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BREAK your Diet. Get Better Results.

  • by David O' Connor
  • July 15, 2017

Usually when I mention the word ‘Diet’ in a blog it refers to some ‘fad’ but in this case it’s the actual process of Dieting. Or in English, eating in a caloric deficit while making sure you’re eating enough Protein, followed by Carbs/Fats and following a proper training plan that enables you to get Strong and Tone Up. Great, let’s move on.

Toning Up, Getting Lean or getting in Shape – whichever way you look at it – can get damn hard at times.

Sacrifices have to be made at the weekends – you just can’t continue knocking back pint after pint, and while you CAN still have those things, you’re only fooling yourself thinking you can do it without control.

  • You have be consistent with your Food intake, Daily.
  • Consistent with your Training
  • Remaining active on the days you don’t train.

Then what the hell do you do if a holiday comes up or a long weekend away, or a stag, wedding etc?

Enter the World of ‘Diet Breaks’…

I take ZERO credit for this, as I first heard of Diet Breaks from Lyle Mc Donald in his Flexible Dieting Book – I haven’t talked about them or ‘used them’ with clients for some time until I experienced them for myself and with a handful of clients before more widely recommending them.

So if you’re reading this, it’s all about taking a break from it all and how to do it.






In a nutshell you take a 10-14 Day BREAK from dieting. Think of going on a Holiday as a prime example.

You eat according to Hunger Levels and the habits (you should have) learned & created over the past number of months/years.

I’d still recommend to get some form of training in that week, as usually it’s a holiday, people stay active anyways.

You get Physiological & Psychological benefits from doing it which I’ll talk about below.

You enjoy your Holiday & come back 1-5lbs in weight fluctuation & then continue on with your Diet. That’s it really.



When you diet over time, due to the ‘adaptive component’ of dieting. Things like Hunger signals can become ‘Stronger’ so the physiological side gives your hormones ‘time to recover’ during a diet break. Which means less hunger, more energy, less cravings etc. etc.

Now that’s a very dumbed-down version, but it’s all you need to know.

Then comes the biggest aspect of the whole break,


When I first wrote this Blog I dropped 12lbs in 6 weeks for a Holiday which was coming up – Usually I wouldn’t drop near as fast, but I’ve a strict deadlined goal so it motivated me to get ready for it, which I’ll follow up with a Diet Break then whilst away.

But the fact is, some days were DAMN Hard and dieting does create mental stress, massive amounts for some and little for others – it all depends on where someone is right now in their life.

And when you coach 100’s of Parents that just want a higher quality of life, less stress with their food coupled with busy jobs, juggling the kids and making time for their Partners, planned diet breaks are a game-changer for them.

Here’s another major reason diet breaks work so well,

  • Meet Dave who has 50lbs to ‘lose his belly’
  • Meet Ben who has 10lbs to lose to get to ‘12% bodyfat’

(Ok, Dave is blatantly Peter Griffen from Family Guy, but in this case, he’s Dave)

Dave has an inactive job, sits most of the day and only started Training. His Nutritional knowledge is next to zero.

Ben has been training consistently for over a year, has his calorie and macro nutrient targets nailed down with his coach and knows his plan ahead to drop those 10lbs in 5-6weeks.

Needless to say, this will be easier for Ben. And this is the point people miss, people who are ‘already lean’ (most of the time from what we see at Doc Fitness) CANNOT RELATE to someone who has a lot of weight to lose, the mental stress they go through and the intense cravings or lack of control they experience. 

So for Dave in order to shift this weight he could be dieting for 25-Weeks once we have his training & nutritional habits dialled in.

But instead of looking at it as 25 weeks – if we add in a planned diet break for a Holiday in 10-12weeks time – that 25 week goal suddenly looks a lot less daunting broken up into 12 week blocks.

Once Dave has his goals set in place the chances of him sticking to a 12 week block of training & dieting compared to one big 25 week block are a lot more likely.

Then he’ll come back after the holiday and go straight into his next 12 week phase.

**SIDE NOTE: Don’t forget either, I’m not talking about ‘strict, rigid, clean eating’ dieting either. This is giving Dave the tools and knowledge he needs to progress with his Training & Nutrition and HOW to still incorporate the food he loves. Again, another major player in the overall sustainability of a diet.

So to Recap, I think you need Diet Breaks for:

  • The physiological side of dieting.
  • The sustainability of a long-term goal.
  • The enjoyment of LIFE & your holiday 🙂 

And as much as I hate to say it as it’s done to death with every ‘health and fitness guru’ – Actually CREATE A sustainable lifestyle out of this. After all, it’s what you’re after I hope?


Here’s like the Meat & Bones section:

  • You take a 10-14 Day Break. Book a Holiday with a friend/Partner or Family.
  • You Eat based off your Hunger and Eye-Balling foods. This should be based of the habits & principles you’ve learned over the previous months, which we do by going by Hand Sizes & judging portion sizes from this (Easy to understand for Doc Fitness members 🙂 ) It DOES NOT mean you go on a Ben & Jerry’s fest for breakfast, lunch and dinner – then there’s something wrong.
  • If you want to be Picky – Calories should be around Maintenance level if you know what that is. Or just shoot for 5-10% lower of the food intake just before you started your diet for example. (Most people get on just fine with point 2 above) You’re NOT a bikini model or a bodybuilder stepping on stage so just eye-balling portion sizes is perfectly fine!
  • ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAY – Be smart, but still, enjoy your Holiday.
  • Come home fluctuating around 2-5lbs up in Bodyweight – a lot of which will probably be water weight & easy to take back off so view those pounds as a BIG SUCCESS. Expect some weight-gain none the less. Because then if you come home the same or even down in weight it’s like an added bonus.
  • Re-assess your goal, get motivated, get back in the gym and resume your diet and Keep Moving Forward.


If you just completely relax and knock back all the food you can manage, that’s not really a diet break. If you feel the need to do that, you’re already probably restricting yourself too much in the first place. 

Anyhow, here’s a small hack we find that works for most people.

Pro-Long your first meal of the day. Some days.

Instead of waking up and going straight for food, if you know later that day you’ll be having a few drinks and a big meal, just pro long breakfast for a few hours instead.

You’ll probably have the hands full with the kids anyways, but again, all you’re doing here is ‘saving’ calories for later.

But again, you’re on holidays and it’s your decision. This works for us coaches and some of our members here.

We don’t recommend it everyday obviosuly, just some days, because breakfast on holidays is usually a nice family occasion too. But try it for one or 2 days, focus on getting the kids ready, have a coffee and enjoy food later in the day.

Thats’ IF you want to be smart about this of course 😉


Being brutally honest, too many people piss around when trying to get in shape. You either go for some stupid diet that can only last 4 weeks and give up. Or you do some ‘high intensity’ program that can’t be kept up either, there’s only so many intervals one can do. But the fact is, you don’t spend longer than 2 weeks in a fat loss phase before going off the handle over a weekend or night out. 

And the sad reality is, until you learn the fundamental principles behind how to eat and train for life according to your goals, you’ll never get out of the rut you’re now in. 

Fat loss or getting in Serious Shape DOES NOT have to be the most miserable 6-12 months of your life then revert back to old ways, things like diet breaks and what we do here with our Members:

  • Teaching them the principles behind food so they can incorporate the wine and ice cream
  • Showing them it’s OK to have a pizza once or twice a week
  • Showing them it’s ok to EAT MORE on some days than others (I.E: The Weekends)

Because when you know the principles behind anything you do, you can ‘tweak’ them to make it work for you. but the reality is, most people cannot commit to even a 2 Week stint in a fat loss phase.


  • Implement Diet Breaks. Enjoy Life More. Get Better Results.
  • But don’t take the piss either, you still need to be somewhat realistic here 😉 


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David O' Connor
CEO | Head Coach
David's passion lies in coaching you through the easiest path to losing weight, toning up & getting back the confidence that's been hiding for a while. Head Coach & Head of Nutrition at Doc Fitness, if you don't find him there, he's probably training, sipping coffee writing Nutrition articles or playing Hurling for Ballinderreen.