Effect of 12-week intermittent calorie restriction compared to standard of care in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a randomized controlled trial

Han Ah Lee, Hyeyoung Moon, Yuri Kim, Hye Ah Lee, Hwi Young Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common cause of chronic liver disease. NAFLD can result in various complications. Owing to the lack of effective pharmacological therapies, lifestyle modifications are the cornerstone treatment for NAFLD. However, there has been no recommendation for a specific dietary therapy. Because no significant effects have been observed in previous studies. Intermittent calorie restriction (ICR) consists of alternating phases of extreme energy restriction and regular energy intake. Recent studies have demonstrated a significantly higher reduction in liver fat content in the ICR group than in the standard of care (SOC) or continuous calorie restriction groups in patients with NAFLD. However, critical weaknesses limit the broader application of ICR in clinical practice; those are a lack of appropriate assessment tools, different cutoffs of body mass index (BMI) used to define obesity, and different food portions. Thus, we report a protocol for a prospective, randomized controlled trial. The trial will evaluate the effect of 12-week ICR on improving liver fat content in NAFLD patients (Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease-Intermittent Calorie Restriction [FLICR]). Methods: We will include adult (19–75 years) NAFLD patients. NAFLD will be diagnosed by histologic assessment or magnetic resonance imaging-proton density fat fraction (MRI-PDFF) ≥ 8%. A total of 72 patients will be classified according to BMI (obese group: BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2 [n = 36] and non-obese group: BMI < 25 kg/m2 [n = 36]). Participants will be followed up for 24 weeks. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of the two groups: the SOC or ICR group. The primary objective will be the change in liver fat content measured using MRI-PDFF from baseline to 12 weeks. Discussion: This FLICR study may provide clinical evidence on ICR in the treatment of NAFLD in both obese and non-obese patients. The use of ICR in patients with NAFLD will improve the clinical outcomes of patients facing a shortage of effective medical therapy. Trial registration: This trial was registered at the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT05309642. Registered on April 4, 2022.

Original languageEnglish
Article number490
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Dietary therapy
  • Elastography
  • Fibrosis
  • Intermittent calorie restriction
  • MRI-proton density fat fraction
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
  • Steatosis
  • Weight reduction


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