Williams Cancer Institute


Intermittent fasting is an eating model that cycles with periods of fasting and eating. In general, it is not a diet but an eating program. Intermittent fasting isn’t about thinking about what to eat, it’s about focusing on when you should eat.

Intermittent fasting does much more than just restrict calorie intake. It also changes the hormones in the body so that they can make better use of your fat stores.

Fasting is a direct way to take advantage of the inflexibility of cancer. In the absence of glucose, healthy cells burn fat (or ketones), and cancer cells run out of energy, increasing their oxidative stress, and resulting in their death. Including a fasting cycle before undergoing cancer treatment minimizes damage and increases effectiveness. Moreover, intermittent fasting involves completely or partially abstaining from eating for a set amount of time, before eating regularly again.

There are various methods of intermittent fasting. The most popular are:

The 16/8 method: This is known as the “Leangains” method. It consists of eating for 8 hours and then fasting for 16 hours. That is the standard fasting period and includes sleep and a few more hours of fasting. For example, you can avoid eating breakfast, have your first meal at noon, and continue eating until 8.

5:2 Diet: For two days a week, reduce calorie intake to a maximum of 500-600 calories per day. The days do not have to be consecutive. Also, the other five days you eat what you want.

Eat, stop, eat: This intermittent fasting alternates fasting days with eating days. You eat whatever you want for 24 hours and then take a total food break the next day. You must repeat this pattern once or twice a week. Calorie-free beverages (such as coffee, unsweetened tea, etc.) are allowed.

“According to a study, a specific type of intermittent fasting is safe and possible for people diagnosed with cancer and could boost the effectiveness of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and hormone therapy. It is the first time this type of intermittent fasting has been studied in people.”

There are many intermittent fasting programs. For example, with some diets, you fast for a day. It is eaten for the next three days. With other diets, you eat at some specific times of the day, like 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and nothing at another moment.

Reference: Jamie DePolo-Breastcancer.org, 29 nov 2021, El ayuno intermitente podría ayudar a que los tratamientos del cáncer funcionen mejor según un estudio reducido inicial, https://www.breastcancer.org/es/noticias-de-investigacion/ayuno-intermitente-podria-ayudar-a-que-los-tratamientos-del-cancer-funcionen-mejor

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