by dr mosley how 2 b healthy 6 steps 2 happiness, fitness and weight loss & more

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by dr mosley how 2 b healthy 6 steps 2 happiness, fitness and weight loss & more

This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  wiltldnrUSA 10 years, 4 months ago.

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  • Michael Mosley
    5:41 PM, 10 October 2013

    1. It’s often said that we should drink two litres of water a day? Is it really necessary?

    There’s no study to suggest this is the case so it falls firmly in the “myth” category. There is no evidence that we are all permanently dehydrated. You need to monitor your urine. If it is dark then you’re not taking in enough liquids. If it is straw-coloured, all is fine. It’s the output, not the input, that you need to monitor.

    2. Aspirin is said to be good at warding off heart disease and suppressing types of cancer. Is it OK to take as a drug of prevention?

    A study published in The Lancet in 2012 suggested there’s a 37 per cent reduction in cancer risk, particularly colon and prostate cancer, for those who take a therapeutic low dose of aspirin – anything from a quarter of a 300mg tablet to a whole one – once a day over a period of five years.

    Aspirin is also great at preventing heart attacks, especially if you’ve had one already. However, a side effect is that it may make your stomach bleed. Experts have flatly contradictory views about aspirin. Part of the problem seems to be that people self-medicate and therefore take too much. Also, no one can quantify the risks. A stomach bleed can be catastrophic so I am not going to take as aspirin as I don’t like the idea of bleeding internally. In the end, it depends what you are most afraid of.

    3. Do we really need seven hours’ sleep every night?

    Broadly speaking, yes. There is a huge variation in how much people need, but seven to eight hours is ideal. Some can get by on a lot less, but studies show if you increase from six hours a night to seven, it reduces your risk of heart disease. It seems that if you cut back on sleep in the long term it makes your blood sugar levels go crazy and, after a week or so, you can enter a diabetic state. The longest anyone has stayed awake is 12 days. A man from Cornwall holds that record! Sleeping more than ten hours is also bad for you, yet no one knows why.

    4. Can eating too many eggs give you high cholesterol?

    No. Eggs have been wholeheartedly demonized for no reasons at all. All those rumors of eggs giving us high cholesterol have now been utterly disproved. The advice from the British Heart Foundation is to eat as many as you like. Eggs are brilliant, full of nutrition and protein. I eat two a day in every form but not fried as that does raise cholesterol because of the fat in the oil.

    5. Are people who eat breakfast really slimmer than those who don’t?

    The problem with the studies on eating habits is that they ask people about their eating patterns and then base their results on that. For example, they talk to people who don’t eat breakfast then make them eat breakfast, and they get those who do eat breakfast to stop and take their evidence from these studies. However, the problem with making non-breakfast eaters eat breakfast is that it makes them want to eat more during the day and so they actually put on weight, so this falls into the fallacy category I think. If you don’t like eating breakfast, just don’t eat it.

    6. Does St John’s wort work for depression?

    Yes. There is a strong body of evidence that shows it does work for mild depression.

    7. If drunk in moderation is red wine better for me than white wine?

    Sadly, there’s no evidence to support this or any real benefit of drinking wine. Anything beyond a quarter of a glass is drunk for pleasure rather than medicinal purposes. The level of resveratrol in red wine – sometimes hailed as a wonder drug that can extend life and cure cancer – is so tiny that there really is no health benefit of red over white or wine in general at all.

    8. Is there such a thing as a successful hangover cure?

    I suffer very badly with hangovers and the only thing that works for me is two paracetamol before bed and lots of water. Beyond that, not much and by the time you wake up it’s too late anyway!

    9. Is HRT OK for women to take or is it health-wise a disaster?

    This totally divides the experts. The effects of HRT depend on the age of the woman taking it. There is evidence it reduces the risks of heart disease and obviously it reduces the symptoms of the menopause, but it can also raise the chances of breast cancer. It’s really for each woman to make her own informed decision about it.

    10. Is there any evidence that eating sugar ages your skin?

    Yes. In a recent study 600 men and women had their blood glucose levels measured and were rated for how old they looked. The older people appeared – on average it was five months older than they actually were – seemed to correlate with a high rate of blood sugar. The reason is that glucose attacks collagen and makes skin more brittle.


    1. Go for a walk
    When you’re aware you’re having negative thoughts, regrets about the past or worries for the future, interrupt them. It can simply be a matter of getting up, leaving whatever is causing the negative thoughts, and walking around.

    2. Don’t obsess about yourself
    Don’t follow the trend to “let it all hang out” and go on about yourself all the time.

    3. Adopt a stiff upper lip
    A good, old-fashioned stiff upper lip has its benefits. My grandfather was a prisoner during the war on the River Kwai. He never, ever talked about the experience, and I think there was a certain wisdom in that.

    4. Literally count your blessings
    Every night, write down three things that have gone well in your day. It will make you feel happier.

    5. Write a thank you letter
    Write to someone who’s made a big difference to you — especially if you’ve never told them so. Write it down, then read the letter to them.

    6. Don’t think everyone is out to get you
    If you see someone in the street and they appear to ignore your friendly wave, it’s probably not because they hate you. They probably just didn’t see you. Shout over to them and say, “Hi.” Go the further inch.


    1. Don’t eat 8pm—8am
    Try stretching periods when you don’t eat. Even one day of fasting every two months is thought to have potential long-term health benefits.

