Intermittent fasting is just as good as a traditional calorie-restricted diet when it comes to losing weight, a study suggests.
People who ate all their calories in an eight-hour window lost as much weight as those who counted calories but ate whenever they wanted.
Intermittent fasting has become increasingly popular in recent years, with celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Mark Wahlberg, Beyoncé and Nicole Kidman said to be fans of the regimen.
Proponents of the time-restricted eating regimen argue that it’s easier to stick to than to have to accurately count calories.
Fasting diets favored by celebrities are no more effective than traditional calorie counting, a study finds
Jennifer Aniston (left) and Mark Wahlberg are both fans of the intermittent fasting diet. But a study by scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago found little difference between intermittent fasting versus counting calories in terms of weight loss and insulin resistance.
The study, published Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, evaluated 90 adults who were randomly assigned to one of three groups: eight hours of time-restricted eating from noon to 8 p.m.; calorie restriction, where intake is reduced by 25 percent; or no change in calorie consumption, eating for more than ten hours or more during the day.
The intermittent fasting group did not count calories or have obvious dietary restrictions. Both groups spoke regularly with a dietician.
Participants on a time-restricted diet ate 425 fewer calories per day than the control group and lost about 20 pounds more than the control group after a year.
The calorie-restricted group that ate whenever they wanted consumed 405 fewer calories per day and lost about 12 pounds more after a year compared to the control group.
Participants showed high adherence to both approaches and reported no adverse side effects from either approach.
“Time-restricted eating (TRE) has become a popular weight-loss regimen,” said dietitian and lead study author Shuhao Lin.
TRE’s sudden rise in popularity is probably due to its sheer simplicity and the fact that people don’t have to count calories to lose weight.
Time-restricted eating, also known as intermittent fasting, involves alternating between days of fasting and days of normal eating.
These generally fall into two categories: time-restricted diets, which reduce eating time to 6-8 hours per day, known as the 16:8 diet, and 5:2 intermittent fasting.
Followers of the eating plan fast for 16 hours a day and eat whatever they want in the remaining eight hours — usually between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
This may be more bearable than the well-known 5:2 diet – where followers limit their calories to 500 to 600 per day for two days a week and then eat normally for the remaining five days.
In addition to weight loss, 16:8 intermittent fasting is believed to improve blood sugar control, boost brain function and help us live longer.
Many prefer to eat between noon and 8 p.m., as this means they only have to fast overnight and skip breakfast, but can still have lunch and dinner along with a few snacks.
Downsides of the fasting plan can be that people overeat in the hours they can eat, leading to weight gain.
It can also lead to digestive problems in the long run, as well as hunger, fatigue, and weakness.
This isn’t the first study to suggest that intermittent fasting may not live up to the hype.
For example, a February study in mice by researchers at Mount Sinai showed that intermittent fasting caused disease-fighting white blood cell counts to drop by as much as 90 percent. This increases the risk of infection, heart disease and cancer.
In addition, research published last August found that Americans over age 40 who ate one meal a day were 30 percent more likely to die from any cause within 15 years than those who ate three.
Still, the researchers of this new study believe the findings could be a step in the right direction for intermittent fasting.
“There is some evidence that when obese individuals limit their eating window to 6 to 8 hours per day, they naturally reduce energy intake by 350 to 500 calories,” said Lin.
“From a clinical point of view, these findings are of the utmost importance.”
Mr Lin said one of the reasons people stray from traditional diets is frustration with counting calories every day.
Time-restricted eating regimens, however, “could circumvent this requirement by allowing participants to simply watch the clock rather than count calories, while still leading to weight loss and cardiometabolic health improvements.”
Therefore, this could lead people to stick to the diet for longer periods of time, leading to lasting weight control in overweight or obese people.
The authors of an accompanying editorial from the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center and Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine say the intermittent fasting group probably consumed fewer calories because they had access to a dietitian to help them eat healthier foods. make choices.
They emphasize that the results of this study highlight the substantial individual variability in weight loss using this intermittent fasting and calorie counting, and that further research is needed to determine who would benefit most from each of these interventions.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.