Finding a popular diet plan that actually works and doesn’t carry other health risks along with it is not easy, but a new study conducted over 12 weeks by researchers at the University of Illinois-Chicago and published last week in the journal Nutrition and Healthy Aging has found that one of the simplest popular diets actually produces noteworthy weight loss results.
The 16:8 diet works like this according to the health information site Good to Know. “Each day you can eat within an 8 hour time frame and fast for the remaining 16 hours. The best part? You don’t have to restrict yourself to 500 calories at all – as long as you eat healthily in your 8 hour time frame, you’ll see the weight drop off. Experts say that this restricted schedule gives our bodies the chance to process the nutrients stored in foods and burns away calories. Plus, you won’t go hungry.”
In other words, dieters can eat pretty much anything — though healthier foods are clearly preferable — in any amount between, for example, 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. But for the remaining 16 hours of the day, 16:8 dieters must refrain from consuming any food or beverage, except for calorie-free liquids such as water or unsweetened tea, according to a summary of the study published by the site Science Daily.
The intermittent periods of “feasting” and fasting led to a weight loss of about 3 percent as well as a decrease in blood pressure over the 12 weeks of the study, which was conducted on 23 adults who, with an average body mass index of 35, were considered “obese,” according to Medical News Today. The subjects in the study were 45 years old on average.
“The take-home message from this study is that there are options for weight loss that do not include calorie counting or eliminating certain foods,” said one of the study’s authors, nutrition professor Krista Varady. “The results we saw in this study are similar to the results we’ve seen in other studies on alternate day fasting, another type of diet, but one of the benefits of the 16:8 diet may be that it is easier for people to maintain. We observed that fewer participants dropped out of this study when compared to studies on other fasting diets.”
Another popular “intermittent fasting” diet, known as the 5:2 diet, involves eating as normal for five days, then reducing calorie intake to just 20 percent of normal for the other two days in a week, according to Women’s Health magazine.
Yet another version is “alternate day fasting,” which as the name implies consists of eating normally for one day, then fasting the following day — and repeating the process until the desired weight loss goals are reached, according to Pop Sugar.
A study conducted by many of the same researchers last year found that alternate-day fasting was also effective for losing weight, but did not produce significantly different results from more conventional, calorie-counting diets, according to Science Daily.