The fast show
The science says that, when done safely, intermittent fasting can have wide reaching benefits
Fasting has been in the news for some time now, but the practice of withholding food, calories and liquids from the body is nothing new – in fact the term breakfast means to ‘break the fast’. Far from being the latest fad, religions from Muslims fasting during Ramadan to Buddhists have practised it for centuries.
Dr Michael Mosley was the man to revolutionise the concept with his 5:2 diet: five days of the week you eat normally, the other two are restricted to 500-600 calories a day, helping him shed weight and reverse his type 2 diabetes. In his Fast 800 diet, Dr Mosley recommends followers aim to have an overnight fast each day, where they go for 12 hours without eating, say from 7pm–7am.
‘Current research shows that giving our bodies a break from food, by intermittent fasting, can provide huge health benefits,’ he says. ‘These benefits extend beyond weight loss and include prevention of disease – including cancer prevention – and increased life expectancy.’
In a review of six human studies that compared intermittent fasting with continuous dieting, Dr Michelle Harvie of Manchester University found that weight loss achieved through intermittent fasting resulted in greater conservation of muscle mass, a lower calorie intake across the whole week, and a fall in insulin resistance of 24 per cent compared to four per cent for the continuous dieters.
Nutritional therapist Tracey Harper also recommends trying time restricted eating with the 16:8 diet, which compresses