Intermittent fasting reduces weight, fat mass in overweight, obese people

22 Jul 2021
Extreme fasting could lead to poor health outcomes but a new study promises a better way to diet.

Intermittent fasting (IF) diet leads to lower weight, waist circumference, and fat mass in people who are overweight or obese, a recent meta-analysis has found.

The researchers retrieved 18 eligible studies from the databases of Scielo, Cochrane, Web of Science, Scopus, and PubMed. IF was compared to continuous energy restriction (CER) diets in terms of anthropometric measures (body mass index, body weight, and waist circumference), body composition (lean body mass, fat mass, and muscle mass), and lipid profile.

Seventeen studies assessed anthropometric parameters, 13 of which found no significant advantage of IF over CER. In the remaining four studies, weight loss tended to be greater in the IF arm than in controls. Patterns in weight regained during the follow-up period was mixed, with one study each reporting greater increases in IF and CER participants. One study found lower waist circumference 1 year after IF.

Thirteen studies reported body composition outcomes, only five of which found significant differences. Fat mass tended to show greater reductions in IF; changes in muscle and lean mass were comparable between arms.

In terms of lipid profile, three studies observed significantly different effects of diet, with IF participants tending to show lower cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein values, along with higher high-density lipoprotein concentrations relative to CER.

“Currently IF has been gaining popularity; there is great evidence in studies with rodents that show improvements in weight loss programmes and benefits in cardiometabolic risk factors,” the researchers said.

“Results obtained in experimental human studies evaluating whether the long-term efficacy and safety of IF diets are equal or superior to continuous low-calorie diets are less conclusive, therefore requiring further research,” they added.

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