Every so often a diet will gain mainstream attention when a celebrity announces their ‘stunning’ weight loss and improved health from just days of dieting. While tabloid-oriented stories such as these don’t always tell the full story, every so often a diet will impress not just anecdotally, but also scientifically, and that’s when a fuller story starts to develop.

This week, American actor and former NFL star Terry Crews spoke about his success with intermittent fasting (IF), which he says has been pivotal to helping him keep in shape (and he’s quite a muscular man).

Intermittent fasting isn’t exactly new. In fact, the 5:2 diet, which has shown some benefits for people with type 2 diabetes, has been around for years.

But new research is showing other forms of IF can yield significant benefits:

  • In February, the University of Southern California (USC) reported that a ketogenic fasting-type diet can improve risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including reduced total cholesterol
  • One week later, USC showed that a fasting-mimicking diet helps repair insulin-producing cells in the pancreas of mice models of type 1 and insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes

These health gains regarding diabetes research make IF diets an extremely intriguing treatment prospect. Crews, who doesn’t have diabetes, is convinced that it is because of his IF diet that he now feels better than has in decades.

Crews has been following an IF diet for five years. He doesn’t fast for medical reasons, simply to remain in good shape.

He told Business Insider: “I work out very early in the morning, but then I don’t eat. My first meal is at 2pm. And then I eat from 2 to 10pm.

“Over the last five years it’s really kept me in great, great shape. They found, scientifically, there’s a thing called autophagy [which is] when the cells in your body are rebuilding themselves. It’s one of those things where you go without food and it really strengthens your cells.

“The cells are trying to rebuild, and it’s a wonderful thing. It’s kind of like renewed. Once it’s done digesting, the body’s done working with food and it starts to work on other cells in the body.”

Intermittent fasting and diabetes

Of course, IF diets are not something to consider on a whim. Fasting requires careful diabetes management, particularly if you take medication, which necessitates consultation with your doctor before beginning the diet.

Knowing which foods to eat is especially important – you can learn more about healthy eating from our Low Carb Program – because, as Crews explains, fasting can be hard if you end up with cravings or struggle to enjoy the food you eat.

“The problem with intermittent fasting is that you never want to have a bad meal,” he said. “Because you’re like, ‘I waited all day, 16 hours for this?’”

Despite the challenges, Crews wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I can feel the difference. I [compare] pictures of myself now versus pictures of myself at 22 years old and I look and feel much better right now.”

While celebrity diet endorsements should often be taken with a pinch of salt (so to speak), intermittent fasting is making just as powerful a splash within the scientific community as the gossip columns.

For this reason the IF diet could be one of the most exciting health developments of 2017, particularly within diabetes research.

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