Intermittent fasting may not affect your weight loss chances, research suggests

Image for article titled Intermittent fasting may not affect your chances of weight loss, research suggests

Image: Shutterstock (Shutterstock)

New research casts doubt on certain purported benefits of intermittent fasting, finding no link between a person’s timing of meals and their chances of long-term weight loss. However, the frequency and size of people’s meals was linked to modest weight changes.

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recruited adult patients from one of the three major healthcare systems to use an app (“Daily 24”) in which they would report their sleeping and eating habits for up to six months. These reports were then used as a barometer of people’s routine eating and sleeping behavior. The researchers also tracked the volunteers’ health outcomes, including weight, before and after the start of the study through their electronic health records. About 550 people used the app during the study period and the researchers were able to track the weight of these people over an average period of six years.

The team found no significant association between meal timing and annual weight changes in their study sample. People who reported skipping breakfast or taking long breaks between meals lost, on average, no noticeable weight loss or gained more weight on average than those who did not. The findings were published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

This type of research is known as observational research, which can only be used to find correlations between two variables, not necessarily a cause and effect relationship. And this study in particular wasn’t measuring what might happen to people who first decide to start intermittent fasting, but rather the possible effects of a person’s regular eating habits on their weight over time. That said, several small trials, including one published followed people last April when they started dieting and found that intermittent fasting may not provide additional weight loss over a regular eating schedule.

“Based on other studies that have come out, including our own, we’re starting to think that the timing of meals throughout the day most likely doesn’t lead to immediate weight loss,” said lead author Wendy Bennett, an associate professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine. at Johns Hopkins, told CNN.

Bennett and other researchers studying the topic have cautioned that their results doIt is not necessary to exclude that intermittent fasting can have some unique advantages. It is possible that some populations, such as people with type 2 diabetes, may lose more weight while fasting than they would otherwise. And for some people, intermittent fasting may just be easier or better as a way to keep track of what they’re eating.

Still, for those trying to diet, these findings suggest that there are other patterns to pay attention to beyond timing. The study found that people who ate medium or large meals more frequently throughout the day gained modest weight over time (an average of up to two pounds per year coupled with each additional meal per day). Conversely, eating many small meals throughout the day was linked to small annual weight loss.

Leave a Comment