Is Intermittent Fasting Better Than Other Weight Loss Diets?

Many courses of action exist for people wanting to lose weight. Diet restriction combined with regular exercise is primary. But within dieting, there are conventional weight loss diets like keto or atkins, and then there is intermittent fasting. While they might both be beneficial, a recent study has attempted to find whether one is better than the other.

The study carried out by researchers at German Cancer Research Center and Heidelberg University Hospital, and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that intermittent fasting may not have an advantage over conventional weight loss diets, debunking the common notion that the former exerts stronger effects on metabolism.

Intermittent fasting refers to an eating pattern which alternates between periods of eating and fasting, instead of consistently following a rule-book of what to eat during the entire day. For instance, skipping breakfast and having the first meal of the day at noon would mean a 16-hour long fasting period (including the sleeping hours), often known as the 16:8 method.

According to co-author of the study, Ruth Schübel from German Cancer Research Center, earlier studies of intermittent fasting 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." - Ruth SchübelThe Study

A randomized controlled trial involving 150 overweight and obese non-smokers was conducted, where they were randomly assigned to an intermittent calorie restriction (ICR) group, a continuous calorie restriction (CCR) group or a control group (no advice to restrict energy).

The first involved 5 days without energy restriction and 2 days with 75 percent energy deficit and the second involved a daily energy deficit of 20 percent. The subjects were then made to participate in a 12-week intervention phase, a 12-week maintenance phase and a 26-week follow-up phase.

The results found that ICR may be equivalent but not superior to CCR for weight reduction and prevention of metabolic diseases. No significant difference was seen between their impact on metabolic values, biomarkers or gene activities.

"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." - Ruth Schübel

The study results show that there is no single diet plan that can be claimed as optimum. Instead, consistency in diet control and exercise, depending on the particular body type, is what really makes a difference.

Also Read: What is Intermittent Fasting? Why There is More to this Latest Fad

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