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What is the 5:2 Diet & is it Really That Effective?


When most Americans think of a fast, they think days upon days of not eating, or eating very little are required. For some, even the space between bedtime and breakfast makes you ravenous, immediately requiring a delicious and wholesome meal soon after rising. But would you be willing to try a little mini-fast if you knew what it truly entailed?

If you only had to go without eating for around 16 hours; you skip dinner, maybe have a little broth or juice and then the next day you return to your regular eating habits. If you found out there that were potential health benefits from the mini-fasts, would you do them?

People have been interested in this diet, called the 5:2 diet for some time now. Michael Mosley, creator of the diet, says adults should do the mini-fast two days a week. On these days, you are only allowed about 800 calories. Then the rest of the week, it is back to normal. Scientists believe that engaging in the 5:2 diet may boost immunity, improve memory, and maybe even weight loss.

Researchers at the University of Manchester studied two groups of overweight women; one group began the 5:2 diet while the others focused on lowering calorie intake every day. The researchers found that women in the first group lost more weight and body fat than the second group. The study led scientists to wonder if this has to do with that fact that when you eat less, your body ends up craving food less. One participant in the study said she simply didn’t feel as hungry as usual the days after a fast.

Mark Mattson of the National Institute of Aging says that when we fast, our bodies begin to use its stored glucose and thus burning fat. Mattson believes there may be a positive effect on the brain when the body burns fat, specifically with memory and learning skills. He states that when a person fasts, the fat in their body turns to compounds called ketones, "which have beneficial effects in making neurons more resistant to injury and disease."

It is important that every person evaluate their health before starting a fasting diet. Some people who are more at risk for eating disorders may struggle, and everyone should consult their physician before engaging in any new diet. Once you are given the all clear, there are tips to help with the difficult times during fasting days. Be careful which kinds of foods you eat on these days, avoid refined sugar and instead focus on high-protein meals that will keep you feeling fuller longer. Before you know it, you could be a minifast master.

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