Is Alternate-Day Fasting Better for Weight Loss?
Compared to daily calorie restriction, alternate-day fasting does not lead to better adherence, weight loss/maintenance, or cardioprotection, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
There has been a lack of long-term randomized clinical studies on the efficacy of alternate-day fasting. To evaluate the effects of alternate-day fasting vs. daily calorie restriction on weight loss and maintenance, and risk factors for cardiovascular disease, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago performed a single-center randomized trial which included 100 metabolically healthy obese patients.
Study participants were randomized to one of the following groups for 12 months (6 months weight-loss + 6 months weight-maintenance phases):
- Alternate-day fasting: 25% of energy needs on fast days; 125% of energy needs on alternating "feast days"
- Calorie restriction: 75% of energy needs daily
- No intervention: control
The study's primary outcome was change in body weight; secondary outcomes included adherence to the intervention arm and risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
More participants dropped out of the alternate-day fasting group vs. the daily calorie restriction group and control group (38% vs. 29% vs. 26%, respectively). At Month 6, the average weight loss was similar for patients in the alternate-day fasting group and the daily calorie restriction group (–6.8% [95% CI: –9.1 to –4.5] vs. –6.8% [95% CI: –9.1 to –4.6]). At Month 12, the average weight loss was also similar for both intervention groups (–6.0% [95 %CI: –8.5 to –3.6] vs. –5.3% [95% CI: –7.6 to –3.0]).
The study authors observed that participants in the daily calorie restriction group achieved their prescribed energy goals whereas participants in the alternate-day fasting group ate more than prescribed on their "fast"days and ate less than prescribed on their "feast" days.
At Months 6 and 12, there were no significant differences in blood pressure, heart rate, triglycerides, fasting glucose, fasting insulin, insulin resistance, C-reactive protein, or homocysteine concentrations between the intervention groups.
Mean HDL levels at Month 6, however, were significantly higher among those in the alternate-day fasting group (6.2mg/dL [95% CI: 0.1–12.4]) but not at Month 12 (1.0mg/dL [95% CI: –5.9 to 7.8]) vs. the daily calorie restriction group. By Month 12, mean LDL levels were significantly higher among those in the alternate-day fasting group (11.5mg/dL [95% CI: 1.9–21.1]) vs. the daily calorie restriction group.
For more information visit jamanetwork.com.