Although most of us couldn't live like that every day, the occasional mini-fast could have almost the same health benefits as fasting every day.
Occasional fasting, where a meal is skipped or you eat less one day, seems to raise the amount of SIRT 3 genes, which promote longevity and also protects cells, say researchers from the University of Florida.
The little-but-often approach to fasting seems to trigger small stress responses in the body, which build protective pathways and bolster the immune system. Intermittent fasting also lowers insulin levels, which could have an anti-diabetic effect as well.
To test the benefits of the mini-fast, the researchers recruited 24 adults, whose diets switched from eating just 25 per cent of their daily calories one day and then 75 per cent more than their daily intake the next. For the average male, this means eating 650 calories on the 'fast' day and then 4,550 calories on the 'feast' day.
(Source: Rejuvenation Research, 2014; 141229080855001; doi: 10.1089/rej.2014.1624)