Fasting trends are some of the longest talked about ‘dieting trends’ in the history of talking about healthy lifestyles and losing weight. Reportedly based on the diets that cavemen used to follow, the most common fasting routine is the alternate day fasting, where you eat what you like one day and stick to only water and unsweetened black teas, green teas and coffee on a fasting day. This preceded the widely talked about 5:2 diet in 2013, which encouraged five days of eating normally before fasting for two days.
A Study in Alternate Day Fasting
A study carried out in September 2019 investigated the benefits of fasting on alternate days and whether it could really support a healthy lifestyle to encourage or increase potential weight loss. The study was carried out by a combined group of researchers from leading European universities including the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, INSERM in France, the University of Freiburg in German and the University of Graz and Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft in Austria.
The results were based on a group of 60 volunteers, half were asked to continue their normal diet and half were asked to follow the alternate day fasting for a length of 4 weeks. After the 4 weeks, the groups were measured against each other and another volunteer group who had reportedly followed the alternate day fasting plan for at least 6 months prior to the study taking place.
The Results of Alternate Day Fasting
The results showed that the control group (non-fasting) reduced their calorie intake by approximately 839 calories a week, while the fasting group ate approximately 4,271 less calories per week on average. This led to an average weight loss of 0.19kg for the control group and an average of 3.5kg for the fasting group. There was an ever so slight change in bone density from 1.23g/cm to 1.22g/cm in the fasting group (the same loss seen in the control group) and the systolic blood pressure dropped on average from 121mm/Hg to 115mm/HG, leading to a reduced risk of heart attack or stroke.
The second volunteer group who had been using the alternate day fasting plan for 6 months or longer showed comparable results in both calorie intake, bone mass density and activity levels and had a noticeable lower cholesterol level.
Is Alternate Day Fasting Good for Everyone?
While the study certainly had positive results that would encourage more people to try alternate day fasting for themselves, it is still a controlled diet that shouldn’t be considered a one-size-fits-all solution for those trying to lose weight. Those with pre-existing health conditions, eating disorders or a previous history of digestive or eating disorders should seek the advice of their GP before trying an alternate day fasting diet for themselves.
It’s also important to remember that it is common for individuals to put back on the weight they have lost while dieting after they finish their diet and go back to their previous unhealthy habits. It may be recommended to instead try to either incorporate a fasting period into your diet or change your lifestyle habits to reduce overall calorie intake and partake in increased activity.
Some people don’t have any option but to fast due to a lack of income or external circumstances that leave little money to provide healthy, regular meals. This has caused an increase in demand for food banks and charity to support families that in need. Next time you are in the supermarket, consider buying a few extra bits to offer to your local food bank and help those that would otherwise go without.
Healthy Diets vs A Lifestyle Change
Lifestyle changes aren’t a small feat but can be impactful when you encourage a change of bad habits into something healthy, whether it’s swapping that regular can of coke for an extra glass of water or swapping out that portion of chips for a fresh salad. Long-term habits are easier to maintain and can help swap out those sluggish feelings for feeling more active and alert.
While the New Year may be fully behind us and ‘End of January Resolutions’ aren’t (yet) a fad, there’s no better time to start a fresh, healthy lifestyle than today – have fun planning some colorful, tasty and healthy meals this week or consider if you want to give alternate day fasting a try.