Research Article| Volume 28, ISSUE 7, P698-706, July 2018

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Effect of intermittent versus continuous energy restriction on weight loss, maintenance and cardiometabolic risk: A randomized 1-year trial

  • T.M. Sundfør
    Corresponding author. Oslo University Hospital, Postbox 4956 Nydalen, 0425, Oslo, Norway. Fax: +47 23034390.
    Section for Preventive Cardiology, Department of Endocrinology, Morbid Obesity and Preventive Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
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  • M. Svendsen
    Section for Preventive Cardiology, Department of Endocrinology, Morbid Obesity and Preventive Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
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  • S. Tonstad
    Section for Preventive Cardiology, Department of Endocrinology, Morbid Obesity and Preventive Medicine, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
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      • Intermittent and continuous energy restriction resulted in similar weight loss after one year in men and women with obesity.
      • Both diets improved cardiovascular risk factors.
      • Feeling of hunger may limit long-term adherence to intermittent energy restriction.


      Background & aims

      Long-term adherence to conventional weight-loss diets is limited while intermittent fasting has risen in popularity. We compared the effects of intermittent versus continuous energy restriction on weight loss, maintenance and cardiometabolic risk factors in adults with abdominal obesity and ≥1 additional component of metabolic syndrome.

      Methods & results

      In total 112 participants (men [50%] and women [50%]) aged 21–70 years with BMI 30–45 kg/m2 (mean 35.2 [SD 3.7]) were randomized to intermittent or continuous energy restriction. A 6-month weight-loss phase including 10 visits with dieticians was followed by a 6-month maintenance phase without additional face-to-face counselling. The intermittent energy restriction group was advised to consume 400/600 kcal (female/male) on two non-consecutive days. Based on dietary records both groups reduced energy intake by ∼26–28%. Weight loss was similar among participants in the intermittent and continuous energy restriction groups (8.0 kg [SD 6.5] versus 9.0 kg [SD 7.1]; p = 0.6). There were favorable improvements in waist circumference, blood pressure, triglycerides and HDL-cholesterol with no difference between groups. Weight regain was minimal and similar between the intermittent and continuous energy restriction groups (1.1 kg [SD 3.8] versus 0.4 kg [SD 4.0]; p = 0.6). Intermittent restriction participants reported higher hunger scores than continuous restriction participants on a subjective numeric rating scale (4.7 [SD 2.2] vs 3.6 [SD 2.2]; p = 0.002).


      Both intermittent and continuous energy restriction resulted in similar weight loss, maintenance and improvements in cardiovascular risk factors after one year. However, feelings of hunger may be more pronounced during intermittent energy restriction.

      Trial registration



      BMI (body mass index), TG (triglycerides), CRP (C-reactive protein), RMR (resting metabolic rate), PAL (physical activity level), IPAQ-SF (International Physical Activity Questionnaire-Short form), TDEE (total daily energy expenditure)
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