Fasting Diet – a miracle diet indeed
Many specialists researched for years the health benefits that a diet that mimics fasting has on a human body. These scientists observed strange effects that this diet had in mice. The mice showed an improved general health and an improved metabolic system. Other studies made on people revealed that five days fasting diet could have excellent health effects on them. They are still studying the effects that this type of diet has in people.
Fasting diet means to consume mostly water and little to no food at all. It is a restrictive diet and extreme. Keeping this diet for several days may improve the immune system.
For some people fasting for more than two days is difficult and can create health issues.
Dr. Valter Longo from the University of Southern California conducted in 2015 a study about the benefits and the risks of fasting. He exposed to this diet a single-celled organism (we are talking about yeast).
Those organisms exposed to temporary starvation (he stopped nourish them for a while) lived much longer than other organisms which were in a nutrient-rich environment.
The doctor conducted the same study in mice. He fed a group of mice with a very low-calorie diet. The doctor made sure to give to this group of mice for a particular period the same amount of calories that he gave to the other group which was on a regular, non-restrictive diet.
He fed differently the first group of mice and he restricted their food four consecutive days, and the next ten days he gave them access to their usual meals. This group of mice went through several metabolic changes such as improved insulin levels and lower blood glucose.
Their cell development in the brain improved a lot, and their bone density was greater than the one that mice from the second group had. By the end of their life, mice from the first group exposed to a fasting diet had to deal less with skin lesions and tumors than those from the second regularly fed group.
The doctor’s team didn’t stop here with the study. They researched the effects of the fasting diet on a group of people as well. Nineteen people in perfect health followed a diet based on plants and vegetables for five days a month for a three-month period. Another group of nineteen people adopted a regular diet.
People from the group with the fasting diet were happy to observe how their body weight decreased and the blood glucose level improved. Those participants being at risk to develop a heart disease found how the harmful agents lowered their levels. The people in this group reported mild side effects such as weakness, fatigue, and headaches.
Dr. Longo said that people have a hard time sticking to a strict fasting diet. This is the reason he and his team developed a particular diet which mimicked the same effects in the body as an extreme starvation. He said that this is not a typical diet; it is more of short term solution.
He is willing to continue the studies to observe the long-term impact that this particular diet has on human health. This way he will be able to provide new information on how this diet can be applied in our daily lives.1
It is interesting that people become enthusiastic fast about this type of diet. Books which wrote about fasting diet are bestsellers on Amazon.
As we all know most of the religions are prescribing fasting. Hippocrates talked about it, Plato fasted many times to improve his mental and physical strength. Mark Twain said on several occasions that temporary starvation can do for the human body much more than the best doctor and the best medicine can do.
The same doctor, Valter Longo confirmed the health benefits that this diet has on a human body. He said that we used to practice it and now we just have to remember how to do it.
The Fasting Method Explained
Fasting is associated with weight loss
When you don’t consume enough calories, your body starts to burn off the fat reserves. The first ones are the glycogen reserves in the liver.
Advertising too much this type of diet can be dangerous especially for persons who are anorexic or they have different other eating disorders.
On the bright side, it seems like fasting diet can make your cravings go away. Eating only 2 meals within 3 to 12 hours it is a standard method among people who lived up to 100 years old. It is recommended to fast three or five days at every three months. It is important though to consult the doctor before you do that. There is a high risk of malnourishment because of the natural tendency of people to improvise. It is vital to talk to your doctor before starting this type of diet if you are diabetic, pregnant, you are a teenager, or you are dealing with eating disorders.
Fasting improves the brain function
Mark Mattson, chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the National Institute of Aging from Baltimore is also famous for his participation in country marathons and for his tendency in skipping meals. He talked in 2014 at a TED conference about the ketogenetic diets (diets based on little protein, on a high intake of fats and low intake of carbohydrates. As Mark Mattson says, this ketogenetic diet can reduce even epileptic seizure, and it increases the memory ability and improves the learning process.
This diet is great for neurons because it offers a different alternative fuel than glucose. The ketogenetic diet it seems like protects the brain from developing degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson.
Even if it offers so many benefits, sticking to this type of diet can be challenging and frustrating at times for people with severe weight problems.
Fasting improves the immune system
Some people dealing with cancer fasted for three to five days and they reported that the number of the white cells lowered. And then they observed that new white cells emerged. These cells are vital for the proper functioning of the immune system. The specialists at the University of Bath reported that temporary fasting can increase the risk of developing infections in the long run.
It is important to balance the number of days when you are fasting with the number of days when you are back on your regular diet. Some people who fasted for a few days and they also wanted to exercise; they almost passed out. Make sure you avoid exercising and exposing yourself to a prolonged effort in the days when you are fasting.
We cannot ignore the health benefits that fasting brings. Restricting from consuming a lot of calories can be recommended if you want to live longer. Fasting can also prevent different diseases such as cardiovascular problems, cancer, and diabetes.3
Ways to fast
It is important in the fasting days to pay close attention to the number of calories you are eating and to the serving sizes, which they suppose to be much smaller than what you usually consume.
