Brad Pilon's review of the BBC Documentary 'Eat, Fast and Live Longer'.
(The best part is you don't have to change what you eat... Just when you eat it.)
In an odd sort of way, watching the latest BBC Horizons documentary hosted by Dr. Michael Mosley called 'Eat, Fast Live Longer' was a lot like watching myself discover intermittent fasting all over again.
(Sure, it's almost six years later, but never late than never!)
The show starts with the host Dr Michael Mosley looking to the connection between Diet and Health as a way to slow the aging process, including the ravenous affects of cancer.
His solution? The Health Benefits of Fasting
But not just fasting... Intermittent Fasting.
And... Not just intermittent fasting, but Eat Stop Eat
In an interesting twist of fate, through his own trials and tribulations Dr. Mosley settles on precisely the Eat Stop Eat style of fasting... something he called "genuinely revolutionary"
Keep in mind, not only was this 6 years after Eat Stop Eat was first published, but it was apparently without Dr. Mosley ever even reading Eat Stop Eat. He simply settled on this style of fasting as the easiest form of intermittent fasting that still gave him AMAZING improvements in health, including decreasing his risk of getting serveral types of cancer.
To start the show off Dr Mosley states that traditionally exercise (lots and lots of it) has always been thought of as the best way to 'stay healthy'...
The more the better.
But as we know exercise has its dark side. Chronic exhaustive exercise can lead to systemic low-grade inflammation a hallmark of major diseases including: Cardiovascular disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, and diabetes definitely things we want to avoid, especially if we have other health issues, like obesity.
So taking part in a sensible exercise program is a good idea, but overdoing it could be very detrimental to long-term health and disease prevention.
With exercise being ruled out, Dr. Mosley examines the strong connection between health and diet.
Amazingly, the first clue comes from a 101 year old Marathon runner who said "In poor countries people die of starvation, in rich countries they die of overeating."
We know that for decades teams of scientists around the world have been intensity studying aging, and we know that the genes you inherited from your parents play the largest role in how you age, but you can still do certain things to help the process...or more accurately - slow the process. Again, the goal isn't to reverse or stop aging all together, but to age WELL.
One of those things is simply eating less.
Research has shown us that eating less can change both the quality of life, and how long you are expected to live. In fact, we've known this since the 1930 when live expectancy surprisingly increased in the United States during the great depression.
During the documentary Dr. Mosley interviews Dr. Luigi Fontana - one of the Referenced researchers in Eat Stop Eat.
After the interview with Dr. Fontana the show moves to examining "Cronies", the nickname for people who follow a calorie restricted life style.
Next, Dr. Mosley suprisingly asks Joe the Cronie "What if it's all wrong?" and then challenges him to take some tests to see who is healthier. After all the cronie "Looks fit, but not impressively young".
They take part in a series of tests and it is revealed that while Joe may not 'look young' he is surprisingly younger than Dr. Mosley on the inside.
After going through these thorough medical examinations Dr. Mosley realizes that "My diet is undermining my health" and that eating less seems to be the solution.
Then, Dr. Mosley comes to the exact same conclusions as I did regarding traditional Calorie Restriction... It sounds great, but I'm never going to do it!
Next, the show moved to talking about something called IGF-1 and its relation to cancer and various other diseases. (This should not be confused with growth hormone, or the variant of IGF-1, called mechano-growth factor, which is responsible for the muscle growth associated with muscular work).
In this part of the show Dr. Mosley is told that his typical style of eating had caused his IGF-1 to be extremely high... making him 'at risk' for developing several forms of cancer.
(This part of the documentary reminds me a lot of the chapter on Autophagy in Eat Stop Eat, stressing that there must be time for recovery and rebuilding on a cellular level if optimal health is the goal).
After some more discussion the concept of fasting is finally revealed as a way to significantly lower IGF-1 Levels. However, Dr. Mosley starts with a 3.5 day fast, the exact same mistake I made when I started my research in 2006. And he came to the exact same conclusions that I did... there must be an easier way!
Dr. Mosley seemed obviously upset at this point in the documentary. He had stumbled upon the amazing benefits of fasting, but was not really ready to sacrifice his normal life so that he could fast for 3 days in a row.
At this point he realized that there is an easier way, and goes on to explore the major benefits that can be had with short, 24 hour fasts, which obviously makes me really happy.
