'Four-Day Diet' Could Decrease Belly Fat, Slow Aging
A diet that cycles four days of low-calorie eating with normal food consumption, called FMD, could help reduce dangerous belly fat, improve organ regeneration and slow aging, according to a new study from the University of Southern California.
This type of diet, which mimics fasting, was found to decrease risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and even cancer in human subjects. Using mice, too, the researchers were able to gain a better understanding of how this type of caloric restriction could affect overall lifespan.
"Strict fasting is hard for people to stick to, and it can also be dangerous, so we developed a complex diet that triggers the same effects in the body," said study leader Valter Longo, director of the USC Longevity Institute. "I've personally tried both, and the fasting mimicking diet is a lot easier and also a lot safer."
A diet for non-dieters
The FMD diet required participants to cut their caloric intake by 34-50 percent during the "fasting" days, but subjects were allowed to eat normally for 25 days per month - whether their regular eating habits were healthy or not.
The diet also included a specific balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, while it also reduced the amount of IGF-I, a hormone linked to aging and cancer.
According to Longo, the FMD diet could be done every three to six months to help improve health and reduce belly fat.
"It's about reprogramming the body so it enters a slower aging mode, but also rejuvenating it through stem cell-based regeneration," Longo said. "It's not a typical diet because it isn't something you need to stay on."
Longo and his team plan to test the effects of the FMD diet on more subjects in a randomized clinical trial.
"If the results remain as positive as the current ones, I believe this FMD will represent the first safe and effective intervention to promote positive changes associated with longevity and health span, which can be recommended by a physician," he concluded.
The study is published in the journal Cell Metabolism.