This really popular diet may not help you lose weight after all

This popular diet trend might not be the best option for weight loss.

Intermittent fasting is considered by some to be the most effective and natural method for improving health. For those looking to burn weight fast, intermittent fasting teaches you how to eat on a schedule, which makes it more about a lifestyle change rather than a diet. It balances mostly on an individual’s personal lifestyle, what their patterns of eating are, and how food is used throughout the day in one’s life.

While it might be beneficial to those looking to control the way they eat, it is not the best strategy for shedding a few pounds on the scale, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Hawaii Cancer Center recently published their findings in JAMA Internal Medicine, that suggested the popular time-based diet didn’t “confer weight loss or cardiometabolic benefits” to participants in the study.

The study was comprised of 116 adults with overweight or obesity, where researchers wanted to find if intermittent fasting is an effective diet for weight loss and metabolic health in patients that are either overweight or obese. Out of the 141 participants, 105 fully completed the 12-week plan. The plan included having some participants only eat during an eight-hour period, which yielded a loss of 2 pounds, but those with a consistent meal timing plan averaged a loss of around 1.5 pounds.

One of the surprising findings from researchers was the loss of lean mass in the study, which was higher than normal.

From the report:

“Loss of lean mass during weight loss typically accounts for 20% to 30% of total weight loss. The proportion of lean mass loss in this study (approximately 65%) far exceeds the normal range of 20% to 30%. In addition, there was a highly significant between-group differences in ALM. Appendicular lean mass is correlated with nutritional and physical status, and reduced ALM can lead to weakness, disability, and impaired quality of life. This serves as a caution for patient populations at risk for sarcopenia because TRE could exacerbate muscle loss. Finally, the extent of lean mass loss during weight loss has been positively correlated with weight regain.”

In addition to the limited weight loss, researchers said they found no difference in other health markers, like fat mass, lean mass, fasting insulin, glucose, HbA1C levels, and energy and resting levels.

“Our results are consistent with a prior study demonstrating that a recommendation to skip breakfast does not affect weight outcomes in patients trying to lose weight but, contradict previous reports describing the beneficial effects of TRE on weight loss and other metabolic risk markers,” researchers noted in the study.