It seems these days that everyone is on some variation of the intermittent fasting diet. From the 16: 8 to the 5: 2, there are shelves of books selling the benefits of abstaining from food and water for digestive benefits.
Now scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Heidelberg University Hospital have conducted the largest investigation on intermittent fasting to date called HELENA. The conclusion was that While intermittent fasting can help to lose weight and promote health, it is not superior to conventional calorie restriction diet.
The German Nutrition Society (DGE), on the other hand, warns that intermittent fasting is not suitable for long-term weight regulation. In addition, according to DGE, there is not enough scientific evidence on the long-term effects of this dieting method.
"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," says DKFZ's Ruth Schübel. "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."
In collaboration with a team of DKFZ researchers and scientists from Heidelberg University Hospital, Schübel examined 150 overweight and obese study participants over one year as part of the HELENA study. At the start of the study, they were randomly classified into three groups: One third followed a conventional calorie restriction diet that reduced daily calorie intake by 20 percent. The second group maintained a 5: 2 dietary plan that also saved 20 percent of calorie intake over the whole week. The control group followed no specific diet plan but was advised, like all other participants, to eat a well-balanced diet as recommended by DGE. Following the actual dieting phase, the investigators documented the participants' weight and health status for another 38 weeks.
The result may be as surprising as it is sobering for all followers of intermittent fasting. The HELENA researchers found that improvements in health status were the same with both dietary methods. "In participants of both groups, body weight and, along with it, visceral fat, or unhealthy belly fat, were lost and extra fat in the liver reduced," Schübel reported.
The good news is: a small dieting success is already a big gain for health. Those who reduce their body weight by only five percent, lose about 20 percent of dangerous visceral fat and more than a third of fat in the liver – no matter what dietary method they used.
While we're on the topic, read about the vegan keto diet and how this woman lost 50kg on the Keto diet without stepping foot in a gym.
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