Global obesity has reached an all-time high. With over 2 billion people, i.e. 30% of the global population being obese or overweight, the number of people diagnosed with chronic obesity-related conditions has also increased exponentially.
Health authorities worldwide are pushing to combat the obesity epidemic with targeted campaigns and dietary discoveries. One such diet trend is intermittent fasting.
Not to be confused with fad diets that pop up in droves and do more harm than good, intermittent fasting operates on the principle of changing your diet patterns instead of restricting the diet itself. It has two intervals, ‘fasting’ and ‘feasting’.
Depending upon the type, you eat anything you like (within your personal daily caloric requirement) within a preset feasting period, followed by a fasting period where you either completely abstain from eating, or take light zero calorie drinks or foods.
Some of the most popular intermittent fasting plans include:
- The 5:2 Diet: Fasting 2 days a week.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: a 24-hour fast 1-2 days a week.
- Alternate-Day Fasting: Feast one day, fast another.
- The Warrior Diet: Full daytime fast followed by a heavy nighttime meal.
- Spontaneous Meal Skipping: Skipping meals when convenient.
- The 16:8 Diet: Fast for 16 and feast for 8 hours every day.
What is 16:8?
While all of the above diets provide some weight loss benefits, the 16:8 diet has been proven to be the most effective in terms of weight loss without losing muscle or restricting calorie consumption. Moreover, the diet also helps reduce blood pressure in obese individuals with chronic hypertension.
Published in the June 2018 edition of the journal ‘Nutrition and Healthy Aging’, a study led by Prof. Krista Varady from the University of Illinois, Chicago observed the reactions of obese participants to the 16:8 diet.
For 12 weeks, 23 participants, with the average age being 45 and an average BMI of 35, were allowed to eat between 10 am-6 pm, and then restricted to only water and calorie-free drinks from 6 pm-10 am the next day. The results were then compared with another 2017 study on alternate-day fasting.
As compared to the results of the previous study on intermittent-fasting, participants consumed an average of 350 fewer calories and lost 3% body weight following the 12-week. Moreover, their systolic blood pressure also dropped by 7 mm mercury on average.
Also, fewer participants dropped out during trials than other fasting studies, hence marking the 16:8 diet as a sustainable weight-loss option. However, both diets had no effect on fat mass, cholesterol levels, and insulin resistance (insulin’s ability to break down and convert glucose).
What It Might Mean for You?
These results prove that intermittent fasting is not, in fact, a dieting fad, and that the 16:8 is effective and feasible for long-term weight loss and good cardiac health. Moreover, the results correspond with other past studies on intermittent fasting, which could mean good news for practitioners and promoters of the diet.
However, longer-term large-scale randomized controls trials are needed to fully understand the benefits and approve its use as an effective weight-loss technique; as noted by Varady and her colleagues.
While the results are still in the preliminary stage, the 16:8 diet proves itself to be a promising solution for healthful weight loss. However, remember to always consult with your doctor before starting a new diet plan to make sure it matches your current health and dietary requirements.
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