Intermittent fasting is just as effective as calorie counting for weight loss, a new study has found.
Scientists from the University of Illinois Chicago looked at 77 adults who suffered from obesity in Greater Chicago from black or Hispanic backgrounds.
In a study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers assigned the participants to one of three routines for six months.
Members of the first group practised intermittent fasting and consumed all of their calories between noon and 8pm every day.
Those in the second group were given the option to eat whatever they wanted, but the participants had to keep track of their calorie intake and reduce the total they normally ate in a day by 25%.
The third group was the control group – this group did not change its regular eating habits.
‘Instead of counting calories, they could just count time’
After six months, the researchers tested whether these changes helped them lose weight.
Over the course of the six months, the intermittent fasting group expanded its eating window to 10 hours, and the calorie counting group consumed enough calories to satisfy their energy needs.
The results showed that both of the groups that followed a diet generally maintained weight loss after their diets had ended, and participants had lost 5% of their body weight over the course of the year.
Researchers also found that by the end of the year, the group that practised intermittent fasting had consumed 425 fewer calories per day on average than the control group and lost about 4kg (10lbs).
The calorie-counting group consumed around 405 fewer per day than the control group and lost around 5kg (12lbs).
The results showed limiting food intake to a specific time window was as effective as calorie counting for weight loss.
According to NBC News, Krista Varady, an author of the study, said instead of counting calories, people should “count time”.
She added: “What we’re showing is that people don’t have to do these complicated calorie counting diets, where people are always logging stuff into MyFitnessPal on their phone.
“Instead of counting calories, they could just count time.”
However, another study conducted earlier this year suggested intermittent fasting could cause fertility problems.
The scientists behind this study looked at male and female zebrafish to find out what happens when they are exposed to food during and after a period of fasting.
Researchers studied how the zebrafish maintained sperm and eggs, body production and the quality of offspring.
They found that there were some negative effects on eggs and sperm quality after the fish returned to their normal levels of food consumption.
But the team of scientists said more research was needed to understand how long it took for the quality of the sperm and egg to return back to normal after the fasting period.