Intermittent fasting is the latest diet fad. Promoted by health bloggers and endorsed by celebrities, intermittent fasting is the number one diet searched on Google. Intermittent fasting is a schedule where you eat all of your meals between 12-8pm and fast the other 16 hours. It claims to produce more weight loss and better insulin control. What are the facts?
The initial study showed that mice on a restricted diet who consumed all their calories in an eight-hour period, lost more weight than the control group who consumed their food on a more normal schedule. The diet soon went mainstream even though there were few, if any, well controlled human clinical trials. That is no longer the case. Recently JAMA published the results of a 12 week study involving 112 subjects. University of California at San Francisco researchers compared intermittent fasting to a normal meal schedule in a three-month trial.
The results have to be very disappointing to enthusiastic proponents of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasters lost slightly more weight over the 12 weeks, about ½ pound, but it was not statistically significant. There was no improvement in key metabolic markers and there was a big negative. Intermittent fasting resulted in greater loss of lean body mass, rather than fat, compared to the group who followed a normal meal schedule.
The bottom line – intermittent fasting may follow the same route as other famous diets like the Atkins. There is no objective, scientific evidence that it works and there also may be some drawbacks.