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Intermittent fasting, 5:2 diet versus 16:8 diet, both benefit weight loss

By Connie Wan, P.h.D | August 20th, 2018

A growing body of compelling scientific research has suggested that controlled fasting pattern, named “Intermitted fasting,” could have beneficial health and weight loss effects. There are several forms of intermittent fasting plan, among them 5:2 diet and 16:8 diet are most well-known.

The most popular form of intermittent fasting is the 5:2 diet. This eating strategy involves a normal (albeit still healthy) diet for five days of the week, and extreme calorie restriction for the remaining two days.

Several researches have examined the efficacy of the 5:2 diet. The research results have generally been promising suggesting that 5:2 diet leads to reductions in both body fat and insulin levels. Specifically, researchers have found that volunteers in these studies have, on average, reduced their weight by 4-6% after 12 weeks on the diet.

An alternative model for intermittent fasting emerged over the last few years is 16:8 diet, which many are suggesting is much easier to maintain than the 5:2 diet. The 16:8 diet limits a person’s food intake to an eight-hour stretch of the day. So, ultimately a person is fasting for a minimum of 16 hours every day.

A 2016 study into the effects of a 16:8 diet on young resistance-trained men found that, after just eight weeks, there were improvements in a variety of health-related biomarkers and a decrease in fat mass. To confirm the benefits of 16:8 diet in obese population, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) examined the diet and have found it to be an effective in weight loss.

UIC study involved 23 obese subjects with an average age of 45. The subjects were compared with a historical control group from a previous weight loss trial by the same research team. The subjects in the study were not given controlled diets but rather told to continue eating as normal but to limit their food intake to between the hours of 10 am and 6 pm. After 12 weeks the results showed that the 16:8 group seemed to instinctively have reduced their overall daily caloric intake by about 300 calories. Their overall body weight had also dropped by around 3%, compared to the historical control group.

UIC data suggested that the 16:8 diet is not as immediately effective for weight loss as 5:2 diet. But, this eating strategy is generally considered more sustainable on a long-term basis. Indeed, the researchers from the study noted that that were fewer people dropping off the study when comparing to other 5:2 diet studies.

More research is obviously necessary before we can have a better scientific perspective on the broader effects that different fasting patterns have on our overall metabolism, but the preliminary evidence is certainly promising.

Thanks for reading.

Journal Reference: Gabel, Kelseya, Hoddy, Kristin K., Haggerty, Nicolea, Song, Jeeheea, Kroeger, Cynthia M.; Trepanowski, John F., Panda, Satchidanandac, Varady, Krista A., Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: A pilot study, Nutrition and Healthy Aging, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 345-353, 2018, 15 June 2018

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