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Diets: Fasting Every Other Day Is No Better Than Restricting Calorie Intake

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In a world where staying skinny has become the ultimate goal of many, two radical weight-loss techniques have become the trend. The first is counting daily calories, and the second is fasting every other day. A new study says that neither is better than the other.

Counting calories means limiting the number of calories consumed each day. On the other hand, alternate-day fasting means eating no food one day, followed by feasting the next day. The latter has become a growing weight loss practice in the USA and the UK, Yahoo News reports.

Researchers from the University of Illinois found that there is no significant difference between the two, when it comes to losing weight. Krista Varady, a professor of nutrition and lead study author, said,

We basically showed that they both produce a clinically significant amount of weight loss.

She said of alternate-day fasting, “Instead of being better than calorie restriction, it’s the same. So it’s kind of like an alternative to calorie restriction.”

The study had 100 obese adults participating between 2011 and 2015. They were randomly divided into three groups: one consumed a normal diet, the second did alternate-day fasting, and the third were on calorie-restriction diets. The participants adhered to their plans for a year. They were all counseled on portion sizes, how to monitor calories, and how to identify calories on food labels.

At the end of the year, the participants who did alternate-day fasting lost around 6% of their weight. Those in the calorie restriction group lost 5.3%. But while the results were very close, the researchers found that more people in the fasting group cheated on their diets, and more of them dropped out of the diet, compared to the calorie restriction group. In the alternate-fasting group, 38% left the diet, while 29% dropped out of the calorie-restriction plan.

Eric Ravussin, a professor at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center  and co-author on the study, said, “Even if the weight loss was a primary end point, I think that the question is really: What is the best strategy to get people to stick to a diet?”

The researchers hope to continue the study to further monitor these diets over a longer period of time.

The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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