With 24 hour Fasting Dr, Mosley comes to the same conclusion as most people following Eat Stop Eat, 24 hours of fasting is NOT tough, especially when you divide it up in a way that fits your lifestyle... When done properly it just becomes a simple yet effective way of life.
While experimenting with 24 hour fasts Dr Mosley also makes the same observation that most Eat Stop Eat people make; Hunger does not continue to get worse and worse over the course of 24 hours (ie: 24 hours later you're not 24 times hungrier) but instead, hunger comes and goes in waves and these waves are easily manageable.
During this time he makes comments about 'Repair mode' basically speaking about autophagy and inflammation without actually saying autophagy or inflammation (two major chapters in Eat Stop Eat).
I also smiled when he discovered how tasty food is after a fast.
During this time he interviews Dr. Krista Varaday, another scientists that is referenced in Eat Stop Eat. Dr. Varaday mentions that you can eat whatever you want as long as you stay within your Calorie goals, notice Dr. Varaday says eat WHATEVER you want, not HOW MUCH you want, big distinction, and she's absolutely correct - that's how we do it with Eat Stop Eat with phenomenal results.
Dr. Varaday also pointed out what we all have found: fasting tends to affect your appetite, it's very hard to 'compensate' for your fasting by grossly overeating. It's difficult but not impossible - so don't go out of your way to ruin amazing results by seeing 'what you can get away with'.
Next he meets with Dr. Mark Mattson (also referenced in Eat Stop Eat) who states that "sporadic bouts of hunger actually cause new braincells to grow". He's talking about animal research obviously, but it's still very cool.
Finally, On the advice of Dr. Mattson, Dr. Mosley turns to what he calls the "5/2 diet" , or Eat Stop Eat.
After eating this way for 5 weeks he was able to make a great impact on his metabolic health. He concludes by saying that intermittent fasting isn't about trying to live to 140, it's about trying to stay as healthy as you can for as long as you can, and that "I Genuinely believe if people were to take it up fasting it would radically transform the nation's health"
So in the end, in order to radically improve his health he converts to the Eat Stop Eat style of intermittent fasting with amazing results.
After 5 weeks Dr. Mosley was able to cut his IGF-1 levels in half, lowering his risk of getting more than 7 different types of cancer!
The diet Dr. Mosley followed was almost exactly Eat Stop Eat, with one small but important exception... With Eat Stop Eat you should also be doing some form of resistance training.
Remember the Eat Stop Eat lifestyle is the combination of Intermittent fasting and weight training, and I believe that the weight training is the missing part of this whole scenario, and is what keeps you LOOKING younger and FEELING younger physically.
So if I could make only one change to the show it would have been going from 'Eat fast and Live longer', to 'Eat, Fast, Weight Train, and Live longer.'
All in all it was a fantastic and well done documentary that did an excellent job explaining the many benefits of this style of eating, without the sensationalism that typically comes when people talk diet.
Well done Dr. Mosley.
PS - I should point out that Eat Stop Eat style fasting is the type Dr. Mosley settles on, but by no means does he (or do I) suggest that it is the only type of intermittent fasting, check around, use the type that works best for you.
UPDATE - 2013
It seems that Dr. Mosley has now written a book on his experience with the 5:2 diet named "The Fast Diet". This book recounts his experiences with the diet, and could be considered the written version of his documentary. I should point out that while similar, there are some BIG differences between "The Fast Diet" and Eat Stop Eat.
The Fast Diet is a recount of Dr. Mosley's personal experiences with Fasting, while Eat Stop Eat remains the go to Scientific reference on the topic of Intermittent Fasting. The Fast Diet now also includes a 500 to 600 Calorie 'Allowance' while you are fasting. While I have no doubt that you will lose weight following tihs protocol, I do have isues with calling it 'fasting'. While it may sound easier at first, I have found that 500 Calories over 36 hours to be more difficult than zero calories for 24 hours *However, I am biased in this regard.
Either way, I still thank Dr. Mosley for bringing a high level of exposure to Intermittent Fasting. If you are interested in the scientific explanation behind how Intermittent Fasting works, please check out the link below:
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Eat Stop Eat is (C) Strength Works, Inc. Ontario, Canada.