Is Intermittent Fasting Really Healthy?
Jennifer Aniston, Miranda Kerr and Beyonce swear by the 5:2 diet. So what is it, and can it really be healthy?
The concept of fasting really took off with the launch of The Fast Diet co-authored by Dr. Michael Mosley. The ‘5:2’ involves consuming only 500 calories (600 for men) twice a week and eating what you want the rest of the time. In a sense this is mimicking the way our ancestors ate – feast or famine. Studies show that by fasting, followers can expect to lose about 6kg in 6 months and experience reductions in their risk of developing disease.
So how does it work? Intermittent fasting increases the fat-busting hormone glucagon, leading to positive changes in body composition. ‘It doesn’t have to feel like a diet,’ says Elly Curshen – aka Elly Pear – in a recent interview with InStyle . ‘I’ve gone from a size 14 to a 10 and feel better than I have done in years.’
However, it’s important to space out your fast days – you might choose say, Monday and Wednesday, to keep your metabolism on its toes. Recent studies show that consistent caloric restriction, over long periods of time, can backfire. This was clearly shown in a shocking expose in the New York Times . A study of the 2009 participants of The Biggest Loser revealed that almost all of the show’s contestants regained the weight they lost. The reason? When the body enters an extended state of famine, it can affect metabolism long-term. If you feel fasting is not for you can always try adding more ‘Sirtfoods’ to your diet – these include cacao, kale, buckwheat, celery, walnuts and strawberries. These foods are said to switch on the same 'slimming genes' activated by fasting.
For those who love living by 5:2 (you don’t have to look far for glowing testimonials) try these Honestly Healthy recipes; low in calories and rich in green alkaline goodness to keep you nourished on your fast days:
Alkalizing Green Soup - 254 calories
Protein Packed Mexican Scrambled Eggs - 235 calories (use only one quarter rather
than half the avocado)