The two most popular diets are equally effective in terms of weight loss, new research reveals.
Eating more one day and way less the next — one type of intermittent fasting — leads to the same levels of weight loss as a continuous diet.
Intermittent fasting is also known as the 16:8 diet or the 5:2 diet; each has different rules about when you feast and when you fast.
In contrast, a ‘regular’ diet involves restricting calories somewhat throughout the whole week.
The specifics, however, probably make little difference so long as the overall calorie intake is reduced, one way or another.
The most effective weight loss technique is the one that suits the individual.
However, the study suggests a regular continuous diet is easier to stick to than intermittent fasting for most people.
The conclusions come from a study of 100 obese adults who were put into one of three groups.
One group feasted on an extra 25% calories one day and then fasted on just one-quarter of their usual intake the next day.
Another group followed a normal diet, restricting their calorie intake by 25% every day.
That means both groups ate the same amount in total.
The results showed that compared to a control group, people on both diets lost around 6% of their body weight across six months.
The study’s authors conclude:
“The results of this randomized clinical trial demonstrated that alternate-day fasting did not produce superior adherence, weight loss, weight maintenance or improvements in risk indicators for cardiovascular disease compared with daily calorie restriction.”
People found the intermittent fasting harder, so more people dropped out of this condition.
The authors write that:
“…these findings suggest that alternate-day fasting may be less sustainable in the long term, compared with daily calorie restriction, for most obese individuals.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine (Trepanowski et al., 2017).