The 5:2 diet championed by TV journalist Dr Michael Mosley appears to be better at reducing certain cardiovascular risks, compared with a more conventional calorie reduction diet, a new study has found.
The research published in the British Journal of Nutrition randomised 27 obese people, with an average BMI of 30 , to either a fasting diet – in which intake is limited to just 600 calories on two days a week – to a more standard weight-loss diet in which participants were advised to reduce their daily intake by 600 calories.
Previous research has focused on blood risk markers taken during fasting periods, whereas this study, undertaken by researchers from the University of Surrey, looked at lipid and glucose metabolism in the postprandial period.
Participants on the 5:2 diet achieved a 5% weight loss more quickly than those on a conventional diet (59 versus 73 days), and they also cleared triglycerides from their bloodstream more efficiently. Although there appeared to be no difference in the way the two diets handled glucose, there were significant variations between the diets in postprandial c-peptide, which is a marker for insulin secretion. This surprising finding needs further investigation, the researchers said.
The researchers also found a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure in those on the 5:2 diet. It was down by 9% in that cohort, and up by 2% in those on the daily calorie reduction diet.
“These preliminary findings highlight underlying differences between intermittent energy restriction and continuous energy restriction, including a superiority of intermittent energy restriction in reducing postprandial lipaemia,” the authors concluded.
But co-author Dr Rona Antoni of the University of Surrey said that although their research found benefits in the 5:2 diet compared with the more conventional alternative, the problem was compliance.
“Some of our participants struggled to tolerate the 5:2 diet, which suggests this approach is not suited to everybody; ultimately the key to dieting success is finding an approach you can sustain long term. But for those who do well and are able to stick to the 5:2 diet, i could potentially have a beneficial impact on some important risk markers for cardiovascular disease, in some cases more than daily dieting.”
You can access the study here.