Two of the most popular ways of losing weight are similarly effective, research shows.
Both intermittent fasting and a standard calorie-restricted diet both work equally well.
The diets led to reductions of 5 percent of body weight in the current study, as well as improvements to general health.
The researchers say that choosing between them is a matter of personal taste.
Intermittent fasting involves using regular breaks in dieting, sometimes for a couple of days, in other diets for as much as a week.
A normal diet, in contrast, simply involves dieting continuously.
For the study, 150 overweight and obese people were split into two groups and put on either the intermittent fasting diet or a continuous calorie-restricted diet.
For the intermittent diet, people restricted their calories on just two days of the week to only 25 percent of what they would normally eat.
The other group restricted their calories to 80 percent of what they would normally eat every day.
So, both groups were eating roughly the same amount of calories in total.
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 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.”
The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Schübel et al., 2018).