Losing weight is an uphill battle for many people. Several turn to fad diets and other weight-loss programs to achieve their weight goals. Intermittent fasting is one of the more popular diets nowadays due to media coverage and testimonials from Hollywood celebrities.
However, new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (AHA) appears to cast doubt on intermittent fasting’s efficiency. According to researchers from the nonprofit organization, calorie restriction may be more effective for weight loss than intermittent fasting.
The study spanning six years showed that timing from the first meal to the last meal did not guarantee weight loss. Eating less overall and having fewer large meals resulted in more effective weight management.
For the study, the team of scientists from AHA analyzed the electronic health records of about 550 adults (18 years old and older) who were followed for six years. Their records were obtained from three health systems in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
The participants had at least one weight and height measurement registered in the systems two years before the study’s enrollment period. In the course of the study, they were made to use a mobile application called Daily24, which was designed by the research team.
Through the app, the researchers were able to gather data on the participants’ sleeping habits, eating patterns and wake-up time for each 24-hour window in real-time. The participants were also encouraged to use the app as much as possible through emails, text messages and in-app notifications.
Using the data collected from the app, the team was able to measure the time from the first meal to the last meal each day the participants, the time lapse from waking to their first meal and the interval from the last meal to their sleep.
Wendy L. Bennett, M.D., M.P.H., the senior study author and associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said that there haven’t been rigorously designed studies to prove intermittent fasting’s efficiency despite its popularity, Science Daily reported.
“Number of daily meals was positively associated with weight change over 6 years. Our findings did not support the use of time‐restricted eating as a strategy for long‐term weight loss in a general medical population,” Bennett and her colleagues concluded in their study.
In an article for The Seattle Times published this week, registered dietitian nutritionist Carrie Dennett noted that the latest round of studies on intermittent fasting continued to show how the “good old-fashioned calorie restriction” is better at yielding weight loss than the time-restricted diet.