Is intermittent fasting the best way to lose weight?

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aFind out how it helps you eliminate calories.
Do you want to lose some pounds? Most likely, you have considered intermittent fasting, a weight-loss technique that has become popular. It is about establishing periods of time where eating is restricted and others when you should eat normally or even more.


A new study provides some insight into this complex issue: intermittent fasting is no more effective for weight loss than the daily calorie restriction, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago reported.

The researchers divided 100 overweight, inactive, unrelated men and women with no history of heart disease or diabetes into three groups: a calorie-restricted group, an intermittent fasting group, and a control group.

The calorie restricted group took the traditional weight loss approach. Each day, they reduced their caloric intake by 25 percent, meaning they ate 75 percent of the calories they would need to maintain their weight in three meals a day.

The intermittent fasting group ate 25 percent of their caloric needs every other day, known as “fast days,” between 12 pm and 2 pm They prepared their “fast days” with “holidays” “When they ate 125 percent of their caloric needs in three meals a day.Then if you typically eat 2,000 calories a day, you would eat 500 calories a day, followed by 2 500 the next.

People in the control group ate as they normally would, but were instructed to maintain their weight throughout the study.

After six months, study participants were asked to maintain weight loss for another six months. During this phase, the fasting group ate half of their calorie needs on “fast days” and 150 percent on “holidays,” while the calorie restriction group ate 100 percent of what they all needed the days.

According to the study, after one year, there were no significant differences in how much weight they lost either of the two weight loss groups or the time they maintained weight loss. In addition, neither group was at greater risk of suffering from health problems, such as cardiovascular diseases.


The success of any weight loss plan depends on whether you are really going to stick with it long enough to see the results. So which is more sustainable?

In the study, at the end of one year, 38 percent of people in the intermittent fasting group abandoned, compared to 29 percent of people in the calorie restriction group. The study authors point out that over time, people in the intermittent fasting group began switching groups to the daily calorie restriction, noting that it could be difficult to maintain in the long run.

But this could simply have to do with how the study was established: researchers divided diets into 30 fats, 55 percent carbohydrates and 15 percent proteins. Eating only 15 percent of your protein calories-especially on “fast days,” when you’re eating so little overall-can make you feel hungrier, making this plan harder to maintain, says obesity specialist Spencer Nadolsky.

If hunger becomes a problem on “fast days,” increasing your protein intake helps keep you fuller for longer, possibly increasing your ability to maintain your diet, he says.


So, if both methods serve to lose weight, how do you know which one is best for you?

“The people who can benefit from intermittent fasting are those who prefer to feel that they are not restricting their intake of food 3.5 days a week,” says Men’s Health Nutrition Advisor Alan Aragon. This means that you find it difficult to stick with your diet all the time, and you like “holidays” breaks.

On the other hand, the intense restriction of intermittent fasting may be extremely difficult for some people, especially in certain cases.

Your work, for example: If your activity requires hard and manual work, intermittent fasting may not work, since you are constantly burning energy, Dr. Nadolsky says. But if you have a desk job and your schedule does not get in the way, 500 calorie days can be more realistic, he explains.

Bottom line: If you want to try intermittent fasting to lose weight and your doctor approves of it, you can give it a try to see if it works for you.

So how can you make it more sustainable? Making fewer rules for yourself – such as avoiding a specific caloric goal on “holidays” as you did in the study – can lead to better results, says Aragon.

In fact, recent research shows that eating nothing on fasting days and as you would normally do on “holidays” may work better than the daily calorie restriction, Aragon points out.

Just keep in mind that most diets should lead to weight loss within a couple of months, adds Dr. Nadolsky. So if you have not lost 2 percent of your weight in the first month or 3 percent in the second, it may be worth analyzing another approach or modifying your current diet.

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