When the fasting or intermittent fasting technique gained traction as an eating style, more research was needed. This is said for every new technology but this does not make the need incorrect.
So here it is. One-year randomized controlled clinical trial comparing intermittent fasting with a standardized, multicomponent weight loss program. This research from the UK was published last month in PLOS ONE.
The study of 300 overweight/obese people took part in three groups of 100 people each. One group received standard counseling on weight loss, the first group received instructions on a 5:2 fasting diet, and the third group received 5:2 instructions with additional behavioral support. The 5:2 approach has someone eating their usual food 5 days a week and for two non-consecutive days, eating 500 calories for women and 600 for men.
First the good news. The 5:2 diet did not negatively affect overall dietary intake or physical activity. Weight loss at the end of one year was not significantly different for the three groups. The goal was to lose weight by at least 5% of baseline body weight.
The standard treatment group had 15% of participants who reached this goal, 5:2 was 18% and it was 5:2 with group support 28%. In the three groups, adherence to the food plans decreased over time. The 5:2 diet had the highest approval rating from the participants. The researchers suggested that perhaps the calorie allocation for the fasting days was so low that some participants complained of hunger.
This is my fast food. No matter what you see in the ads, there are no miracles to lose weight.
No matter your weight or weight loss plan, nutritious plant foods should be plentiful. Find a sustainable eating pattern. Feeling deprived is not a goal or feeling that leads to better health. The authors concluded that 5:2 is not superior to the traditional approach but is simpler and more attractive to users.
Sheah Rarback MS, RDN is a registered dietitian in private practice in Miami.