System-wide Benefits of Intermeal Fasting by Autophagy

Nuria Martinez-Lopez, Elena Tarabra, Miriam Toledo, Marina Garcia-Macia, Srabani Sahu, Luisa Coletto, Ana Batista-Gonzalez, Nir Barzilai, Jeffrey E. Pessin, Gary J. Schwartz, Sander Kersten, Rajat Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Autophagy failure is associated with metabolic insufficiency. Although caloric restriction (CR) extends healthspan, its adherence in humans is poor. We established an isocaloric twice-a-day (ITAD) feeding model wherein ITAD-fed mice consume the same food amount as ad libitum controls but at two short windows early and late in the diurnal cycle. We hypothesized that ITAD feeding will provide two intervals of intermeal fasting per circadian period and induce autophagy. We show that ITAD feeding modifies circadian autophagy and glucose/lipid metabolism that correlate with feeding-driven changes in circulating insulin. ITAD feeding decreases adiposity and, unlike CR, enhances muscle mass. ITAD feeding drives energy expenditure, lowers lipid levels, suppresses gluconeogenesis, and prevents age/obesity-associated metabolic defects. Using liver-, adipose-, myogenic-, and proopiomelanocortin neuron-specific autophagy-null mice, we mapped the contribution of tissue-specific autophagy to system-wide benefits of ITAD feeding. Our studies suggest that consuming two meals a day without CR could prevent the metabolic syndrome. Our studies suggest that consuming two meals a day with complete food restriction in between the meals is sufficient to lower blood glucose and lipid levels. This simple dietary approach activates a cell “cleansing system” called autophagy in liver, fat, brain, and muscle that helps prevent obesity and diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)856-871.e5
JournalCell metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 5 2017


  • POMC
  • aging
  • autophagy
  • caloric restriction
  • circadian
  • fatty liver
  • gluconeogenesis
  • metabolic syndrome
  • myogenic progenitors
  • twice-a-day feeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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