Intermittent fasting is trendy, although it is not at all clear that it really helps you lose weight better. Are there any other reasons for its popularity than dropping pounds quickly?
Intermittent fasting is a trend diet, which alternates between fasting and feeding every day: In the 5/2 variant, fasting people eat normally for five days and then consume very few calories for two days.
There was already evidence that these and similar variants could be helpful in losing weight; a really watertight scientific investigation was missing.
A team of nutritionists wanted to change that and now, according to their own statements, presented “the first” randomized, prospective study on 5/2 fasting: a study in which volunteers were randomly asked to stick to different diets for over a year, after which they were asked the success was then independently checked.
The diet helps lose weight, so the result – but possibly for other reasons than expected, writes the team led by Katie Myers Smith from Queen Mary University in London in the journal “PLoS One”.
Smith’s team tested the success of intermittent fasting with 300 overweight people of both sexes, who were divided into three test groups: One received extensive nutritional advice and regular diet tips, while two others followed 5/2 intermittent fasting in a slightly modified procedure should.
In these groups, the supportive accompaniment during the one-year test period as well as the information policy differed: One group was encouraged to carry out the test independently, the other instead attended regular group meetings in the early stages with professional support from dieticians.
At the end of the year, all three groups showed at least moderate success in losing weight. In the comparison group sensitized with nutrition tips for the diet, for example, 15 percent of the participants had lost 5 percent of their body weight.
The two intermittent fasting groups did a little better: 18 percent of the independently organized test group and 28 percent of the fraction with regular group meetings lost a similar amount of weight as the participants in the control group.
Intermittent fasting may really help you lose weight a little better – but the differences are not particularly striking, concludes Smith’s team.
During the follow-up to the experiment, however, the team noticed a noticeable difference that had nothing to do with the success in losing weight: the participants in the intermittent fasting were almost consistently more satisfied with their one-year experience than they were in the final survey at the end of the experiment People from the control group.
For example, they felt that they were better informed, would repeat the experiment more often and more often stated that they would recommend the diet to others. A random follow-up following the experiment also suggests that interval fasters stick to the diet more often.
Overall, intermittent fasting is more fun, conclude Smith and her colleagues – or at least it is less stressful.
This could actually explain why greater successes are achieved with this type of fasting: although the participants in this diet do not lose weight more or more quickly than with other, more traditional forms of fasting, intermittent fasting is easier for the participants to maintain and simply more pleasant says Smith.