What Does Research Say About the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a natural way to lose weight that also has several health benefits. Here are 8 key benefits, backed by research studies:

#1 Helps Lose Weight and Belly Fat

Intermittent fasting helps you shed extra pounds, anywhere from 0.8% to 13.0% of baseline body weight, according to research. A recent study also shows that intermittent fasting helps you maintain lean mass and reduce the visceral fat which surrounds the abdominal organs. This particular type of fat increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.

#2 Anti-Diabetes Effects

A study conducted in 2021 shows that practicing intermittent fasting (the right way!) can help reduce diabetes parameters like fasting glucose, fasting insulin, HOMA-IR index (a key marker of insulin resistance), and HbA1c (which shows if diabetes is well-controlled long term).

#3 Improves Insulin Resistance, Boosts Metabolic Flexibility

Intermittent fasting reduces blood sugar levels and decreases insulin resistance, which is the precursor of diabetes. When your body is more sensitive to insulin, the glucose is used more efficiently by the cells. Insulin resistance is part of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that also includes abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and  excess weight.

#4 May Help Manage PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)

According to research, intermittent fasting (8 hours eating window, 16 hours fasting) may be beneficial for women with anovulatory PCOS. Intermittent fasting improves hormonal and metabolic profile by reducing body fat, improving menstruation, reducing excess androgens, and counteracting insulin resistance and inflammation. If you suffer from PCOS, please refer to the two articles in the Further Reading section.[1] [2]

#5 Cardiovascular Health

Intermittent fasting may help decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases by improving weight management, reducing high blood pressure, minimizing dyslipidemia (abnormally high levels of lipids in the blood), and managing insulin resistance. Intermittent fasting works through multiple pathways to boost heart health, including reduced oxidative stress, improved circadian rhythm, and ketogenesis. [3]

#6 Brain Health

A 2021 study concluded that intermittent fasting improves memory and brain function, fights degeneration, has antidepressant effects, and accelerates autophagy. Autophagy is an important process in the body, involving the removal of old, damaged cells. [4]  Individuals who practice intermittent fasting also experience better memory and mood.

#7 Digestive Health

Intermittent fasting improves your gut microbiota, and helps convert white fat (“the bad fat”) into brown fat (“the good fat”).This process leads to healthy weight loss, improved metabolism, and better gut health. It may help manage fatty liver as well.

#8 Promotes Longevity

Based on this research, intermittent fasting boosts your health and counteracts chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer through several mechanisms. It helps improve the health of mitochondria, which are the powerhouse of the cells that produce energy. Intermittent fasting leads to DNA repair, autophagy, cellular regeneration and long-lasting metabolic effects.


[1] Is Intermittent Fasting Effective in PCOS Management?

[2] Managing PCOS Through IF As a Lifestyle

[3] Ketosis vs Fat-adaptation

[4] What is Autophagy And How Long Do You Need to Fast For Autophagy?