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Alternating Weight Loss Diets an Intriguing Strategy

August 9/2021

By Françoise Makanda, Communications Officer, DLSPH

Participants in a first-of-its-kind DLSPH study lost almost 10 per cent of their body weight following three successive and varying diets in less than two years.

“Almost 80 per cent of participants lost a clinically significant amount of weight. This is important because losing just five per cent of your body weight is associated with improvements in cardiometabolic function and other health concerns,” says study lead and PhD candidate Rebecca Christensen.

“That lets us know that we have a lot of different tools in the toolbox to pick from when initiating a dietary intervention.”

Photo of Rebecca Christensen

PhD candidate Rebecca Christensen

Dieters followed a calorie-restrictive diet, a low-carb/high-fat diet and intermittent fasting sequentially—a tactic never before observed in a clinical setting.

When a participant followed all three diets in succession only, they lost 11.1 kg on average, almost ten percent of their body weight. Staying on the same diet can be tough, so Christensen was pleased that the findings provided an alternative for study participants.

“It can be quite hard for patients to maintain dietary interventions,” says the epidemiology student. “This might be where successive diets have an advantage as changing things up makes it easier to stick to a diet.”

As more people attempt to shed their pandemic weight, Christensen also found that there is no right month to start your diet. Rather, it is just about getting started.

The goal is not to aim for very low BMI either, she adds. “We know that that’s not necessarily feasible. But the very least they are reaching the weight that we know is beneficial for their health which is why we want to do the intervention.”

And while non-dieters tend to gain more weight during the holidays, dieting is still helpful in preventing over-indulging, says Christensen, who published her results.

“We found in general that they all lose around the same amount throughout the year. There are slight differences in September and October, but not enough to be clinically significant.”