Monday, April 8, 2013
The FastDiet by Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer
The FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting by Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer, Atria Books (a division of Simon & Schuster Publishing), $24.00 list price, hardcover
In a nutshell, this diet promotes eating normally five days a week and semi-fasting the other two in order to lose weight and be healthier. The authors claim that limiting oneself to two small meals totaling 500 calories for women and 600 for men on the fasting days reduces high blood sugar, the risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease, and other health risks.
According to this book, the body benefits in several ways by doing a semi-fast, including giving the pancreas a rest so that it can manage insulin more effectively and the body is able to use up the extra stores of glucose and fat. When insulin isn't used up it is stored as fat and specifically the dangerous "belly" fat. The book offers a more scientific explanation of this but that's the basic process. The specific decreased risks of cancer, heart disease, and other health issues are also covered. Dr. Mosley wrote this book based on his own success with the diet and seeing his health numbers (insulin, cholesterol, etc.) improve dramatically as a result. Of course, those with diagnosed health issues like diabetes should consult with their doctor before fasting.
Fasting is often difficult because we don't like the discomfort that can come with it. In other words, we don't want to feel hungry. However, with two small low-carb meals on those days, it is doable and the fasting days aren't done consecutively so on the days in between one can eat normally and the foods they desire (although the authors do encourage healthy eating over splurging on junk food or overeating). The fasting day menu includes small amounts of lean protein sources plus lots of vegetables which can make the meal more substantial than what the calorie count suggests.
Different than long-term fasting or a cleansing fast, this seems like a common sense approach that can be planned according to one's lifestyle and social schedule. The book includes several breakfast and dinner menus with photos of the meals. A suggested maintenance plan is also covered for those who have reached their weight loss and health goals.
I tried this diet for a week and it wasn't as uncomfortable as I anticipated. The mid-afternoon discomfort was the most challenging but came more from my habit of sometimes mindless snacking during my low-energy time of day than actual "I'll kill for chocolate" hunger. I drank some of my favorite herbal tea and distracted myself with a hobby and that got me through it. I actually did the 600 calorie plan recommended for men instead of 500 calories for women, but even so my glucose numbers did go down and I lost a little over one pound.
The only negatives for me were that much of the suggested food measurements are in grams instead of ounces/cups/tablespoons and the book claims "quick and effortless" weight loss but I don't think any diet can promise that for every person. I go into this knowing there is no magic that effortlessly melts away the pounds, but commiting to a reasonable, healthy plan will eventually deliver the desired result and this has the potential to be that.
Overall I think this plan can be beneficial to most people and the concept is one I will continue to try, perhaps with some modifications, with the hopes it will help reverse my pre-diabetic conditon as I lose weight.