"We wanted to see if they could actually do it by themselves -- because what's the point of studying this diet if you have to feed people meals prepared at metabolic kitchens all the time?" said Varady.
Weight loss ranged from 10 to 30 pounds; the researchers expected an average loss of only five pounds. Blood pressure and heart rate were also lowered, along with total cholesterol and circulating fat levels.
Varady hopes now to study the effects of staying on the diet for at least six months, looking for evidence of self-motivation and to see if the diet helps in maintaining proper weight.
"Why are some able to do it but others not? It takes about two weeks to adjust to the diet, after which people don't feel hungry on the fast day," she said.