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Dr Michael Mosley, the man who, together with Mimi Spencer, brought us the Fast Diet, gives us the rundown on the health benefits of doing the 5:2.
A number of trials done with both men and women have shown that intermittent fasting helps you lose fat faster than a conventional diet. I lost nearly 20 lbs of fat over the course of 3 months while doing 5:2 intermittent fasting (cutting my calories to around 600 twice a week), which I have kept off for two years.
Mimi’s father, lost over 56 pounds and kept it off — a life changing achievement. As he says, “It’s not like dieting at all; these days, I barely notice I’m doing it. Since New Year’s, I can only remember being hungry once.”
So far people who have been on the Fast Diet have lost an average of 6kgs (13 lbs) at three months and 10 kgs (22 lbs) after a year. You can find many inspiring stories on our website along with lots of tips and support.
As you probably know, having a high blood pressure significantly increases your risk of having a stroke. One of the best ways of reducing your blood pressure is to lose weight, which intermittent fasting certainly does.
One of the other unexpected benefits of intermittent fasting is its effects on allergic diseases such as asthma and eczema. These are autoimmune diseases, the result of an overactive immune system that is mistakenly attacking the body’s own cells.
We’ve had several people report seeing improvements in their asthma since going on our diet.
A few years ago Professor Mark Mattson, with Dr. James Johnson, did a study of intermittent fasting with ten obese asthmatics (eight women and two men). Nine of the ten volunteers stuck to the diet for the two months of the trial and reported feeling more energetic. They lost an average of 8kgs (18 pounds), but what was more surprising is that within a couple of weeks of starting intermittent fasting their asthma symptoms also improved. There’s more about the study, if you are interested, in the book.
One reason why intermittent fasting helps asthmatics is because it reduces general inflammation. Since rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of inflammation you would expect intermittent fasting to help and studies suggest it does.
It doesn’t work for everyone, but when you are doing the 5:2 diet you are not on a constant treadmill, dieting all the time. People tell me they find it easier to resist the temptation to eat a bar of chocolate by saying to themselves, “I will have it tomorrow.” Then tomorrow comes and maybe they eat it. But maybe they don’t
If you follow our recipes and satisfy your hunger on fasting days by eating vegetables and good protein, then over time you’ll discover that when you get hungry you are more likely to crave the healthy stuff. As someone recently wrote to me: “You don’t get cravings, you don’t spend money on special food or programs. I lost more than 25 pounds and my husband lost more than 35 pounds. It was easy to do, and we have maintained the weight loss, even over the holidays. I wish I had discovered this method 30 years ago.”
...and may reverse diabetes in people who have been diabetic for a short while. As I mentioned here, I got interested in intermittent fasting because my doctor had told me I was diabetic. One of the things that intermittent fasting has been shown to do, over and above standard diets, is increase insulin sensitivity. After I lost 20 lbs of fat my blood glucose returned to normal. Three years later it is still fine. Type 2 diabetics who are not on medication or who are on metformin can safely do intermittent fasting, though they should consult their doctors.
Dr Michelle Harvie and Professor Tony Howell, two of the foremost experts on intermittent fasting, work at the Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Centre, part of The University Hospital of South Manchester. Their studies, done with overweight women at risk of breast cancer, have shown that 5:2 intermittent fasting not only leads to weight loss but a reduction in hormones like insulin that promote breast cancer growth
Professor Mark Mattson, who is one of the world’s leading neuroscientists, has shown that a 5:2 intermittent fasting diet increases levels of a protein in the brain called BDNF, brain derived neurotrophic factor, that helps protect brain cells and build new ones.
Mice put on an intermittent fasting diet develop dementia far later in life than those on a normal diet. Trials have begun in humans
This one, I’m afraid, I made up. But if it helps you shift the pounds and improves your health in other ways then I would be surprised if it didn’t. My wife assures me I am much better looking at my current weight, but then love is blind.
If you do decide to give intermittent fasting a go, do let us know how you get on.
The Fast Diet: Revised & Updated by Dr Michael Mosley & Mimi Spencer is published by Short Books and available online and from all good booksellers.
Disclaimer: The information on our diet and fitness pages is only intended as an informal guide and should not be treated as a substitute for medical advice. Gransnet would urge you to consult your GP before you begin any diet if you're concerned about your weight, have existing health conditions and/or are taking medication.