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Fasting power: Can going without food really make you healthier?

health, but does the science stand up? We put the latest one to the test"}” data-sheets-userformat=”{"2":513,"3":[null,0],"12":0}”>Fasting diets are getting ever more popular, amid promises of weight loss and better health, but does the science stand up? We put the latest one to the test

Don’t eat it all at once

Vincent Besnault/Getty

AS I unpack my rations for the next five days, I start to question what I have signed up to. For years I have heard the hype about fasting diets and what they promise: smaller thighs, a clearer head, a lower risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes and the promise of a generally longer, healthier life.

But then there is the hunger. Hunger makes me angry, and tired, and generally not a very nice person. So I have always given fasting diets a miss: the 5:2 diet where you fast for two days a week and eat normally the others; the 16:8 where you eat within an 8 hour window, and fast for 16; the alternate day fasting. You name it, it seems someone has tried it.

Then I heard about one of the latest trends, the fasting mimicking diet. If the marketing materials are to be believed, it is the holy grail: all the health benefits of fasting without the hunger. The company behind it has even become the first to be granted a patent for boosting human healthspan before the onset of disease. So can I really have my cake and eat it? I decided to give it a go – and try to get to the truth about fasting.

We have known for decades that restricting calories can have beneficial effects – if not in humans, then in animals. Many studies have found that organisms from single-celled yeasts to rodents age more slowly and live longer when their calorie intake falls to 40 per cent …

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