Effects of Intermittent Energy Restriction Combined with a Mediterranean Diet on Reducing Visceral Adiposity: A Randomized Active Comparator Pilot Study.

Nutrients. 2019;11(6)

Plain language summary

Excess adiposity is known to contribute to many metabolic diseases. Intermittent energy restriction (IER) has emerged as a favourable method of calorie reduction, and combining IER with the Mediterranean diet has shown promising results for reducing body fat and improving insulin resistance. The aim of this pilot study was to explore efficacy of an IER and Mediterranean diet in adiposity reduction in 60 Japanese Americans. Participants were randomised to either consume the IER + Mediterranean diet (22) or a control anti-hypertension diet (26) for 12 weeks. At baseline and 12-weeks, visceral adipose tissue and total fat mass were measured. Phone check-ins were completed weekly for the 12-weeks and both groups had equivalent dietetic support. This study found significant reductions in total fat mass in the IER + Mediterranean group compared with the control group, and found diet adherence to be high. Based on these results, the authors conclude the IER and Mediterranean diet combined can lower total adiposity and potentially improve liver function among Japanese Americans.


undefined: Intermittent energy restriction combined with a Mediterranean diet (IER+MED) has shown promise to reduce body fat and insulin resistance. In the Multiethnic Cohort Adiposity Phenotype Study, Japanese Americans had the highest visceral adipose tissue (VAT) when adjusting for total adiposity. We conducted this pilot study to demonstrate feasibility and explore efficacy of following IER+MED for 12 weeks to reduce VAT among East Asians in Hawaii. Sixty volunteers (aged 35-55, BMI 25-40 kg/m , VAT ≥ 90 cm for men and ≥ 80 cm for women) were randomized to IER+MED (two consecutive days with 70% energy restriction and 5 days euenergetic MED) or an active comparator (euenergetic Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet). Participants and clinic staff (except dietitians) were blinded to group assignments. IER+MED had significantly larger reductions in DXA-measured VAT and total fat mass (-22.6 ± 3.6 cm and -3.3 ± 0.4 kg, respectively) vs. DASH (-10.7 ± 3.5 cm and -1.6 ± 0.4 kg) ( = 0.02 and = 0.005). However, after adjusting for total fat mass, change in VAT was not statistically different between groups; whereas, improvement in alanine transaminase remained significantly greater for IER+MED vs. DASH (-16.2 ± 3.8 U/L vs. -4.0 ± 3.6 U/L, respectively, = 0.02). Attrition rate was 10%, and participants adhered well to study prescriptions with no reported major adverse effect. Results demonstrate IER+MED is acceptable, lowers visceral and total adiposity among East Asian Americans, and may improve liver function more effectively than a healthful diet pattern. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03639350.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Hormonal ; Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Caloric restriction
Environmental Inputs : Diet
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition
Functional Laboratory Testing : Blood ; Imaging
Bioactive Substances : Alanine transaminase

Methodological quality

Jadad score : 3
Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article