Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting.
Most types of this dietary pattern focus on limiting your meals and snacks to a specific time window — typically between 6 and 8 hours of the day.
For example, 16/8 intermittent fasting involves restricting food intake to just 8 hours per day and abstaining from eating during the remaining 16 hours.
Other types involve fasting for 24 hours once or twice per week or significantly cutting calorie intake a few days per week but eating normally during the others.
Although most people practice intermittent fasting to enhance weight loss, it has been associated with many other health benefits as well. In fact, studies show that intermittent fasting may improve blood sugar levels, decrease cholesterol, and boost longevity.
Does it work for weight loss?
Several studies show that intermittent fasting may boost weight loss via several mechanisms.
First, restricting your meals and snacks to a strict time window may naturally decrease your calorie intake, which can aid weight loss.
Intermittent fasting may also increase levels of norepinephrine, a hormone and neurotransmitter that can boost your metabolism to increase calorie burning throughout the day.
Furthermore, this eating pattern may reduce levels of insulin, a hormone involved in blood sugar management. Decreased levels can bump up fat burning to promote weight loss.
Some research even shows that intermittent fasting can help your body retain muscle mass more effectively than calorie restriction, which may increase its appeal.
According to one review, intermittent fasting may reduce body weight by up to 8% anddecrease body fat by up to 16% over 3–12 weeks .