Article: Eat all you want 8 hours/day and lose weight?

This is an interesting article from StrokeSmart.Org reporting on a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. It’s about the 16:8 diet.

Here’s how the diet works: Between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. the dieters could eat any type and quantity of food they desired, but for the remaining 16 hours they could only drink water or calorie-free beverages.

It’s an interesting idea, and it may be do-able for many folks. The results are promising.

On average, participants consumed about 350 fewer calories, lost about 3 percent of their body weight and saw their systolic blood pressure decreased by about 7 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), the standard measure of blood pressure. All other measures, including fat mass, insulin resistance and cholesterol, were similar to the control group.

Here’s where things get tricky. The study looked at 23 people over 12 weeks so it’s definitely small. A 7mm drop in systolic is good, but considering where many folks are may not be enough.  High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of stroke so it’s a number to take seriously. If someone does one thing to lower their blood pressure over 3 months, there are likely better ways to get results. If they want to add this diet as an additionally way to lower their blood pressure, that’s helpful.

It’s the same with body weight. Is a 3% change likely to be significant enough? Maybe. But this is not a complete solution.

Even more problematic is that there was no benefit to insulin resistance and cholesterol levels, which are also risks for stroke.

The researchers do acknowledge this.

Varady says that while the research, published in the journal Nutrition and Healthy Aging, indicates daily fasting works for weight loss, there have not yet been studies to determine if it works better than other diets, although the researchers observed the weight loss to be slightly less than what has been observed in other intermittent fasting diet studies.

“These preliminary data offer promise for the use of time-restricted feeding as a weight loss technique in obese adults, but longer-term, large-scale randomized controlled trials [are required],” Varady and her colleagues write.

So It’s interesting stuff. The core of it may not be the fasting in and of itself that produces the direct results, but the fact that on this diet folks tended to consume fewer calories. I’ll be interested in learning more about these techniques in the future.

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