"Eat, fast and live longer" Horizon program

Apologies if this has been discussed before. If it has, please point me in the right direction. I did search for the program name and the name of the presenter but didn't come up with anything. Anyway, this is quite an old program (Aug 2012) but I had it on my Sky box and caught up with it on the weekend. There were some bits and pieces about it in the papers at the time. Basically, the presenter (Michael Mosley, who is a doctor but I'm not sure of what kind) was looking at fasting as a way of 'living longer' and holding at bay various signs of ageing (cancer, heart disease etc). He looked at several methods and settled on trying a '5:2' program, whereby he eats normally for 5 days a week and 'fasts' for two days a week (on these fasting days he is still allowed 500-600 calories and water). I was really unnerved by the program initially - I was sat there thinking this is verging on promoting anorexic tendencies. However, the headline that it can reduce the risks of things that most people worry about got my attention and I began wondering more about it. For me, I don't see how it can work with an active lifestyle (ok, I have a sedantary job but I run 30-35 miles per week and also I'm generally careful with what I eat/drink). Also, I originally thought that this is not a sensible way of losing weight but on reflection the weight loss is a secondary benefit. I won't pretend to understand the ins and outs of it, but fasting in general reduces the level of a hormone called IGF-1 which (according to the program) is a good thing. It's no longer on iPlayer but the are a couple of clips (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01lxyzc) and there is a low quality copy on YouTube. There is loads on the Internet about it but here is an article in the Telegraph from the presenter. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/9480451/The-52-diet-can-it-help-you-lose-weight-and-live-longer.html Did anyone see it? Any thoughts on this generally?


  • Michael Moseley doesn't tolerate idiotic medical theories, fake science, etc., so if he's sold on it, chances are there's something in it.

    If you thought it verged on promoting anorexic tendances then you almost entirely missed what was being investigated.

    A bloke at work is trying it.  He fasts Mon/Tue, runs Wed/Fri/Sun, and is doing well on it.  I reckon he'd be better off reducing calorific intake across the board, rather than for just two days a week, for convenience and habit, but he's right in to it at the moment, having shifted over a stone in the last couple of months.

  • reducing the IGF-1 levels could be of benefit as a result of this fasting program but the science behind that is by no means conclusive, so you should look at that being a "possible" benefit of what is essentially a calore reduction programme to lose weight.

    and as for it promoting anorexic tendencies - as IM says - you have missed the message.  it doesn't.

    I've tried the 2 days a week fast and essentially it does help weight loss.  but all it really is is a way to cut down calorie intake across the week by giving some structure.  the problem with most calorie reduction programmes is compliance - it's not easy to reduce intake each and every day.  by introducing 2 fast days it helps that structure as you then eat normally on the other 5 days but over the week you have cut down calories.   compliance on fast days isn't easy either as you need to work out what food is 600cals and then stick to it. that's not a lot of food and you can feel very hungry at night.  

  • Big_GBig_G ✭✭✭
    Not sure why my previous post didnt have line breaks....I'll see if I can edit it.

    I should clarify that I thought the first few minutes were heading the way of anorexia. I don't think I did miss the point of the program....I am considering it myself. Your reply is focussing on the weight loss aspects, which isn't the main point.
  • Big_GBig_G ✭✭✭

    Not sure why, but it's not letting me edit the first message to add line breaks (no edit option appears on the first message, whereas it does on my second message), which makes it quite unreadable.  I wrote that from an iPad, where as this is from a PC.

  • On balance, I think i'd rather just enjoy life and die a little earlier.

  • Is this programme proposing that people adopt this method on  a permanent basis?If so i would say its a pretty miserable way to live your life.

    If i was needing to lose weight id rather do it the old way,ie smaller portions and excercise more,i would say thats more of a routine/lifestyle than this method which to me sounds like its gonna make you miserable eventually,thus resulting in the pounds being piled back on

  • Actually, fasting isn't like that at all. I sometimes fast for a day and regularly miss lunch out. I have no reason to lose weight and no intention of doing so. I do it for two reasons. Resting my gut (I have crohns) and increasing my ability to burn fat for energy (helpful for distance running). I also train on empty regularly and find it perfectly agreeable. It can't have hindered my training much either, I ran 10m on Sunday morning over the hills without any food beforehand and didn't really eat until about 11:30. I'm not advocating always doing these things, but just pointing out that the human body is perfectly capable of fasting with no adverse effects.
  • Was this the sequel scripted by Lynn Truss to "Eat fast and Liver Shorter"?
  • Big_GBig_G ✭✭✭
    YC: yes, this was supposed to be 'a way of life'. There was also another technique the presenter tried which involved fasting for 4 days in a row, and doing that every 1-2 months. He didn't fancy taking that on regularly and I can't say I blame him! Please note, the main aim is *not* to lose weight in either technique....weight loss is a secondary 'benefit'. The whole aim is to reduce this IGF-1 hormone which according to the program helps with other ageing issues. A lot of the press is focussing on the weight loss benefit, but that wasn't the main drive of the program.

    Steve...I don't know the answer to that.
  • Ok guys a get what your saying,but on "fasting" days and you start feeling hungry ,could that not be taken as your body telling you something?

    I know for a fact i couldnt follow this method as im type 1 diabetic and i need to eat regular meals,if i was to go down this road then i wouldnt be doing my health any favours  due to a possible risk of a severe hypoglycemic attac

    if it works for certain people then fine,and i get the whole training on empty/burn fat for fuel thing,IMO i just feel that if your bodys telling you that it needs nutrition then why deprive it of what it needs ,rather than sticking to a plan on a certain day that says you must fast on that day?

    Personally i just find it a wee tad on the extreme side,but thats only my opinion and im sure others will disagree with that.


  • Big_GBig_G ✭✭✭
    YC - I agree with you image However, it's an interesting concept if it does help with issues most of us probably worry about from one time or another.
  • i've been doing it since august bank holiday. i have reduced calorie days on tues - thurs and generally train every day. certainly i'm in the gym for a couple of hours each day mon-thurs and most satrudays and sundays. days 'off' are spent on the bike or running, so i get some form of excercise every day.

    weight loss so far has been 20kg, with about another 5 to go. i haven't been able to measure the IGF-1, however blood pressure and heart rate are both down, but i suspect these are more due to increased fitness than reduced IGF-1 / weight.

    i am curently doing 3 days to get rid of excess weight, but when i've hit what i'm happy with, i'll reduce the 'fasting' days to 2 or 1 per week. my intention is to keep this going for years. it may be snake medicine. it may not. i figured it was worth a punt to hopefully reduce the risk of getting cancer / diabetes

    personally, i find it simple to do and have found that any tiredness is purely mental.

  • There was a doc a few years ago along these line. Essentially the doc was looking at potential ways of extending human life. It looked at various stuff around genetic manipulation etc as well as some more off the wall methods. The only one that could be shown to work was calorie restriction.
  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭
    Strangely Brown wrote (see)

    On balance, I think i'd rather just enjoy life and die a little earlier.

    My feelings too.  I take reasonable care about what I eat and drink, and I exercise regularly.  That will have to do!


  • Didn't see the program, but I read the article in the torygraph. Looks interesting, although it sounds like research is at a fairly early stage. Personally, I'm sticking with the things that are known to work - not smoking, not drinking too much, regular exercise, eating your greens.

    If you do have high blood pressure or high cholesterol it's probably worth trying a 5:2 diet to see if it does bring them down.

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