The 5:2 Diet: Lose Weight, Live Longer - The Wonder of Intermittent Fasting

By Amy Taylor on September 10, 2012

Do you like to lose weight? How about live longer? Sure you do. What if you can lose extra pounds and at the same time lengthen your life? How’s that? Experts suggest it’s possible – with the 5:2 diet.

We had enough of all those diet fads. Turns out, millions of people in the world are crazy about going thin and that’s proven by the hundreds of weight loss methods available these days. There’s one diet fad however that appears to catch the attention of scientists and health experts – the 5:2 diet.

What is 5:2 diet?

This diet is a relatively new concept that is based on intermittent fasting, a practise that has existed thousands of years ago and is popularly practised by monks. Proponents of this diet program claim that it can do more than weight loss. They say it makes people live longer. How?

The human body has a growth hormone called IGF-1. Scientists believe that this hormone is responsible for ageing. High levels of IGF-1 are also linked to cancer, diabetes and other diseases.

Studies show that limiting food intake lowers down the production of this hormone. Fasting is also believed to slow down new cell development, which allows the body to repair the existing ones. As a result, you become less likely to acquire a disease. Fasting also encourages fat burning, which leads to weight loss.

Wait, here’s more: studies from the Baltimore National Institute on Aging suggest that fasting once or twice a week improves brain function and lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Health benefits of intermittent fasting

On his documentary entitled Horizon, Dr Michael Mosley of BBC faster for two days every week to personally experience the alleged health benefits of 5:2 diet. His fasting lasted for 5 weeks. In that span of time, he lost nearly a stone. His blood markers, such as IGF-1, glucose and cholesterol also improved. He said if he can sustain that, his risk of developing age-related diseases such as cancer and diabetes will greatly reduce.

Fauja Singh, also known as “the turbaned tornado” is the world’s oldest marathon runner. He gives all the credits to his lifestyle which revolves around controlled eating. He eats very few servings a day and his meals are always the same – consisting of lentils, fruits, vegetables, brown bread and yogurt. He also observes intermittent fasting. This way, he can enjoy food without restricting his calorie consumption.

On his experiment, Professor Valter Longo of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California applied intermittent fasting on mice. The average lifespan of mice is two years but his mice can live up to five years! That’s about 40% of their lifespan. When applied to us, humans, we could probably live up to 120, or 180. That’s super long isn’t it?

Another interesting thing about the mice is that they are immune to heart disease and cancer. According to Professor Longo, they die due to natural causes. When scientists examined the cause of death, they are unable to determine it. The heart just stops, they said.

So how does 5:2 diet work? 

The diet requires men to consume no greater than 600 calories and women 500 calories for two separate days. You can choose to eat them all at once or break them into smaller meals throughout the day. For the rest of the week, you don’t have to limit your food intake.

While it is true that there are less human trials that prove the health benefits of intermittent fasting, to Dr Mosley and others who have tried this diet, the benefits clearly show. They don’t even consider it a diet, but more of a lifestyle.


Sources of this article:

The 5:2 diet - Can starving yourself twice a week make you live longer?

The power of intermittent fasting

The 5:2 diet: can it help you lose weight and live longer?


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