Intermittent fasting — the practice of going for set periods of time without eating — has gotten a lot of buzz as a strategy for losing weight and improving health. A group of researchers decided to review the evidence to see if it’s as effective as many people claim.

The review authors looked at 11 analyses comprising 130 randomized clinical trials involving intermittent fasting. Their results were published online Dec. 17, 2021, by JAMA Network Open.

The authors found “moderate to high-quality” evidence that intermittent fasting did help overweight and obese adults lose weight and also seemed to improve some measures of risk for cardiovascular disease, such as lowering blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar. While there are various intermittent fasting plans, two models seemed to produce the greatest benefit when it came to weight loss. One was modified alternate-day fasting, in which people eat normally on some days but limit intake to 600 calories on three to five days each week. The other was the 5:2 diet, in which people eat normally five days a week but limit intake to 600 calories on the other two. Overweight and obese adults who followed one of these plans were able to lose more than 5% of their body weight.