Eating Pattern of Fasting
You should usually eat for five days in a week, and then you should cut your calories intake to about 25 % for two days. It is recommended for men to consume not more than 600 calories on their fasting days, while women are advised to consume 500 calories on their fasting days. Make sure you study first about the foods high in nutrients but low in calories. Doctors are recommending in a fasting day to choose high-protein foods such as vegetables, nuts and chicken meat without the skin. You can add carrots, strawberries, and any other foods which have low glycemic values and they affect less the insulin level and the blood sugar.
Fast days don’t have specific rules about how often to eat or when to eat. What you should know is the longer amount of time you can stay without eating the better. You should have one meal or two meals a day. Make sure you eat the two meals at hours apart. Do not eat more than 500 calories (if you are a woman) or 600 calories (if you are a man).
Keep an eye on the calories, but allow yourself a decent meal. Eat 50 grams of proteins. You can nourish your organism with protein if you eat skinless chicken, white fish, nuts, vegetables, seeds, and tofu, don’t forget about eggs. Fruits and vegetables are great when you are fasting because they have low glycemic values, fewer calories and a lot of nutrients and fibers.
After the two days of fasting, you can go back to your regular diet. Avoid eating too much and junk and fast food.
Fasting Diet Costs
You should not worry about spending a lot of money on food. You will eat normally most of the days and for the days when you will fast you will probably spend much less on buying food. You can invest a little bit more on high-quality products such as organic fruits and vegetables and free range and farm raised chickens.
Research on weight loss during fast days?
First of all, there are good chances to lose some weight if you are frequently fasting. Because the two fasting days are not necessarily consecutive, there is a lower risk of gaining back the weight you lost. You also don’t have to deal with overeating in the days when you are back on your normal diet, because of the same reason; you fast only two days a week.
In a 2011 American Association for Cancer Research published a study conducted by the researchers at Genesis Prevention Center at University Hospital in South Manchester, England. They tested the effects of three different diets on 115 women. One diet was the Fast Diet (five days of normal eating and two fast days), another one had carbs restrictions two days a week but they could consume as many calories as they wanted to. The last group was on a calorie-restricted Mediterranean diet for seven days a week. After four months, the women who ate fewer carbohydrates lost almost 9 pounds, while participants who chose the Mediterranean diet lost only about 5 pounds.
Researchers conducted a study about 107 women dealing with obesity or premenopausal issues. They observed that those who followed a temporary fasting diet lost more weight than participants who followed a different plan. After six months, women who were fasting two days a week lost almost 14 pounds each. They made all the results public in 2011 in the International Journal of Obesity.
Another study observed the effects of overeating after a short fasting period. This study was published in Physiology & Behavior magazine in July 2013. Researchers allowed a group of volunteered students to eat breakfast and withheld breakfast from another group of students.
The specialists discovered that those students who didn’t eat breakfast were hungrier than those who ate breakfast. The first ones also ate more food at lunch. It seems like, even if they ate more at lunch, this amount of food did not make them feel full. The students who skipped breakfast managed to consume the whole day 400 calories less than those who ate a regular breakfast.
A study conducted in 2010 was published in Nutrition Journal. This study was made on a group of obese patients. 16 women agreed to eat only lunch every other day. They were supposed to consume only 500 calories. On the days when they were not fasting, these women ate as they were used to. After eight weeks these women lost about 12 pounds.
Is difficult to follow this fasting diet?
This depends on each person’s organism. If you cut all of a sudden the calories, you will feel it like a challenge. Remember that for five days a week you don’t have to deal with any restrictions.
Is it convenient to fast for two days a week?
This fasting diet can be suitable for you because you can count the calories and consume only the requested amount of calories. The biggest inconvenience lies in the challenge to resist hunger and in the strength to consume fewer calories than usually for two days a week.
Is it a good idea to dine out during fasting days?
Dining out in a restaurant should be alright for the five days of the week. On fast days, however, the abundant portions at many restaurants may be a challenge and a temptation. Imagine that only one serving of French fries has the total amount of calories that you have to eat for a whole day. Choosing restaurants with disclosed calorie counts is wise. It makes your life easier. Be strong and stick to the diet plan even if your friends are ordering different than you do.
Am I allowed to drink alcohol?
Well, five days of the week, you are free to do what you like with the calories you consume. On fast days, however, you should spend your precious calories on foods with high nutritional value. It is better to avoid drinking alcohol in those days.
How much time I am going to spend preparing my meals on fast days?
You might save time preparing the meals in the days you are fasting. You can always choose simple recipes and easy to prepare. If you want to save more time, it is recommended to hire someone to plan, shop and prepare your meals in those fasting days.
Will the taste of the food be affected?
You are the one who is preparing everything, so if something doesn’t taste good, you should ask for some help, or you can go online and get some inspiration from food specialists’ recipes.
Should I still exercise?
The fasting diet is an eating pattern, and you can still exercise. If you stay physically active, you lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease. This way you will maintain your weight, and you will increase the level of your energy. Experts are recommending a minimum of 30 minutes of physical exercise every day such as walking. Make sure you stay active and don’t expose yourself to a prolonged effort in those days you are fasting.
Side Effects of Fasting Diet
When you are fasting you might end up losing muscle mass; sometimes you lose more muscle mass than you lose fat. You might have frequent headaches, develop acidosis and the metabolism will lower its rhythm. Another important downside is that you have a hard time in transitioning into a healthy diet after fasting and this way you will lose the benefits you gained. Read about the benefits and the downsides of the fasting diet and you will understand better if it is for you or not.