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Forsch Komplementmed. 2013;20(6):413-20. doi: 10.1159/000353672. Epub 2013 Jun 28.

Metabolic and psychological response to 7-day fasting in obese patients with and without metabolic syndrome.

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Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China.



Extended modified fasting is a frequently practiced tradition in Europe. It is claimed to improve the cardiometabolic state and physical and psychological well-being by an evolutionary co-developed adaptation response. We aimed to investigate the cardiometabolic and psychological effects of a 7-day fast and differences of these responses between patients with or without metabolic syndrome (MetS).


We investigated 30 female subjects (49.0 ± 8.1 years, BMI 30.4 ± 6.7 kg/m(2)) with (n = 12) and without (n = 18) MetS. All subjects participated in a 7-day fast according to Buchinger with a nutritional energy intake of 300 kcal/day and stepwise reintroduction of solid food thereafter. Outcomes were assessed baseline and after fasting and included measures of metabolic and glucoregulatory control, adipokines as well as psychological well-being as assessed by Profile of Mood States (POMS) and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).


Mean weight decreased from 85.4 ± 18.8 kg to 79.7 ± 18.2 kg accompanied by systolic/diastolic blood pressure (BP) reduction of -16.2 mm Hg (95% CI: -9.1; -23.3 mm Hg) and -6.0 mm Hg (95% CI: -1.8; -10.3 mm Hg), each p < 0.001 and p = 0.005. Fasting led to marked decreases of levels of LDL-cholesterol, leptin, and insulin and increases of levels of adiponectin, leptin receptors, and resistin. Fasting-induced mood enhancement was reflected by decreased anxiety, depression, fatigue, and improved vigor. Patients with MetS showed some greater changes in B P, LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, adiponectin, leptin, and sleep quality. Fasting was well-tolerated.


Our results point to marked beneficial responses to 7-day modified fasting and a potential role in the prevention of the MetS. Randomized trials with longer observation periods should test the clinical effectiveness of fasting in metabolic diseases.

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