It's actually a play on words, using the word "fast" as a double entendre. According to its creator, you can lose weight quickly (or "fast"). And the trick to losing weight is the 5:2 ratio, which suggests you eat regularly for five consecutive days, then eat nothing -- or fast -- for two.
The Week reported (via Yahoo News) April 20 that the "Fast Diet" is the brainchild of Dr. Michael Mosley, whose bestselling book, titled (appropriately enough) "The FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting," (which apparently even eliminated excess space between its name) has "created a semi-starved army" on the far side of the Atlantic. And by the reaction it is getting on this side of the pond, it might not be long before an American contingent of the semi-starved army has volunteered. "The FastDiet" enjoyed its first week on the New York Times Best Sellers List, bowing in at No. 2 on the "Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous" list, beaten only by another dieting manual.
(In fact, the top ten best sellers on that particular list had three dieting books, one book on sugar-free recipes (by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, no less) and a clinical analysis of wheat in the modern diet.)
So how is Dr. Mosley's diet different than the others? It works on the ration of 5:2. New York Magazine explained the ration as eating for five days then, on the two days were one fasts, "starving long enough to convince your body to start feeding off your fat stores."
Although this diet of "intermittent" fasting sounds a bit like self-inflicted punishment, many millions of people fast routinely all the time (but primarily for religious purposes). And there's even research to indicate that there are benefits to the body when fasting. Cardiac researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute stated in a study in 2011 (per Science Daily) that fasting actually lowers one's risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, but going without food also causes significant changes in a person's blood cholesterol levels. Elevated cholesterol levels and diabetes are major contributors in coronary heart disease.
In fact, fasting could be a diabetes inhibitor. According to the study's lead investigator, Dr. Benjamin Home, "Fasting causes hunger or stress. In response, the body releases more cholesterol, allowing it to utilize fat as a source of fuel, instead of glucose. This decreases the number of fat cells in the body. This is important because the fewer fat cells a body has, the less likely it will experience insulin resistance, or diabetes."
With regard to the Fast Diet, Mosley told The Boston Globe that the body enters "repair mode" when it's fasting and that "a lot of cellular repair takes place in between meals."
He also told Huffington Post that his diet burned off more fat than other diets. "On a standard diet you lose about 75 percent fat, 25 percent muscle"... "it's between 85 and 100 percent fat" loss using the Fast Diet.
Of course, Mosley has his critics. In fact, one of his chief opposers is Britain's own National Health Services, which created a website to deal with the Fast Diet and point out to potential and current dieters the ill effects that pursuing such a diet can have on the individual. They warn against dehydration and dieting while pregnant, and they aren't at all convinced that the Fast Diet has any lasting effects.
For more information on this latest fad diet, details can be found on "The Fast Diet" website, TheFastdiet.co.uk.
(photo credit: Atria Books, Fair Use Promotion)