Intermittent fasting appears to improve quality of life in humans

Credit: Wilson Fisk. Creative Commons

Intermittent fasting, that is, eating only over a certain time period during the day, can have positive mental health effects, at least according to a recent study 1.

Intermittent fasting for 16 hours a day, that is a 16:8 fasting paradigm, for five days a week during three months improved quality of life while decreasing the presence in blood of a cancer biomarker.

Thirty people were involved in the study. Over the study duration, the participants provided blood samples for biomarker analyses, filled out questionnaires and had their fatigue levels assessed at various time points.

According to their self-reported answers to the questionnaires, participants experienced up to 20% improvement in quality of life as indicated by better mental and physical health, better physical functioning and lesser pain. Improvements to some of these parameters were already observable at the first measurement (2 weeks) but others required over a month or more to be noticeable.

Mental fatigue also improved by the end of the study period, by about 40%. This improvement was slower, though. At 2 weeks, there were no significant changes to this variable. Interestingly, the researchers observed a significant reduction in the levels of IGF-1, a hormone involved in tumour growth.

Finally, they did not observe clinically relevant changes to lab parameters, so the intervention was considered to be safe.

Now, there are a number of caveats to the study results. First, the study size was pretty small. Second, the self-reported nature of the findings make it less reliable than objective, measurable indicators. Third, the study duration was relatively short and given that the effects took a while to be noticeable, follow-up studies might be needed to corroborate the findings. In any event, since it does not appear to be harmful is good news, even if it’s just a subjective perception of improved health status, I’d say it might not be such a bad idea.

More on the subject:

Intermittent fasting could improve nerve regeneration


  1. Anic, K.; Schmidt, M.W.; Furtado, L.; Weidenbach, L.; Battista, M.J.; Schmidt, M.; Schwab, R.; Brenner, W.; Ruckes, C.; Lotz, J.; Lackner, K.J.; Hasenburg, A.; Hasenburg, A. (2022) Intermittent Fasting—Short- and Long-Term Quality of Life, Fatigue, and Safety in Healthy Volunteers: A Prospective, Clinical Trial. Nutrients doi: 10.3390/nu14194216

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