Impact of Short‐term, Repeated Water Fasting on the Weight of Mice

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Antimicrobial Resistance Research Center, Avicenna Research Institute, Department of Microbiology and Virology, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

2 Neurology and Neurosurgery Research Group, Students Research Committee, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

3 Department of Pathology, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran


Introduction: Caloric restriction is a strategy applied for weight loss. Water fasting is a popular way for obesity treatment. However, little is known about the impact of water fasting on weight. Therefore, this study was conducted to investigate the effect of short-term, repeated water fasting on the weight of mice. Methods: In this study, the physiological effect of short-term, repeated water fasting on the weight of female mice was evaluated. At 6 weeks of age, mice were randomly assigned to either repeated-fasting or control group (fed ad libitum). Each group consisted of twenty mice. As the fasting period started, the repeated-fasting group had access to only water; animals had free access to food and water on non-fasting days. Body weight of each group before, during, and after the fasting period was recorded. Results: Body weight of the fasting group significantly decreased, unlike the control group. However, the fasting group gained weight rapidly after being re-fed and became significantly heavier than mice in the control group (P<0.01). Interestingly, the average body weight of the fasting group increased, compared to that of the control group; in fact, the fasting mice weighed approximately 10% heavier than the control ones. Conclusion: Repeated water fasting was not only ineffective for weight loss but also increased the body weight of fasting mice.


  1. Duncan GG, Jenson WK, Fraser RI, Cristofori FC. Correction and control of intractable obesity: practicable application of intermittent periods of total fasting. JAMA. 1962;181(4):309‐12.
  2. Drenick EJ, Swendseid ME, Blahd WH, Tuttle SG. Prolonged starvation as treatment for severe obesity. JAMA. 1964;187(2):100‐5.
  3. Wing EJ, Stanko RT, Winkelstein A, Adibi SA. Fasting‐enhanced immune effector mechanisms in obese subjects. Am J Med. 1983;75(1):91‐6.
  4. Yamamoto H, Suzuki J, Yamauchi Y. Psychophysiological study on fasting therapy. Psychother Psychosom. 1979;32(1‐4):229‐40.
  5. McCay C, Crowell MF, Maynard L. The effect of retarded growth upon the length of life span and upon the ultimate body size. Nutrition. 1989; 5(3):155‐71.
  6. Fernandes G, Friend P, Yunis E, Good R. Influence of dietary restriction on immunologic function and renal disease in (NZB× NZW) F1 mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1978;75(3):1500‐4.
  7. Kubo C, Johnson BC, Gajjar A, Good RA. Crucial dietary factors in maximizing life span and longevity in autoimmune‐prone mice. J Nutr. 1987;117(6):1129‐35.
  8. Kubo C, Gajar A, Johnson BC, Good RA. The effects of dietary restriction on immune function and development of autoimmune disease in BXSB,mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992;89(7): 3145‐
  9. Kubo C, Johnson BC, Day NK, Good RA. Effects of,calorie restriction on immunologic functions and,development of autoimmune disease in NZB mice. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1992; 201(2):192‐9.
  10. Weindruch R, Walford RL, Fligiel S, Guthrie D.The retardation of aging in mice by dietary restriction: longevity, cancer, immunity and lifetime energy intake. J Nutr. 1986;116(4):641‐ 54.
  11. Weindruch R, Sohal RS. Caloric intake and aging. The New England journal of medicine. 1997;337(14):986‐94.
  12. Masoro EJ. Minireview: food restriction in rodents: an evaluation of its role in the study of aging. J Gerontol. 1988;43(3):B59‐B64.
  13. Sogawa H, Kubo C. Influence of short‐term repeated fasting on the longevity of female (NZB× NZW) F1 mice. Mech Ageing Dev. 2000; 115(1‐2):61‐71.
  14. Boden G, Chen X, Mozzoli M, Ryan I. Effect of fasting on serum leptin in normal human subjects. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1996; 81(9): 3419‐23.
  15. Weigle DS, Duell PB, Connor WE, Steiner RA, Soules MR, Kuijper JL. Effect of Fasting, Refeeding, and Dietary Fat Restriction on Plasma Leptin Levels 1. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1997; 82(2):561‐5.
  16. O'Shea D, Davis SN, Kim RB, Wilkinson GR. Effect of fasting and obesity in humans on the 6‐ hydroxylation of chlorzoxazone: a putative probe of CYP2E1 activity. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1994; 56(4): 359‐67.
  17. Malaisse WJ, Malaisse‐Lagae F, Wright PH. Effect of fasting upon insulin secretion in the rat. Am J Physiol. 1967;213(4):843‐8.
  18. Hatori M, Vollmers C, Zarrinpar A, DiTacchio L, Bushong EA, Gill S, et al. Time‐restricted feeding without reducing caloric intake prevents metabolic diseases in mice fed a high‐fat diet. Cell metabolism. 2012;15(6):848‐60.
  19. Klempel MC, Kroeger CM, Bhutani S, Trepanowski JF, Varady KA. Intermittent fasting combined with calorie restriction is effective for weight loss and cardio‐protection in obese women. Nutr J. 2012;11:98.
  20. Goldhamer AC, Lisle DJ, Sultana P, Anderson SV, Parpia B, Hughes B, et al. Medically supervised water‐only fasting in the treatment of borderline hypertension. J Altern Complement Med. 2002; 8(5):643‐50.
  21. Horne BD, Muhlestein JB, Lappe DL, May HT,Carlquist JF, Galenko O, et al. Randomized crossovertrial of short‐term water‐only fasting:metabolic and cardiovascular consequences.Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2013; 23(11):1050‐7.
  22. Longo VD, Mattson MP. Fasting: molecularmechanisms and clinical applications. CellMetabolism. 2014;19(2):181‐92.
  23. Baynouna Al Ketbi LM, Niglekerke NJ, Zein AlDeen SM, Mirghani H. Diet restriction inRamadan and the effect of fasting on glucoselevels in pregnancy. BMC Res Notes. 2014;7(1):392.
  24. Barnosky AR, Hoddy KK, Unterman TG, VaradyKA. Intermittent fasting vs daily calorierestriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: areview of human findings. Transl Res. 2014 Jun12.
  25. Froy O. The relationship between nutrition andcircadian rhythms in mammals. Frontiers inneuroendocrinology. 2007;28(2‐3):61‐71.
  26. Aronson HB, Horne T, Blondheim SH, DavidsonJT, Blondheim DS. Effect of a 24‐hour food‐andwaterfast on viscosity of whole blood andplasma. Isr J Med Sci. 1979; 15(10):833‐5.
  27. Cisse F, Gueye M, Fall A, Faye J, Samb A, Martineaud JP. Effect of water fasting on sport performances in the laboratory. Dakar Med.1992;37(1):49‐55.