Current Obesity Reports

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 172–185 | Cite as

Intermittent Fasting: Is the Wait Worth the Weight?

  • Mary-Catherine Stockman
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Jacquelyn Burke
  • Caroline M. Apovian
Obesity Treatment (CM Apovian, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Obesity Treatment

Abstract

Purpose of Review

We review the underlying mechanisms and potential benefits of intermittent fasting (IF) from animal models and recent clinical trials.

Recent Findings

Numerous variations of IF exist, and study protocols vary greatly in their interpretations of this weight loss trend. Most human IF studies result in minimal weight loss and marginal improvements in metabolic biomarkers, though outcomes vary. Some animal models have found that IF reduces oxidative stress, improves cognition, and delays aging. Additionally, IF has anti-inflammatory effects, promotes autophagy, and benefits the gut microbiome. The benefit-to-harm ratio varies by model, IF protocol, age at initiation, and duration.

Summary

We provide an integrated perspective on potential benefits of IF as well as key areas for future investigation. In clinical trials, caloric restriction and IF result in similar degrees of weight loss and improvement in insulin sensitivity. Although these data suggest that IF may be a promising weight loss method, IF trials have been of moderate sample size and limited duration. More rigorous research is needed.

Keywords

Intermittent fasting Fasting Obesity Calorie restriction Metabolism Insulin resistance Weight loss 

Abbreviations

IF

Intermittent fasting

CR

Calorie restriction

ICR

Intermittent calorie restriction

ER

Energy restriction

TRF

Time-restricted feeding

PF

Prolonged fasting

ADER

Alternate-day energy restriction

CER

Continuous energy restriction

RCT

Randomized controlled trial

GIR

Glucose infusion rate

Si

Insulin sensitivity

ROS

Reactive oxygen species

ad lib

Ad libitum

Notes

Funding Sources

This work was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health [UL1TR001430, P30DK046200, T32DK007201].

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Mary-Catherine Stockman declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Dylan Thomas declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Jacquelyn Burke declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Caroline M. Apovian has received research funding through grants from Sanofi-Aventis, Orexigen, Aspire Bariatrics, GI Dynamics, MYOS, Takeda, Gelesis, Vela Foundation, Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Foundation, Coherence Lab, Energesis, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Eli Lilly, and MetaPrteomics LLC; has received compensation from Nutrisystem, Zafgen, Sanofi-Aventis, Orexigen, Novo Nordisk, GI Dynamics, Takeda, Scientific Intake, Gelesis, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Amylin, EnteroMedics, Arena Pharmaceuticals, Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, and Xeno Biosciences for service on advisory boards; and owns stock in Science-Smart LLC.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

References

Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary-Catherine Stockman
    • 1
  • Dylan Thomas
    • 1
  • Jacquelyn Burke
    • 2
  • Caroline M. Apovian
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and NutritionBoston Medical CenterBostonUSA
  2. 2.College of Health and Rehabilitation SciencesBoston University Sargent CollegeBostonUSA

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