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“In recent years, numerous studies have suggested that intermittent fasting—abstaining or reducing food and drink intake periodically—can be good for us, making it one of the most popular diet trends worldwide.” So says Medical News Today, a Brighton-based web information outlet with medical news targeted to both physicians and the public.
Fasting as a form of dieting is growing in popularity, and proponents of fasting say its health benefits extend beyond weight loss.
How and why is intermittent fasting beneficial? Here are some things to know.
According to Dr. Michael Mosley—BBC journalist, presenter, and author of The Fast Diet and other books on health topics—fasting speeds weight loss and reduces fat.
The body stores energy in the form of fat when you consume more calories than your body uses.
When you fast, however, the body compensates for the deficit and begins to use up your fat stores.
Fasting begins a process of fat burning that includes: lower insulin levels, higher human growth hormone levels, and increased metabolism.
Regarding this last benefit, studies at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham and at the University of Vienna in Austria confirm that fasting boosts metabolism by as much as 14%.
Oxford University’s Dr. Razeen Mahroof notes that because during fasting your body turns to stored fat for energy, fasting means diminished fat while preserving muscle and reducing bad cholesterol levels.
Researchers in Chicago agree. Their study found that while intermittent fasting may result in the same weight loss as a traditional limited-calorie diet, the person who is fasting will experience far less loss of muscle mass. In the Chicago study, among the group of traditional calorie-restricted dieters, 25% of the weight lost was muscle mass, while the intermittent fasting group lost only 10% percent in muscle mass.
Fasting provides an array of health benefits in addition to weight loss.
For example, a study conducted by scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) found that fasting can boost your immune system by getting rid of redundant and damaged cells and replacing them with fresh, new ones. The researchers believe this process protects your body against the cell damage caused by aging.
The USC study found that cancer patients who had fasted three days prior to their chemotherapy were protected against the immune-system damage that typically results from the treatment. The researchers attribute this protection to immune-cell regeneration.
“When you starve,” explains lead researcher Dr. Valter Longo, “the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged.”
He adds, “Fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.”
Dr. Mahroof points to the detox benefits of a fast. He says that during fasting “a detoxification process . . . occurs, because any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body.” Better still, according to Mahroof this process increases your blood’s feel-good endorphin hormones, for a positive effect on your mental health and your overall sense of well-being.
Dr. Mosley, too, cites some health benefits of fasting. “Studies of intermittent fasting show that not only do people see improvements in blood pressure and their cholesterol levels, but also in their insulin sensitivity,” he reports.
Several fasting programmes are popular for weight loss. Methods include normal eating only during an 8-hour feeding period each day, or a 24-hour total fast once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day. Dr. Mosley encourages a programme of 5 days of normal eating, and 2 days of severely reduced calories to the point of total- or near-fasting.
One advantage of an intermittent fasting programme is that it allows you to eat the foods of your choice when not fasting, thus lowering your sense of self-deprivation. By fasting you restrict your calorie intake over a period of time so that you lose weight (and fat), as long as you don’t overcompensate during the non-fasting period.
A programme that is skyrocketing in popularity because of its proven results is the ProLon® Fasting Mimicking and Enhancing™ diet. ProLon was developed by lead researcher Dr. Valter Longo of the innovative USC study mentioned above, and it’s partly based on his book, The Longevity Diet. As a fasting programme, in addition to weight loss ProLon produces fast fat loss while preserving lean body mass (muscle and bone).
ProLon is a 5-day dietary programme designed not only to help you lose weight and fat, but to enable you to live a longer, healthier life. The ProLon plan nourishes your body while promoting the regenerative and rejuvenating benefits of fasting, including effects against such things as aging, high “bad” cholesterol levels, and risks of inflammation.
ProLon minimises the burdens and dangers of fasting. At the same time, it provides good-tasting and convenient eating via a safe dietary programme that removes the need for the inconvenient and unpleasant lifestyle changes of long-term dieting.
ProLon offers a proprietary combination of healthy, plant-based foods and scientifically proven ingredients that together deliver optimal nourishment without activating the negative effects on the body of traditional weight-loss plans. The ProLon regimen reprograms your body to a regenerating and rejuvenating mode, while providing weight-loss and fat-reduction benefits.
When you’re on the plan, you follow the ProLon meal programme for only 5 days per month. This means you can pursue your normal lifestyle and diet for the remaining 25 days of each month.
ProLon delivers the benefits of fasting but with a safe and pleasant diet. The programme includes 5 days of consuming ProLon soups, bars, drinks, and supplements, providing approximately 750 to 1100 calories per day.
The plan is high in nutrition, low in proteins, low in carbohydrates, and clinically proven to improve an array of biomarkers associated with aging, poor health, and inflammation. ProLon’s patented recipes enable your body to optimise performance, rejuvenate cells, and thrive.
Since its inception, ProLon has helped many users overcome excess weight and surplus fat, and its effectiveness is confirmed by testimonials from satisfied dieters, the media, and physicians.
Perhaps the best known of these is New Zealand supermodel, actress, and health advocate Rachel Hunter, who says, “Professor Valter Longo’s [ProLon] Fasting Mimicking Diet is the best beauty product and secret that I have discovered.”
Meanwhile, the features editor at the Sun writes that ProLon is “the best diet I’ve ever done—and I’ve done a lot,” and the Telegraph calls it a “diet that really does work.”
In addition, New York City M.D. Maria Tulpan attests, “The ProLon plan is well organised, easy to follow, and well balanced throughout the day. . . . The effect of reduced appetite and stronger self-control lingers on for weeks after each cycle.”
She adds, “As a result of my positive personal experience and the compelling scientific research behind it, I’ve started recommending ProLon to my patients—including pre-diabetics or diabetics—more than 100 already. Every patient who completed the 5-day regimen has lost weight.”
And Dr. Felice Gersh of Orange County, California, agrees: “I am faced each day with patients hoping to feel better, have more energy, and lower their risk of chronic disease,” she says. “The implementation of ProLon into my medical practice has been a wonderful addition to the therapeutic options I can offer.”
Dr. Gersh concludes, “I highly recommend that every medical practice incorporate ProLon . . . and witness for themselves the many benefits it provides to patients.”