There are few four-letter words that can strike as much fear and dread in people as “diet.” For those who need to lose the most weight, dietitians may recommend calorie-restrictive diets; though they should work, in reality, they're difficult to follow. However, a new study has found that alternate-fasting diets work just as well as calorie-restrictive diets, and may be far easier to follow and maintain.

The study, published online in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that there is no difference in weight loss between a year of following a calorie- restrictive diet and a year of following an alternate day fasting diet. This would suggest that dieters who have trouble with one diet may find success with the other.

Read: Do Food Trackers Really Make People Stick To Their Diet? Try These 10 Tools For Healthy Living

For their research, the team at the University of Illinois at Chicago had 100 obese people adhere to one of three diet plans: alternate-day fasting, daily calorie restriction, or no food intervention at all. At the end of the year, weight loss in the alternate-day fasting group was 6 percent, while weight loss in the daily calorie restriction group was 5.3 percent. However, the researchers emphasized in their study that the results do not prove one diet is necessarily “superior” than the other, just that both may produce similar results.

The specific alternate-fasting diet used in the study consisted of dieters consuming 25 percent of their calorie needs on fast days and 125 percent of calorie needs on alternating feast days. The calorie-restrictive diet consisted of consuming 75 percent of your calorie needs every single day. The study reported that alternate-fasting diets are gaining popularity because they give dieters a bit more leeway when it comes to how strictly they must be followed. However, as dietician Valerie Berkowitz explained in an article for Shape, alternate-fasting diet aren't for everyone; while it’s easy to overeat on the “feast days,” some find it difficult to eat an extremely small amount of food on the fast days.

If you need help sticking to a calorie-restrictive diet, you may want to invest in a food tracker. These apps help you record what you’ve already eaten, making it easier to add up calories and ensure you don’t go over your limit. Most food tracker apps have a highly detailed food library consisting of the calories and nutritional value of nearly any food you can imagine. Of course, you can always go for the non-technological route and simply keep a food diary, tracking you daily input to ensure you don’t exceed your limit.

See Also:

Diet Vs. Exercise For Weight Loss: Which Is More Effective To Lose Pounds, Maintain Weight?

What Is The Flexitarian Diet? Guidelines For Weight Loss On The Almost-Vegetarian Eating Plan