Intermittent fasting: the 'Fast and feast' diet works to lose weight

    Abdulaziz Sobh

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    Tired of that spare wheel?
    Low-calorie diets work but can be difficult to follow. A much simpler approach to losing weight could be to simply stop eating every other day.

    It is called an alternate day fast (ADF). As the name implies, you starve to death by fasting one day and then partying the next and then repeating that pattern over and over again.

    In just one month of the ADF diet test, study volunteers lost more than seven pounds.

    That weight loss occurred despite the fact that people on the ADF diet ate approximately 30% more on the days they were allowed to eat than they normally would. Even with that extra meal on holidays, the study volunteers still consumed fewer calories overall due to their fasting days, the researchers explained.

    "This is an easy regimen, without calorie calculation, and compliance was very high," said lead study author Frank Madeo, a professor of molecular biology at the Karl-Franzens University in Graz, in Austria.

    Madeo said the researchers did not study how the ADF diet could be compared with other types of intermittent fasting diets or with a more typical lower-calorie diet. He said the ADF study did not seem to have any impact on the immune system (at least in this short-term study), but that diets that simply depend on a lower caloric intake may decrease the immune system's function.

    Why does intermittent fasting work?

    "The reason could be due to evolutionary biology," Madeo suggested. "Our physiology is familiar with starvation periods followed by excess food." He added that only in recent history have humans had such an abundance of food that they need to restrict calories to maintain weight.

    Intermittent fasting diets have received a lot of attention in recent years. It is rumored that several celebrities, such as Beyonce and Jimmy Kimmel, use intermittent fasting to lose weight.

    There are several variations for fasting in addition to the ADF. Some people eat as usual for a certain number of days per week and then they can fast or eat very little during the rest of the week. Some people restrict the number of hours they eat in the day, eating only from 7 a.m. at 7 p.m., as an example.

    That type of diet worked for Jared Sklar, 27, of Woodland Hills, California. He went from 285 pounds before an intermittent fasting diet to 190 pounds seven months later. Sklar told CNN that he only eats between 12 p.m. At 8 pm. every day, leaving the next 16 hours as a fast. He also started eating healthier and exercising.

    "There is always something in front of me to keep me motivated, to make sure I don't go back to my old habits," Sklar said.

    In the new study, Madeo's team recruited 60 people, all healthy and non-obese adults. On average, they were a little overweight at the beginning of the study.

    Half of the study volunteers relied on a fasting plan every two days for a month. So, in a 48-hour period, they only ate for a 12-hour period. Eating during this time was not restricted.

    The other 30 people ate as they normally did without any restrictions.

    People in the "fast food group" lost an average of 4.5% of their body weight. The group that eats normally gained an average of less than half a pound.

    In addition to losing weight, the fasting and party group also saw healthy changes in risk factors for heart disease, such as lower cholesterol, according to the study authors.

    Despite these positive results, researchers still do not recommend ADF diets for everyone because the long-term effects of this diet are not known.

    Registered dietitian Samantha Heller of NYU Langone Health in New York City said that although people lost weight, a fast diet every two days would be difficult to maintain.

    "What if you want to exercise? What if you have a physically active job? Our bodies agree not to eat for a while, but they are happier when we have a constant source of healthy food to provide the necessary nutrients to perform the tasks we challenge our bodies every day, "he said.

    In addition, Heller added that it is important to learn how to improve your lifestyle. "Someone who loses weight by fasting every two days will not learn strategies for living a healthy life. He needs to create a healthy eating pattern with which he can live."

    A simple change that people can make would be to extend the natural intermittent fasting that everyone already does while they sleep. "For many people, after dinner, it is when they sit in front of the computer or television and have a snack. Then, close the kitchen after dinner," he suggested.

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