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The truth about alternate-day fasting diets: Are they better than traditional diets?

Alternate-day fasting diets are all the health buzz right now, but how effective are they, really?

According to new research published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine Monday, there isn’t a significant difference between calorie restriction and intermittent fasting when it comes to weight loss.

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To come up with the results, researchers studied 100 obese adults (86 women and 14 men) from October 2011 to January 2015 . The patients were placed into three separate groups: an alternate-day fasting group, traditional calorie restriction group and group with no diet intervention.

Those in the alternate-day fasting group consumed 25  percent of their calorie needs on “fast days” and 125 percent of their calorie needs on “feast days.” The other group ate 75 percent of their calorie needs every day.

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After one year, the team saw an average weight loss of 6 percent in the alternate-day fasting group and an average weight loss of 5.3 percent in the daily calorie restriction group. Both lost an average of 13 pounds.

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Not only did the folks in the fasting group not see significantly different weight loss results compared to the tradition calorie restriction group, they didn’t see any additional health benefits, either. In fact, more people dropped out of the fasting group during the course of the study.

Krista Varady, associate professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois and study author, said she was shocked at the results and expected people to have an easier time and better results on the alternate-day fasting diet.

Previous, Varady’s studies suggested the alternate-day fasting diet helped people lose weight more quickly (with other added health benefits) and was easier to stick to once they moved past the challenging first two weeks.

But, according to the Verge, her previous studies only following participants for two to three months. This study is the first long-term assessment of alternate-day fasting diets.

Read the full study and its methodology here.

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