Could Fasting Make You Healthier?

02/01/2013

Bad-dietsTemporary fasting has offically become “a thing."

No, it’s not Rosh Hashanah, Lent or Ramadan – there is no special occasion. Some people are just fasting because researchers say it may be good for their health.

A study released in the online magazine, Cell Metabolism, found that lab mice that fasted for 16 hours a day and only ate a limited amount of calories during an 8-hour period were 28 percent slimmer than another group of mice on the same diet that did not include fasting. The craziest part? Both groups consumed the same number of calories; it was just the manner in which they took in the calories that differed.

Another small study in the Nutrition Journal looked at humans and fasting. Obese women were assigned to two groups: One that followed low-calorie liquid diet that included fasting for one day per week while the other group followed a low-calorie food diet that included fasting for one day per week. Both groups lost weight and body fat and lowered their cholesterol levels, but the liquid diet lost more weight and showed a bigger decrease in cholesterol levels.

Getting back to your roots

Intermediate fasting operates off of a similar philosophy as the Paleo Diet – a diet based around the belief that we should go back to our roots and eat the way we did when we were, for lack of a better word, cavemen. Paleo is adapted from the word Paleolithic, the prehistoric period in time.

The thought process here is this: Back when we were hunters and gatherers it is very unlikely that our ancestors were able to supply three meals a day. That said, researchers are beginning to think that it is better and easier for the body to break down calories and fat when food is administered less frequently in healthy quantities.

Bear in mind that this study was conducted with high-fat foods meant to resemble chips and ice cream, however many of the individuals that follow this diet cut out carbohydrates and chose leaner meats (for example, skip to the end of this article).

Fad diet or health discovery?

It’s always hard to tell what is a fad diet and what is a reliable lifestyle choice. We all remember the Atkins craze in the early 2000s and how shortly after the public dismissed this unhealthy diet as a dangerous way to lose weight.

Though fasting means you're eating fewer calories, it also means you may be more likely to binge after the fast. With an active social life, it may also be difficult to follow a fasting plan.

The most important thing to remember is that whatever you do, make it a lifestyle. What many people on trending diets don’t always know is that just because you see results, doesn’t always mean that you’re doing what is best for your body.

Hence – if you’re going to fast, do it right. Studies show that the body responds well to a calorie-restrictive diet. Just be sure the calories you’re taking in count – don’t carbo-load or eat high-fat meats every day. Eat lots of fruits and veggies and be sure to choose lean meat when incorporating animal products.

By: Jennifer Wolfe

Got an opinion? Comment and let us know what you think!

For More on Weight Loss:

How to Choose Your Diet

Weight Lifting and Weight Control

Mentally Prepare Yourself to Lose Weight


The Discovery Fit and Health team brings you the latest (and most interesting) health news as well as exclusive interviews, video clips, and other juicy tidbits from your favorite shows.
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