Fast diets are back in fashion. Researchers recommend skipping at least one meal to trim a few pounds off as well as add a few more years to your lifespan. But the current 5:2 diet, which allows you to eat 500 calories a day, two days a week, is rather challenging to many.
Luckily, researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) have found a gentler method of staying healthy while fasting. They dubbed it Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD), or the fake fast diet.
Though the FMD allows you to consume more calories, it also requires “starving” for five consecutive days. But if you are a healthy, normal-weighted person you may do this only once or twice a year. Researchers claim that by doing so, you lower your heart disease risk, boost immune system, lose weight and slow aging processes.
“Strict fasting is hard for people to stick to, and it can also be dangerous. So we developed a complex diet that triggers the same effects in the body,”
said Prof. Valter Longo, the lead author of the USC study.
During their mice experiments, researchers noticed that old mice that were calorie deprived for up to five days had lower belly fat, higher fertility and stem cell regeneration, and improved brain functions including better memory.
Scientists later tested their diet on 19 human participants who were required to follow FMD five days for several months. Blood tests showed that they had fewer risk factors for several chronic diseases including diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke. They also looked slimmer, younger and had a high level of energy.
The fake fast diet involves only 34 to 54 percent of the regular calorie intake on a fixed 5-day schedule. On first day, you should eat only 1,092 calories, of which 10 percent proteins, 34 percent carbs and 56 percent fats. The next four days you should consume 725 calories, of which 9 percent protein, 44 percent fats and 47 percent carbs.
You can split the calories into two or three separate meals.
Although the instructions may seem complicated, prof. Longo says that his team worked hard to find the right proportions between nutrients so that people don’t feel they are fasting but they actually have the same health benefits of the 5:2 diet.
Researchers also explained that you must follow FMD for five days to see results because the body starts reprogramming itself after a four-day period. And only after that point processes of cellular regeneration and rejuvenation kick in.
The team acknowledged that the 5:2 diet “is not bad” but it is more difficult because one must follow it every week, while the FMD needs to be done every three or four months.
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