    2. Cut protein
    Reducing protein has been linked to increased longevity. You probably eat more than you think: the Government recommends 55 grams a day for adults between 19 and 50, but the average Brit scoffs 85 grams.

    3. Drink more
    Fill up on fluids, in particular water and green tea — a good thing generally, and particularly when fasting. Green tea is full of antioxidants, which help to fight the nasty free radicals that are one of the principal causes of ageing.

    4. Eat colourfully
    Follow as rich and varied a diet as possible: invoke the rainbow principle, and eat as many varied colours of food as possible.

    5. Stop snacks
    Small gestures in the direction of fasting are also thought to have benefits.

    6. Stick at it
    It’s tough, but it does get easier. If you distract yourself, the hunger pangs do disappear.

    Click here to learn more about the fast diet.


    1. Commit to HIT
    That stands for high intensity training — a short, sharp, vigorous burst of exercise.

    2. Get the right kit
    It’s best to use an exercise bike as it engages all the muscles and puts less strain on the joints than sprinting.

    3. Warm up
    Warm up for a minute or so, then really go for it, pedalling hard for 20 seconds. Take a breather.

    4. Go for it
    Go fast for another 20 seconds. Take another breather — then do another 20-second burst.

    5. Repeat
    Three bursts of 20 seconds equals one minute. Now do that three times a week…

    6. But before you start
    If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you should consult your doctor before trying this or, indeed, fasting.

    Michael Mosley
    4:20 PM, 12 April 2013
    Fasting and the heart

    One of the main reasons I decided to try fasting was that tests had suggested I was heading for serious problems with my cardiovascular system. Nothing has happened yet, but the warning signs were flashing amber. The tests showed that my blood levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein, the “bad” cholesterol) were disturbingly high, as were the levels of my fasting glucose.

    To measure “fasting glucose” you have to fast overnight, then give a sample of blood. The normal, desirable range is 3.9-5.8mmol/l. Mine was 7.3mmol/l. Not yet diabetic, but dangerously high. There are many reasons why you should do all you can to avoid becoming a diabetic, not least that it dramatically increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

    Fasting glucose is an important thing to measure because it is an indicator that all may not be well with your insulin levels.

    Avoiding diabetes

    When we eat food, particularly food rich in carbohydrates, our blood-glucose levels rise and the pancreas, an organ below the ribs and near the left kidney, starts to churn out insulin. Glucose is the main fuel that our cells use for energy, but the body does not like having high levels of it circulating in the blood. The job of insulin, a hormone, is to regulate blood glucose levels, ensuring that they are neither too high nor too low. It normally does this with great precision. The problem comes when the pancreas gets overloaded.

    Insulin is a sugar controller; it aids the extraction of glucose from blood and then stores it in places like your liver or muscles in a stable form called glycogen, to be used when and if it is needed. What is less commonly known is that insulin is also a fat controller. It inhibits something called lipolysis, the release of stored body fat. At the same time, it forces fat cells to take up and store fat from your blood. Insulin makes you fat. High levels lead to increased fat storage, low levels to fat depletion.

    The trouble with constantly eating lots of sugary, carbohydrate-rich foods and drinks, as we increasingly do, is that this requires the release of more and more insulin to deal with the glucose surge. Up to a point, your pancreas will cope by simply pumping out ever-larger quantities of insulin. This leads to greater fat deposition and also increases the risk of cancer. Naturally enough, this can’t go on forever. If you continue to produce ever-larger quantities of insulin, your cells will eventually rebel and become resistant to its effects.

    Eventually the cells stop responding to insulin; your blood-glucose levels now stay permanently high and you will find you have joined the 285 million people around the world who have type 2 diabetes. It is a massive and rapidly growing problem worldwide.

    Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, impotence, going blind and losing your extremities due to poor circulation. It is also associated with brain shrinkage and dementia. Not a pretty picture.

    One way to prevent the downward spiral into diabetes is to cut back on the carbohydrates and instead start eating more vegetables and fat, since these foods do not lead to such big spikes in blood glucose. Nor do they have such a dramatic effect on insulin levels. The other way is to try Intermittent Fasting.

    Combating Alzheimer’s

    Professor Mark Mattson, a professor of neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore is one of the most revered scientists in his field: the study of the ageing brain. I find his work genuinely inspiring – suggesting, as it does, that fasting can help combat diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia and memory loss.

    Mark points out that from an evolutionary perspective it makes sense. After all, the times when you need to be smart and on the ball are when there’s not a lot of food lying around. “If an animal is in an area where there are limited food resources, it’s important that they are able to remember where food is, remember where hazards are, predators and so on. We think that people in the past who were able to respond to hunger with increased cognitive ability had a survival advantage.”

    Mimi Spencer
    4:18 PM, 12 April 2013
    The reason for Intermittent Fasting – briefly but severely restricting the amount of calories you consume – is that by doing so you are hoping to “fool” your body into thinking it is in a potential famine situation and that it needs to switch from go-go mode to maintenance mode.

    The reason our bodies respond to fasting in this way is that we evolved at a time when feast and famine were the norm. Our bodies are designed to respond to stresses and shocks; it makes them healthier, tougher. The scientific term is hormesis – that which does not kill you makes you stronger.

