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Diet expert tests tapeworms: Why intermittent fasting wins for safe weight loss

Can swallowing a tapeworm make you lose weight?
Can swallowing a tapeworm make you lose weight?
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Each week, dieters around the world spend money on products labeled "weight loss miracles." Now a diet expert has tested one of the most ancient remedies - tapeworms - by swallowing those claims (and the product) himself, reported First to Know on Feb. 1.

BBC science presenter and producer Michael Mosley, who also trained as a doctor, took on the project of eating parasites to help physicians examine their effects. He subjected himself to the project in the name of science, and all of it will be broadcast on BBC4 in the documentary "Infested! Life with Parasites."

If Mosley's name sounds familiar, there's a reason: He's also one of the pioneers of the intermittent fasting diet, which he also tried on himself. In that case, the weight loss plan worked, and Mosley documented the results in a book "The FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting" (click for details).

But although Mosley lost weight successfully on the fasting plan, he actually gained two pounds during his experience as a tapeworm experiment human guinea pig.

"I was keeping a food diary to see if my food preferences changed. I think I probably ate a bit more chocolate. Tapeworms like beer and chocolate - they like carbohydrates. My weight if anything went up a bit. One of the theories is that the tapeworm probably encourages you to eat more. You feed it," he theorized in an interview with Yahoo TV UK.

We talked with Mosley in an exclusive interview on Feb. 3 to get more insights on the intermittent fasting plan that he originated.

He became intrigued by the concept when a routine visit to the doctor revealed that he was diabetic with high cholesterol.

"My father died at the age of 72 from diabetes-related illnesses, so I was worried," recalls Mosley.

So instead of medication, Mosley researched his options and decided to try intermittent fasting. The results were phenomenal: In eight weeks, he lost 20 pounds of fat and achieved normal blood glucose levels.

How it works: Two days a week, you reduce your calorie intake:

  • For men, the calorie total is 600 calories on those two days.
  • For women, the total is 500 calories on those two days.

"On the other days you eat as normal, though it will work better if you exercise restraint. One thing that happens is you stomach shrinks as a result of the fasting days, so people tend to eat less overall," explained Michael in our interview.

To make it easier on the restricted-calorie days, Michael recommends eating more protein.

"I eat eggs for breakfast, rather than cereal or toast, and I eat handfuls of nuts rather than chocolate bars," he says. He also has contributed to a cookbook to make the fasting days easier: "The FastDiet Cookbook: 150 Delicious, Calorie-Controlled Meals to Make Your Fasting Days Easy" (click for details).

A sample fasting day for Michael:

  • Breakfast: Two eggs with ham for breakfast.
  • Lots of water, tea and coffee (no milk or sugar).
  • Dinner: A large plate of vegetables and small serving of steak.

In addition to weight loss, "people report sharp falls in the blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels," says Michael.

A current study is following 5,000 dieters on the plan. They've each lost an average of eight pounds in their first month, Michael revealed during our interview.

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