VERIFY: Does intermittent fasting help weight loss?

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Jennifer Anniston, Hugh Jackman, Chris Pratt.  What do these celebrities have in common?  Reportedly, they’ve all dieted using a method called “intermittent fasting”.  It’s super popular. But does it work? We checked it out.

Have you heard about intermittent fasting? It’s where you time restrict your eating to something like an 8-hour span, then fast for 14.  Or with “alternate day fasting” you only eat 500 calories today — but tomorrow you can eat anything you want.

So, here’s what I want to know… is there a link between intermittent fasting and weight loss?

For answers I’m looking at published research and talking to Dr. Krista Varady, who researches intermittent fasting at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Is there a link between intermittent fasting and weight loss?  Yes, there is a link between intermittent fasting and weight loss.

So, it works.  But how well?

Varady co-authored this paper in the Journal of American Medicine / Internal Medicine. It looked at the weight loss associated with “alternate day fasting”.  Over a year, participants experienced 6% weight loss.

A smaller study Varady also co-authored, looked at 8-hour, time-restricted eating. It found participants lost 3% body weight over 3 months.

And this paper in the Annual Review of Nutrition analyzed 16 research papers on intermittent fasting and found “…almost any intermittent fasting regimen can result in some weight loss.”

Does intermittent fasting actually help you burn more calories? Varady says intermittent fasting does not help you burn more calories.

Intermittent fasting helps people lose weight just because they end up eating less.  It’s not like revving up their metabolism. You’re fooling the body into eating less in some way.  

Bottom line: Is there a link between intermittent fasting and weight loss?  Yes. But the secret is kinda the same as many traditional diets…eating less food. 


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