Home Health news Experts issue warning over 5-day diet that ‘sounds too good to be true’

Experts issue warning over 5-day diet that ‘sounds too good to be true’

by Editor

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Changing your diet is one popular tried and tested way to lose weight. Put simply, regularly eating fewer calories is going to help you shed the pounds especially when combined with other healthy lifestyle choices such as getting plenty of exercise.

When it comes to dieting, the NHS recommends sticking to a healthy, balanced diet that includes five fruits and vegetables a day, while cutting back on food that is high in sugar and fat. For many of us though this is much easier said than done.

It is therefore unsurprising that lots of people turn to structured diet plans. These might tell you exactly how many calories to consume, or what types of food to eat on a daily basis.

A recent diet plan that has been generating some buzz is the fasting-mimicking diet (FMD), which promises not only a slimmer body but also longevity, improved heart health and reduced inflammation.

Created by Professor Valter Longo, a biogerontologist and director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, the diet involves sticking to a calorie-restricted diet for five days out of 30.

Woman eating a small salad

The fasting mimicking diet involves eating very small amounts of food for five days out of 30 (Image: Getty Images)

The diet ranges from 1,100 calories on day one to 800 calories on days two to five, made up of foods that are plant-based, low sugar, low protein and contain a research-backed composite of nutrients.

A recent article from The Telegraph questioned whether this supposed fat-busting plan was “too good to be true”. But there is evidence to support its creator’s claims.

The results of a study of 100 participants who followed the regime for three or four months showed their cells and immune systems were acting in a more youthful way. And analysis of blood samples revealed that they had reversed their biological age by two-and-a-half years.

Prof Valter said: “I know from having completed or helped complete a number of clinical trials that multiple yearly cycles of FMD can have a range of very beneficial effects on risk factors for aging and diseases.

“FMD can be excellent to control weight, especially because it does not require unwanted changes in the everyday diet, and it can be done when the person is ready to do it.”

Stuffed peppers, filled with minced meat, feta cheese, ramson and tomatoes in casserole

The NHS recommends eating a healthy, balanced diet full of fruit and veg to stay a healthy weight (Image: Getty)

While this may all seem ideal, especially if you’re someone who is looking to lose some unwanted fat, experts have issued a warning to be careful about what you are eating during the five-day period.

Speaking exclusively with Express.co.uk, Doctor Kathryn Basford from Asda Online Doctor, said:
“The fasting mimicking diet involves a significant reduction of calories over a five-day period, which helps induce a fasting-like state.

“Fasting attacks abdominal fat without eliminating lean muscle, so it can lead to noticeable results when done in moderation.

“However, the diet requires you to reduce food intake, particularly proteins and carbohydrates. Protein and carbohydrate deficiency can cause symptoms such as skin and hair problems, a weakened immune system, and low blood sugar levels.

“This means that those following the diet need to ensure they are still receiving essential nutrients and monitoring what foods they are putting in their body.

Where to find vitamins in food

One expert warned that you need to make sure you are getting enough nutrients while dieting (Image: Express.co.uk)

“What you do on the other days of each month is just as important, to maintain any health benefits or weight loss you need to have a healthy diet and exercise regularly too.

“It’s also important to keep in mind that if you choose to start a new diet, especially fads like the fast mimicking diet that significantly reduces calorie intake, you should always consult a healthcare professional and monitor for any adverse effects.”

She continued: “The fasting mimicking diet involves a significant reduction in calorie intake, and individuals with underlying health conditions such as diabetes should proceed with caution when starting new diets.

“It’s also worth noting that those who follow this diet are restricting their intake of proteins and carbohydrates, which can lead to negative impacts on metabolism and increased nutritional deficiencies.

“While some clinical trials have shown positive results from the diet, it’s important to keep in mind that every individual reacts differently to sudden changes in their diet.”

If you are considering trying this diet and have any concerns she advised consulting a doctor first.

Personal trainer and sports nutrition coach, Alanna Kate Derrick, also warned about some of the risks of “crash” dieting.

“So, is it healthy, and will it blast away belly fat?” she said. “Here’s my take: any diet that severely restricts calories is going to lead to some weight loss, including around the midsection. But the key is sustainability.

“Crash diets often lead to rebound weight gain once you resume normal eating.

“From what I’ve read, Longo’s diet is designed to be done for just five days a month, which may be more doable than continuous restriction.

“And the focus on plant-based whole foods is a big plus in my book. But as with any new diet, I’d recommend checking with your doctor first, especially if you have underlying health conditions.”

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