Health & wellness
    Next Score View the next score

    Fasting: who can do it and how to do it safely

    Fasting as a healthy practice has been gaining attention lately, with some studies suggesting that short-term calorie restriction can be safe for healthy people and even beneficial for certain conditions. But researchers offer cautionary notes to anyone considering it.

    Intermittent fasting is not meant as a quick weight-loss plan. Most people compensate at least partially for the food they skip, and quickly regain any weight lost.

    More is not better. A little fasting may be good, but a lot is not. Restricting calories too severely can be dangerous.


    Any dietary changes should be made gradually. Cut out one meal at a time, and eat a small handful of nuts if you are having trouble adjusting to a fast.

    Get The Weekender in your inbox:
    The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
    Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

    Drink lots of fluids, such as water or green tea, when cutting back on food. The health risks of short-term fasting come largely from dehydration.

    Consult your doctor before trying any dietary changes, particularly during cancer or other medical treatments.

    Don’t drive while fasting. Low blood pressure is a common side effect of fasting, and can drop so low that there is a risk for passing out.