'Warrior' diet could be key to losing weight

By Jeremy Laurance

Just when you thought there could be nothing left to write about dieting, a new 'regime' which lets you gorge once a day - but fast the rest of the time - is being promoted.

Scientists are studying whether eating one big meal instead of the "three square" tradition or "grazing" throughout the day can help people lose weight and become healthier.

A study is now under way at the National Institute of Aging, in Washington of groups being fed identical diets of ordinary Americans - burgers, icecream and so on - with one group eating in three sittings and the other getting their fill in one.

Researcher Dr Mark Mattson said it was only recently, in evolutionary terms, that humans had eaten three meals a day - in fact our ancestors were fortunate to eat every day.

From an evolutionary point of view, our bodies are accustomed to feasting and fasting rather than "grazing". Three or more meals a day may be good for children, but not adults.

The idea was popularised in America in the Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler, in 2002.

Its website (see link below) proclaims: "Scientists speculate that humans survive better during cycles of feast and famine. The current epidemic of obesity, diabetes and impotence bears testimony."

Many religions practise fasting and blood samples taken from Muslims before, during and after Ramadan show that skipping meals reduces cholesterol.

But some experts are sceptical. Professor Andrew Prentice of the Medical Research Council said: "Metabolically, nibbling is good. It reduces insulin required to dispose of glucose, which imposes a lesser load on the pancreas, and improves blood fat content."

Mattson's results will be available by the end of the year, but anecdotal evidence suggests that it is an effective way to lose weight. "I have had 40 or 50 emails from people who eat one meal a day or fast every other day.

"Most say it was uncomfortable at first, but then they have felt great. Some lost a lot of weight."

- INDEPENDENT

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