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The Feast and Fast Diet Plan: It Works!
To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. But eating less--in most cases, a lot less--is hard. What if you didn't have to eat less every day--just some days? This may be a dieter's dream come true: Alternate-day fasting diets are just as effective as diets that restrict calories every day, according to researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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The study: Led by Krista Varady, an associate professor of nutrition, the team followed 100 obese adults for a full year. Each participant was assigned to one of three diet groups: alternate-day fasting, everyday calorie restriction and a control group.

Those in the alternate-day fasting group consumed only about 500 calories every other day. On the off-days, or "feast" days, participants ate whatever they wanted.

The everyday restriction group reduced their daily calorie intake by about 25 percent, to about 1500 calories each day.

The control group had no dietary changes.

The results: The alternate-day fasters lost, on average, 6 percent of their body weight, while those who followed the everyday calorie restriction plan lost 5.3 percent. Both groups saw effective weight loss when compared with the control group. Varady says the findings reinforce alternate-day fasting as a strategy for weight loss.

"Obesity is a complex disease with many causes and many serious consequences," she explains. "The results of this study illustrate that alternate-day fasting is an effective option for achieving and sustaining weight loss, especially for men and women who have tried but failed to lose weight by daily calorie restriction."

The study is the largest and longest study of alternate-day fasting to date.

"When it comes to weight loss, people need to find what works for them," says Varady, who is author of the book, "The Every Other Day Diet," published by Hachette. "Alternate-day fasting is another tool in our arsenal."

The study findings were published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

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