Clinical application of intermittent fasting for weight loss: progress and future directions

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2022 May;18(5):309-321. doi: 10.1038/s41574-022-00638-x. Epub 2022 Feb 22.


Intermittent fasting diets have become very popular in the past few years, as they can produce clinically significant weight loss. These diets can be defined, in the simplest of terms, as periods of fasting alternating with periods of eating. The most studied forms of intermittent fasting include: alternate day fasting (0-500 kcal per 'fast day' alternating with ad libitum intake on 'feast days'); the 5:2 diet (two fast days and five feast days per week) and time-restricted eating (only eating within a prescribed window of time each day). Despite the recent surge in the popularity of fasting, only a few studies have examined the health benefits of these diets in humans. The goal of this Review is to summarize these preliminary findings and give insights into the effects of intermittent fasting on body weight and risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases in humans. This Review also assesses the safety of these regimens, and offers some practical advice for how to incorporate intermittent fasting diets into everyday life. Recommendations for future research are also presented.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Fasting* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Obesity*
  • Weight Loss