Alternate-day fasting has gained some popularity as a weight-loss technique, but a rigorous trial has found that it works no better than ordinary calorie restriction.
Researchers randomised 100 overweight and obese people to one of three groups: alternate-day fasting; a diet restricted to 75 per cent of regular daily energy intake; and a control group that followed their usual eating plan. The researchers tracked calorie intake, and all participants were generally healthy at the start of the study.
At six months, both the fasting and the calorie restricted groups had lost 6.8 per cent of their weight. By one year, the fasting group was down 6 per cent, and the calorie restriction group 5.3 per cent. In other words, there was no statistically significant difference between the two diets. The alternate-day fasting group had the highest dropout rate: 38 per cent dropped out of the study, compared with 29 per cent for the calorie restriction group and 26 per cent for the controls.
The senior author, Krista A Varady, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, Chicago, said that while fasting is not for everyone, it could be worth a try.
In any case, she added, “There’s nothing magical here. We’re tricking people into eating less food, in different ways.”
© 2017 The New York Times News Service
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