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Short- and long-term effects of continuous versus intermittent restrictive diet approaches on body composition and the metabolic profile in overweight and obese postmenopausal women: a pilot study

Arguin, Hélène MD, PhD1; Dionne, Isabelle J. PhD2,3; Sénéchal, Martin MSc2,3; Bouchard, Danielle R. PhD4; Carpentier, André C. MD5; Ardilouze, Jean-Luc MD, PhD5; Tremblay, Angelo PhD1; Leblanc, Claude MSc1; Brochu, Martin PhD2,3

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e318250a287
Original Articles

Objective The objective of this study was to compare changes in body composition and the metabolic profile between women taking an intermittent diet (ID) and women taking a continuous diet (CD).

Methods Twenty-five obese postmenopausal women were randomized to an ID (n = 13) or a CD (n = 12). In the ID, 5-week energy restriction periods were followed by 5-week weight stabilization periods. In the CD, 15 weeks of energy restriction was followed by 5 weeks of weight stabilization. Outcome measures before, during, and after weight loss, as well as after a 1-year follow-up, were body weight and composition, waist circumference, resting metabolic rate, and fasting lipid and glucose levels.

Results Body weight, waist circumference, percentage fat mass, and fat mass decreased significantly and similarly in both groups (P < 0.0001). Both groups showed similar overall decreases in plasma total cholesterol and triglycerides (all P < 0.05). Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol improved significantly in the CD group only, whereas fasting glucose decreased significantly in the ID group only. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol and resting metabolic rate remained stable in both groups. Fasting plasma triglyceride and glucose levels were the only metabolic variables to further improve after the fifth week of the protocol. At the 1-year follow-up, both interventions were associated with successful and similar weight loss maintenance and improvements in fasting plasma glucose levels.

Conclusions The ID resulted in similar short- and long-term changes in body composition and metabolic profile compared with a CD. Most improvements occurred during the first 5 weeks of treatment in both interventions.

From the 1Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Division of Kinesiology, Laval University, Quebec, Quebec, Canada; 2Faculty of Physical Education and Sports, University of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada; 3Research Centre on Aging, Social Services and Health Centre, University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada; 4Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; and 5Centre de Recherche Clinique Étienne-Le Bel, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS), Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.

Received June 30, 2011; revised and accepted November 14, 2011.

Funding/support: This study was supported, in part, by the Fonds de Recherche en Santé du Québec (M.B. and H.A.) and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (I.J.D., M.S., and D.R.B.).

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Martin Brochu, PhD, Research Centre on Aging, 1036 Belvédère Sud, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada, J1H 4C4. E-mail:

©2012The North American Menopause Society