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Does the 16:8 fasting diet boost weight loss and health?

This pilot study examined how restricting feeding to eight hours a day every day affects the weight and metabolic health of people with obesity

Study under review: Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: A pilot study

Introduction

Calorie restriction (CR) is a reduction in calorie intake that does not lead to malnutrition or starvation. Longterm CR[1] has been associated with improved weight management and aging, as well as a reduced risk of diseases related to metabolic health, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Intermittent fasting[2] (IF) is becoming an increasingly popular way of achieving CR, which involves alternating cycles of eating and fasting. Some types of IF are illustrated in comparision to CR in Figure 1. One type of IF, alternate-day fasting[3] (ADF), involves alternating days of fasting and feasting, usually by eating regularly one day and then fasting for 24 hours until dinner on the following day, two to three days per week. Daily time-restricted feeding[4] (DTRF) is another type of IF in which all food is consumed within a three to 12 hour period every day. For example, the 16:8 diet involves consuming all food within an eight-hour window and fasting for the remaining 16 hours of the day. This seems to be the most common type of IF promoted in the fitness industry. Similarly, Islamic fasting during Ramadan[5] involves fasting between dawn and dusk and consuming all food after sunset.

Some studies have found that ADF leads to similar levels of weight loss[6] as traditional CR diets. ADF may also lead to improvements in markers of health[3] like cholesterol, blood pressure, and insulin regulation.

A smaller number of studies have investigated the effects of DTRF. Some animal studies[7] have found that DTRF may result in improvements in metabolic health. Human studies have found that DTRF was associated with sustained weight loss[8] in obese participants and improvements in body composition and certain markers of health[9].

No previous studies have examined whether DTRF is an effective approach to promote weight loss as well as reducing the risk of metabolic problems in obese participants. Therefore, the study under review aimed to explore the effect of an eight-hour time-restricted diet (i.e. a 16:8 diet) in obese adults, in terms of the effect on bodyweight and metabolic health.

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a popular way of achieving a calorie deficit to promote weight loss and health. Research has found that certain types of IF, such as daily time-restricted feeding, are associated with successful weight loss and health improvements. However, no previous studies have directly examined the effect of daily time-restricted feeding (DTRF) in obese participants. This study sought to fill that knowledge gap.

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Other Articles in Issue #45 (July 2018)