Does intermittent fasting impact mental disorders? A systematic review with meta-analysis

Rubén Fernández-Rodríguez, Vicente Martínez-Vizcaíno, Arthur E. Mesas, Blanca Notario-Pacheco, María Medrano, Leonie K. Heilbronn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Accumulating evidence supports the benefits of intermittent fasting (IF) as a dietary strategy for cardiometabolic health and weight control. However, little is known about the potential implications of IF on mental disorders. The aim of this review was to synthesize evidence regarding the effects of IF on mental disorders (depression, anxiety, and mood state) in the general population. We conducted a systematic search in five databases from inception to January 2022. Randomized and nonrandomized clinical trials (RCTs/nonRCTs) were included. A random effects method was used to pool standardized mean differences (SMDs) and 95% CIs. A total of 14 studies involving 562 individuals were included, of which 8 were RCTs and 6 were nonRCTs. IF showed a moderate and positive effect on depression scores when compared to control groups (SMD: 0.41; 95%CI: 0.05 to 0.76; I2=45%; n = 4). Conversely, within-group analyses did not show any significant effect of IF on anxiety (SMD: 0.10; 95%CI: −0.09 to 0.30; I2=0%; n = 5) or mood state (SMD: 0.14; 95%CI: −0.09 to 0.37; I2=59%; n = 7). IF modalities did not negatively impact mental disorders in the general population. In fact, IF showed a positive influence on diminishing depression scores, and did not modify anxiety or mood.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 17 Jun 2022


  • anxiety
  • calorie restriction
  • CRD42021285438
  • depression
  • mental health
  • mood
  • Time restricted eating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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