Original article| Volume 42, 102149, July 2020

Safety and feasibility of various fasting-mimicking diets among people with multiple sclerosis


      • Fasting-mimicking diets are safe among people with multiple sclerosis.
      • Adherence to calorie restriction diets is poor despite clinical support.
      • Poor dietary adherence is a challenge and remains a barrier to research outcomes.
      • Strict adherence to time-restricted feeding may be more feasible than calorie restriction.



      Fasting-mimicking diets have shown promise in experimental autoimmune encephalitis and are currently being investigated among people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Ensuring adherence to diet changes is critical to determining the efficacy of such interventions.


      Our primary aim was to evaluate the safety and feasibility of several fasting-mimicking diets and investigate whether various levels of clinical support improve diet adherence among people with MS. Secondarily, this study evaluated the impact of fasting-mimicking diets on weight and patient-reported outcomes (PROs).


      We conducted three pilot studies (two randomized controlled for 6 months; one randomized with transition to single arm) restricting either the amount or timing of calorie intake over 24 or 48 weeks. Interventions included calorie restriction (daily or intermittently) or time-restricted feeding. Adherence measures varied across studies but were collected at study visits along with weight and PRO data.


      A total of 90 participants enrolled; 70 completed the studies, with no serious adverse events reported. Overall adherence to the calorie restriction diets was poor. When participants were tasked with maintaining a diet in a pragmatic setting, neither previously completed intense clinical support and education, nor weekly electronic communication throughout the diet period appeared to improve diet adherence. Participants who were able to adhere to a calorie restriction diet predictably lost weight. In contrast to calorie restriction, adherence to a time-restricted feeding (TRF) diet was relatively good. No statistically significant changes in PROs were observed in an intention-to-treat analysis.


      The role diet may play in clinical outcomes in MS remains unknown, as class I evidence is lacking. Diet adherence remains a primary barrier to the feasible conduct of large, randomized controlled diet trials. Strict adherence to a TRF dietary change may be more feasible than calorie restriction and should be considered in future fasting-mimicking diet trials. Registry:A Pilot Study of Intermittent Calorie Restriction in Multiple Sclerosis – NCT02647502. A Pragmatic Trial of Dietary Programs in People with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – NCT02846558


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