Intermittent fasting: what questions should we be asking?

Kai Liu, Bo Liu, Leonie Heilbronn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Obesity and overweight are contributing factors to chronic disease. Lifestyle management, which incorporates advice on moderate daily caloric restriction (CR) and physical activity to reduce body weight, is the cornerstone treatment in practice. Intermittent fasting (IF) is a popular alternative that cycles fasting with unrestricted eating periods. IF appears to be an equivalent approach to CR to induce weight loss, although as yet there is limited long-term evidence. Some controversy exists as to whether IF yields superior health benefits to CR. Discrepancies between studies may be due to the heterogeneity in the design of IF protocols. There is also still some concerns around the safety and feasibility of IF compared to CR, which has not been well-studied to date. Moreover, the underlying cellular pathways that are differentially activated in IF in comparison to CR requires further investigation in humans. This review summarises trials that have compared IF with CR, and discusses evidence from animal studies to raise questions for future research in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112827
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 May 2020


  • Daily calorie restriction
  • Energy metabolism
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Meal timing
  • Metabolic adaptation
  • Treatment outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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