Purpose of review: Restrictive diets, such as low-calorie diets, are difficult to maintain in the long term. For this reason, their popularity has decreased compared to non-restrictive approaches, which instead promote healthy eating strategies. Since both strategies may entail different neurobiological mechanisms, this review will examine the current evidence on the effects of restrictive and non-restrictive interventions on neurobehavioral factors.
Recent findings: Restrictive diets appear to improve eating behaviors, and the evidence reviewed argues against the notion that they may worsen the severity of binge eating. Moreover, they may lead to short-term changes in brain structure and improvements in cerebrovascular markers which, in turn, could impact eating behaviors. Non-restrictive interventions may have a positive effect on weight management and eating behaviors. However, evidence of their neural effects is scarce. Small sample sizes, short follow-ups, and the absence of control groups are limitations of the studies targeting both interventions. Rigorous long-term randomized studies are needed to examine the neurobehavioral effects of restrictive and non-restrictive approaches.
Keywords: Dietary intervention; Eating behaviors; MRI; Neurobehavioral factors; Non-restrictive diet; Restrictive diet.
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