New research finds that fasting regularly on some days, then going back to your normal diet on other days works just as well as the normal weight loss method of being on a calorie-restricted daily diet.

Have you been putting off losing weight because you feel it’s too hard to stay on a strict diet for weeks or months? The idea certainly is daunting – it’s easy to go on a diet for a whole day, but if you had to do it every single day for over a month, it just feels like tremendous work and sacrifice. But now researchers say going on these one-day diets can help you lose just as much weight as diligently dieting everyday.

The Comprehensive Weight Loss Study Followed Dieters for Four Years – Not Just Months

Researchers wanted to see if regularly fasting on alternate days can help you lose weight in the long run. They took 100 adults suffering from obesity and gave them one of three eating regimens: an alternate-day fasting diet, a mainstream calorie-restricted daily diet, and no diet at all. The no diet group served as the control group for researchers to compare both diet regimen results to.

The group with the calorie-restricted daily diet could only eat up to 2,000 calories everyday, which is 75 percent of the average calories people eat daily.

The group with the alternate-day fasting diet enjoyed a lot of freedom. They only dieted three to four days out of the week, and during their non-diet days they could eat up to 2,500 calories, which is about 125 percent of the recommended daily calorie intake. But during their diet days, they could only eat 25 percent of the normal daily calorie intake — which is only 500 calories.

All three groups followed their diet regimens for 365 days. Surprisingly, the alternate-day fasting diet group lost more weight than the group diligently following the everyday calorie-restricted diet! They lost 6 percent of their original weight relative to the control group who didn’t change their eating habits. The daily calorie-restricted diet group only lost 5.3 percent.

What makes this even more amazing is that the alternate-day fasting diet group also ate more calories than they were supposed to during their fasting days, but less than they were allowed to on their off days. Whereas the daily calorie-restricted diet group mostly kept within their prescribed calories.

Despite the alternate-day fasting diet group eating almost whatever they wanted during their off days, they had almost the same blood pressure, heart rate, and blood levels of fat, sugar, insulin, and other relevant metabolic blood factors. But during the sixth month, the alternate-day fasting diet group experienced higher cholesterol levels than the calorie-restricted daily diet group. But by the 12th month, both groups had almost identical metabolic parameters again.

The researchers went on to study the participants and run more trials for four more years.

A Great Option for People Who Can’t Stick to a Diet

The alternate-day fasting diet group lost almost 12 percent more weight than the calorie-restricted daily diet group. But researchers say the difference in negligible and both groups should be treated as losing almost the same amount of weight.

What does this mean for you? If it’s too hard to diet everyday, you can go on a more stringent, calorie-limited diet for a couple of days, then switch back to your normal diet. If you keep doing this, you’ll end up losing as much weight long-term as if you had been following a less stringent diet everyday. Doing so has also been found to be just as safe as dieting everyday.

Think of it this way – let’s say you were planning on dieting for a month. That means you just need to fast for a cumulative of 30 days. Every day that you fast is one day completed of your 30-day diet. Even if it takes you 90 days to complete 30 days of fasting, you’ll lose the same weight as though you dieted for a month!