Combining a diet with intermittent fasting may help you lose more weight, new research suggests.
People who ate in an 8 hour window lost 50% more weight and had better mood and energy.
But fasting doesn't burn more fat and may have side effects; cutting calories is key for weight loss.
If you're trying to cut calories, intermittent fasting may help you lose more weight and improve your mood, suggests a a small study published August 8 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham looked at 90 adults with obesity recruited from the university hospital, who underwent a 14 week weight loss diet.
Half the participants were randomly assigned to the control group, eating at any time. They followed a calorie-restricted diet designed to keep them in a deficit of about 500 calories per day, and exercising 75-150 minutes each week. The other half of participants exercised and restricted calories too, but also followed an intermittent fasting plan, limited their eating to an eight-hour window each day between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.
While both groups lost weight, the intermittent fasting group lost about 50% more, or about five more pounds, than the control group. The fasting group also had slightly more improvements to their blood pressure.
However, there was no significant difference in the amount of fat lost, researchers found.
The findings suggests intermittent fasting is no more effective for burning fat than a traditional diet. Previous research has suggested intermittent fasting may have a greater risk of losing muscle mass instead of fat, although that wasn't the case in the most recent study.
The researchers theorized that participants who fasted likely ate slightly less than the control group, which accounts for the additional weight loss. The difference didn't show up in food surveys, possibly because it's notoriously difficult for people to accurately self-report their eating habits.
But intermittent fasting was linked to better mood and energy, participants in the most recent study reported to researchers, and 41% of the fasting group said they'd like to continue to the diet.
Previous research on intermittent fasting for weight loss and health benefits has been mixed, with some studies finding it more effective than other diets for weight loss, and others suggesting no significant difference.
It's also not clear from the evidence when may be the best time to eat. Some research suggests early in the day may be best, but being able to enjoy social eating times like dinner may make the diet easier to sustain.
Intermittent fasting has potential side effects like muscle loss and sleep disruption, too, and may not be healthy for certain people, like those with a history of disordered eating, experts previously told Insider.
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