    The benefits of fasting include:

    – Weight loss
    – A reduction of IGF-1, which means that you are reducing your risk of a number of age-related diseases, such as cancer
    – The switching-on of countless repair genes in response to this stressor
    – Giving your pancreas a rest, which will boost the effectiveness of the insulin it produces in response to elevated blood glucose. Increased insulin sensitivity will reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cognitive decline
    – An overall enhancement in your mood and sense of wellbeing. This may be a consequence of your brain producing increased levels of neurotrophic factor, which will hopefully make you more cheerful, which in turn should make fasting more doable.

    When to eat

    Michael tried several different fasting regimes. The one he settled on as the most realistic and sustainable was a fast on two non-consecutive days each week, allowing 600 calories a day, split between breakfast and dinner. This pattern has been called, for obvious reasons, a 5:2 diet – five days off, two days on, which means that the majority of your time is spent gloriously free from calorie-counting. On a fast day, he’ll normally have breakfast with his family around 7.30am and then aim to have dinner with them at 7.30pm, with nothing eaten in between. That way, he gets two 12-hour fasts in a day, and a happy family at the end of it.

    The seven fasting sample menu suggestions printed here are based on his experience, providing the most straightforward and convincing Intermittent Fasting method.

    I found that a slightly different pattern works for me. Sticking to the Fast Diet’s central tenet, on my fast days I eat 500 calories – but as two meals with a few snacks (an apple, some carrot sticks) in between, simply because the vast plain between breakfast and supper feels too great, too empty for comfort.

    Some people who don’t feel hungry at breakfast would rather eat later in the day. That’s fine, go with a timetable that suits you. Some fasters will appreciate the convenience and simplicity of a single 500- or 600-calorie meal, allowing them to ignore food entirely for most of the day. Whatever you choose, it must be your plan.

    What to drink

    Plenty – as long as it doesn’t have a substantial calorie content. Drink plenty of water – it’s calorie-free, actually free, filling and will stop you confusing thirst for hunger.

    On fast days we drink our tea and coffee black and sugarless; if you prefer it with milk and artificial sweeteners, fine. But beware that the calories in milk add up, and what you are trying to do is extend the time you are not consuming any calories at all.

    Just hold out until tomorrow

    Perhaps the most reassuring, and game-changing, part of the Fast Diet is that it doesn’t last for ever. Unlike deprivation diets that have failed you before, on this plan, tomorrow will always be different. There may be pancakes for breakfast, or lunch with friends, wine with supper, apple pie with cream. This On/Off switch is critical. It means that, on a fast day, though you’re eating a quarter of your usual calorie intake, tomorrow you can eat as you please. There’s boundless psychological comfort in the fact that your fasting will only ever be a short stay, a brief break from food. When you’re not fasting, ignore fasting – it doesn’t own you, it doesn’t define you. You’re not even doing it most of the time. Unlike full-time fad diets, you’ll still get pleasure from food, you’ll still have treats, you’ll engage in the regular, routine, food-related events of your normal life. There are no special shakes, bars, rules, points, affectations or idiosyncrasies. No saying “no” all the time. For this reason, you won’t feel serially deprived – which, as anyone who has embarked on the grinding chore of long-term, every-day dieting, the kind that makes you want to commit hara-kiri right there on the kitchen floor every time you open the fridge door, is precisely why conventional diet plans fail.

    Who should avoid fasting?

    There are certain groups for whom fasting is not advised. Type 1 diabetics are included in this list, along with anyone suffering from an eating disorder. If you are already extremely lean, do not fast. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant you should not fast. Children should never fast; they are still growing and should not be subject to nutritional stress of any type. If you have an underlying medical condition, visit your GP, as you would before embarking on any weight-loss regime.

    from The Fast Diet
    4:18 PM, 12 April 2013

    Daily total: 483 calories

    Breakfast (142 calories)
    – Half a tub of cottage cheese (100g, 78 calories)
    – One sliced pear (100g, 40 calories)
    – One fresh fig (55g, 24 calories)

    Dinner (341 calories)
    – Sashimi
    3—5 pieces salmon (100g, 180 calories) and tuna (100g, 136 calories) served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger
    – 1 tangerine (70g, 25 calories)

    Daily total: 597 calories

    Breakfast (271 calories)
    – Mushroom and spinach frittata
    Fry half a sliced onion (75g, 27 calories) in 1 tsp of olive oil (27 calories). Add 4 small chopped mushrooms (20g, 3 calories). Cook until tender. Add a generous handful of spinach (30g, 8 calories); cook for 2 minutes. Pour over 2 beaten eggs (180 calories). Cook for 5 minutes, and finish under a hot grill until eggs are set.
    – 12 strawberries (96g, 26 calories)Tuna

    Dinner (326 calories)
    – Seared Tuna
    Heat a griddle pan and sear a tuna steak (168g, 229 calories) on both sides using no fat, but squeezing on lemon if necessary. Serve with 1 whole grilled small red pepper (120g, 52 calories) and 1 sliced, grilled courgette (100g, 18 calories). Cut the pepper and courgette into long strips (for the courgette, about 1/2cm wide). Mix in a bowl with 1 tsp olive oil (27 calories), season, and grill on medium-high heat for 5 minutes each side. Dress with a squeeze of lemon


    Daily total: 503 calories

    Breakfast (197 calories)
    – Porridge
    Made with 40g oats (160 calories) and water. Top with 145g of blueberries (37 calories)

