Weight loss can be achieved by following almost any diet plan. The problem is that most people can’t follow diets long term. Complicated diets often lead to failure.
Periodic or intermittent calorie reduction is an easy-to-follow weight loss strategy and it may be the key to lasting weight control.
Studies have shown that intermittent low-carbohydrate diets are more effective in reducing weight than standard dieting. Intermittent calorie restriction — such as, fasting every other day or restricting calories two days a week and eating normally five days a week – has been shown to reduce weight as well as risk for diseases.
When it comes to losing weight, trying to do everything right promotes an all-or-nothing attitude. This can be too overwhelming for most people. It often leads to failure because most people have trouble sticking to drastic lifestyle changes that involve long-term deprivation.
Millions of people in the United States are overweight or obese. Excess weight is also a growing problem for many people in other countries. Due to increasing number of people desperate to lose weight, the global market for weight loss products and services is projected to reach $586 billion in 2014.
An effective solution for lasting weight control is needed.
The latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that obesity rates in 2011 ranged from a high of 34.9% in Mississippi to a low of 20.7% in Colorado.
The Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released their annual report: F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future.
According to this report, more than half of Americans could be obese by 2030 if obesity rates continue on their current trajectories. This would result in millions of new cases of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cancer, arthritis and other illnesses.
By 2030, health care associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases could cost the United States up to $66 billion per year. This could lead to over $500 billion in lost economic productivity.
The good news for millions of people trying to lose weight is that small dietary changes can lead to big health benefits.
You don’t have to go on a strict diet to gain the benefits of healthier eating. The simpler your diet, the easier it is for you to stick to it over the long haul. Small dietary changes can help you shed unwanted pounds for good.
Every little bit counts. A 2005 study of slightly overweight people by researchers at Tufts University showed that cutting 100 to 200 calories a day led to weight loss, improved cholesterol levels and significant boost to immune response.
Similar studies have shown that as little as 10% reduction in calorie intake compared to the average high-calorie Western diet can lead to weight loss, lower blood pressure and cholesterol as well as other health benefits. Other studies achieved the effect of caloric reduction by a combination of exercise and lower calorie intake.
Instead of trying to rapidly lose over 50 pounds using deprivation diets, punishing workouts or other quick-fix strategies, creating smaller changes can help you gradually build healthy choices into your life. Every goal you achieve can motivate you to achieve more goals — and you can get lasting results.
If you can avoid making drastic changes and ease into losing weight, you are more likely to stick to a weight loss strategy long term. Intermittent calorie reduction is an easy-to-follow diet plan and it may be the key to lasting weight control.
Researchers at Genesis Prevention Center at University Hospital in South Manchester, England found that restricting carbohydrates two days per week was more effective than the standard, daily Mediterranean diet in reducing weight, body fat and insulin resistance. Their findings were presented at the 2011 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
They randomly assigned study participants to one of the three diets: a calorie-restricted, low-carbohydrate diet for two days per week; a low-carbohydrate diet in which participants were allowed to eat unlimited protein and healthy fats, including lean meats, olives and nuts for two days per week; and a standard, calorie-restricted Mediterranean diet for seven days per week.
After four months, mean reduction in weight and body fat was about 9 pounds with the intermittent approaches; mean reduction in weight and body fat was about 5 pounds with the standard dietary approach. Insulin resistance decreased by 22% with the calorie-restricted, low-carbohydrate diet and by 14% with the low-carbohydrate diet which allowed unlimited protein and healthy fats. Insulin resistance decreased by 4% with the standard Mediterranean diet.
Other studies on intermittent calorie-restriction — such as, fasting on alternate days or restricting calories two days a week and eating normally five days a week – have shown reduction in weight as well as risk for diseases.
Dr. Krista A. Varaday’s team at the University of Illinois at Chicago studied modified alternate-day fasting (ADF) in obese individuals. They consumed 25% of the calories they needed to maintain their weight on the fast day and ad libitum food intake on the following day.
The program was pretty easy for the study participants to follow because they ate whatever they wanted on their non-fasting days. They lost anywhere from about 7 pounds to about 30 pounds in a very short amount of time. They lost an average of 5.6 kilograms (about 12 pounds) after eight weeks.
Study participants lost about 0.7 kilograms (1.5 pounds) every week. At the end of the eight-week diet, their total cholesterol dropped by 21 percent while their LDL (bad) cholesterol dropped 25 percent. Their triacylglycerol concentrations dropped by 32%. HDL (good) cholesterol remained unchanged. Their systolic blood pressure (the upper number in a blood pressure reading) fell by an average of five points.
The obese individuals reduced their weight and body fat as well as their risk for heart disease.
Another area of research is the 5:2 diet; it is an easier version of the alternate-day fasting (ADF). This involves eating normally five days a week and consuming 500 calories two days a week, if you are a woman or 600 calories, if you are a man.
Michael Mosley, who presents Horizon: Eat, Fast and Live Longer on BBC, followed the 5:2 diet for five weeks. He lost about 14 pounds and his glucose, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and cholesterol improved. He interviewed Dr. Krista A. Varaday on the video clip (shown above) for the BBC documentary.
More human studies are needed to evaluate the health benefits of intermittent fasting or calorie restriction. Dieting or fasting should always be done under medical supervision in order to protect your health.
Studies on intermittent fasting or periodic calorie restriction have shown that you don’t have to go on a strict diet to lose weight and get the health benefits. The simpler your diet, the easier it is for you to stick to it long term. Easy-to-follow dietary changes can help you lose excess weight for good.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide nutritional or medical advice. Consult your physician and nutritionist before starting any diet or fast.