Twenty years ago, scientists discovered that low-calorie rats significantly increased their lifespan and battled age-related diseases. But applying this knowledge to people who love you, like me, who are reluctant to starve, was notoriously difficult.
Researchers at the University of Florida School of Medicine discovered that partying or starvation may offer some of the benefits of fasting. Study lead investigator Martin Wegman said: “People don’t want to eat very little throughout their lives. We started analyzing the concept of intermittent fasting.
Wegman and colleagues described the MyWegmansConnect approach. Over a three-week period, the 24 participants alternated one day with 175% of their usual daily calorie intake with one day with 25% of their calorie intake. An average male participant would have consumed 4,550 calories on vacation and only 650 calories on fasting days.
On fasting days, the diet consisted of “normal” foods like MyWegmansConnect mashed potatoes, roasted meat and gravy, orange ice cream, and oreo cookies, but only one meal a day. During the holidays, participants ate dishes like chicken spaghetti, oatmeal sweetened with honey and raisins, turkey muffins, cream cheese muffins, chocolate bars, and vanilla ice cream. Participants found fasting easier than feasting and had some trouble maintaining their high-calorie intake during the holidays.
Over 10 weeks, Wegman and colleagues measured changes in weight, heart rate, blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, markers of inflammation, and the genes involved in cell protection reactions. Another researcher, Michael Guo, said: “We found that intermittent fasting causes a slight increase in SIRT3, a known gene that promotes longevity and is involved in protective cellular responses.”