    Dinner (306 calories)
    – Chicken stir-fry
    Cut chicken fillet into strips (140g, 148 calories). Fry in a non-stick pan in 1 tsp olive oil (27 calories) with 1 tsp finely chopped ginger (2 calories), 1 tbsp chopped coriander (3 calories), a clove of crushed garlic (3 calories), 2 tsp soy sauce (3 calories) and half a squeezed lemon (1 calorie) until browned and sealed, adding water if chicken sticks. Add a handful of sugar snap peas (50g, 12 calories), 100g finely sliced cabbage (26 calories) and 2 carrots cut into thin strips (160g, 56 calories), and cook for 5—10 more minutes until the chicken is cooked, adding water if necessary
    – 1 tangerine (70g/2.5oz, 25 calories)

    Daily total: 592 calories

    Breakfast (288 calories)
    Fast diet- Two poached eggs (180 calories)
    – One slice wholemeal toast (31g, 78 calories)
    – 30 raspberries (120g, 30 calories)

    Dinner (304 calories)
    – Roast salmon
    Place a 140g salmon fillet (252 calories) with 10 cherry tomatoes (150g, 27 calories) on the vine on a baking tray. Bake at 200°c for about 15—20 minutes until the fish is cooked. Serve with a generous 112g helping of green beans (25 calories)


    Daily total: 503 calories

    Breakfast (125 calories)
    – 1 boiled egg (61g, 90 calories)
    – Half a grapefruit (115g, 35 calories)

    Dinner (378 calories)
    – Vegetarian chilli
    Fry a clove of garlic (3 calories) and half a finely chopped red chilli in a tsp of olive oil (27 calories). Add a pinch of cumin and 1 large or 4 small chopped mushrooms (20g, 3 calories) and cook for five minutes, adding water if it sticks. Add half a tin of chopped tomatoes (200g, 32 calories) and half a tin of kidney beans (200g, 200 calories), stir and simmer for 10 mins. Serve with 2 tbsp of cooked wild brown rice (80g, 113 calories)

    Daily total: 593 calories

    Breakfast (298 calories)
    – Simple muesli mix
    50g oats (201 calories) with a grated apple (100g, 47 calories). Cover with skimmed milk (150ml, 50 calories)Fast diet

    Dinner (295 calories)
    – No-carb caesar salad
    Grill 2 slices of parma ham (34g, 76 calories) for 4—5 minutes, turning once, until crispy. Slice 1 chicken breast (140g, 148 calories) into two. Grill for about 3—4 minutes each side or until cooked. Cut into pieces and place on a substantial bed of 100g chopped cos lettuce (16 calories). Serve with 1 tbsp grated parmesan (45 calories), and 1 tbsp reduced- calorie caesar salad dressing (15g, 10 calories — eg sainsbury’s be good to yourself). Crumble the grilled parma ham over the top


    Daily total: 497 calories

    Breakfast (194 calories)
    – Smoked salmon(112g, 159 calories)
    – 1 plain Ryvita (35 calories) spread with 1 tsp light cream cheese (11 calories)

    Dinner (303 calories)
    Fast diet- Thai salad
    Put 2 tbsp of thai fish sauce (20 calories), the juice of one lime (20g, 1 calorie), 1 tsp sugar (16 calories), 2 sliced spring onions (20g, 5 calories) and 1 red chilli, finely chopped (1 calorie), into a bowl. Mix well. Add 10 small cooked prawns (30g, 30 calories), 2 grated carrots (160g, 56 calories) and 50g vermicelli noodles (194 calories), soaked according to instructions. Toss well

    Daily total: 594 calories

    Breakfast (330 calories)
    – Grilled kipper (100g, 280 calories)
    – 2 tangerines (50 calories)

    Dinner (264 calories)
    – Marinated steak and asian cabbage salad
    Marinate a piece of sirloin steak (90g, 120 calories) in a mixture of soy, juice of 1 lime and crushed garlic. Grill until cooked, turning once. Serve with asian cabbage salad: combine 1 grated carrot (80g, 28 calories) with 90g savoy cabbage (24 calories) cut into thin strips, and a handful of coriander (1 calorie). For dressing, mix 1 tsp sugar (16 calories) with 1 tbsp thai fish sauce (10 calories), the juice of 1 lime (2 calories), a crushed garlic clove (3 calories). Pour over salad and top with 10g chopped roasted, unsalted peanuts (60 calories)


    Daily total: 496 calories

    Breakfast (171 calories)
    – Strawberry smoothie
    Blend a banana (100g, 95 calories), a pot of fat-free natural yoghurt (150g, 62 calories), a large handful of strawberries (50g, 14 calories), a splash of water and some ice until thick and creamy. Serve immediately

    Dinner (325 calories)
    – Oven-baked smoked Haddock
    Place a fillet of smoked haddock (200g, 202 calories) on a non-stick baking tray and roast for 15—20 minutes, until fish is cooked through. Serve with a poached egg (61g, 90 calories) and sprigs of lightly steamed tenderstem broccoli (100g, 33 calories)

    Daily total: 592 calories

    Fast dietBreakfast (177 calories)
    – 2 lean grilled rashers of bacon (50g,107 calories)
    – 1 small sausage (20g, 59 calories)
    – 1 small grilled portobello mushroom (20g, 3 calories)
    – a generous handful of spinach (30g, 8 calories)

