Fasting is the dieting craze that is sweeping the nation. In fact, I believe it swept America first. During said sweeping it gained enough momentum to use New York as a sort of ramp to hurdle over the Atlantic and land in the UK. And now we’re all doing it!
Fasting is a centre point for many holistic practices but has arrived in a new form of diet called the 5-2 which sounds more like the utterance of someone who can’t tell the time than a diet. (“Five to what?!”)
The general idea is instead of monitoring your food intake across the week (although you still have eat moderately), you spend five days eating like a human and then two days fasting like some disciplined freak. Most people allow themselves a calorie limit somewhere between a disgraceful 500 and morbid 150.
As you can probably tell from my snotty tone, I’m not a fan of fasting. If I wanted to try and survive without food, I’d teach myself to photosynthesise.
“Hey, want to grab something for lunch?”
“No thanks, just going to catch some rays on the roof – it’s my cheat day”.
The question still remains though, is the fasting method any good? It sure is popular but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good (See The Big Bang Theory or kale for more information).
Time spoke to neuroscientist and researcher, Matt Mattson, who said that “from an evolutionary perspective” constant eating is not a part of how we’ve developed as a species.
A 2010 study found that obese women that fasted using the 5-2 diet dropped far more weight than those using more traditional diets that cut calories every day of the week.
The basic science behind the effectiveness of intermittent fasting is this. “The body converts food into glycogen—a form of energy that it can store for later use. Your body then squirrels away that glycogen in both fat cells and in your liver.”
As Mattson continues: “If you’re eating all day, the stores of glycogen in your liver are never depleted”. 12 hours into fasting, however, your liver runs now of glycogen. At this point your body will start sucking energy from the glycogen stored in your fat cells – hoorah!
So there you have it. You probably already knew that eating 24/7 wasn’t a great idea but now you have a scientifically backed alternative.