The conventional strategy for losing weight entails calorie counting and making an effort to consume fewer calories each day.
This is a time-consuming, error-prone approach that frequently yields unsatisfactory outcomes.
For those looking to reach a healthy weight, intermittent fasting and the popular variation known as time-restricted eating may be a less complicated choice.
But is calorie counting a better method for weight loss than intermittent fasting?
A recent study that was released in the Annals of Internal Medicine sought to answer this question.
It shows that if used in conjunction with expert counseling, the two approaches may be just as successful.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago enrolled 90 obese persons between the ages of 18 and 65 in this year-long study.
Three groups were randomly selected for the participants as follows:
– a daily calorie restriction group, who were obliged to lower their calorie intake by 25 percent by strictly monitoring their diet,
– a time-restricted eating group, who were expected to consume all of their calories between noon and 8 PM,
– a control group, who kept their regular dietary routines throughout the trial.
On both diets, the individuals dropped around 5 percent of their initial body weight in the first 6 months.
The diets were subsequently modified in order to support weight reduction maintenance throughout the ensuing months.
The daily calorie restriction group raised their calorie intake to match the requirements, which were determined based on their weight, height, age, and activity levels, whereas the time restricted eating group expanded their eating window to ten hours (10 AM – 8 PM).
The researchers reasoned that participants who concentrated on cutting back on the number of hours they ate would lose weight more successfully and keep it off longer than those who concentrated on counting calories.
The impact of these diets on waist circumference, a number of health markers, as well as body composition (muscle, fat, bone mass) were also evaluated.
According to the study, restricting calories and eating only at certain times of the day can both help you lose weight.
After a year, participants in both groups had lost about 4 percent of their initial body weight.
Additionally, both diets similarly reduced fat mass and waist circumference.
Despite the different strategies, diet records showed that calorie intake was decreased to a similar extent during both diets.
Health indicators like cholesterol, insulin, or glucose levels did not change with either diet.
The use of a later time-restricted eating window (12 PM-8 PM), which was deemed to be more agreeable by participants, may be one explanation for this.
There is evidence that eating within a time-restricted window in the morning (8 AM – 4 PM, for example) can help with weight loss and blood sugar control.
Why this is the case is still unknown to scientists.
But according to research, our metabolism is more effective in the morning, when our natural waking and sleeping cycles are in harmony.
This suggests that nutrients consumed earlier in the day may be more effectively utilized by the body.
These results corroborate earlier studies that found comparable weight loss when time-restricted eating and other well-liked forms of intermittent fasting (like the 5:2 diet) were contrasted with daily calorie restriction.
All of these studies demonstrate that the main factor influencing weight loss is calorie restriction, whether it be accomplished by shortening the time window during which people are permitted to eat or by tracking the number of calories consumed.
The latest research demonstrates that calorie restriction is not necessary for weight loss when eating within time constraints.
The fact that this study’s participants were racially diverse (79 percent were black or Hispanic) made it possible for its findings to be more broadly applicable than those of most earlier studies.
The fact that participants from both dietary intervention groups got a lot of counseling throughout the study is an essential part of the research that makes it challenging to draw the conclusion that these interventions alone are sufficient to help people lose weight.
To lessen impulsive eating, this also included advice on healthy eating and cognitive behavioral therapy. Participants’ desire to eat high-calorie food after their fasting window was over was likely lessened as a result.
This study raises questions about whether professional assistance for healthy eating aids in weight loss or if time restricted eating and calorie restriction are equally as effective for losing weight.
It is interesting to note that after 3 months, time-restricted eating without additional support did not result in weight loss.
Individual participants on each diet lost weight at significantly different rates.
This implies there might be variables that make daily calorie restriction or time-restricted eating more effective for some as opposed to others.
No matter the approach taken, dieting is challenging.
According to this new study, intermittent fasting can help people lose weight, but some will probably benefit from it more than others and it’s still not clear why that happens.