Intermittent fasting in a 16:8 routine could result in a number of positive health outcomes and reduce fatigue, according to a study. The study followed participants who fasted for 16 hours for five days a week over a three-month period and found that multiple markers of good health increased, alongside a decrease in a marker known for tumor progression.
Intermittent fasting erupted as one of the most popular diets in western cultures after some evidence pointed to it aiding weight loss. The jury is still out on whether fasting produces significant weight-loss benefits over a typical calorie deficit, but scientists from University Mainz wished to delve into any potential health benefits the diet may have.
Over the study period, 30 participants committed to a 16:8 regime while filling out questionnaires, having their fatigue assessed, and having blood samples taken for biomarker analysis. These were done at two weeks, four weeks, and after the period had ended. Each participant was made to adhere to their normal lifestyles other than the change in diet.
According to the questionnaires, the average participant experienced a quality-of-life increase of almost 20 percent across all metrics, including physical and mental health, physical functioning, and pain. Some of these took just two weeks, but others took up to four weeks for a noticeable improvement.
There was a relative reduction of around 40 percent in mental fatigue after three months on the diet, though there were no significant differences after two weeks.
There was also a significant reduction in IGF-1, a hormone similar to insulin that plays a role in tumor growth.
Overall, the results showed that intermittent fasting in this routine is safe and could promote good health, but caveats remain. The sample size was too small to draw significant conclusions about the effectiveness of intermittent fasting, and the questionnaire style of the study can introduce biases. However, the study did demonstrate measurable differences in the participants’ blood, so there is likely a positive effect at least for these people.
The researchers state that this may provide evidence that fasting may be good for shift workers and even people with cancer – though this would need significantly more trials before it is recommended. They hope for more trials into intermittent fasting to identify whether it could be included in patient care.
The study was published in the journal Nutrients.