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Does Intermittent Fasting Actually Work? This Study May Finally Have The Answer

A new study from the University of Adelaide found that obese women lost more weight when following an Intermittent Fasting (IF) diet plan than by cutting calories alone.

The research, which has been published in the journal Obesity, involved 88 women who had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or more.

Those women were then split into groups.

The First Group followed an IF plan which saw them fast for three days during the week while also following a strict calorie controlled diet on the other days.

The Second Group followed a strict calorie controlled diet but did not fast.

The Third Group did not change their diet at all.

The study's lead author, Dr Amy Hutchinson, told 10 daily that they "controlled everything very tightly".

"We provided all the foods for those involved in the study and they all ate the same diet," she said.

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The study lasted for 10 weeks, whereupon the participants were then weighed again. The results showed that the participants who lost the most weight were those in the first group.

Doctor Hutchinson explains: "Obese women who followed a diet in which they ate 70 percent of their required energy intake and fasted intermittently lost the most weight. Other women in the study who either fasted intermittently without reducing their food intake, who reduced their food intake but did not fast or did not restrict their diet at all, were not as successful in losing weight."

Those who had the most success in the study ended up losing between 0.5kg and one kilo per week.

"They lost a bit more weight than we were expecting them to," Dr Hutchinson said.  "For us, that was quite unexpected because they were eating the same amount of food as the participants who were only following the restricted calorie diet".

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But that's not all, as the study also checked the effect the different diets on had on the participant's health. As it turns out the women who followed IF as well as restricting their food showed an improvement in their general health markers, such as blood glucose levels.

This latest research comes off the back of a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which 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.

For the first 12 weeks of the study, the participants were guided by a dietitian, 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.

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

But, according to Dr Hutchinson, there's a very simple reason for the discrepancies between the two studies and it all comes down to how long the participants were fasting for.

"In our study, participants would begin fasting after eating breakfast on Monday, Wednesday and on Friday," she explained.

"Whereas in the other study, the participants only did two days of fasting and were not told when to eat their food. Generally, people don't choose to eat breakfast if they only get to eat one meal per day," she said.

Doctor Hutchinson said she believes the reason her study yielded such positive results for IF comes down to the fact that her participants not only had a larger number of fasting days, but they were also instructed to eat their calorie-restricted meal at breakfast.

"Look, the research isn't here to tell you the right time to eat, but the reason we chose breakfast is to help kick-start the participant's circadian rhythms," she said, adding that her next step will be to determine just how important the time you eat something is when it comes to weight loss.

Feature Image: Getty