Many have sworn that intermittent fasting helps them lose weight, but a study suggests that it is no better than any other diets out there.

In fact, intermittent fasting is not different from good old calorie restriction.

A team of German researchers published a new study on the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that looked into the effects of intermittent fasting on about 150 people who are overweight or obese. This is one of the largest studies done on intermittent fasting.

Intermittent Fasting Vs. Other Diets

Intermittent fasting has become more popular in recent years. It offers three methods: alternate-day fasting, the 5:2 fasting, and the 16:8 fasting. It works by allowing the person to eat whatever they want and how much they want but only during a certain time window.

Preliminary studies have confirmed that intermittent fasting helped people lose weight. Others claim additional health benefits, including healthier blood pressure.

However, is it the best diet program out there?

"There are in fact only a few smaller studies on intermittent fasting so far, but they have come up with strikingly positive effects for metabolic health," stated Ruth Schübel, a co-author of the study. "This made us curious and we intended to find out whether these effects can also be proven in a larger patient group and over a prolonged period."

During the trial, the researchers divided the participants into three groups: one group was made to try out the 5:2 diet, the second group reduced their overall weekly calories by 20 percent, and the third group simply followed the government dietary guidelines. The experiment lasted for 12 months.

Same Effects As Calorie Restriction

The researchers revealed that the people who followed the 5:2 diet and the group that cut calories lost almost the same percentage of body weight on average. This included the visceral fat or the fat that is stored deep within the abdomen which is regarded as unhealthy. The researchers did not find any difference in the participants' metabolic values either.

However, the study's goal is not to discourage people from starting or continuing their diets. The researchers added that there are plenty of health benefits from weight loss in general. If people find it easier to be disciplined for two days a week instead of counting calories every meal, they should continue the program.

The researchers also recommended that people switch to a balanced diet following the guidelines provided by The German Nutrition Society or DGE.

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