Fasting diet study tests more than just weight loss

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Researchers at the University of Adelaide are putting a popular 'fasting diet' to the test.

The new study, led by researchers in the University's School of Medicine, is the first of its kind in the world to measure the impact of alternate day fasting versus a traditional calorie restricted diet on the mechanisms in the body leading to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The alternate day diets being tested involve a 'fasting day' (eating very little on one day) followed by a 'feasting day' (either eating slightly more than usual or up to double the amount of food the next day).

"Effectively, the average calorie intake across both types of diets is the same, but the key focus of our study is to examine the way in which our body responds to day-to-day changes in energy intake," says Associate Professor Leonie Heilbronn, ARC Future Fellow in the University's School of Medicine and one of the leaders of the study.

"Cycles of feast and famine were common in human history, and it's possible that our genetic makeup evolved to adapt to those changes in the availability of food. However, in today's society we have an abundance of energy-rich foods and a sedentary lifestyle. These contribute to the obesity epidemic in Australia and around the world, with increasing numbers of people developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease."

Associate Professor Heilbronn says the new study will look at the benefits of the alternate day fasting diet both with and without weight loss.

"Weight loss is a benefit from such a diet," she says. "But even if the diet does not help people to lose weight, we predict this diet will prime the body to be more flexible and will have a positive effect on mechanisms involved in insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease.

"Early results from our pilot study, and also from our first participant in this current study, are promising. However, we now need more women to take part in the research so we can fully evaluate the effectiveness of the fasting diet."

Overweight and obese South Australian women aged 35-70 years are currently needed for the study.

To find out more about the study or to join, call 8222 2914 or email:


Contact Details

Associate Professor Leonie Heilbronn
ARC Future Fellow
School of Medicine
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8222 4900
Mobile: 0424 187 880

Kate Matheson
Media and Communications Officer
The University of Adelaide
Business: 08 8313 1776
Mobile: 0414 559 773