Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight. But can it make you live longer?

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While intermittent fasting is probably not dangerous, scientists haven’t done enough research to say whether it provides an added benefit to our health.

Google ‘intermittent fasting’ and you’ll see a slew of advice, tips, and secrets on the best ways to integrate this supposedly foolproof health trend into your daily life. But the more you dig into the research on this nutritional plan, the more absurdly confusing it all becomes. Is eating every other day best? Eating only before 3 p.m.? Packing all your calorie consumption into a 2-hour window? Or should you eat normally six days of the week and only starve yourself on the seventh?

While people have been practicing intermittent fasting for thousands of years, it’s only in the past two decades that scientists began to understand what, if any, potential benefits the practice can have. Preliminary studies on mice and observational ones in humans suggest that skipping out on eating might translate to weight loss and, at least in some cases, improved metabolic health.

Here’s the good news: According to recent studies, nearly all types of intermittent fasting are physically and mentally harmless. And nearly all of them can result in some weight loss.

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