Studies in humans and animals increasingly suggest that intermittent energy restriction is on a par with, or sometimes even superior to, continuous energy restriction with regards to various health benefits, including improved glucose homeostasis. Against this background, weight-reducing diets involving intermittent energy restriction have recently gained popularity amongst health professionals and members of the public alike. Such diets are often referred to as ‘intermittent fasting’ because they frequently involve severely restricting energy intake to ~0-50% of energy requirements for one or more consecutive or non-consecutive days per week, and eating ad libitum (or to meet energy requirements or predefined limits on fat or carbohydrate intake) at all other times.
This talk reviews research into the relative benefits of continuous versus intermittent energy restriction on weight or fat loss and glucose homeostasis in rodents and humans, as well as safety and nutritional issues to consider when people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus wish to embark on intermittent fasting regimes. It also covers new research from my team suggesting that the use of moderate energy restriction as part of intermittent dieting strategies can improve the efficiency of weight loss (i.e. increase the amount of weight or fat lost, and metabolic improvements achieved, per unit of energy restriction), offering a promising angle of investigation for future human obesity interventions to help prevent diabetes.