• Madhumita Sen Senior Lecturer, MAHSA University, Selangor, Malaysia



Intermittent fasting is a dietary intervention that will cycle between brief periods of fasting, with either no food or significant dietary calorie restriction, and periods of unrestricted eating. Calorie restriction has been shown in animals to increase lifespan and improve tolerance to various metabolic stresses in the body. Therefore, a review of available studies regarding intermittent fasting on animal and human health was performed. The objective of this review is to summarise the various effects of intermittent fasting regimens, and discuss physiological processes by which intermittent fasting could lead to improved health outcomes. A search was performed on PubMed with the terms “intermittent fasting,” “benefits of fasting,” “fasting” and “autophagy”. Modified fasting regimens appear to promote weight loss and may improve metabolic health and may offer simple, non-pharmacological approaches to improving health.


Fasting, Obesity, Metabolic syndrome, Caloric restriction, Insulin resistance


Download data is not yet available.


Ahmet, I., Wan, R., Mattson, M., Lakatta, E. & Talan, M. (2005). Cardioprotection by Intermittent Fasting in Rats. Circulation, 112(20), pp 3115-3121.

Anton, S., Moehl, K., Donahoo, W., Marosi, K., Lee, S., Mainous, A., Leeuwenburgh, C. & Mattson, M. (2018). Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting. Obesity, 26(2), pp 254-268.

Arum, O., Bonkowski, M., Rocha, J. & Bartke, A. (2009). The growth hormone receptor gene- disrupted mouse fails to respond to an intermittent fasting diet. Aging Cell, 8(6), pp 756-760.

Arumugam, T., Phillips, T., Cheng, A., Morrell, C., Mattson, M. & Wan, R. (2010). Age and energy intake interact to modify cell stress pathways and stroke outcome. Annals of Neurology, 67(1), pp 41-52.

Azevedo, F., Ikeoka, D. & Caramelli, B. (2013). Effects of intermittent fasting on metabolism in men. Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira, 59(2), pp 167-173.

Bayer-Carter, J., Green, P., Montine, T., VanFossen, B., Baker, L., Watson, G., Bonner, L., Callaghan, M., Leverenz, J., Walter, B., Tsai, E., Plymate, S., Postupna, N., Wilkinson, C., Zhang, J., Lampe, J., Kahn, S. & Craft, S. (2011). Diet Intervention and Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarkers in Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment. Archives of Neurology, 68(6), pp 743–752.

Carter, S., Clifton, P. & Keogh, J. (2018). Effect of Intermittent Compared With Continuous Energy Restricted Diet on Glycemic Control in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes. JAMA Network Open, 1(3), p. e180756.

Cheng, C., Villani, V., Buono, R., Wei, M., Kumar, S., Yilmaz, O., Cohen, P., Sneddon, J., Perin, L. & Longo, V. (2017). Fasting-Mimicking Diet Promotes Ngn3-Driven β-Cell Regeneration to Reverse Diabetes. Cell, 168(5), pp 775-788.

Choi, I., Lee, C. & Longo, V. (2017). Nutrition and fasting mimicking diets in the prevention and t r e a t m e n t o f a u t o i m m u n e d i s e a s e s a n d immunosenescence. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, 455, pp 4-12.

Finnell, J., Saul, B., Goldhamer, A. & Myers, T. (2018). Is fasting safe? A chart review of adverse events during medically supervised, water-only fasting. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 18(1).

Goldhamer, A., Lisle, D., Sultana, P., Anderson, S., Parpia, B., Hughes, B. & Campbell, T. (2002). Medically Supervised Water-Only Fasting in the Treatment of Borderline Hypertension. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 8(5), pp 643-650.

H. Müller, F. & Wilhelmi de Toledo, K (2001). Fasting followed by vegetarian diet in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review. Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, 30(1), pp1-10.

Johnson, J., Summer, W., Cutler, R., Martin, B., Hyun, D., Dixit, V., Pearson, M., Nassar, M., Tellejohan, R., Maudsley, S., Carlson, O., John, S., Laub, D. & Mattson, M. (2007). Alternate day calorie restriction improves clinical findings and reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in overweight adults with moderate asthma. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 42(5), pp 665-674.

Kerndt, P., Naughton, J., Driscoll, C. & Loxterkamp, D. (1982). Fasting: The History, Pathophysiology and Complications. Western Journal of Medicine, 137(5), pp 379 - 399.

Klempel, M., Kroeger, C. & Varady, K. (2013). Alternate day fasting (ADF) with a high-fat diet produces similar weight loss and cardio-protection as ADF with a low-fat diet. Metabolism, 62(1), pp 137-143.

Lee, C., Raffaghello, L., Brandhorst, S., Safdie, F., Bianchi, G., Martin-Montalvo, A., Pistoia, V., Wei, M., Hwang, S., Merlino, A., Emionite, L., de Cabo, R. & Longo, V. (2012). Fasting Cycles Retard Growth of Tumors and Sensitize a Range of Cancer Cell Types to Chemotherapy. Science Translational Medicine, 4(124), pp 124ra27-124ra27.

