Intermittent fasting is popular—but it doesn’t work for weight loss

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The currently popular diet of intermittent fasting restricts eating to eight hours per day, separated by 16 hours of fasting.

In a new study, researchers found this diet is not effective on its own as a means of either losing weight or for improving key metabolic health markers.

The research was conducted by a team at UC San Francisco.

While time-restricted feeding has been shown to prevent weight gain in mice on a high-fat diet and reduces weight and metabolic outcomes in already obese mice, most of the reported benefits of such fasting in humans have had limited scientific testing.

In the study, the team tested 116 men and women with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 to 46, and found that people who were assigned to only eat during an eight-hour period each day lost 2 lbs. (0.94 kg) on average over the 12-week period, while those with consistent meal timing lost an average of 1.5 lbs. (0.68 kg).

The study found no big difference between the two groups in total weight loss or in other markers, such as fat mass, lean mass, fasting insulin or glucose, HbA1C levels, energy intake, or total or resting energy expenditure.

The team says time-restricted eating, in the absence of other interventions, is not more effective in weight loss than eating throughout the day.

One author of the study is Dylan A. Lowe, Ph.D.

The study is published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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