5 2 Intermittent Fasting
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Fasting has been practiced in various forms by humans throughout the millennia and touted for its health benefits, including increased longevity. Recently there has been a revival of the practice due to scientific studies showing its potential to regulate and correct certain health issues. The current school of thought is that intermittent fasting should be practiced on a 5:2 ratio, meaning that the participant would abstain from calorie containing food and beverages two days a week (they do not have to be consecutive), and eat as usual for the other five days. So what are the real benefits of fasting?
The History of Fasting
Fasting has been included in religious rituals for thousands of years, with the earliest known mention of it attributed to the ancient Greeks. It is also mentioned in the Judeo-Christian Bible, the Quran, and in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. Typically, fasting has been used to purify the body and prepare for interaction with the divine.
Although a great deal of the research done of late has used animals as subjects, the findings are still very profound. Testing done on rodents has yielded results such as lower biomarkers of diseases, including certain cancers, lower oxidative stress, improved brain function, weight loss, and regulation of blood glucose levels. One study showed that intermittent fasting increased longevity in male mice. This makes the potential of fasting to treat certain types of diabetes, cardio vascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and some metabolic issues quite promising. It is important to note that fasting two days per week and then binge eating the other five days showed no improvements in health markers in laboratory mice and did not increase their survival rate.
How to Implement a 5:2 Fasting Regimen
It’s pretty self-explanatory. You eat as usual five days a week and then you choose two days, either consecutive or non-consecutive, to fast. If you are able to go an entire 24 hours with zero calories, that is great! But if not, restrict your calorie intake to 25% of your usual caloric intake, about 500-600 calories. Once again, please remember that it does you no good to fast two days a week and then gorge yourself on junk the rest of the time. The best way to go about this is to give yourself a “cheat” day. Eat sensibly, consuming moderate portions of REAL food (fruits, vegetables, clean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains) four days a week, fast for two days, and then eat whatever the heck you want for a day. Overeating is never a good thing, even if you didn’t eat at all yesterday!
When NOT to Fast
Fasting is not suitable for everyone. Those with low blood sugar, history of eating disorders, women who are pregnant or nursing, and those with type 1 diabetes should refrain from practicing intermittent fasting. Women in particular should be mindful of any changes experienced during fasting and should break the fast if any negative reactions are experienced. If you are unsure about whether fasting is right for you, talk to your doctor or nutritionist.