A review led by James Brown from Aston University in Birmingham, England, evaluated the various approaches to intermittent fasting -- fasting on a given number of consecutive or alternate days -- in the scientific literature.
The basic format of intermittent fasting is to alternate days eating "normally" with days when calorie consumption is restricted. This can either be done on alternative days, or where two days each week are classed as "fasting days," Brown said.
The review, published in the British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease, found evidence from clinical trials showed fasting could limit inflammation, improve levels of sugars and fats in circulation and reduce blood pressure. In addition, the study found fasting bodies change how they select which fuel to burn, improving metabolism and reducing oxidative stress.
Fasting also appeared to aid those with ischemic heart disease. Fasting may even protect the heart by raising levels of adiponectin, a protein that has several important roles in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and vascular biology, Brown said.