While there are countless different diets, they can be roughly divided into two types:
– a continuous calorie restricted diet and
– an intermittent fasting diet in which the dieter alternates between extremely low food intake days and higher intake days.
So, which one is better for lowering your cholesterol level?
A new study, published in the journal Obesity, put these two types of diets to a head-on test and found a clear winner.
The Australian researchers recruited 88 women who were all overweight or obese, with an average body-mass index of 32.3 kg/m2.
They divided them into four groups.
– Group one did not diet at all, eating the same amount every day to meet 100 percent of their daily energy needs.
– Group two ate the same amount every day, but ate only 70 percent of their daily energy needs. This is what most of us mean by the word “dieting”.
– Group three followed an intermittent diet with an intake of 100 percent of their daily energy needs during the eating 24 hours and took to complete starvation during the 24 hours.
– Group four followed an intermittent diet with an intake of 70 percent of their daily energy needs during the eating 24 hours and took to complete starvation during the 24 hours meant for fasting.
The latter two ate normally every other day and then fasted for every other day.
The dieters continued with their diets for eight weeks and the diets were carefully matched to contain the same macronutrients: 35 percent fat, 15 percent protein, and 50 percent carbohydrate.
Both at the beginning of the study and after eight weeks, the scientists measured their insulin sensitivity, their blood composition, their weight, and their body composition.
Groups two and three yielded approximately the same results and were healthier and leaner than group one after the eight weeks. In fact, since group one did not diet at all, we can forget about them from this point onwards.
Group four was the healthiest and managed to lose the most weight.
More importantly, they had lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol scores, as well as lower free fatty acids when compared to the other groups.
Groups two and three lost approximately the same amount of weight, but the former displayed slightly healthier cholesterol and other cardiovascular markers.