It seems like every day, new information comes out about a diet or a weight loss trick that’s a foolproof way to shed some pounds. One of the latest trends is intermittent fasting, but a new study has uncovered some surprising information about the potential efficacy of this dieting method.
The study looked at the eating habits of almost 550 adults (with an average age of 51) in the Maryland and Pennsylvania areas. The researchers were specifically looking at the impact of the timing of food consumption and its relationship to weight gain.
Timing food consumption (also known as intermittent fasting) is a new weight-loss trend that encourages people to stop eating for a specific period of time each day or week.
For example, some people alternate their fasting from day to day, eating normally one day and eating nothing the next. Others decide to stop eating at a certain time each day and don’t eat again until the next morning.
Dr. Wendy Bennett, an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and one of the co-authors of the study, discussed its findings with Today.
According to Bennett, study subjects used an app to track their eating, sleeping, and exercising habits. So, what were the findings?
Does Intermittent Fasting Really Affect Weight Loss?
According to the study, the findings of which were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the timing of meals had almost no impact on someone’s weight. The main cause of weight gain? The amount of food eaten.
The study explained that they “found an association between the eating of more frequent and larger meals per day and weight increase, indicating that total overall caloric intake is the major driver of weight gain.”
They also added that the results of the study “did not support the use of time-restricted eating as a strategy for long-term weight loss in a general medical population.”
That said, it should be noted the findings were largely based on self-reported eating habits. Additionally, caloric intake was documented by approximate meal sizes (a slice of pizza equating 500 calories, half a pizza reporting a meal between 500 and 1,000 calories, and a whole pizza indicating 1,000 or more calories).
Additionally, Dr. Holly Loften, director of the NYU Langone Weight Management Program, and Dr. Ann Lala, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai Health, both spoke to Today questioning the methodology and data presented to draw such conclusions.
While intermittent fasting (IF) may or may not be the ideal diet choice for weight loss, it should be noted that there are documented health benefits of practicing IF, especially for women near or in menopause. Studies have noted that intermittent fasting can help with lowering blood pressure, lowering LDL cholesterol, reducing diabetes risk, and potentially making the body more resilient to diseases.