The newest diet on the radar is the intermittent fasting diet, otherwise know as 5:2 or sometimes the 2 day diet, introduced to the world by Dr Michael Mosley on BBC 2′s documentary, “Eat, Fast & Live Longer”. The programme followed Mosley’s progress as he spent two non-consecutive days a week fasting on just 600 calories (500 for women) and eating ‘normally’ for the remaining five, and after just three months he had lost an impressive 1Stone 3lbs.
Interestingly though, another positive and perhaps more unexpected side effect of his diet was that by following it, his pre-diet diabetic-risk blood levels had reduced down to ‘normal’ and he had lowered his cholesterol levels from dangerously high to ‘normal’. This overall meant that the IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor 1) in his blood, a marker for cancer, has also reduced. This is a striking amount of health benefits gained from following such a simple concept. We were all so taken with the idea that even the world of science took the intermittent fasting diet under its microscope and began running tests to see just how effective it really was.
It is a known fact that by losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight you can reduce your chances of developing disease such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and even some cancers, but it would seem that these positive effectives are delivered even quicker via the 5:2 style diets as opposed to general calorie controlled diets. In 2006, the Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Centre ran human trials of the 5:2 fast diet and the testers insulin function had improved by 25% by the end. Poor insulin function is the foundation of many illnesses and diseases including cancers and even dementia.
These incredible health benefits delivered from the results of the research were explained that, by overeating levels of both leptin and insulin raised dramatically which sent mixed signals to cells, including damaged ones, telling them to multiply as opposed to their regular function of maintenance which would help the damaged cells to recover or be removed. Instead, the surge of new damaged cells from the excess insulin meant that the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes were all raised. When allowed to ‘fast’ as in the 5:2 diet, the body has the opportunity to do some maintenance work as, when we eat less as on the 2 days of 500 calories, the insulin and leptin levels fall meaning the remaining cells can repair damage, remove waste and generally get themselves back into good condition thus dramatically reducing the risk of the aforementioned illnesses.
This also explains why two groups of dieters, 5:2 dieters and calorie controlled dieters, had very different results when it came to their weight loss results with the ‘calorie controlled’ losing 22lbs less than the ‘intermittent fasters’. When the body is given the opportunity to clean up and heal itself, it seems it really makes a difference to the overall function of the body including aiding in the loss of fat cells.
Conclusion: The 5:2 Fast Diet
Whilst the research is still in its infancy, there are more results based on animal studies as opposed to human studies, but generally the outlook is positive for the 5:2 diet. We all know that ongoing fasting and yo-yo dieting is dangerous for the body, so having any kind of positive result at such an early stage of research on a new diet for not only weight loss results but also general health too, can only mean good things for it and its participants alike.