Somehow autumn is here, and with a new season, of course, comes a new ‘wonder’ diet called Intermittent Fasting. Intermittent Fasting is a pattern of eating which alternates between periods of fasting (consuming nothing but water) and non-fasting (normal-eating).
And it’s the latest diet which devotees claim is the best and the quickest way to shift the pounds and get that figure you’ve always wanted! But it seems these days that there’s a new, completely different, diet for every season.
And that feeling can’t be far out if you believe the recent findings of a survey by Warburtons (the bakers) which discovered that three quarters of British adults are trying a different diet every two months. However, there is growing evidence to suggest that Intermittent Fasting may not just help you drop a dress size or two, it may also have major health benefits and help you live longer.
You might be feeling a little dubious as to the health benefits gorging yourself on as much food as you like one day and then eating fewer calories than you’d find in a green salad the next. But researchers have found that those following an Intermittent Fasting diet can benefit from reduced blood pressure, lower blood sugar and better cardiovascular function. Recent scientific data from the University of California, Berkeley, also seems to show that this diet can reduce the risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and even Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Incredibly, these health benefits have actually been known about for some decades. In fact, the positive effects of Intermittent Fasting have actually been chronicled in a variety of animal and human studies going all the way back to 1946, when University of Chicago researchers first discovered that if rats were denied food every third day, their lifespan increased by 15-20 per cent.
There are quite a few variations of the Intermittent Fasting diet. One of the most common is the Alternate Day Diet where you eat normally on Day 1, then fast on Day 2 (drinking only water) and on Day 3 you once again eat normally. A book based on the Alternate Day Diet (and with that title) is now on Amazon’s list of best-selling diet books.
The ‘5/2 diet’ is probably the most well-known and easiest-to-follow version of Intermittent Fasting. It involves eating normally for five days and then fasting on the other two days. Fasting means abstaining from food completely and hydrating only with water but many people who follow a version of Intermittent Fasting which involves fasting for more than one day at a time allow themselves a strictly controlled small number of calories on their ‘fasting’ days.
Intermittent Fasting has been around for a while but it has really taken off recently – it gained a lot of serious credibility after being featured in a BBC2 Horizon documentary last month. Health journalist Dr Michael Mosley spent a month following the 5/2 diet – eating normally for five day and then consuming just 600 calories on the other two. Not only did he lose a stone but he also reduced his body fat by 25 per cent, and improved both his blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
But as you are probably aware, Intermittent Fasting basically challenges everything nutritionists, dieticians, and every other expert has every said about healthy eating so it’s hardly surprisingly that not everyone thinks it’s a good, or safe, diet!
Many nutritionists in particular have voiced concern about the diet, especially if it’s being followed for any length of time. Their main criticism of the diet is that any weight loss it produced would not be sustainable. It’s also feared by some experts that following the diet long-term could trigger eating disorders, especially in vulnerable young woman.
So will Intermittent Fasting become a way of life for many people, or will it soon be confined to diet history, like the Atkins, Dukan, Grapefruit, Cabbage Soup and Baby Food diets?!! Only time will tell. But one thing is for sure – just a few months from now and we’ll be proclaiming it, “SO last season!”