“Average woman spends 31 years on a diet.” As ridiculous as it may sound, a report released by Daily Mail states that these weight-obsessed women are counting calories approximately 180 days a year, and the most alarming matter is – we know it´s true!
If you asked women in the street if they have ever been on a diet, you probably wouldn´t have gotten one negative response. It´s because every one of us has something on our bodies we are not content with. In order to feel better about ourselves we often go to extreme measures and succumb to fad diets which 1) don´t work and create yoyo effect, 2) may damage our health. We have all heard about the potential negative consequences of extreme dieting but we cannot seem to be able to stop. Only if there was a diet which would help us lose weight easily and wouldn´t harm us…

Feed/Fast (ADF) – the revolution in dieting

The Feed/Fast diet or ADF (alternate day fasting) has been introduced to me through a BBC documentary “Eat, Fast and Live Longer.” In one episode of the series, a television journalist Michael Mosley is investigating the effect of fasting and calorie restriction on overall health and longevity. He meets a 101 year-old man who runs a marathon and believes his energy levels can be attributed to a very low-calorie diet. To prove the theory, Mr. Mosley goes to LA to get answers from doctors and ageing specialists and here, it gets interesting.
There are approximately 350 people in the world suffering from a condition called Laron syndrome, basically a type of dwarfism. These people are very short due to a lack of a growth hormone called IGF-1 which prevents them from growing a normal size. What is interesting though is that this specific hormone also protects them from getting diseases like cancer or diabetes. Although they smoke, drink alcohol, and eat high-calorie and high-fat diets, they seem to be immune to these diseases that are so prevalent in a developed world.

How does it work?

Based on this research, ageing specialists suggest that if we restrict our calories significantly, it will force our body to go to a “starvation mode” and instead of creating new cells, it will repair the ones we have, thus protecting us from catching illnesses. In the documentary, Mr. Mosley goes on a 4-day fast and his blood results improve immensely, making him 50% less likely to get diabetes and cancer. The only problem remains the difficulty to sustain a normal life while fasting, and even the willpower to fast as such.
For that matter, Dr. Mosley meets with an ageing expert Mark Mattson who introduces his intermittent fasting experiment. He only did studies on mice but the results are convincing. When he fed mice normally but restricted their calories for every other day, their brain function improved suggesting that in human terms, it would postpone Alzheimer´s or dementia by 10 years. Dr. Mattson explains that this goes back to cavemen – when they didn´t have anything to eat, their brain needed to create new nerve cells for them to realize where to look for food and where is danger.

Do it yourself

The findings have indicated that the best way to improve brain function and prevent age-related diseases is intermittent fasting – either 5:2 diet or ADF. 5:2 diet simply means 5 days of eating a diet you´re used to and 2 days of 650 kcal tops. ADF – alternate day fasting is about eating what you want one day and up to 500 kcal women / 600 kcal men every other day. The problem with 5:2 diet can be 2 days of significant calorie-restriction in a row which may be a little rough. On the other hand, ADF is more effective in the long term and it´s actually even more sustainable because you know you can have anything the next day so you don´t give up.
To support these claims, we have researched some more studies, all of which have had positive results. A Great Manchaster study conducted on 100 overweight women found out that 5:2 diet decreased their risk of breast cancer by 40%. The Okinawa citizens in Japan ate 20% less than the national average and had many more people who lived over 100 years. Lastly, a study by University of Illinois concluded that over 10 weeks, studied individuals reduced the risk of coronary heart disease significantly. The point is that this kind of eating is easily manageable and provides so many health benefits, that it would be a shame not to try it.

Our tips and tricks
* When on a diet, sometimes you find yourself doing the one thing you shouldn´t – thinking about food all the time. When on ADF, think of what you´ll have tomorrow so you don´t feel triggered because you know you can have that food in a few hours, plus, you´ll be able to make it through today
* Don´t go to extremes and stick to the diet as described above – if you incorporate more than 2 fast days a week, your brain function will actually start to deteriorate and your overall health will regress
* Don´t binge on the non-fast days and stay within the average woman´s calorie needs – 1700 kcal. This way, over the course of a week you´ll save 3600 kcal – this accounts for 0.5 kg / 1 pound of weight loss!
* Start a day with a cup of tea or coffee – it will fill you up and you won´t feel hungry until lunch so you´ll save those calories for later
* And of course, on your non-fast days, come to have a creamy cheesecake or a macaron to Mondieu! We´ll be happy to serve you :)

by Katarína Vicová

Daily Mail (2007). Average woman spends 31 years on diet, researchers say. Retrieved from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-430913/Average-woman-spends-31-years-diet-researchers-say.html

Finger, L. (2011). [picture]. 7 healthy diet changes you should make today (USDA approved). Retrieved from: http://www.laurafreelance.com/tag/diet/
Harris, S. (2015). Is alternate day fasting good for your health? Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.boots.com/diet/features/is-fasting-good-for-your-health