While health experts swear by the benefits of fasting for weight loss, new research shows the practice might also add years to your life.
While health experts swear by the benefits of fasting for weight loss, new research shows the practice might also add years to your life.

Fasting may help you live longer

If there's one thing health experts agree on, it's that fasting is a sure-fire way to lose weight and keep it off.

And now research from John Hopkins University shows the practice of intermittent fasting comes with other benefits and may add years to your life.

Fasting for weight loss may mean people take a break from eating for up to eight hours, or this can extend longer for longer periods.

US-based scientists have revealed as well as weight loss, the diet trend may help also improve the body's metabolism to the point where it slows ageing.

Study lead, Professor Mark Mattson, a neuroscientist, has studied the effects of the diet for more than two decades (and has been practising it himself for 20 years).

Intermittent fasting is considered a sure-fire way to shed unwanted kilos and now, according to scientists, it may also be a way to extend your life. Picture: iStock
Intermittent fasting is considered a sure-fire way to shed unwanted kilos and now, according to scientists, it may also be a way to extend your life. Picture: iStock

"We are at a transition point where we could soon consider adding information about intermittent fasting to medical school curriculums alongside standard advice about healthy diets and exercise," Prof Mattson told SWNS.

His findings, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, show that fasting can trigger "metabolic switching" and evolutionary adaptation.

Metabolic switching is understood to be a process whereby cells use up their "fuel stores" and convert fat to energy.

Studies show that aside from helping with metabolism, fasting has also been linked with decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and resting heart rates.

It may also help control blood sugar levels, increase resistance to stress and suppress inflammation.

When it comes to choosing a fasting diet, it is important to take your lifestyle and schedule into account. Picture: iStock
When it comes to choosing a fasting diet, it is important to take your lifestyle and schedule into account. Picture: iStock

While intermittent diets come with many upsides, the eating style isn't without its challenges.

"Patients should be advised that feeling hungry and irritable is common initially and usually passes after two weeks to a month as the body and brain become accustomed to the new habit," Prof Mattson explained.

Prof Mattson's research focused on two types of time-restricted fasting, eating for six to eight hours a day and fasting for 16-18 hours and 5:2 intermittent fasting.

The 5:2 fast allows people to eat normally for five days of the week, then restrict their food intake for two days (500 calories for women and 600 calories for men).

The 5:2 diet isn't simply a fad either, with the eating concept having gained ground since being introduced by Dr Michael Mosley in 2012.

Dr Mosley unveiled the idea of limiting food intake two days a week on a BBC science show, where he touted it as a "surprisingly easy" way to incorporate intermittent fasting into your life.

Intermittent eating styles, like the 5:2 diet, have been popular since they were first introduced in 2012. Picture: iStock
Intermittent eating styles, like the 5:2 diet, have been popular since they were first introduced in 2012. Picture: iStock

Expanding on his work on intermittent fasting, Dr Mosley published the book The Fast Diet in January 2013, according to BBC Good Food.

Just a month later journalist Kate Harrison published The 5:2 Diet Book, and since then the diet has been one of the most popular choices for people trying to lose weight.

According to Australian nutritionist Rick Hay, the 5:2 diet is simple to follow - and a good eating style for those in their 40s struggling to shift stubborn kilos.

"I think this is a really good one for women and men in their 40s who have maybe tried a lot of diets and haven't tried this one," the author of The Anti Ageing Food & Fitness Plan told news.com.au.

"That's my go-to category, but really it is a pretty across-the-board diet, so I would be happy for anyone over 18 to try it," he said.

"If you're not really into dieting and counting calories seven days a week, this is a good one to do because you only have to count them twice a week … it's a good one for men too. Men don't like to bother much about diets, they just want it to be easy."

Part of this article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission