The two most popular ways of losing weight are equally effective, recent research suggests.
Both a traditional calorie restricted diet and intermittent fasting help shift the pounds, leading to a reduction of 5 percent in body weight.
The two diets are also linked to improvements in general health.
Choosing between them is a matter of personal taste as the results are similar, the study’s author say.
Intermittent fasting involves taking regular breaks from dieting, sometimes for a couple of days or a week.
Some people diet for five days then take two days off, others diet for 16 days and then take 8 days off.
A conventional diet just involves restricting calories continuously.
The conclusions come from a study involving 150 obese and overweight people that compared the effects of the two types of diet.
Dr Ruth Schübel, the study’s first author, said:
“There are in fact only a few smaller studies on intermittent fasting so far, but they have come up with strikingly positive effects for metabolic health.
This made us curious and we intended to find out whether these effects can also be proven in a larger patient group and over a prolonged period.”
The results showed that both groups lost around 5 percent of their body weight across almost a year.
Dr Schübel explained:
“In participants of both group, body weight and, along with it, visceral fat, or unhealthy belly fat, were lost and extra fat in the liver reduced.”
Intermittent fasting may suit some people better, said Dr Tilman Kühn, study co-author:
“In addition, for some people it seems to be easier to be very disciplined on two days instead of counting calories and limiting food every day.
But in order to keep the new body weight, people must also permanently switch to a balanced diet following DGE [The German Nutrition Society] recommendations.”
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 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Schübel et al., 2018).