    Dinner (415 calories)
    – Roast mackerel and vegetables
    Place a mackerel fillet (147g, 351 calories) on top of 2 sliced tomatoes (170g, 30 calories). Wrap in foil and roast in a hot oven for 10–15 minutes or until fish is done. Serve with a big pile of tenderstem broccoli (100g, 33 calories) dressed with the juice of half a lemon (1 calorie) and salt


    Daily total: 488 calories

    Breakfast (233 calories)
    – Dipped apple
    Slice 1 apple (100g, 47 calories) and 1 mango (150g, 86 calories) and serve with 2 tbsp of half-fat creme fraiche dip (100 calories)

    Dinner (255 calories)
    – Tuna, bean and garlic salad
    Put 140g canned cannellini beans (108 calories), 120g good-quality canned tuna in spring water (119 calories), 6 chopped cherry tomatoes (90g, 16 calories) and a generous handful of baby leaf spinach (30g, 8 calories) in a salad bowl. Mix well. Drizzle over a dressing made from 1 clove of crushed garlic (3 calories), the juice and zest of 1 lemon (1 calorie) and a splash of white wine vinegar

    Daily total: 591 calories

    the fast dietBreakfast (271 calories)
    – Small pot of natural fat-free yoghurt (150g, 62 calories)
    – 1 chopped banana (100g, 95 calories)
    – six strawberries (72g, 20 calories)
    – blueberries (100g, 25 calories)
    – 4 almonds, chopped (8g, 69 calories)

    Dinner (320 calories)
    – Prawn, watercress and avocado salad
    Mix 28g watercress (6 calories) with 140g cooked prawns (139 calories), half an avocado (72g, 137 calories), half a red onion (30g, 11 calories) chopped and 1 tbsp capers (2 calories). Dress with white wine vinegar
    – 1 tangerine (25 calories)


    Daily total: 498 calories

    Breakfast (140 calories)
    – 1 boiled egg (90 calories)
    – a slice of ham (23g, 25 calories)
    – one tangerine (25 calories)

    the fast dietDinner (358 calories)
    – Mexican pizza
    Take 1 tortilla (55g, 144 calories) and top with 2 tbsp passata (5 calories), 3 small diced balls of light mozzarella (90g, 159 calories), and scatter with chopped vegetables: mushrooms, red pepper, courgette, red onion, aubergine, spinach are all ok (170g, 50 calories). Cook in hot oven for 5—10 minutes

    Daily total: 587 calories

    Breakfast (261 calories)
    – Scrambled eggs
    Add a splash of skimmed milk (15ml, 5 calories) to 2 beaten eggs (180 calories) and scramble in a non-stick pan. Serve with one very small piece of parma ham (34g, 76 calories)

    Dinner (326 calories)
    – Spiced Dhal
    In 1 tsp olive oil (27 calories), fry a finely chopped small onion (60g, 22 calories), a clove of crushed garlic (3 calories) and 1 tsp finely chopped ginger (3 calories). Cook for 5 minutes. add half a pint of water, 50g dried, washed red lentils (159 calories), a pinch of cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Boil for 20 mins or until lentils are tender. Garnish with 2 tbsp of fat-free natural yogurt (40 calories). Serve with 2 poppadoms (72 calories)

    Michael Mosley
    4:17 PM, 12 April 2013
    Once upon a time parents told their children not to eat between meals. Those times are long gone. Recent research in the US, which compared the eating habits of 28,000 children and 36,000 adults over the past 30 years, found that the amount of time spent between what the researchers coyly described as “eating occasions” has fallen by an average of an hour. In other words, over the past few decades the amount of time we spend “not eating” has dropped dramatically. In the 1970s, people like my mother would go around four and a half hours without eating, while children like me would be expected to last about four hours between meals. Now it’s down to three and a half hours for adults and three hours for children, and that doesn’t include all the drinks and nibbles.

    In the study I quoted above, they found that compared to 30 years ago, we not only eat around 180 calories a day more in snacks – much of it in the form of milky and fizzy drinks and smoothies – but we also eat more when it comes to our regular meals, up by an average of 120 calories a day.

    In other words, snacking doesn’t seem to mean that we eat less at meal times; it just whets the appetite. Eating throughout the day is now so normal, so much the expected thing to do, that it is almost shocking to suggest there is value in doing the absolute opposite.

    Fast now… Live Longer

    Professor Valter Longo is director of the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute. His research is mainly into the study of why we age. Valter has access to his own supply of genetically engineered mice,
    known as dwarf or Laron mice. These mice hold the record for longevity extension in a mammal.

    The average mouse doesn’t live that long, perhaps two years. Laron mice can live twice that, many for over four years when they are also calorie-restricted. In a human, that would be the equivalent of reaching almost 170.

    The fascinating thing about Laron mice is not just their longevity, but the fact that they stay healthy for most of their very long lives. They simply don’t seem to be prone to diabetes or cancer, and when they die, more often than not, it is of natural causes.

    The reason these mice are so small and so long-lived is that they are genetically engineered so that their bodies do not respond to a hormone called IGF-1, Insulin-like Growth Factor 1. IGF-1, as its name implies, has growth-promoting effects on almost every cell in your body. It keeps your cells constantly active. You need adequate levels of IGF-1 and other growth factors when you are young and growing, but high levels later in life appear to lead to accelerated ageing and cancer. As Valter put it, it’s like driving along with your foot flat down on the accelerator, pushing the car to continue to perform all the time. “Imagine, instead of occasionally taking your car to the garage and changing parts and pieces, you simply kept on driving it and driving it and driving it. Well, the car, of course, is going to break down.”

