A 5:2 diet potential therapy for gestational diabetes

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New research from the University of South Australia suggests that the popular 5:2 or intermittent fasting diet is just as effective as a conventional energy-restricting diet, enabling women greater choice and flexibility when it comes to weight loss, according to a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Weight loss after gestational diabetes can prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. However, finding the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off can be a challenge, especially for mothers with a new baby.

The 5:2 diet allows five days of normal eating each week while substantially restricting calories over two days a week, as opposed to a typical diet that requires moderate energy restrictions daily.

The research investigated the effects of both the 5:2 diet—five days of normal eating and two days of 500 calories— and a continuous energy-restricted diet of 1,500 calories per day on weight loss and diabetes risk markers in women with a previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes. Both diets restricted energy by approximately 25 percent each week.

Globally, one in five pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes, with these women having a ten-fold risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Women who have had gestational diabetes and are also overweight are at an even higher risk. Type 2 diabetes has lifelong consequences and can lead to other chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer, the researchers said.

The authors said the finding will be greatly welcomed by women looking to lose weight.