Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 6 months, you would have come across the latest fad in the world of weight loss. The New York Times and UK’s No.1 best selling book, The Fast Diet offers an alternative view to dieting. Basically, you follow the ratio 5:2, meaning for 5 days a week, you eat normally and the other two, you fast by only consuming a quarter of your recommended daily calories. Apparently it has proven to help aid weight loss as well as a number of other health benefits. My only question is this… if your normal eating habits consist of daily visits to KFC, deep frying your veg and tanking a tub of Ben and Jerry’s, then surely, it’ll take more than just two days of cutting down a week to make a difference? Apparently not (although no healthy regime would recommend any of the above and neither do I.)
Fasting isn’t something these guys have taken off the wind; it’s been long regarded as a necessary medical precaution in contemporary medicine. Below are some examples of medical procedures, which require patients to abstain from eating:
- Blood test – eating before a blood test may interfere with results.
- Cholesterol testing – fasting prior to a cholesterol check gives a clearer indication of potential risks of heart disease and stroke.
- Glucose testing – eating prior to a glucose test will cause blood sugar to spike and potentially interfere with results.
- Surgery with full anesthesia – to avoid any risks of vomiting and choking while under anesthetic, a fast prior to surgery is vital.
- Diabetes screening – eating will have an impact on insulin production, therefore a diabetes test should be undertaken after a fast to ensure clear results.
Fasting, as a tool to a healthier lifestyle, has been recommended for years by a number of holistic practitioners. Not forgetting that long-term calorie reduction has been clinically proven to extend life as well as potentially delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Now that science has provided the evidence, fasting is now a mainstream program, not only as a way to be healthier, but to lose weight.
One of the authors of The Fast Diet, Dr Michael Mosley, explained in an interview about the months he spent researching the medical findings on, what he describes as ‘intermittent’ fasting:
“I went into it quite skeptical […] But the people who study in this area are really top scientists – world-class scientists who are hugely reputable in their areas. And they were all coming at it from their areas of expertise: cancer, dementia, diabetes – they were approaching it from different angles, but coming to the same conclusion. I found that very convincing.”
Mosley decided to test the method on himself and found his cholesterol and insulin resistance went down AND he lost 19lbs of FAT.
Mosely claims that intermittent fasting encourages the body to lose fat, not muscle explaining that in a standard diet people lost approximately about 75 % fat, 25 % muscle. The Fast Diet results show a loss of between 85% and 100% fat. This is hugely important when going on a diet, as muscle is metabolically active and should be preserved for long-term health and fitness goals.
While The Fast Diet recommends the 5:2 ratio of fasting intermittently, the book does not agree with the faddy ‘juice fast’ concept. By juicing, you are eliminating the fiber, which is the most beneficial element and has an impact on the glyceamic index of the fruit. A majority of the vitamins are found in the skin and pulp of many fruits, so drinking the liquid, is simply a high fructose liquid of empty calories with limited nutritional value. This would encourage a huge sugar slump, leaving you feeling lethargic, unable to concentrate and, not to mention, starving!
The book doesn’t encourage total abstinence either. It’s not about starving for 2 days a week and bingeing the rest. The regime requires that for two non-consecutive days a week, you eat only a quarter of your recommended daily calorie intake. So for the average woman on a 2000 calorie diet, for 5 days a week, you can eat as normal, even allow for dessert. For two days a week, the diet is restricted to 500 calories. The results of this program have been scientifically proven to aid in weight loss and to lower cholesterol, give more energy and higher insulin resistance. To find out how many calories you should be eating each day, click here.
It’s not for everyone though. People with type 1 diabetics, children under the age of 18 and pregnant women are not advised to take on intermittent fasting. But as the evidence shows, it might be a new regime worth trying, and for only two days a week, it might be a diet that you can actually stick with. And with bikini season just around the corner, it’s a regime I’m willing to try 🙂