Two distinct dietary regimens – energy restriction and intermittent fasting – yield similar results regarding weight loss, according to a new study.

The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, analyzed the impacts of both diets and found intermittent fasting is no better than calorie restriction for weight loss and is actually less effective in reducing body fat content.

Researchers suggest it's better to incorporate physical activities with intermittent fasting to effectively lose weight.

What is intermittent fasting and how does it aid in weight loss?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves alternating between fasting and eating on a regular schedule. It can help with weight loss by allowing the body to burn fat during fasting periods when the stored glucose is depleted. This approach to eating may also offer additional health benefits such as improved insulin sensitivity and protection against certain chronic diseases.

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting aids in blood pressure control, insulin sensitivity and cholesterol.

Energy restriction involves consuming fewer calories than usual, which can help with weight loss and reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases.

Incorporating findings from a previous study published in PubMed, the team concluded that while intermittent fasting is a safe and effective approach, its outcomes are comparable to those of other calorie-restriction diets.

The study, carried out with 36 healthy adults in the U.K., compared different weight loss methods. Participants were split into three groups: one group ate 75% of their normal food intake, another group combined fasting with reduced food intake (they ate 150% of their usual amount of food.), and the third group fasted without reducing food intake. In a three-week follow-up period, scientists found the group with reduced food intake lost the most weight (1.91 kg), followed by the fasting with reduced food intake group (1.60 kg), and the fasting without reduced food intake group (0.52 kg).

Visceral fat reduction was similar across all groups, but there were no notable changes in metabolic health indicators. Researchers say the difference in weight loss between the groups may be due to reduced physical activity.

"Many people believe that diets based on fasting are especially effective for weight loss or that these diets have particular metabolic health benefits even if you don't lose weight," senior study author Prof. James Betts told Medical News Today. "But intermittent fasting is no magic bullet, and the findings of our experiment suggest that there is nothing special about fasting when compared with more traditional, standard diets people might follow."