Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego said their research suggests intermittent fasting (where you alternate between periods of normal eating followed by brief periods of fasting), can fight obesity and accelerate weight loss.
What’s more, studies suggest intermittent fasting can also prevent disease and slow down aging. “Fasting alone is more powerful in preventing and reversing some diseases than drugs,” said Satchidananda Panda, an associate professor at the Salk Institute.
Panda led a study where hundreds of mice were fed an unhealthy diet designed to promote weight gain. While all the mice gained weight, those that did intermittent fasting (i.e., they weren’t able to feed for 9 to 12 hours each day) gained significantly less weight than those who had unfettered access to food and ate around the clock.
“What we’re saying is that irrespective of what diet these mice had, as long as they were fasting for 12 hours or more, they were fine. So you actually don’t need a diet,” said Panda.
The latest study bolsters other findings showing that intermittent fasting has significant anti-aging health benefits and boosts human growth hormone production, Examiner reported.
Intermittent fasting has skyrocketed in popularity, thanks to the runaway success of The Fast Diet (also called the 5:2 diet), which calls for fasting (eating about 500 calories a day) for two days of the week and then eating whatever you want the other five days.
Actor Hugh Jackman credited intermittent fasting for helping him achieve his rippling Wolverine body. Jackman said IF also gave him more energy and improved his sleep.
Another successful weight-loss program using intermittent fasting is The Every-Other-Day Diet, where dieters alternate between “fasting” one day and feasting the next day.
While most people may think dieters will overeat on their “feasting” days, Dr. Krista Varady, author of The Every-Other-Day Diet, said this rarely happens.
“The reason they lose weight is that something keeps people from really binging on that feed day,” said Varady. “Something changes in the body on the fasting days. We’re not sure what. It may be hormone changes, or that the stomach shrinks.”
Not only do most people lose weight quickly on intermittent fasting plans, but they say it’s easier to stick to their diets.
Meanwhile, research by the National Institute on Aging indicates that intermittent fasting improves brain functioning, helps maintain lean muscle mass, improves insulin sensitivity, and boosts the release of anti-aging hormones.