The appealing promise of intermittent fasting is that it may be beneficial to alter mealtimes rather than the meals themselves. What are the dos and don’ts of less frequent eating, anyway?

Celebrities and CEOs alike support intermittent fasting for its ability to help people lose weight and improve their health. Dietitians advise caution when skipping meals, even if there is encouraging evidence that fasting can speed up the healing process in our bodies and possibly increase longevity. Intermittent fasting is a sort of time-restricted diet in which fasters compress their meals into a smaller window of time during the day by leaving a large gap between their final meal of one day and the first of the next. Fasters often aim for a 16-hour gap between meals and eat within an eight-hour span. There are other time-restricted diet options besides intermittent fasting. Others, such as the 5:2 diet, place more emphasis on the quantity of food taken than the intervals between meals. On the 5:2 diet, dieters eat normally for five days before restricting their calorie intake to 25% for two days. According to Rachel Clarkson, founder of the London-based consultancy The DNA Dietitian, you reduce calories but do not learn the necessary behavioral changes around what you put into your body.

There may be other reasons to change your eating habits; therefore, those trying to lose weight may not wish to try intermittent fasting. Autophagy, the process by which the body begins to recycle the structures inside its cells—a mechanism related to fasting—is gaining popularity due to its potential health benefits.