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Study Finds Intermittent Fasting Isn't Really Any Better Than Counting Calories

Intermittent fasting was easily one of the most popular diet trends of 2018.

For a while, it seemed everyone including your aunt's neighbour was on some variant of the restricted eating plan.

For those who aren't familiar with intermittent fasting or IF is an eating pattern that squishes your daily food intake into one time-restricted period and then you keep fasting for the rest of the day.

There's a range of methods, from the popular 5:2 which sees people fasting for two days per week and then eating normally for the rest, to the 16:8 which sees people fasting for 16 hours and then eating during an eight-hour window.

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Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that squishes your daily food intake into one time-restricted period and then you keep fasting for the rest of the day. Source: Getty

Alex Bruce-Smith, 28, is a staunch supporter of IF after "waking up one morning and deciding not to eat until midday".

Bruce-Smith said she was inspired by her "personal idol" Brooklyn  Nine-Nine star Terry Crews, who has previously hailed IF as his "fountain of youth".

Three months later and Bruce-Smith is still sticking to the plan.

"Like almost everyone, I've given various forms of eating healthy a go, including cutting alcohol out entirely, which is fantastic if a bit limiting," she told 10 daily.

"I find sometimes when I get too focused on 'eating healthy', I spend so much brain power weighing up every kilojoule, until just going to the supermarket is so overwhelming that it's easier not to eat at all. But intermittent fasting means I don't have to think Just don't eat, then eat for a while."

In the time she's been following the diet Bruce-Smith has lost seven kilos.

But, despite the accolades, intermittent fasting might not be that much better than caloric restrictive diets, that's according to a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

The study looked at 150 overweight and obese participants who were all randomly given a type of diet to follow -- including intermittent fasting.

The group was split into three, with one group told to follow the 5:2 diet, while a second group were instructed to cut their daily calorie intake by 20 percent. The third group were told not to change their diets at all.

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The study looked at 150 overweight and obese participants who were all randomly given a type of diet to follow -- including intermittent fasting. Source: Getty

For the first 12 weeks of the study, the participants were guided by a dietician, but after that were left to their own devices.

The study measured the effects of the diets at three intervals: 12 weeks, 24 weeks and 50 weeks.

Here's what they found: intermittent fasting was no more effective than conventional caloric restrictive dieting when it comes to losing weight. Also, those who followed the IF eating plan didn't exhibit any improved health markers -- such as a drop in blood pressure -- when compared with their calorie counting counterparts.

Previous studies done using rodents had shown that long-term fasting may help to improve insulin sensitivity and reduced levels of blood pressure.

Guess it's about finding what works for you ... and sticking to it.

Feature Image: Getty