Effect of a novel Alternate Day Intermittent Energy Restriction Intervention vs. Standard Reduced Calorie Diet on Body Weight, Body Composition, and Resting Metabolic Rate in College Students with Overweight / Obesity: A Pilot Study
Previous research has shown a high prevalence of overweight / obesity among the population of college students. Erratic schedules and feeding behaviors, disordered sleep and increased stress are also common within this population. Intermittent fasting / energy restriction regimes focus on alternating between periods of ad libitum feeding and energy restriction. These are similar to calorie restriction diets in yielding weight loss and adherence. Currently, there is a gap in research that examines the effect of specific dietary interventions targeting weight loss among undergraduate students. Therefore, we aimed to determine the effect of a novel, alternate day intermittent energy restriction intervention on body weight, fat mass and resting metabolic rate of college students with overweight/obesity as compared to a standard reduced calorie diet. To achieve this, we designed a 4-week randomized controlled trial (4-week) with an experimental group that received the novel alternate day intermittent energy restriction (AltER) diet and a control group that received a standard reduced calorie diet (RCD). 17 participants were enrolled, data was analyzed from the 10 who completed both visit 1 and 2 of the study. At the first visit, demographic/health and weight history information was obtained. At both visits, body composition and resting metabolic rate (RMR) were measured; and the following self-report questionnaires were obtained: Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ). Change scores were calculated to see pre- and post- differences. T-tests were done to compare the difference in mean change scores of body weight, body fat percentage and RMR between the two groups. There were no significant differences observed between the two groups with regard to the primary outcomes of interest. Sleep and stress were also not found to be significant predictors of the primary outcomes. Interestingly, it was noted that the dropout rate in the AltER group was much lower than the RCD group. This pilot study was a successful feasibility trial as both groups lost weight and there were some patterns noted that warrant further investigation. It is likely with longer duration, adequately powered studies we may see how the unique attributes of the AltER diet be beneficial to college students and other similar populations.
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