Intermittent fasting tops calorie restriction for gut health


Individuals on an intermittent fasting and protein-paced (IF-P) diet had fewer gastrointestinal symptoms and increased diversity in gut microbiota than those on a Mediterranean-style calorie-restricted (CR) diet in a small study , random.


  • Researchers compared the effects on gastrointestinal symptoms, gut microbiome, and circulating cytokines and metabolites of two low-calorie, 8-week dietary interventions: A Mediterranean-style continuous CR diet based on the US Dietary Guidelines and an IF-P diet. Interventions were matched for energy intake.
  • Participants included overweight/obese men and women who were randomly assigned to one of two groups: CR diet (n = 20) and IF-P diet (n = 21).
  • The researchers used samples and data from an ongoing randomized controlled trial comparing the effects of the CR diet versus the IF-P diet on anthropometric and cardiometabolic outcomes.
  • In a subanalysis for the current study, researchers compared outcomes in the “high” and “low” regimens to the IF-P regimen, based on relative weight loss.


  • The IF-P diet resulted in more significant reductions in patient-reported symptoms of gastrointestinal problems and more pronounced increases in gut microbiota diversity and abundance of microbial families and genera associated with favorable metabolic profiles, such as . Christensenellaceae, RikenellaceaeAND Marvinbryantiathan the CR diet.
  • The IF-P diet significantly increased cytokines associated with lipolysis, weight loss, inflammation, and immune response.
  • With the CR diet, metabolites associated with a metabolic pathway associated with longevity were increased.
  • Subgroup analysis of high and low responders to the IF-P diet showed an increased abundance of certain bacteria associated with metabolic benefits and anti-inflammatory effects among higher responders, while lower responders showed an increased abundance of butyrate-producing and food-adapted species such as HOW Eubacterium ventriosum AND Roseburia inulinivorans.
  • An analysis of faecal metabolism revealed that high responders showed enrichment of faecal metabolites involved in lipid metabolism, while the most prominent pathways in low responders were related to amino acid and peptide metabolism, as well as tyrosine metabolism and arginine biosynthesis. .


“These findings shed light on the differential effects of IF regimens, including IF-P, as a promising dietary intervention for obesity management and microbiotic and metabolic health.”


The study, with corresponding author Paul J. Arciero, PhD, of the Laboratory of Nutrition and Human Metabolism at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, was published online at Nature Communications.


Relying on faecal samples to represent the gut microbiome may have overlooked potential microbial populations in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Other limitations include the short 8-week duration of the trial and the small number of patients.


The study was primarily funded by an unrestricted grant from Isagenix International LLC to Arciero, with secondary funding provided to a co-author. Arciero is a consultant for Isagenix International LLC, is an advisory board member of the International Protein Board, and has received financial compensation for books and keynote presentations on protein pacing. A co-author is employed by the funder.

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