About a month ago I discovered the 5:2 diet — 5 days per week eating normally (following my LoseIt plan), and on any two non-consecutive days of my choosing I “fast.”

Intermittent FastingFasting in this case does not mean eating nothing. Because I’m a guy, I can eat 600 calories. (For women, it’s 500 calories.) After just three of these non-consecutive fast days, the change in my pattern had moved me off the plateau where I’d been at since end of December. Now after about 8 fast days (just two non-consecutive days per week) I’ve lost about five pounds. And the fasting days are not particularly difficult.

The 5:2 diet concept, popularized by Dr. Michael J. Mosley, comes out of research on what happens to animals when they are on a calorie-restricted diet.

Basically they live longer.

Some test animals lived a lot longer. (Equivalent to humans living to age 104 and beyond.) It seems to improve the body’s ability to repair itself. There is also evidence of protective benefits against aging diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons’s; moderating blood glucose to reduce risk of diabetes; and lowering blood lipid levels associated with heart disease.

But what’s more amazing is that the “fasting” seems to work almost as well when it is intermittent rather than continuous. Most of us could not sustain a severely calorie-restricted diet for more than a couple days at most. But just one day at a time on 500-600 calories, combined with otherwise “normal” eating other days; well that’s perfectly doable.

If you want to learn a lot more about it, there’s a PBS documentary — “Eat, Fast and Live Longer” — you can watch where Mosley walks you through the research, and he tests it out for himself.

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