intermittent fasting


Intermittent fasting (IF) is a dietary approach that has gained significant popularity in recent years for its potential health benefits and its simplicity. It is not a specific diet but rather an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting. The primary focus of intermittent fasting is not on what you eat but when you eat.

The concept of intermittent fasting has been practiced for centuries, rooted in various cultural and religious traditions, such as Ramadan in Islam and Lent in Christianity. However, it has gained renewed attention as scientific research has explored its potential effects on health and weight management.

There are several different methods of intermittent fasting, but they all involve alternating between periods of eating and fasting. Here are some of the most common IF approaches:

  1. The 16/8 Method: In this method, you fast for 16 hours each day and restrict your eating to an 8-hour window. For example, you might eat between 12:00 PM and 8:00 PM and fast from 8:00 PM to 12:00 PM the next day.
  2. The 5:2 Diet: This approach involves eating normally for five days a week and drastically reducing calorie intake (typically around 500-600 calories) on the remaining two non-consecutive days.
  3. The Eat-Stop-Eat Method: This method involves fasting for a full 24 hours once or twice a week. For instance, you might eat dinner at 7:00 PM and not eat again until 7:00 PM the next day.
  4. The Alternate-Day Fasting: As the name suggests, you alternate between fasting days and regular eating days. On fasting days, you may consume minimal calories or none at all, while on regular eating days, you eat as usual.
  5. The Warrior Diet: This approach involves fasting for most of the day and eating one large meal in the evening, typically within a 4-hour window.

Intermittent fasting works on the principle of creating periods of calorie restriction or fasting, which can lead to various physiological and metabolic changes in the body. Here are some of the potential benefits of intermittent fasting:

  1. Weight Loss: IF can help individuals reduce calorie intake, which may lead to weight loss. Additionally, fasting can increase the body’s reliance on stored fat for energy.
  2. Improved Insulin Sensitivity: IF may enhance insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  3. Cellular Repair and Autophagy: During fasting, cells initiate a process called autophagy, which involves the removal of damaged cellular components. This can promote better cell health and longevity.
  4. Heart Health: Some studies suggest that intermittent fasting may improve heart health by reducing risk factors like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and inflammation.
  5. Brain Health: Fasting may stimulate the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which supports brain function and may reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
  6. Longevity: Animal studies have shown that intermittent fasting can extend lifespan, although more research is needed to confirm these effects in humans.

It’s essential to note that intermittent fasting is not suitable for everyone. Individuals with certain medical conditions, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and those with a history of eating disorders should consult with a healthcare professional before starting an IF regimen. Moreover, the success of intermittent fasting depends on maintaining a balanced and healthy diet during eating windows and staying adequately hydrated.

In conclusion, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves alternating periods of fasting and eating. It has gained popularity due to its potential health benefits, including weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, cellular repair, and heart and brain health. However, it’s important to approach intermittent fasting with caution, seeking guidance from a healthcare provider when necessary, and ensuring a balanced diet during eating periods for long-term success.

Scientific Articles about Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting and weight loss: Systematic review by Welton et al,. 2020

The systematic review conducted by Stephanie Welton, Robert Minty, Teresa O’Driscoll, Hannah Willms, Denise Poirier, Sharen Madden, and Len Kelly, titled “Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss,” explores the relationship between intermittent fasting (IF) and its impact on weight loss. This comprehensive analysis of existing research synthesizes findings from multiple studies to provide a clear understanding of the effectiveness of IF as a strategy for shedding excess pounds.

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves alternating periods of fasting with periods of eating. It has garnered significant attention in recent years, not only for its potential health benefits but also for its ability to aid in weight management. This systematic review aimed to determine the extent to which IF contributes to weight loss.

The study reviewed a wide range of research articles, clinical trials, and studies related to IF and its effects on weight loss. It is essential to note that the authors employed a systematic approach to ensure the reliability and validity of their findings. They assessed the quality of the included studies, analyzed the data, and drew conclusions based on the available evidence.

The key findings of this systematic review can be summarized as follows:

  1. Weight Loss Benefits: The review indicates that intermittent fasting can be an effective strategy for weight loss. Many of the included studies reported a reduction in body weight among participants who practiced IF. This suggests that IF can lead to meaningful and sustainable weight loss for individuals seeking to manage their weight.
  2. Variability in Approaches: The authors noted that there was significant variability in the IF protocols used across the studies. This variability included differences in fasting durations, eating windows, and calorie intake during fasting periods. Despite these variations, the overall trend toward weight loss was consistent, indicating that IF can be adapted to individual preferences and needs.
  3. Potential Mechanisms: The systematic review explored potential mechanisms underlying the weight loss observed with IF. These mechanisms include reduced calorie intake, improved insulin sensitivity, and alterations in hormones related to hunger and satiety. While more research is needed to fully understand these mechanisms, they offer insights into why IF may be effective for weight management.
  4. Adherence and Sustainability: The review acknowledges that adherence to an intermittent fasting regimen can be challenging for some individuals due to the adjustment period and lifestyle factors. However, for those who can maintain the fasting schedule, IF may offer a sustainable approach to weight loss and weight maintenance.

In conclusion, the systematic review conducted by Stephanie Welton and her colleagues provides valuable insights into the relationship between intermittent fasting and weight loss. The evidence synthesized from various studies suggests that IF can indeed be an effective strategy for shedding excess pounds. However, it is essential to recognize that individual results may vary, and adherence to the chosen IF protocol plays a crucial role in achieving successful and sustainable weight loss outcomes. Moreover, further research is needed to better understand the long-term effects of IF and its mechanisms in promoting weight management.


  • Welton, S., Minty, R., O’Driscoll, T., Willms, H., Poirier, D., Madden, S., & Kelly, L. (2020). Intermittent fasting and weight loss: Systematic review. Canadian Family Physician66(2), 117-125.
  • Dong, T. A., Sandesara, P. B., Dhindsa, D. S., Mehta, A., Arneson, L. C., Dollar, A. L., … & Sperling, L. S. (2020). Intermittent fasting: a heart healthy dietary pattern?. The American journal of medicine133(8), 901-907.
  • Longo, V. D., Di Tano, M., Mattson, M. P., & Guidi, N. (2021). Intermittent and periodic fasting, longevity and disease. Nature aging1(1), 47-59.
  • Francis, N. (2020). Intermittent fasting and brain health: Efficacy and potential mechanisms of action. OBM Geriatrics4(2), 1-15.
  • Albosta, M., & Bakke, J. (2021). Intermittent fasting: is there a role in the treatment of diabetes? A review of the literature and guide for primary care physicians. Clinical diabetes and endocrinology7(1), 1-12.
  • Antunes, F., Erustes, A. G., Costa, A. J., Nascimento, A. C., Bincoletto, C., Ureshino, R. P., … & Smaili, S. S. (2018). Autophagy and intermittent fasting: the connection for cancer therapy?. Clinics73, e814s.

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