Fasting has been on everyone’s ‘to try’ list, probably just below Banting. But how healthy is fasting really? Before hitting you with the good stuff, it is important to be aware that there are many different ways in which one can fast.
The various fasting types:
- Time Restricted Feeding (TRF): TRF is when food is ingested in a certain period of time during the day and the person refrains from eating for the other part of the day.
- Intermittent fasting/Alternate day fasting: Fasting on less than 500 calories for women or less than 600 calories for men for two non-consecutive days a week.
- Short term fasting: <3 consecutive days
- Prolonged term fasting (also referred to as the Fasting Mimicking Diet): fasting with food for 4-7 days
Each type of fast has its benefits but only the prolonged fasting causes changes on a cellular level.
Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD)
The FMD, designed by Professor Valter Longo at the Longevity Institute of the University of Southern California is a controlled fast (this is important to note!) that lasts anywhere from 4-7 days. The FMD is a calorie restricted (ranging from about 1100kCal to 750kCal as the fast goes on), plant-based diet.
FMD improves levels of:
- Fasting glucose
- C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation
- Insulin-like growth factor 1, a marker associated with increased mortality and DNA damage in cells
- Stem cells and regenerative markers
And has been proven to promote longevity, overall health, and reduce excess fat. Sounds good right? This type of fasting is fairly new but so far has seen amazing outcomes. Research has shown that doing a FMD once monthly will reprogram the body into a regenerating and rejuvenating mode, resulting in long-term reduction of IGF-1, glucose and markers of inflammation and aging (only in subjects with high levels of these markers).
If your goal is purely weight loss, this might not be the diet for you but in terms of the benefits, it is worth looking into.
NOTE: FMD is a controlled diet and shouldn’t be attempted without the guidance of a health care practitioner.