What’s the deal with intermittent fasting?

Nov 4, 2020 | Tara Schmidt | @taraschmidt | Comments (3)

Clock with hands made out of eating untencils

Written by Madison Hemer, Mayo Clinic Dietetic Intern

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that has set time periods of eating and set periods for not eating (fasting). It is often described as “cycles” of fasting, and has been used as a method for weight loss. There are several different types of intermittent fasting.

  • 5:2 Method – eat a normal, healthy diet for five days a week and the other two days eat a small meal (about 500 calories per day).
  • Alternate day fasting – this involves fasting every other day. On non-fasting days, eat a normal healthy diet.
  • Time-restricted eating – only eat during a set time period. For example, you may only eat during an eight-hour period by skipping breakfast, then eating lunch at noon, and supper before 8 p.m.

Some research has shown that intermittent fasting can be been beneficial in short-term weight loss, and could lower blood pressure, however little research has been done on any long-term health benefits or risks.

Wanting to start intermittent fasting?

  • Consider starting slow with time-restricted eating by cutting out nighttime snacking. Then start to limit your eating period each day. For example, start with an eating period from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Experiment and personalize the diet to what works best for you.
  • When you do eat, make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Eating a calorie-controlled, well-balanced diet with regular exercise can be just as beneficial to promote weight loss. Intermittent fasting is not recommended for anyone who is pregnant, under 18, or has certain medical conditions, such as diabetes.

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Weight Management blog.

I have noticed, in the discussions of intermittent fasting, that the benefit of stimulating autophagy is rarely mentioned. I would encourage anyone interested in fasting to look up autophagy – it could serve some as a motivator to endure the discomforts of fasting, as it did for me.


Hello @tgdear23, Welcome to Connect. I wished I would have known about intermittent fasting when I was a lot heavier and a lot younger. I started my journey using intermittent fasting, time restricted eating version a few years ago after reading a health blog entry by @LeeAase - An Unfortunately Named Book: https://www.social-media-university-global.org/2020/02/an-unfortunately-named-book/. Since then it's allowed me to lose and maintain a more reasonable weight and feel a lot better. The video in the blog by Dr. Jason Fung was quite helpful for me in deciding to give it a try.

There is another discussion on the topic you might find interesting here:
--- Low-carb healthy fat living. Intermittent fasting. What’s your why?: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/low-carb-healthy-fat-living-intermittent-fasting-whats-your-why/

There are also many other discussions in the LCHF Living & Intermittent Fasting Support Group here: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/lchf-living-intermittent-fasting/.

Dr. Jason Fung also does a good job at explaining autophagy in this video


John, thank you for the links on this subject.

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