Alternate Day Fasting A Viable Weight Loss Option

A study released by the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition at the University of Illinois in Chicago, which studied the effects of modified alternate day fasting (ADF) to facilitate weight loss and lower cardiovascular risk in obese individuals, found that alternate day fasting can be a viable option for obese patients currently working toward a healthier body weight.

This study examined the effects of alternate day fasting compared between controlled and self-implemented conditions.  Beyond the benefits it may offer to weight loss the study also investigated the effects of alternate day fasting on coronary artery disease risks (CAD) indicators in obese adults.

The study examined 16 obese adults (12 women and 4 men) who completed a 10 week trial period which consisted of 3 phases.  The phases included a 2 week control phase, a 4 week weight loss alternate day fasting/controlled eating phase and a 4 week weight loss alternate day fasting/self selected feeding phase.

Criteria for inclusion for patients in the study were:

  • Individuals between the ages of 35 and 65
  • BMI between 30 and 39.9
  • Non diabetic
  • No history of cardiovascular disease
  • Lightly active for 3 months prior to the study (less than 3 hrs a week of light intensity exercise)
  • Non smoker
  • Not currently taking weight loss, lipid or glucose lowering drugs

This study found over the 10 week trial period that dietary adherence remained high throughout the controlled intake phase with an average success rate of 86% for all subjects involved while the self selected food intake phase enjoyed a success rate of 89%.  The rate of weight loss also remained constant during the controlled food intake phases and the self selected food intake phases, averaging nearly 1 pound per week during each phase for each individual.  Body fat percentage also decreased by an average of 2% over the final 8 week period.

Although the weight loss and body fat percentage decrease is encouraging, the most encouraging conclusion from this study is the decrease in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations, but beneficial HDL remained unchanged.  Fasting reduced blood pressure for every participant.

The conclusion of the study suggests “ADF is a viable diet option to help obese individuals lose weight and decrease CAD risk”.


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