The 5-2 Diet and the Fasting-Mimicking Diet Put to the Test

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“The 5-2 Diet and the Fasting-
Mimicking Diet Put to the Test” What about instead of
eating every other day you ate five days a week
and fast the other two? The available data is similar
to that of alternate-day fasting. About a dozen pounds of weight loss was
reported in overweight men and women over 6 months
with no difference found between those on the 5:2
intermittent fasting regimen and those on a continuous
500-calories-a-day restriction. The largest trial to date found an
18-pound weight loss within six months in the 5:2 group, not significantly
different from the 20 pounds lost in the continuous calorie
restriction group.


Weight maintenance over
a subsequent six months was also found to be no different. Though feelings of hunger may be
more pronounced on the 5:2 pattern than on an equivalent level
of daily calorie cutting, it does not seem to lead to
overeating on non-fasting days. One might expect to go two days without
food might negatively impact mood, but no such adverse impact was
noted for those fully fasting on zero calories or sticking
to just two packets of oatmeal on each of the “fasting” days (which
provided about 500 calories a day). Like alternate-day fasting, the 5:2
fasting pattern appeared to have inconsistent effects on cognition
and lean mass preservation, and failed to live up to the popular
the notion that intermittent fasting would prove to be easier to adhere
to than daily calorie restriction. Fewer subjects on the
5:2 pattern expressed interest in continuing the diet
after the study was over compared to the continuous
the restriction control group, attributed to the quality of life issues,
citing headaches, lack of energy, and difficulty in fitting the
fasting days into their weekly routine. However, there has yet to
be a single 5:2 diet study showing elevated LDL cholesterol compared to continuous
calorie restriction at six months or a year,
offering a potential advantage over alternate-day regimens.


Instead of 5:2, what about 25:5,
spending five days a month on a fasting-mimicking diet? Longevity researcher Valter Longo
designed a five-day meal plan to try to simulate the metabolic
effects of fasting by being low in protein, sugars, and calories with
zero animal protein or animal fat. By making it plant-based, he was
hoping to lower the level of the cancer-promoting growth hormone
IGF-1, which he indeed accomplished, along with a drop in
markers of inflammation, after three cycles of his
five-days-a-month program. One hundred men and women were randomized
to consume his fasting-mimicking diet for five consecutive days
per month or to maintain their regular diet the whole time.



After three months, the FMD group
(the fasting-mimicking diet group) was down about six pounds
compared to the control, with significant drops in body
fat and waist circumference, accompanied by a
drop in blood pressure. Those who were the worse off
accrued the most dramatic benefits. What’s even crazier is that three
further months after completion some of the benefit appeared to persist, suggesting the effects may
last for several months. It’s unclear, though, if those randomized
to the fasting-mimicking diet group used it as an opportunity to
make positive lifestyle changes to help maintain some of the weight loss. Dr. Longo created a company to
commercially market his meal plan, but to his credit, he says
he donates 100% of the profits he receives from it to charity. The whole diet appears to mostly just
be a few dehydrated soup mixes, herbal teas like hibiscus and chamomile,
kale chips, nut-based energy bars, an algae-based DHA supplement, and a multivitamin dusted
with vegetable powder.


So, I figure why spend 50 dollars
a day on a few processed snacks when you could instead eat a
few hundred calories a day of… real vegetables?.

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