Does the Fast Diet really work?
Dietitian Karen Inge speaks with 3AW's John Burns and Ross Stevenson about the hot new eating plan the "Fast Diet" by British doctor Michael Mosley.PT2M29S http://www.goodfood.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2ubda 620 349 September 24, 2013
The Fast Diet is the latest weight-loss book sweeping the globe, a UK bestseller written by BBC science journalist Dr Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer. Its theory is this: five days on eating whatever you want and two days off, ''fasting'' where you still eat but dramatically decrease kilojoule intake. But is this really the magic answer food lovers have been searching for? Does it work? Is is healthy? Like any good dietitian, I gave it a trial in the name of research.
You eat ''whatever you want'' for five days out of seven. For the remaining two non-consecutive days, described as intermittent fasting, you consume around a quarter of your usual intake - only 2400 kilojoules (600 calories) a day for men and 2000 kilojoules (500 calories) a day for women.
Michael Mosley, joint author of The Fast Diet. Photo: The New York Times
The idea of the diet is that it mimics a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, when food wasn't constantly available and periods of fasting were common. Emerging research has suggested the eating pattern results in weight loss and significant improvements in body composition, such as fat distribution and metabolic markers like cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose and IGF-1 (a biomarker for cancer risk).
Did it work?
Is this the magic answer food lovers have been searching for? Photo: Jennifer Soo
On average, I lost half a kilogram a week while on the trial - the recommended safe rate. However, my daily weight shifts were all over the place as my fluid balance and muscle glycogen levels went up and down. Stick to a weekly weigh-in. Personally I found that I was actually more aware and mindful on the non-fasting days and continued to curb my portions. However, others report that the feast-famine approach led to overindulging and no overall weight loss. I had my baseline bloods done and will keep on the fast diet for three months to see if there are positive changes.
Tips and tricks
You really need to plan ahead to make the fasting days work. Clear your calendar of workouts at the gym or heavy duty boardroom meetings in the afternoon, as your energy levels and concentration will definitely drop as the day goes on. Stock the fridge and pantry so you have plenty of nutrient-dense foods on hand to make every bite count. Plus, pack portable snacks so you can top up if you feel giddy with fatigue.
Snack time: Mandarins are a healthy choice. Photo: Rocco Pirrottina
Is it safe?
If followed sensibly this type of eating plan can be a safe way to weight loss. It makes sense, and compliance is easier because you know you can ''eat tomorrow''. It will especially suit anyone who typically eats and drinks big on the weekend or at business lunches. It won't suit certain medical conditions, such as diabetics, and without a dietitian designing the eating plan, you could easily fall short on nutrient essentials. If you'd like to give it a dabble, I've done the hard work in devising this build-your-own intermittent fasting day planner.
Can I drink alcohol?
Alcohol is not recommended on the fasting days so make them an AFD (alcohol free day). Drink plenty of water, green tea or any black tea.
The Karen Inge fasting day menu planner
Choose 2000 kilojoules (500 calories) on intermittent fasting days. You can choose one breakfast of 800 kilojoules (200 calories) and one main meal of 1200 kilojoules (300 calories). Or one of these meals combined with snacks to equal 2000 kilojoules (500 calories).
Choose 2400 kilojoules (600 calories) on intermittent fasting days. You can choose one breakfast of 800 kilojoules (200 calories), one main meal of 1200 kilojoules (300 calories) and two snacks of 400 kilojoules (100 calories).
800 kilojoules (200 calories)
1. Eggs Florentine
2 eggs poached or cooked in a non-stick pan, served with half a cup of sauteed baby spinach and topped with 1 tablespoon of shaved parmesan, diced shallots and cracked black pepper.
2. Smoked salmon and asparagus
100g smoked salmon served with 6 spears of char-grilled asparagus, a squeeze of lemon juice and cracked black pepper, along with half a large grapefruit.
