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Intermittent fasting causes rapid weight loss, has powerful anti-aging benefits

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Intermittent fasting is being hailed for its ability to promote rapid weight loss, protect the brain, and curb cellular aging.

Intermittent fasting has skyrocketed in popularity, thanks to the runaway success of The Fast Diet (also called the 5:2 diet), which calls for fasting (eating about 500 calories a day) for two days of the week and then eating whatever you want the other five days.

Another successful weight-loss program using intermittent fasting is The Every-Other-Day Diet, where dieters alternate between "fasting" one day and feasting the next day.

While most people may think dieters will overeat on their "feasting" days, Dr. Krista Varady, author of The Every-Other-Day Diet, said this rarely happens.

"The reason they lose weight is that something keeps people from really binging on that feed day,” Varady told the Atlantic Jan. 23. “Something changes in the body on the fasting days. We're not sure what. It may be hormone changes, or that the stomach shrinks."

Not only do most people lose weight quickly on intermittent fasting plans, but they say it's easier to stick to their diets.

"We're actually seeing that the people in the every-other-day group are losing more weight — about five to seven pounds more — because they're just able to stick to it longer," said Varady. "And they like it more. They like that they're always able to look forward to the next day when they can eat whatever they want."

Meanwhile, research by the National Institute on Aging indicates that intermittent fasting also improves brain functioning, helps maintain lean muscle mass, improves insulin sensitivity, and boosts the release of anti-aging hormones.

And, it helps you look great. Hugh Jackman followed a 16/8 intermittent fasting plan to achieve his rippling Wolverine body. Jackman said he does intermittent fasting even when he's not prepping for a film role because it has given him more energy and dramatically improved his sleep quality.

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