Fast or feast? Study shows alternate-day dieting too difficult to sustain

Participants in US learn indicated to even out calorie uptakes beyond prescribed levels on alternating regime, leaving outcomes scarcely more effective than daily calorie counting

From Beyonc to Benedict Cumberbatch, celebrities have flocked to diets based on intermittent fasting, but it turns out such regimes might be less effective than previously known.

Among the diets experiencing a boom in popularity is the alternate-day fasting diet a regime many experts believed would be more palatable than daily calorie counting for those working hoping to lose weight.

But a new survey suggests it is tougher to stick to than expected, attaining it no better than a traditional diet in helping people to shed the pounds.

We thought that it would be easier to stick to alternate-day fasting, just because you get that day off every[ other] day where you dont have to diet, mentioned Krista Varady, co-author of the research from the University of Illinois at Chicago. We are particularly just expecting the traditional[ daily diet] group to cheat a lot more.

Writing in the periodical JAMA Internal Medicine, Varady and colleagues from four US institutions described how they recruited 100 overweight or obese participates, 86% of whom were women, and randomly allocated them to one of three regimes: eating as normal, daily calorie counting and an alternate-day fasting diet.

For the first month all participants eat as normal, after which they invested six months on their allocated diet. In the fasting diet, participates devoured 25% of their normal daily calorie intake on the fast day, and 125% the following feast day, while the calorie-restricted group devoured 75% of their normal calorie intake every day. The third group constructed no changes to their typical diet.

The outcomes reveal that, compared to those who didnt change their diet, those on the fasting diet and those on the calorie-restricted diet had on average lost roughly the same quantity of weight after six months. By the end of the study those who had fasted and the individuals who undertake a daily diet were 6% and 5.3% lighter respectively than those who had not changed their diet. The outcomes comprised when factors such as the sexuality and ethnicity were taken into account.

The team said the findings might be down to a greater than expected difficulty in sticking to the fasting diet, with data proving they are usually eat more calories than designated on the fast days and fewer than designated on the feast days.

We found that about one half the people in the alternate-day fasting group had a hard time sticking to it, mentioned Varady.

But the authors acknowledge that the study had limitations. The sample size was small-scale and simply 69% of participants completed such studies, Varady warned, should be noted that participants in other regions might have fared better in sticking to the alternate-day fasting diet.

Michelle Harvie, studies and research dietitian from the Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Centre at University Hospital South Manchester Trust, welcomed such studies, saying that the ability of people to adhere to a regime is a crucial aspect of a diet.

But she stressed that such studies simply explored one type of intermittent fasting diet and that research results might not hold for other types, such as the 5: 2 diet .

Harvie added that it was important to note that the fasting-based diet resulted in outcomes at least as good as those from a traditional calorie-restricted diet, and that some people will be able to stick to the regime.

Varady agreed that there is no one-size fits all approach to dieting. Some people can stick to alternate-day fasting better, some people can probably stick with calorie-restriction behavior better, she mentioned. People just need to figure out which one is better for them.

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