    Valter’s work is focused on trying to figure out how you can go on driving as much as possible, and as fast as possible, while enjoying life. He thinks the answer is periodic fasting. Because one of the ways fasting works is by making your body reduce the amount of IGF-1 it produces.

    Switch into repair mode

    As well as reducing circulating levels of IGF-1, fasting also appears to switch on a number of repair genes. The reason this happens is not fully understood, but the evolutionary argument goes something like this. As long as we have plenty of food, our bodies are mainly interested in growing, having sex and reproducing. Nature has no long-term plans for us. She does not invest in our old age. Once we have reproduced we become disposable.

    So what happens if you decide to fast? Well, the body’s initial reaction is one of shock. Signals go to the brain reminding you that you are hungry, urging you to go out and find something to eat. But you resist. The body now decides that the reason you are not eating as much and as frequently as you usually do must be because you are now in a famine situation.

    In a famine situation there is no point in expending energy on growth or sex. Instead the wisest thing the body can do is spend its precious store of energy on repair, trying to keep you in reasonable shape until the good times return. The result is that, as well as removing its foot from the accelerator, your body takes itself along to the cellular equivalent of a garage. There, all the little gene mechanics are ordered to start doing some of the urgent maintenance tasks that have been put off until now.

    It’s not just the calories

    If you eat 500 or 600 calories two days a week and don’t significantly overcompensate during the rest of the week, then you will lose weight in a steady fashion. But is there any evidence that Intermittent Fasting does more than that?

    In one particularly fascinating study, scientists from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies took two groups of mice and fed them a high-fat diet. The mice got exactly the same amount of food to eat, the only difference being that one group of mice was allowed to eat whenever they wanted, while the other group of mice had to
    eat their food in an eight-hour time period. This meant that there were 16 hours of the day in which they were, involuntarily, fasting.

    After 100 days, there were some truly dramatic differences between the two groups of mice. The mice who nibbled away at their fatty food had developed high cholesterol, high blood glucose and had liver damage. The mice that had been forced to fast for 16 hours a day put on far less weight (28 per cent less) and suffered much less liver damage, despite having eaten exactly the same amount and quality of food. They also had lower levels of chronic inflammation, which suggests they had reduced risk of a number of diseases, including heart disease, cancer, strokes and Alzheimer’s.

    The Salk researchers’ explanation for this is that all the time you are eating, your insulin levels are elevated and your body is stuck in fat-storing mode. Only after a few hours of fasting is your body able to turn off the “fat-storing” and turn on the “fat-burning” mechanisms.

    Why you won’t overeat

    Dr Krista Varady of the University of Illinois at Chicago has done a number of studies on Alternate Day Fasting (ADF) using human subjects, and what surprised her is that, even when they are allowed to, people don’t go crazy on their feed days. “I thought when I started running these trials that people would eat 175 per cent the next day; they’d just fully compensate and wouldn’t lose any weight. But most people eat around 110 per cent, just slightly over what they usually eat.

    Krista wanted to know whether ADF would also work if her subjects were allowed to eat a typical American high-fat diet. So she asked 33 obese volunteers, most of them women, to go on ADF for eight weeks. The volunteers were divided into two groups. One group was put on a low-fat diet, eating low-fat cheeses and dairies, very lean meats and a lot of fruit and vegetables. The other group was allowed to eat high-fat lasagnes, pizza, the sort of diet a typical American might consume.

    The results were unexpected. The volunteers on the high-fat diet lost an average of 5.6kg, while those on the low-fat diet lost 4.2kg. They both lost about 7cm around their waists.

    Krista thinks the main reason this happened was compliance. The volunteers on the high-fat diet were more likely to stick to it than those on the low-fat diet, simply because they found it a lot more palatable.

    Michael Mosley
    4:12 PM, 12 April 2013
    Over the past few decades, food fads have come and gone, but the standard medical advice on what constitutes a healthy lifestyle has stayed much the same: eat low-fat foods, exercise more… and never, ever skip meals. Over that same period, levels of obesity worldwide have soared.

    So is there a different, evidence-based approach? One that relies on science, not opinion? Well, I think there is. Intermittent Fasting.

    When I first read about the alleged benefits of Intermittent Fasting, I, like many, was sceptical. Fasting seemed drastic, difficult – and I knew that dieting, of any description, is generally doomed to fail. But now that I’ve looked at it in depth and tried it myself, I am convinced of its remarkable potential.

    As one of the medical experts interviewed for the Fast Diet book puts it: “There is nothing else you can do to your body that is as powerful as fasting.”

    At the beginning of 2012, I was approached by Aidan Laverty, editor of the BBC science series Horizon, who asked if I would like to put myself forward as a guinea pig to explore the science behind life extension. We focused on calorie restriction and fasting as a fruitful area to explore.

    Calorie restriction (CR) is pretty brutal; it involves eating an awful lot less than a normal person would expect to eat, and doing so every day of your – hopefully – long life. The reason people put themselves through this is that it is the only intervention that has been shown to extend lifespan, at least in animals. So I was delighted to discover Intermittent Fasting (IF), which involves eating fewer calories, but only some of the time. If the science was right, it offered the benefits of CR, but without the pain.

    I set off around the US, meeting leading scientists who generously shared their research and ideas with me. It became clear that IF was no fad.

