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Live Well: Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

January 26, 2024


Intermittent Fasting (IF) involves switching between periods of eating and not eating on a regular schedule. It's seen increased popularity as a diet trend in recent years. But does it even work?

Throughout history, people around the globe have used fasting for spiritual and health reasons. Taking regular breaks from eating has several proposed health benefits. First, fasting reduces circulating insulin levels, which helps to promote fat breakdown. Additionally, when insulin levels are lower, your body doesn’t convert as much glucose to fat.

Intermittent fasting can also promote weight loss. One study found that IF resulted in a 2.5–9.9% weight loss over 42 weeks. This makes sense because as fat stores decline, weight loss occurs naturally.

Fasting also produces health improvements similar to low-carbohydrate diets, such as the ketogenic diet. In addition, studies have shown that these eating styles may improve insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular health, and inflammation markers.

Fasting Schedule

Eating Window


12 hours


10 hours


8 hours


4 hours

Typically, Intermittent fasting schedules have narrower eating windows. During fasting times, only water or zero-calorie drinks are allowed.

Intermittent fasting does pose some challenges. The narrower eating windows can make it difficult to consume enough essential nutrients each day to support and maintain good health. People who choose the more restrictive fasting schedules, such as the 20/4, may require medical supervision to ensure adequate nutrients are consumed.

Another challenge is sticking to IF long term. Clinical studies have seen subject dropout rates near 40%. Additionally, IF is not appropriate for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a history of disordered eating. It’s always best to talk with your healthcare provider before making significant changes to your diet.

Whichever eating style you choose, make sure you’re getting enough nutrients to support your body’s needs.