3. Sumac baked eggs
2 eggs baked in a mini frypan along with 1 medium tomato, diced, ½ cup sliced mushrooms, 1 chopped spring onion and one cup chopped capsicum. Season with pepper, and sprinkle with sumac.
4. Fruit and yoghurt parfait
In a tall glass, layer 200g of non-fat yoghurt, 5 tablespoons mixed berries and 2 teaspoons chopped almonds or walnuts.
5. Bircher muesli
¼ cup oats combined with 100g non-fat yoghurt and 100g-grated apple. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and ground cinnamon.
6. Fruit and cottage cheese platter
100g low fat cottage cheese, 5 tablespoons mixed berries, ½ a large grapefruit or 75g apple and one medium kiwifruit.
7. Bacon and egg
One thin rasher of bacon (trimmed of fat) and one large egg cooked in a non-stick pan along with ½ cup sliced mushrooms. Serve with ½ medium grilled tomato, fresh basil and ground pepper.
1200 kilojoules (300 calories)
1. Grilled prawn skewers and Greek salad
100g (15 medium) shelled prawns threaded onto skewers, grilled and served with lemon wedges. Greek salad made with 1 cup cos lettuce, 1 cup diced cucumber, ¼ cup spring onion, 1 medium tomato, 5 medium kalamata olives, 30g reduced fat feta cheese and 2teaspoons olive oil, lemon juice and oregano.
2. Spaghetti bolognese
Made with 100g very lean beef mince, 1 teaspoon olive oil, ¼cup chopped onion, ½ cup chopped mushroom, 2 medium ripe, diced tomatoes and dried herbs. Serve with low-carb pasta.
3. Grilled chicken breast with orange smashed vegetables
Cook ½ cup carrots, 1cup cubed pumpkin and 1 cup chopped cauliflower before ''smashing'' with a fork. Serve with a 180g grilled chicken fillet seasoned with ras el hanout. Add 100g green leaves with a splosh of balsamic vinegar.
4. Vegetable curry
Made with ¼ cup chickpeas, ½ cup chopped capsicum, ¼ cup chopped onion, 100g spinach, ½ cup chopped mushroom, 1 medium chopped tomato, 1 cup cubed pumpkin cooked in 1 tablespoon of korma curry paste and 30ml light coconut milk. Serve with 1 large or 2 small pappadums.
5. Stir-fried pork with green vegetables
Marinate the pork in garlic, ginger and tamari, 1 tsp honey for 2 hours. Stir-fry in non-stick wok 180g lean pork fillet in vegetable stock and add greens – 100g bok choy, 90g broccolini, ½ cup green beans and 6spears of asparagus.
6. Atlantic salmon fillet and steamed green vegetables
100g salmon fillet oven baked or grilled, served with ½ cup chopped zucchini, 90g broccoli florets, ½ cup green beans and 6 spears of steamed asparagus.
7. Mussels with tomatoes and capsicum
2 cups mussels steamed, served with ½ cup chopped capsicum, 2chopped spring onions, ¼ cup chopped onion, ½ cup chopped mushrooms and 1medium chopped tomato, cooked over a medium heat for 15 minutes. Serve with chopped flat leaf parsley and cracked pepper.
120-200 kilojoules (30-50 calories)
● 75g frozen mixed berries
● 1 cup miso soup
● 100g non-fat yoghurt
● 1 medium kiwifruit or mandarin
● 50g low fat cottage cheese with celery sticks
● ½ cup skim milk with espresso shot
● 1 cup canteloupe/rockmelon balls
● 10g almonds/walnuts
● ¾ cup cubed pineapple
● 2 whole medium passionfruit
● 1 cup vegetable soup made with stock, carrots, onion, celery and tomato.
● 200ml tomato juice with splash of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce and a squeeze of lemon.
● ½ cup skim milk
● 100g apple
● ½ large grapefruit
Have you tried The Fast Diet? Let us know in the comments