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Effect of Ramadan Fasting on Weight and Body Composition in Healthy Non-Athlete Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Fernando, HA; Zibellini, J; Harris, RA; Seimon, RV; Sainsbury, A

Feb 24, 2019

Nutrients, vol. 11, no. 2, 2, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, Feb. 2019, p. 478.,

Background: Ramadan involves one month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. In this meta-analysis, we aimed to determine the effect of Ramadan fasting on weight and body composition. Methods: In May 2018, we searched six databases for publications that measured weight and body composition before and after Ramadan, and that did not attempt to influence physical activity or diet. Results: Data were collected from 70 publications (90 comparison groups, 2947 participants). There was a significant positive correlation between starting body mass index and weight lost during the fasting period. Consistently, there was a significant reduction in fat percentage between pre-Ramadan and post-Ramadan in people with overweight or obesity (−1.46 (95% confidence interval: −2.57 to −0.35) %, p = 0.010), but not in those of normal weight (−0.41 (−1.45 to 0.63) %, p = 0.436). Loss of fat-free mass was also significant between pre-Ramadan and post-Ramadan, but was about 30% less than loss of absolute fat mass. At 2–5 weeks after the end of Ramadan, there was a return towards, or to, pre-Ramadan measurements in weight and body composition. Conclusions: Even with no advice on lifestyle changes, there are consistent—albeit transient—reductions in weight and fat mass with the Ramadan fast, especially in people with overweight or obesity.

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Ramadan, Body Composition, Intermittent Fasting, Body Weight

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