The Celeb Part-Time Diet
Known as calorie restriction, the Longevity Diet, or intermittent fasting, this weight loss plan has taken T’Town by storm, especially among stars like Miley Cyrus, Anne Hathaway Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, who’ve long advocated the benefits of the occasional fast when they need to slim down. But this diet’s not just a quick fix; it’s meant for life.
The premise is that if you reduce your calorie intake to 500 every other day, or even just two days a week, you can eat whatever you like on the alternate days and still lose weight. And it’s not even that hard.
On fasting days, just Google "recipes under 250 calories" and you’ll be amazed how many options pop up, or you can save up your allowance and have one 500 calorie meal instead. There are no rules about what you eat, or when. So, as long as you don’t exceed your daily limit, it's easy!
Brian Delaney, author of The Longevity Diet explains, “Alternate-day fasting lets you focus your hunger in manageable periods. You are not a little hungry for a little time, like you are on a normal diet, but you are very hungry for a little time.” Sounds manageable, right?
The Science Bit
Nutritionists at the University of California discovered that eating half as much as usual every other day could shrink fat cells and, crucially, reduce the level of Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) in your blood. Essentially, as you lose weight, the level of IGF-1 in your blood also lowers, which is said to assist anti-ageing and to offer protection from diseases like cancer, as well as keeping our waistlines under control. Bonus!
Professor Valter Longo, the director of the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute explains, “IGF-1 and other growth factors keep our cells constantly active. It’s like driving along with your foot hard on the accelerator pedal. You need adequate levels of IGF-1 and other growth factors when you are growing, but high levels later in life appear to lead to accelerated ageing.” And the same applies for weight gain.
Experts at Dubai’s Eternity Medicine Centre, the only clinic in the GCC to offer IGF-1 testing, agree that intermittent fasting is the key to staying slim and youthful.
Dr Graham Simpson, Eternity’s co-founder and chief medical officer explains, “Fasting has always been a part of a healthy lifestyle. And with respect to lower calorie intake in general, one of the few proven theories to increase longevity and slow the ageing process is reduction in calories. Most centurions have been found to have decreased their calorie intake by 30 per cent, starting at the age of thirty.”
Dr Simpson adds, “The body was designed to burn fat as its primary fuel. The problem today is that because of our high carbohydrate intake – sugar consumption is over 160lbs per person, per year in the Middle East and the USA – the body never gets to burn fat because it's too busy burning sugar. One of the best ways to lose weight and slow the ageing process is to reduce calories – especially from carbohydrates.”
But is intermittent fasting the way to do this? “I think so,” says Dr Simpson, “a low-carbohydrate diet, together with intermittent fasting is ideal to slow the ageing process and lose weight.”
Makes sense, right? So how do we do it?
The Diet Bit
The easiest way to start on any kind of calorie-restricted diet is to do what’s known as the 5:2 plan. This means that for five days a week you can eat what you like as long as you keep your calorie intake under 500 on each of the other two days. You can save your calories and just have a 500-calorie dinner, or spread them out throughout the day. We’ve found committing the age-old diet sin of missing breakfast then having a 250 lunch and a 250 dinner is the easiest. If even this sounds too much, there is an alternative. “What is even easier is to not eat after 8pm and then break the fast at 8am the next morning. Besides lowering insulin levels, you also conserve a lot of energy that is usually consumed metabolising food. You now have extra energy to restore, rebalance, and repair your body, rather than it being used to digest your food.” Sounds good to us!
The IGF-1 test in Dubai
Eternity Medicine Institute is Dubai's only clinic offering IGF-1 testing. Unfortunately, they don’t offer the test on its own, so you have to sign up to one of their packages. That said, each package includes consultations and a lot of pricey tests, so it's a worthwhile investment for many people.
INFO: Packages start from Dhs6,999, Eternity Medicine Institute, 04 450 8181, www.eternitymedicine.com.
Ramen soup - 250 calorie recipe!
60g Ramen noodles
½ tsp sesame seeds
1 sachet of miso soup
1 tbsp Japanese soy sauce
½ tsp grated ginger
50g spring cabbage
50g shiitake mushrooms
1 Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet.
2 Toast the seeds in a hot pan.
3 Mix the miso soup sachet with 500ml boiling water.
4 Add the soy sauce and ginger and bring to the boil.
5 Meanwhile, shave the carrot into long ribbons with a potato peeler.
6 Add the cabbage to the soup pan and simmer for a minute. Add the carrot and mushrooms and simmer for another minute. Stir in the beansprouts.
7 Drain the noodles and put them in the bottom of a large soup bowl. Pour over the contents of the pan. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve. Tasty and good for you!