weeks off course) until they reach a bodyfat percentage of around 15-18% for males, 25-28% for women.

After that point I introduce them to high (eating at maintenance) and low days (eating in a caloric deficit). For example a 6:1 ratio where they’ll be eating in a caloric deficit for 6 days in the week (doensn’t have to be 6 days in a row) and 1 day where they’ll be eating at maintenance. The total weekly caloric deficit they need to hit their average weekly weight loss goals is thus spread over the number of low days, so they can have that one day of maintenance while hitting their weight loss targets week after week.

Someone who’s leaner than 12% for males or 22% for females will get a 5:2 or even a 4:3 ratio because the caloric deficit doesn’t need to be as high as when they first started out their diet (for example going from 1% BW weight loss per week to 0.5% BW weight loss per week).

The high days are defined by filling the caloric deficit with mostly carbohydrates to refuel the glycogen stores. It’s essentially a refeed but a strategic one because there’s also a psychological component. The client gets a mental break from dieting on a maintenance day and chances are higher that the client will succesfully maintain his/her caloric deficit over the week.

It’s a great strategy to get lean, reduce psychological stress from dieting continously and to be able to keep performing at your best in the gym due to carb refeeds. Better performance in the gym usually leads to a better stimulus for the body to maintain muscle and burn fat for fuel instead (around the workout off course, not during). The one or several high days also reduce metabolic adaptations which is a great bonus as well.

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This is/was exactly me. I think the diet would work great, but CT is 100% right.

Like any diet, ability to comply is the key to success.

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Yes, they were doing exactly that in the study (you probably know) with a 30% deficit which in a continuous diet I would not do from the start but gradually decrease calories which then of course, would probably not be a 30% deficit anymore because of the metabolic adaptations.

I’m the same, can’t do anything normal. But in this case I can get myself to think that doing the extreme thing is following it to a T. I’m confident I can follow it.

I’ll do a short before and after post here with some graphs illustrating the fat loss. Let’s see how it goes.

Quick update. You are right, it’s extremely difficult to stop dieting now. Should have eaten maintenance the last 3 days, instead I lost another pound.

Seems more difficult than I thought to stop once I’m used to dieting.

Still, I lost 3 kg in 2.5 weeks now. Belt is 2 holes tighter.

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