According to recent findings, several weight loss approaches popular among humans may also be effective in treating obesity in pets.
Intermittent fasting (IF) and time-restricted eating are two closely related diets that have shown promise in combatting obesity and promoting a healthy lifestyle in humans. While different in some respects, the two approaches share the practice of alternating between periods of fasting and periods of eating. Diets built around intermittent fasting have been shown to improve one’s cholesterol profile, inhibit the body’s inflammatory response, reduce triglycerides, and moderate blood glucose.
Using the effects of IF in humans as a model, Nestlé Purina PetCare set out to determine if a similar diet could be effective at weight management in cats and dogs. The result is a new approach Nestlé Purina PetCare calls Intermittent Calorie Restriction (ICR). ICR-based diets involve two foods given at different times throughout the day. The first food contains enough calories needed to maintain a pet’s metabolism; the second has a 25% calorie deficit intended to promote fat burning. By alternating between the two foods, pets’ metabolisms are better regulated, allowing them to develop more lean muscle while also burning off excessive fat stores.
The ICR approach’s avoidance of prolonged periods of fasting — as is commonly found among IF diets — not only helps pet owners resist the temptations of pets who might beg for food during a period of fasting, it also helps avoid species-specific metabolic issues. For example, cats who fast for extended periods are more prone to developing hepatic lipidosis, a condition in which the liver suffers damage as a result of excessive fat metabolization over time. By reducing the interval between meals and the duration of the fast, ICR avoids many of those potential issues.