Discover how to stay lean and live longer by introducing some easy-to-follow 'weight-loss windows' to your eating routine.
Posted March 3,2018 in Lifestyle.
In one study, people who left longer gaps between food had hearts as healthy as those 15 years younger.
Perhaps you did it yourself, a friend or family member tried it, or you simply read about it. A couple of years ago there was no ignoring the popularity of 5:2 – the diet where you signiﬁcantly cut calories for a couple of days a week to reap the beneﬁts of fasting. And while that diet might not be all over the news any more, there’s still plenty of research going on to say that waiting longer between meals – this time for hours rather than a day – is a reliable way to keep you looking and feeling young.
And reducing your eating window – the number of hours in a day during which you consume food – could not only help you slim more quickly, but also increase your brain function, heart health, and resistance to disease. The idea is to give your body a rest from digesting food so it can perform other, longevity-increasing tasks.
What usually draws people to some variation on a fasting diet is the prospect of getting leaner. You could lose up to eight per cent of your body weight in an average of six months, and shave seven per cent off your waist measurement, according to a study from the University of Illinois. But, these slimming gains aren’t just down to giving yourself less time in which to eat and therefore reducing your calories – it’s a whole lot cleverer than that.
'Increasing the amount of time between meals can induce ketosis, a metabolic process that encourages you to burn fat stored in your body as its primary energy source, rather than glucose from carbohydrates,' says Kim Pearson, ambassador for the fasting plan ProLon (prolon.co.uk).
This helps to reduce excess body fat, including the stubborn bit around your belly. While you’re eating this way, it also helps your metabolism. 'When you restrict how much you eat for a period of time and then follow that with a period of normal eating – i.e. intermittent fasting – you can stimulate your metabolism by as much as 14 per cent,' says genetic nutritionist Kate Llewellyn-Waters.
What’s more, while you’re having a break from processing food, it releases several hormones that help you to gain energy from your stored body fat. One of these is human growth hormone (HGH) which helps burn body fat and crucially build muscle at the same time. And the more muscle you have, the more calories you naturally use on a day-to-day basis.
And there’s even more to be gained from eating windows than just a slimmer silhouette. 'On fasting days your body uses stored energy
from body fat and glycogen (sugar), this obviously aids weight loss, and also improves your blood glucose and cholesterol levels,' says Kate. 'Studies have shown that intermittent fasting helps reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol, whilst increasing "good" HDL cholesterol. It also decreases your blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity, which reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes.'
The long-term anti-ageing beneﬁts of fasting happen because when your body doesn’t have food to fuel itself, it has to look at what resources it already has at hand to keep you going. 'It starts to recycle old, faulty and diseased cells, in a process called autophagy,' says Kim. 'This makes way for new, healthier cells to grow in their place once you start eating again.' It’s this process that the experts believe leads to an increase in longevity and a decrease in your risk of developing diseases such as cancer.