Comparison of Intermittent Fasting Versus Caloric Restriction in Obese Subjects: A Two Year Follow-Up

J Nutr Health Aging. 2017;21(6):681-685. doi: 10.1007/s12603-016-0786-y.


Objective: Caloric restriction (CR) is proven to be effective in increasing life span and it is well known that, nutritional habits, sleeping pattern and meal frequency have profound effects on human health. In Ramadan some Muslims fast during the day-light hours for a month, providing us a unique model of intermittent fasting (IF) in humans. In the present study, we have investigated the effects of IF versus CR on the same non-diabetic obese subjects who were followed for two years according to the growth hormone (GH)/Insulin like growth factor (IGF)-1 axis and insulin resistance.

Design: Single-arm Interventional Human Study.

Participants: 23 female subjects (Body Mass Index (BMI) 29-39, aged between 28-42years).

Setting: Follow-up is designed as 12 months of CR, after which there was a month of IF and 11 months of CR again, to be totally 24 months. Subjects' daily diets were aligned as low calorie diet during CR and during the IF period, the same subjects fasted for 15 hours in a day for a month and there was no daily calorie restriction. Nutritional pattern was changed as 1 meal in the evening and a late supper before sleeping and no eating and drinking during the day light hours in the IF model. Subjects made brisk walking twice a day during the whole follow-up including both CR and IF periods. BMI, Blood glucose, insulin, TSH, GH, HbA1c, IGF-1, Homa-IR and urinary acetoacetate levels were monitored once in three months and twice in the fasting month.

Measurements and results: While subjects lost 1250 ± 372g monthly during the CR, in the IF period, weight loss was decreased to 473 ± 146 g. BMI of all subjects decreased gradually and as the BMI decreased, glucose, HbA1c, insulin, Homa-IR and TSH levels were decreased. GH levels were at baseline at the beginning, increased in the first six months and stayed steady during the CR and IF period than began decreasing after the IF period, while IGF-I increased gradually during the CR period and beginning with the 7th day of IF period, it decreased and kept on decreasing till the end of the follow-up. Urinary acetoacetate levels were higher during the IF period suggesting a constant lipid catabolism.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that, CR affects metabolic parameters positively which will help especially pre-diabetic and insulin resistant patients without any pharmacological approach. In addition IF without calorie restriction can enhance health and cellular resistance to disease without losing weight and those effects may be attributed to different signalling pathways and circulating ketones during IF. Changes observed during IF are probably due to the changes in eating and sleeping pattern and thus changes in metabolic rhythm.

Keywords: Fasting; calorie restriction; insulin resistance; intermittent fasting; low carbohydrate.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acetoacetates / urine
  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Mass Index
  • Caloric Restriction / methods*
  • Diet*
  • Fasting / physiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Weight Loss / physiology*


  • Acetoacetates
  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Insulin
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • acetoacetic acid
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I