Drastic fasting may not help weight loss

By Doug Bennett • Published: August 7th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you’re fasting every other day to lose weight, the pounds might not come off much faster than if you followed a traditional diet.

Skipping most food every other day, a diet plan known as alternate-day fasting, has gained popularity as a tool for rapid weight loss. But a recent study has found it’s no more effective than simply restricting your calorie intake every day.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago assigned 100 people to one of three diets. One group fasted on alternate days, meaning they consumed just 25 percent of their recommended calories on one day, and 125 percent the next. The second group adhered to a traditional diet, cutting calories by 25 percent every day. The third group followed their normal eating plan.

After six months, the weight-loss effort was a virtual tie: The alternate-day fasting group and calorie-restricted group reduced their weight by 6.8 percent. After a year, the fasting group had reduced their weight by an average of 6 percent, compared with 5.3 percent in the calorie restriction group.

The researchers also found no major difference between the fasting group and the traditional dieters when they assessed other health-related measures such as blood pressure, cholesterol level and the amount of fat in the blood.

Dieters in the fasting group were unhappier with their plan. They were 9 percent more likely to give up than those who ate fewer calories every day.

Diet guidelines from the National Institutes of Health suggest a measured approach: To lose about one-and-a-half pounds a week, cut 500 to 750 calories a day and get more exercise.

In the race to lose weight, try being the tortoise and not the hare.