Li, J., Cui, X., Wang, Z. & Li, Y. (2015). rBTI extends Caenorhabditis elegans lifespan by mimicking calorie restriction. Experimental Gerontology, 67, pp 62-71.

Longo, V. & Mattson, M. (2014). Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications. Cell Metabolism, 19(2), pp 181-192.

Mattson, M., Cutler, R. & Camandola, S. (2007). Energy Intake and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. NeuroMolecular Medicine, 9(1), pp 17-20.

Mattson, M., Moehl, K., Ghena, N., Schmaedick, M. & Cheng, A. (2018). Intermittent metabolic switching, neuroplasticity and brain health. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 19(2), pp 63-80.

Müller, H., de Toledo, F. & Resch, K. (2001). Fasting followed by vegetarian diet in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review. Scandanavian Journal of Rheumatology, 30(1), pp 1–10.

Neel, J. (1962). Diabetes Mellitus: A“Thrifty” Genotype Rendered Detrimental by “Progress”?. American Journal of Human Genetics, 14(4), pp 353 - 362.

Noda, T. and Ohsumi, Y. (1998). Tor, a Phosphatidylinositol Kinase Homologue, Controls Autophagy in Yeast. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 273(7), pp 3963-3966.

Peng, W., Robertson, L., Gallinetti, J., Mejia, P., Vose, S., Charlip, A., Chu, T. & Mitchell, J. (2012). Surgical Stress Resistance Induced by Single Amino Acid Deprivation Requires Gcn2 in Mice. Science Translational Medicine, 4(118), pp 118ra11-118ra11.

Plunet, W., Streijger, F., Lam, C., Lee, J., Liu, J. & Tetzlaff, W. (2008). Dietary restriction started after spinal cord injury improves functional recovery. Experimental Neurology, 213(1), pp 28-35.

Puchalska, P. & Crawford, P. (2017). Multi- dimensional Roles of Ketone Bodies in Fuel Metabolism, Signaling, and Therapeutics. Cell Metabolism, 25(2), pp 262-284.

Rothman, S., Griffioen, K., Wan, R. & Mattson, M. (2012). Brain-derived neurotrophic factor as a regulator of systemic and brain energy metabolism and cardiovascular health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1264(1), pp 49-63.

Secor, S. and Carey, H. (2016). Integrative Physiology of Fasting. Comprehensive Physiology, 6(2), pp 773-825.

Shariatpanahi, Z., Shariatpanahi, M., Shahbazi, S., Hossaini, A. and Abadi, A. (2007). Effect of Ramadan fasting on some indices of insulin resistance and components of the metabolic syndrome in healthy male adults. British Journal of Nutrition, 100(1).

Stranahan, A. and Mattson, M. (2012). Recruiting adaptive cellular stress responses for successful brain ageing. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 13(3), pp 209-216.

Tessitore, L., Tomasi, C., Greco, M., Sesca, E., Laconi, E., Maccioni, O., Ramo, R. & Pani, P. (1996). A subnecrogenic dose of diethylnitrosamine is able to initiate hepatocarcinogenesis in the rat when coupled with fasting/refeeding. Carcinogenesis., 17(2), pp 289-292.

Varady, K. & Hellerstein, M. (2008). Do calorie restriction or alternate-day fasting regimens modulate adipose tissue physiology in a way that reduces chronic disease risk?. Nutrition Reviews, 66(6), pp 333-342.

Wan, R., Ahmet, I., Brown, M., Cheng, A., Kamimura, N., Talan, M. & Mattson, M. (2010). Cardioprotective effect of intermittent fasting is associated with an elevation of adiponectin levels in rats. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 21(5), pp 413-417.

Webber, J., Taylor, J., Greathead, H., Dawson, J., Buttery, P. & MacDonald, I. (1995). The effects of fasting on the thermogenic, metabolic and cardiovascular responses to infused adrenaline. British Journal of Nutrition, 74(04), pp 477-490.

Yang, Z., Matteson, E., Goronzy, J. & Weyand, C. (2015). T-cell metabolism in autoimmune disease. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 17(1).

Zauner, C., Schneeweiss, B., Kranz, A., Madl, C., Ratheiser, K., Kramer, L., Roth, E., Schneider, B. & Lenz, K. (2000). Resting energy expenditure in short-term starvation is increased as a result of an increase in serum norepinephrine. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 71(6), pp 1511-1515.

Zhang, Y., Liu, C., Zhao, Y., Zhang, X., Li, B. & Cui, R. (2015). The Effects of Calorie Restriction in Depression and Potential Mechanisms. Current Neuropharmacology, 13(4), pp 536-542.



How to Cite

Madhumita Sen. (2018). FASTING AS THERAPY – A REVIEW. Malaysian Journal of Medical Research (MJMR), 2(4), 48-59.