Intermittent Fasting vs. Traditional Dieting for Weight Loss: What’s Better Based on the Weight of the Evidence?

Egis R.
6 min readApr 27, 2023
Image by the author

Blah blah blah, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles periods of eating and not eating while traditional dieting or continuous energy restriction entails continuously trying to restrict calorie intake. You know all that. Now let’s move on to why you’re reading this post.

You want to know what’s better for weight loss — intermittent fasting (IF) or continuous energy restriction (CER)?

Well, let’s not trust someone who calls herself IntermittentFastingKatie on Instagram, and instead let’s go back in time and go over all the systematic reviews and meta-analyses comparing IF to CER for weight loss outcomes (“all” to my knowledge). So ingest as much coffee as possible and let’s go.

2015

As far as I know, the study by Seimon RV, et al. was the first study where Seimon said hey intermittent fasting has been all the rage lately so let’s investigate the fugg out of the current data and do a systematic review maybe? A bunch of her colleagues went fugg yeah let’s do that. And investigate they did:

Do intermittent diets provide physiological benefits over continuous diets for weight loss? A systematic review of clinical trials
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They looked at 40 studies in total, 12 of which directly compared IF and CER. The bunch concluded:

“While intermittent fasting appears to produce similar effects to continuous energy restriction to reduce body weight, fat mass, fat-free mass and improve glucose homeostasis, and may reduce appetite, it does not appear to attenuate other adaptive responses to energy restriction or improve weight loss efficiency <…>. Intermittent fasting thus represents a valid — albeit apparently not superior — option to continuous energy restriction for weight loss.

IF vs. CER: 1–1. No winners, no losers, let’s move on.

2016

A few months later, Davis and colleagues were like, hang on we’re researchers too we know how to run a systematic review. Run they did:

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Egis R.

I’m Egis, an online weight loss coach who has heightened BS sensors for fitness & nutrition. Only evidence-based & sustainable fat loss. www.absscience.com