While Fasting has been around for thousands of years, intermittent fasting – which is popularly known as the 5:2 diet – is a very modern interpretation that has swept across the UK in recent months.
Based on the concept of eating normally for five days and then fasting for two, it’s an effective lifestyle choice for people looking to keep their weight in check.
Preliminary data from research currently underway indicates the possibility of increased health benefits such as greater metabolic efficiency, improved glycaemic control, improved brain function and increased fat burning.
Here Dr Kelly Johnston, LighterLife Fast’s scientist, explains some interesting things that you might not know about intermittent fasting and the benefits of introducing 5:2 into your everyday lifestyle.
THE LESSER KNOWN FACTS
5:2 can help…
- Burn fat – There is evidence that intermittent fasting promotes more fat than muscle loss, making it a highly effective weight-loss diet.
- Boost your mood – Research suggests that fasting may help improve mood states in adults. People who have participated in an intermittent fasting eating plan have found they sleep better, have higher energy and concentration and, as a result, a greater sense of overall wellbeing.
- Prolong health – Aside from the physical benefits of maintaining a healthy weight, 5:2 potentially brings greater benefits for your health. Studies have shown that limiting calorie intake may help protect against a number of chronic lifestyle conditions, so adopting a 5:2 lifestyle may help guard against poor health.
- Repair your body – We all naturally produce a growth hormone called IGF-1 and while it’s great at keeping the body on the go, in later life it can also speed up the ageing process and the onset of age-related diseases. When we fast, IGF-1 production is inhibited, and our bodies go into ‘repair’ mode, giving cells time to rebuild themselves more effectively.
LighterLife Fast has embarked on its own groundbreaking research investigating the health benefits of intermittent fasting. In conjunction with a specialist obesity clinic in Rotherham (RIO), LighterLife is investigating the effects of 5:2 fasting on weight loss and metabolic health in obese NHS patients. Many patients find continuous energy restriction (i.e. cutting back) difficult and LighterLife wishes to determine if intermittent fasting is an easier, more efficient way to lose weight and become more healthy.
Furthermore, in partnership with the University of Surrey, LighterLife is proposing to investigate the effects of fasting in normal weight, healthy individuals to determine if, over the longer term, this helps improve blood sugar control and fat metabolism.
THE THINGS YOU CAN DO
Many diets restrict what we can eat quite drastically, often with complete omission of certain food groups which can leave us unhappy and lethargic. 5:2 is different; you only need to reduce your calorie intake for two days a week, and you get to enjoy a varied diet for the rest of the week without cutting out the food you enjoy.
Here are some things you can still do while you’re following a 5:2 diet, leaving more time to enjoy life!
Eat chocolate and crisps – Yes, this is a diet where you really can still enjoy that bar of chocolate or packet of crisps. In fact, you can have whatever you like on your non-fast days, so long as you do it sensibly and in moderation.
Fill up on carbs – Often the first thing relegated to the sin-bin with other diets, carbs are welcome on 5:2; in fact, ‘low-glycaemic index carbs’ give us a slow release of energy and help stabilise our blood sugar levels. So with Intermittent Fasting you needn’t cut out any food groups from your diet and you can still enjoy that Saturday morning bacon sandwich!
Enjoy a glass of wine – We all enjoy a drink every now and then but often alcohol is a diet no-no. With 5:2 you can help yourself to a glass or two on your non-fast days without the guilt!
Say no to the food you hate! – For many, being on a diet means eating a lot of foods that are bland and tasteless, and which you don’t really enjoy. However, with 5:2 there are no foods you need to avoid on your non-fast days!
THE CELEBRITY CONVERTS
The 5:2 concept has become not only a firm favourite with the general public but also one of the most popular diets in the celebrity world. Here are just a few celebs who you may not have known were big fans of the 5:2 approach…
Jennifer Lopez – Mum-of-two JLo, best known for her curves, knows all too well that maintaining a killer figure can be hard work. Having spoken of her weight struggles in the past, Jennifer has reportedly found the answer in intermittent fasting, which allows her to enjoy the foods she loves on her non-fast days while keeping that famous posterior in check!
Miranda Kerr – Victoria’s Secret ‘angel’ Miranda has confessed to her love of dark chocolate and French fries, but these are treats she can enjoy with confidence, as sticking to 5:2 principles allows her to enjoy her indulgences on her non-fast days.
Jennifer Aniston – Seasoned diet-hopper Jennifer has tried every diet in the book. While she’s best known for having formerly been a long-standing advocate of the protein-rich Atkins Diet, Jen is now said to have changed her eating habits and favours 5:2 as her lifestyle choice for keeping fit and healthy.