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November 17, 1978

Clinical Use of a Protein-Sparing Modified Fast

Author Affiliations

From the Nutrition and Metabolism Laboratory, Cancer Research Institute, New England Deaconess Hospital, Boston, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, and Harvard Medical School, Boston.

JAMA. 1978;240(21):2299-2302. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290210081040

OBESITY is notoriously resistant to treatment. Short-term weight reduction of greater than 18 kg occurs in fewer than 5% of outpatients.1 Possible explanations for noncompliance and ineffectiveness of conventional diet therapy include hunger and the disappointingly slow rate of weight loss. Total fasting reduces hunger and induces rapid weight loss,2 but half the weight loss in the first month and one fourth to one third thereafter is from muscle tissue,3 and hepatic, renal, and endocrine function is affected. For these reasons fasting regimens are generally recommended only for inpatients.

Long-term follow-up of persons who previously fasted has demonstrated a high rate of recidivism5 due to obligate regain of lean tissue or the lack of a weight-maintenance program or both. When a fast is supplemented by small amounts of protein in the form of egg albumin,6 casein,7 casein with glucose,8 or amino acids with