Alternate day fasting (ADF; 24-h feeding/24-h 25% energy intake at lunchtime), is effective for weight loss, but diet tolerability is questionable. Moving the fast day meal to dinnertime, or dividing it into smaller meals, may improve tolerability. Accordingly, this study compared the effects of ADF with three meal times on body weight and heart disease risk.
Obese subjects (n = 74) were randomized to 1 of 3 groups for 8 weeks: 1) ADF-L: lunch, 2) ADF-D: dinner, or 3) ADF-SM: small meals.
Body weight decreased similarly (P < 0.001) in all groups (ADF-L: 3.5 ± 0.4 kg, ADF-D 4.1 ± 0.5 kg, ADF-SM 4.0 ± 0.5 kg). Reductions (P < 0.001) in fat mass and visceral fat were also comparable. Plasma lipids remained unchanged, and low density lipoprotein (LDL) particle size increased (P < 0.05) in all groups (1.3 ± 0.5 Å). Systolic blood pressure decreased (P < 0.05) by ADF-SM only. Fasting glucose, insulin, and HOMA-IR remained unchanged.
Thus, allowing individuals to consume the fast day meal at dinner or small meals produces similar weight loss and cardio-protection as consuming the meal at lunch. This flexibility in meal timing may increase tolerability and long-term adherence to ADF protocols.