Intermittent fasting is a diet that is also referred to as “16/8”. It is based on a 16 hour period of fasting, followed by an 8 hour period in which meals are taken. It has been shown to be effective for weight loss and lowering blood pressure. So should you try it?
Researchers from the University of Illinois in Chicago (US) led a study aiming to examine the effects of limiting food intake over time (such as via daily fasting) on weight loss in obese people. They worked with 23 volunteers, who were diagnosed as obese, who had an average age of 45 and an average BMI of 35.
The 12 week long study consisted of having the participants eat only between 10 am and 6 pm. They could eat any sorts of foods during this time, without portion restrictions. However, during the remaining 16 hours, they were only allowed to drink water or zero calorie drinks.
An effective weight loss diet
Researchers concluded that the study group consumed fewer calories, lost more weight and had healthier blood pressure than a control group who were formed at the start of the experiment. On average, the participants ate 350 calories less, lost 3% of their body weight and saw their systolic blood pressure decrease by about 7 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), the standard measure of blood pressure.
However, the researchers noticed that the participants remained the same as the control group in terms of fat mass, insulin resistance and cholesterol.
Fasting without self-denial
Krista Varady, associate professor in kinesiology and nutrition in the School of Applied Sciences in UI, announced at the end of 12 weeks of research that: “The message to remember from this study on intermittent fasting is that there are options for weight loss that don’t include counting calories or eliminating certain foods”.
One of the main advantages noted by the research team was that the 16/8 diet was easy to follow. In fact, fewer participants abandoned the diet, by comparison to other studies done on fasting diets.