Fasting, or calorie restriction (CR), has been shown to improve health and extend the life span of many species. For 75 years, controlled laboratory experiments have conclusively shown fasting confers health benefits and increases life spans in rodents, yeast, canines, worms and flies. Studies are now indicating that humans also benefit from CR.

Traditional fasting increases metabolism and resistance to age-related diseases. It decreases cholesterol, body fat, and the chances of developing cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. With so many studies drawing the same conclusions, why would anyone not try fasting? Some people would rather die than starve themselves for three or four days, that’s why. This, dear dieter, is where the old adage, “everything in moderation” comes in handy.

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The problem with a traditional fast is one of severity. If the average dieter struggles with a modest reduction of calories, can you expect to succeed with an extreme fast lasting for 72 hours or more? Maybe, if you enjoy the feeling of starvation. Otherwise the odds are against you. Thus, the answer may lie in a more moderate approach known as intermittent fasting (IF).

Modest alternatives to traditional fasting have also been well studied, and although the results are similar, they are achieved through less extreme measures. The following diet has become popular, and proves to be a safe, healthy, and effective alternative.

The 5:2 diet
Rather than a complete denial of food for extended periods, the 5:2 diet is more reasonable, and therefore more feasible.

The ratio 5:2 relates to the number of days one eats normally (5), versus the number of days fasting (2). The two days of restricted calories need not be a full-on fast, however. You can eat, albeit a very modest amount.

This moderate fasting technique allows many to achieve results that were unattainable with a more traditional method – likely, because of its more moderate approach.

There are other approaches to reasonable CR diets, but the 5:2 diet has become very popular. Obviously, a better choice for those who enjoy eating, studies show IF is not just an effective weight loss program – it also conveys the same overall health benefits as the more extreme style of fasting.

If you have tried other diets and failed, perhaps IF is right for you. Check with your doctor, plan your calorie consumption on your two “fast” days, and get started. Soon, you should notice a reduction of those love handles. Not so obvious, however, you will also be reducing your risk of illnesses related to age, and being over-weight.