Scientists from the Divisions of Cancer Epidemiology found that intermittent fasting is not better than a traditional low-calorie diet for weight loss and metabolic health.
Intermittent fasting means that you don’t eat for a period of time each day or week.
Some popular approaches to intermittent fasting include alternate-day fasting. Eat a normal diet one day and either completely fast or have one small meal (less than 500 calories) the next day.
The 5:2 intermittent fasting diet is one of the better-known plans, allowing people to eat what they want 5 days a week and limiting calories on the other 2 days.
Previous research suggests that intermittent fasting may have strong effects on metabolic health. This may link obesity and major chronic diseases, compared with a traditional low-calorie diet.
In the study, researchers examined whether intermittent fasting, operationalized as the “5:2 diet,” has stronger effects on weight loss and metabolic health than a traditional low-calorie diet.
They tested 150 overweight and obese people. These people were nonsmokers aged 35–65 years old.
They were assigned to an intermittent fasting group (5 d without energy restriction and 2 d with 75% energy deficit, net weekly energy deficit ∼of 20%), the traditional low-calorie diet group (daily energy deficit ∼20%), or a control group (no advice to restrict energy).
The team found that people who followed intermittent fasting had more weight loss (7%) compared to those following the traditional low-calorie diet (5%). Both groups maintained their weight loss well.
Despite slightly greater weight loss with intermittent fasting than with the low-calorie diet, there were no differences between the groups in the expression of genes in body fat.
There were no big differences between intermittent fasting and the low-calorie diet in biomarkers for metabolic health.
Based on the findings, the team concluded that the “5:2 diet” may have similar but not too superior effects to a traditional low-calorie diet for weight reduction and prevention of metabolic diseases.
The research is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and was conducted by Ruth Schübel et al.
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