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Fasting IS good for you… but don’t copy Rishi Sunak! Scientists discover that the health benefits of starving yourself only occur after three days

Fasting like Rishi Sunak can have several health benefits, scientists have confirmed – but only if you do it for at least three days in a row.

New findings show that long-term fasting burns off unhealthy fat – while keeping weight off – and gives several organs, including the brain, a ‘significant’ boost.

But researchers from Queen Mary University of London found that the benefits only occur after at least 72 hours without food.

It means the Prime Minister – who drinks only water, tea or black coffee from 5pm on Sunday to 5am on Tuesday – may not benefit from his weekly 36-hour fast.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London found that the benefits only occur after at least 72 hours without food. It means the Prime Minister – who drinks only water, tea or black coffee from 5pm on Sunday to 5am on Tuesday – may not benefit from his weekly 36-hour fast

Many celebrities have also touted the benefits of intermittent fasting, including Hugh Jackman (pictured in February 2023).  The study found that protein levels in various organs change after about three days of fasting, indicating that the entire body is responding to fasting.

Many celebrities have also touted the benefits of intermittent fasting, including Hugh Jackman (pictured in February 2023). The study found that protein levels in various organs change after about three days of fasting, indicating that the entire body is responding to fasting.

Many celebrities have also touted the benefits of intermittent fasting, including Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Mark Wahlberg, Chris Hemsworth and Kourtney Kardashian.

Professor Claudia Langenberg said: ‘Fasting, when done safely, is an effective weight loss intervention. Popular diets that include fasting claim to have health benefits beyond just weight loss.

‘Our results provide evidence for the health benefits of fasting in addition to weight loss, but these were only apparent after three days of total calorie restriction – later than we previously thought.

‘For the first time we can see what happens at the molecular level throughout the body when we fast.’

The study found that protein levels in various organs change after about three days of fasting, indicating that the entire body is responding to the fasting.

These proteins, including those that provide the support structure for neurons in the brain, help organs function more effectively.

These proteins, including those that provide the support structure for neurons in the brain, help organs function more effectively.  Pictured Kourtney Kardashian in 2019. The eldest Kardashian sibling has previously touted the benefits of intermittent fasting

These proteins, including those that provide the support structure for neurons in the brain, help organs function more effectively. Pictured Kourtney Kardashian in 2019. The eldest Kardashian sibling has previously touted the benefits of intermittent fasting

The study subjects, who fasted for seven days straight, lost an average of 5.7 kg.  The weight stayed off even three days after the fast ended.  Fasting is practiced by millions of people around the world for a variety of medical and cultural purposes, including health benefits and weight loss.  The Prime Minister's mother-in-law (pictured on Wednesday), Sudha Murty, also revealed last year that her family has long been fasting every Thursday

The study subjects, who fasted for seven days straight, lost an average of 5.7 kg. The weight stayed off even three days after the fast ended. Fasting is practiced by millions of people around the world for a variety of medical and cultural purposes, including health benefits and weight loss. The Prime Minister’s mother-in-law (pictured on Wednesday), Sudha Murty, also revealed last year that her family has long been fasting every Thursday

The body also changes the source and type of energy, switching from glucose calories coming from food to its own fat stores.

The study subjects, who fasted for seven days straight, lost an average of 5.7 kg. The weight stayed off even three days after the fast ended.

Fasting is practiced by millions of people around the world for a variety of medical and cultural purposes, including health benefits and weight loss.

Historically, fasting was used to treat diseases such as epilepsy and rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers said the protein changes may explain why it had a positive effect on this and other conditions.

They hope that their findings will lead to new treatments for people who cannot fast for long periods of time.

Dr. Maik Pietzner said: ‘While fasting can be beneficial for treating certain conditions, fasting will often not be an option for patients suffering from poor health. We hope these findings can be used to develop treatments that patients can benefit from.”

WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, preferably whole grains, according to the NHS

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, preferably whole grains, according to the NHS

• Eat at least 5 portions of varied fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables count

• Basic meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, preferably whole wheat

• 30 grams of fiber per day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of whole wheat bread and large baked potato with skin on

• Provide some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks), opting for lower fat and lower sugar options

• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish per week, one portion of which is fatty)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume them in small quantities

• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water per day

• Adults should have less than 6 g of salt and 20 g of saturated fat for women or 30 g for men per day

Source: NHS Eatwell guide