Two of the most popular weight loss techniques are equally effective, recent research concludes.
Both continuous dieting and intermittent fasting are effective and lead to the same amount of weight loss, the study finds.
People on either diet lost around 6 percent of their body weight across six months.
Continuous dieting involves cutting down on calories each day by around the same amount — this is a classic diet.
Intermittent fasting involves dieting heavily for a period and then stopping for a period.
The periods of fasting and eating normally vary:
- one diet recommends 5 days of fasting followed by two days off,
- another involves 16 days fasting, followed by 8 days off,
- and another recommends fasting on alternate days.
Continuous diets may be easier for people to stick to, though, this study found.
For the research, 100 obese adults were split into three groups.
One group reduced their calorie intake by 75 percent one day and then feasted on an extra 25 percent of their normal intake of calories the next day.
The other group followed a ‘normal’ diet, by just restricting their calorie intake by 25 percent every day.
Effectively, both groups ate the same amount of calories.
The results showed that both groups lost the same amount of weight compared to a third control group.
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.”
However, people found the traditional continuous diet easier than intermittent fasting, so this may prove a better option for many.
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).