    I decided to create and test my own, modified version. Five days a week, I would eat normally; on the remaining two I would eat a quarter of my usual calorie intake (ie 600 calories).

    The programme, Eat, Fast, Live Longer, which detailed my adventures with what we were now calling the 5:2 diet, went out on the BBC during the London Olympics [with an accompanying feature in Radio Times]. I expected it to be lost in the media frenzy that surrounded the Games, but instead it generated a frenzy of its own. The newspapers took up the story. Articles appeared in The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday. Before long, it was picked up by newspapers all over the world – in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Madrid, Montreal, Islamabad and Delhi.

    People began to stop me on the street and tell me how well they were doing on the 5:2 diet. They also emailed details of their experiences. Among those emails, a surprisingly large number were from doctors. Like me, they had initially been sceptical, but they had tried it for themselves, found that it worked and had begun suggesting it to their patients. They wanted information, menus, details of the scientific research to scrutinise. They wanted me to write a book. Which is how what you are reading came about…

    The promise

    The Fast Diet demands we think not just about what we eat, but when we eat it

    There are no complicated rules to follow; the strategy is flexible, comprehensible and user-friendly

    There is no daily slog of calorie control – none of the boredom, frustration or serial deprivation that characterise conventional diet plans

    Yes, it involves fasting, but not as you know it; you won’t “starve” on any given day

    You will still enjoy the foods you love. Most of the time

    Once the weight is off, sticking to the basic programme will mean that it stays off

    Weight loss is only one benefit of the Fast Diet. The real dividend is the potential long-term health gains, cutting your risk of a range of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer

    You will come to understand that it’s not just a diet. It’s much more than that: it’s a sustainable strategy for a healthy, long life

    Michael Mosley
    5:25 PM, 28 January 2013
    I am the most unlikely author of a bestselling diet book. This wasn’t something I have ever imagined doing and at 55 I am hardly a glamorous role model. Sometimes you just stumble on things.

    It all started about nine months ago when the BBC science series, Horizon, asked me to take part in a film looking into the science of life extension and dietary manipulation. We soon focused on Intermittent Fasting, or IF. Unlike proper, hard core fasting where you might go for days on end living on zero or near zero calories, IF involves days in which you eat a quarter of your normal calories.

    Although I was sceptical, I decided it would be worth testing and also a chance to finally do something about my own little problem: I am, or rather was, a TOFI – in other words Thin on the Outside, Fat Inside.

    If you look at photos of me from that time I don’t look fat, but that’s because it’s hidden, visceral fat. It doesn’t sit beneath the skin, it lurks inside the body. An MRI scan revealed that I had many litres of fat inside my abdomen, coating my internal organs. It’s a particularly unhealthy type of fat distribution because it significantly increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

    The medical back in May 2012 revealed I was around 187 lbs, which made me slightly overweight. My waist, at 36in, was more than half my height, 5ft 11, which is one of the clear warning signs. Worse still I was borderline diabetic and my LDL (low density lipoprotein, ‘bad’ cholesterol) was also far too high.

    So I went off and made the film, in the course of which I discovered a great number of surprises about intermittent fasting and about myself. I discovered that human trials of intermittent fasting suggest that it is at least as effective, and perhaps more effective as a way of losing weight than standard low calorie diets. There is also compelling evidence, mainly based on animal studies but increasingly based on human studies, that those who stick to it will reduce their risk of cancer, diabetes and dementia.

    There are different ways you can fast; after some trial and error I settled on a pattern called 5:2; five days you eat normally, two days you eat a quarter of your normal calorie needs. For men that means 600 calories a day, for women 500. On the 5:2 diet I lost 19lbs, mainly fat, my waist measurement went down to 32 inches and my biomarkers, like fasting glucose and LDL, improved markedly.

    At this point my wife, who is a GP, said she thought I should slow down, so I switched to mainly a 6:1 pattern. I feel extremely healthy, but at some point I will probably go back to two days and week and lose a bit more weight.

    So why has the diet taken off? Mainly, I think, because most people who have tried it have seen good results and in a digital age they can readily communicate. I think it also helps that I have a scientific background and try not to make overblown claims.

    This is by no means the last word; a number of human trials are currently underway and others are just starting. Hopefully they, and subsequent trials, will identify whether people who lose weight through an IF diet are able to keep it off, the true long term health benefits of IF and what is the best pattern of fasting intermittently.

    I feel hugely fortunate to have benefited from this research and become involved in something that really does feel like it could make a difference to the lives of millions.

    5 steps to longevity

    1. Don’t eat 8pm- 8am Try stretching periods when you don’t eat. If you can manage it, even one day of fasting every two months is thought to have potential long-term health benefits.

    2. Cut protein Reducing protein has been linked to increased longevity. You probably eat more than you think: the Government recommends 55 grams a day for adults between 19 and 50, but the average Brit scoffs 85 grams.

    3. Drink more Fill up on fluids, in particular water and green tea – a good thing generally and particularly when fasting. The latter is full of antioxidants, which help to fight the nasty free radicals that are one of the principal causes of ageing.

    4. Eat colourfully Follow as rich and varied a diet as possible: invoke the rainbow principle, and eat as many varied colours of food as possible.

