The current obesity epidemic is staggering in terms of its magnitude and public health impact. Current guidelines recommend continuous energy restriction (CER) along with a comprehensive lifestyle intervention as the cornerstone of obesity treatment, yet this approach produces modest weight loss on average. Recently, there has been increased interest in identifying alternative dietary weight loss strategies that involve restricting energy intake to certain periods of the day or prolonging the fasting interval between meals (i.e., intermittent energy restriction, IER). These strategies include intermittent fasting (IMF; >60% energy restriction on 2-3 days per week, or on alternate days) and time-restricted feeding (TRF; limiting the daily period of food intake to 8-10 h or less on most days of the week). Here, we summarize the current evidence for IER regimens as treatments for overweight and obesity. Specifically, we review randomized trials of ≥8 weeks in duration performed in adults with overweight or obesity (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2) in which an IER paradigm (IMF or TRF) was compared to CER, with the primary outcome being weight loss. Overall, the available evidence suggests that IER paradigms produce equivalent weight loss when compared to CER, with 9 out of 11 studies reviewed showing no differences between groups in weight or body fat loss.
Keywords: alternate day fasting; meal timing; obesity; weight loss.