There are more diets around than we’ve all had hot dinners, with new ones appearing every week. ‘Fast mimicking’ is one of the latest, and a study claims that using this diet can also reduce the likelihood of various diseases.
What is the background to this and do the claims stack up?
The study involved around 70 healthy people, who were asked to use prepared meal replacement packs for five days each month. The packs contained between 750 and 1100 calories, which provide similar levels to other proprietary meal replacements.
A press release from the University of Southern California reports results. The participants lost an average of six pounds in weight and had lower blood pressure. They also showed a reduction in a particular blood protein which is believed to equate to a lower risk of cancer.
There is some extra information needed about fast-mimicking in order to make a full assessment. For instance, it is not clear what the participants ate on the non-fast days, or whether they were overweight before the study. Using these meal replacement packs does mean eating fewer calories than usual on the fast days.
The study participants lost weight and showed other health improvements. Large scale and controlled studies have repeatedly shown that being overweight does indeed increase the risk of health problems. These include heart disease, strokes, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Losing weight is definitely a factor in reducing these risks.
The only way to stabilise at a healthy weight is to make lifestyle changes, which have to work for the person concerned. What works is very personal, and some may indeed find that these meal replacement regimes help. Some people find that intermittent fasting fits well with them. Others look to changing what they eat, or to trying mindful eating.
Whatever you do, make sure you back it up with plenty of regular exercise.
I know friends of mine have done fasting and do say it worked really well. But I could never do it, I think I might end up eating too much on the food-allowed days!
I agree with Simon - anything involving meal replacements is just not for me. Give me real food, even it there's less of it.
call me an old cynic, but there was a commercial involvement in this study (which, to be fair, was declared). I would also not like to inflict meal replacements on myself, I prefer real food.
I don't really care if it can or not. I would hate to do a fasting diet. Never been tempted - I love my food too much, and don't think it's natural for us either.