    5. Stop snacks Small gestures in the direction of fasting are also thought to have benefits.

    Why three minutes is enough

    Scientists at Nottingham University who measured Mosley’s reaction to the High-Intensity Interval training (HIT) sessions recorded a 30 per cent improvement in the effectiveness of his insulin action: that’s the body’s ability to move glucose out of the bloodstream — where it can become a toxin and lead to the build-up of dangerous visceral fat — and into muscle tissue, where it is of benefit.

    Professor James Timmons is leading the UK research programme that mosley participated in, part of a Europe-wide study that’s due to report in four years’ time. He tells RT: “The science is developing on High-Intensity Interval training. Yes, it is really good at improving glucose uptake into the muscles in a very, very short time.

    “With really intense exercise, you release hormones that can help break down fat. This may help burn that fat over time, after HIT is done. Also, we think, but don’t know, that HIT will subdue appetite, while traditional exercise (jogging etc) will stimulate appetite. This last point is key and will be researched by our team.”

    Further confirmation that three minutes a week may be as beneficial as three hours comes in a paper due to be delivered to a London conference later in March. “A growing body of evidence demonstrates that HIT can serve as an effective alternate to traditional endurance-based training, inducing similar or even superior physiological adaptations,” says Martin Gibala from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. “Such findings are important given that ‘lack of time’ remains the most commonly cited barrier to regular exercise participation.”

    Get on your bike – the Moseley Workout

    The kit
    It’s best to use an exercise bike as it engages all the muscles and puts less strain on the joints than sprinting

    Warm up
    Warm up for a minute or so, then really go for it, pedalling hard for 20 seconds. Now take a breather

    Go for it
    Go fast for another 20 seconds. Take another breather — then do another 20-second burst

    Three bursts of 20 seconds equals one minute. Now do that three times a week…


    So what prompted a personal interest in exercise and health? “I’m at an age now when you begin to worry about these things. I discovered I have visceral fat when I made a programme about dieting. I had a scan that showed I’m sort of thin on the outside, but fat on the inside – the most dangerous way to be. It wraps around organs like the liver and kidneys and causes metabolic syndrome, low bone density and type 2 diabetes, and it’s most common in men.

    “If you can’t afford a scan and you’re male, the best way to judge the problem is waist size. It should be less than half your height around the umbilicus. Most men underestimate it by two to four inches. My father had type 2 diabetes and there is a genetic element to it. So I knew that I needed to do something about it.”

    As we talk, items disappear from our tea. A few sandwiches, a couple of scones, a tart, a chocolate fancy. I ask, unsurprisingly, about changing one’s diet as a way of improving matters.

    He laughs at his inability to resist and launches into an explanation of why diets generally fail. “It’s not that people are weak-willed. It’s pretty easy to lose weight quickly on a strict diet, but then the body conspires against you. Fear of starvation, hunger, is a primal instinct. As you lose weight your metabolic rate slows. Your body encourages you to conserve calories by moving less. Fat is active and throws out hormones affecting appetite. The brain tells the nerve cells in your intestine that you’re hungry. Thus, 95 per cent of diets fail. And there’s a genetic element to this. Research shows that genes switched on in the foetus affect weight. There are studies of twins separated at birth who end up at the same weight, regardless of how they were raised.”


    So, what about exercise? Surely, regular visits to a gym – 20 minutes on the bike or running machine, two or three times a week – will do the trick?

    “Not so. We grossly underestimate the amount of time you need to burn calories. If you cycle steadily for an hour you’ll burn 500 calories. That’s a muffin. You’d have to cycle from Nottingham to Leeds – 78 miles – to burn a pound of fat, and one experiment in the US showed that even thinking about exercise triggers the hormonal response that makes you want to eat.

    “That’s the problem with gyms. You get in the car. You park. You walk briskly on the treadmill for 30 minutes (200 calories). You shower and have a congratulatory muffin. It’s taken two hours. You’ve burnt 200 calories and consumed 500. It doesn’t compute.”

    So putting weight loss aside, can just three minutes of exercise a week really be as useful as three hours on the treadmill? The answer lies, it seems, in the not-so-catchy acronym HIT. It stands for High-Intensity Interval Training, and research suggests that this short-burst approach is highly effective. “What they’re looking at in Nottingham is what’s required for good health: they’re measuring aerobic fitness and glucose sensitivity. And it’s inactivity that causes the problems of visceral fat and the metabolic problems that lead to diabetes.

    “The average person sits for 12 to 14 hours a day. But if we move around, we activate the protein lipase. It sucks fat out of the bloodstream and transfers it to the muscles, where it can be burned.”

    I’m still unconvinced that a mere three minutes’ vigorous exercise a week and the occasional stroll can control our glucose tolerance and aerobic fitness, predict our future health and possibly save the NHS millions by preventing common diseases, but Mosley has no doubts.

    “What Nottingham and other studies are showing is that keeping active, getting off your butt, is the answer,” he says. The HIT approach, combined with gentler exercise such as walking and even fidgeting (yes, there’s an acronym for it and it’s NEAT – Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), will do the trick.

    As teatime ends, Mosley explains he achieves his NEAT motion by getting up and having a walk around every hour when he’s working at his desk. He cycles a mile and a half to the station every day, building his HIT minute into his trip, and takes the stairs instead of the lift. He isn’t at all worried about the damaging impact on the gym and dieting industries this research could have. He heads off to the station at a smart pace.

    thank you so very much. absolutely great help.

    Merry Christmas! 🙂


    merry xmas 2 u 2! 😀

    Thanks USA- very helpful!
    Merry xmas


    u 2

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