Announcements

Updates on campus events, policies, construction and more.

close  

Information for Our Community

Whether you are part of our community or are interested in joining us, we welcome you to Washington University School of Medicine.

close  


Listen to more BioMed Radio episodes

Fasting diet study

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are recruiting volunteers for a study to determine whether fasting from food a few days per week provides some of the same health benefits as severely limiting calories every day of the week. Rather than cutting calorie intake by 25-30 percent at every meal like practitioners of calorie restriction, participants in the new study will be asked to fast for two or three days each week for at least six months.

For more information, call 314-362-2399. or e-mail sjamalab@dom.wustl.edu.

MANY PEOPLE RESOLVE TO LOSE A FEW POUNDS AT THE START OF A NEW YEAR, AND WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY RESEARCHERS MAY BE ABLE TO HELP SOME OF THEM. THE RESEARCHERS ARE RECRUITING VOLUNTEERS FOR A STUDY DESIGNED TO LEARN WHETHER FASTING A FEW DAYS EACH WEEK MIGHT PROVIDE SOME OF THE SAME HEALTH AND LONGEVITY BENEFITS AS SEVERELY LIMITING CALORIES EVERY DAY. JIM DRYDEN REPORTS…

FOR MANY YEARS, STUDIES OF LABORATORY ANIMALS HAVE SHOWN THAT SHARPLY CURTAILING CALORIES, WHILE STILL PROVIDING ADEQUATE NUTRITION, CAN KEEP THE ANIMALS HEALTHY AND EXTEND THEIR LIFESPANS. STUDIES OF HUMANS WHO PRACTICE CALORIE RESTRICTION ALSO SUGGEST THAT MANY PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH AGING — FROM DIABETES AND HEART DISEASE TO INFLAMMATION AND EVEN SOME TYPES OF CANCER — MAY BE AFFECTED BY EATING SUBSTANTIALLY LESS FOOD. BUT WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY RESEARCHER LUIGI FONTANA SAYS, IT’S REALLY HARD FOR PEOPLE TO LIVE THAT WAY.

(act) :19 o/c of compliance

The problem is, you know, that people, they don’t want to do it.

It’s very difficult. It requires, you know, controlling every single

meal. We think that, you know, fasting two to three times a week,

depending on the initial body weight of the participant, is going to

be easier in terms of compliance.

LAST YEAR, A BRITISH PHYSICIAN AND JOURNALIST WROTE A BEST-SELLING BOOK AND PRODUCED A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE 5-2 DIET, WHICH CALLS FOR FASTING TWO DAYS A WEEK, AND EATING NORMALLY ON THE OTHER FIVE. FONTANA SAYS FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE STUDY, THE PEOPLE WHO FAST TWO DAYS PER WEEK WILL STILL BE ABLE TO SIT DOWN WITH THEIR FAMILIES AND EAT A LITTLE BIT, PERHAPS NOSHING ON SOMETHING LIKE A BIG SALAD WITH A LITTLE BIT OF OLIVE OIL.

(act) :15 o/c starchy vegetables

They can eat cooked, or raw, vegetables as much as they want,

with no bread, no protein. And the vegetables are not starchy

vegetables, so we are talking about green vegetables, not potatoes

or the starchy vegetables.

MEN AND WOMEN IN THE STUDY WILL EITHER BE ASKED TO CONTINUE EATING AS THEY HAVE BEEN FOR THE NEXT SIX MONTHS, OR THEY WILL BE ASKED TO FAST FOR EITHER TWO DAYS PER WEEK OR, FOR THOSE WITH BODY MASS INDEXES CONSIDERED OBESE, THREE DAYS PER WEEK. FONTANA SAYS AFTER THE FIRST SIX MONTHS OF THE STUDY, ALL OF THE STUDY VOLUNTEERS WILL BE ASKED TO FAST A COUPLE OF DAYS EACH WEEK. AND HE SAYS EVEN IF PARTICIPANTS DON’T EXACTLY EAT HEALTHY ON THE DAYS WHEN THEY ARE ALLOWED TO EAT, REGULAR FASTING SHOULD HELP THEM LOSE WEIGHT. AFTER ALL, HE SAYS, IF AN AVERAGE MAN CONSUMES AT LEAST 2,500 CALORIES PER DAY, FASTING TWICE EACH WEEK WOULD MEAN THAT PERSON WOULD BE LOWERING CALORIC INTAKE BY AT LEAST 5,000 CALORIES.

(act) :13 o/c do it

To eat 5,000 calories you have to work hard, so there is

no point, you know, if you fast one day, and then the other

day, you know, you overeat 2500 calories. There is no point

to do it.

BUT HE SAYS ALTHOUGH IT WON’T BE A REQUIREMENT FOR PEOPLE TO EAT HEALTHY FOOD, THEY WILL MEET WITH DIETITIANS WHO WILL ATTEMPT TO TEACH THEM TO EAT BETTER, MORE NUTRITIOUS FOODS.

(act) :16 o/c junk food

But it’s not mandatory. It just, you know, a good suggestion

to try on the non-fasting days to eat a bit better in quality,

without controlling calories: more fruits and vegetables,

whole grains and cereals, and reduce, you know, junk food.

FONTANA SAYS THE TEAM WILL MONITOR WEIGHT LOSS AMONG STUDY PARTICIPANTS AS THE MONTHS PASS, BUT HE SAYS THE RESEARCHERS ARE LESS CONCERNED WITH HELPING PEOPLE LOSE A FEW POUNDS THAN WITH THE RELATIONSHIP OF INTERMITTENT FASTING TO SOME OF THE BIOLOGICAL CHANGES CONNECTED TO AGING AND LONGEVITY. I’M JIM DRYDEN…

RUNS 3:00