Study Suggests Counting Calories, Not Fasting, Is the Key to Losing Weight

We're sure this won't come as a major shock to some of our more ardent IG followers, but a new study has suggested that counting calories is better for weight loss than practising time-restricted eating, like intermittent fasting.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that the time between a person's first and last meal had no bearing on the amount of weight they ultimately lost. What did matter was eating less overall and eating fewer large meals.

Intermittent fasting is essentially a short-term fast, where a person eats within a window of around eight to 10 hours per day. Celebrities like Hugh Jackman and Terry Crews are known to be fans of the diet programme, but despite prior studies suggesting it could improve the body's rhythms and regulate metabolism, the study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University didn't point towards that.

For the study, the researchers evaluated nearly 550 adults, paying attention to the association between the timings of their first and last meal and their weight change. The participants had an average age of 51, with 240 participants being categorised as obese, 169 overweight and 138 of a healthy weight.

Participants logged their daily activities on a mobile app called Daily24, which captured their daily sleeping, eating and wake-up time.

Broken down by week, people in the healthy group ate eight small meals (estimated at less than 500 calories), eight medium meals (estimated at 500-1,000 calories) and one large meal a week (estimated at more than 1,000 calories).

Meanwhile, people in the overweight group ate about nine small meals, eight medium meals and one large meal a week. People in the obese group people had about eight small meals, 10 medium meals and two large meals every seven days.

‘Our findings do not support the use of time-restricted eating as a strategy for long-term weight loss in a general medical population,’ reads the study's conclusion.

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