New diet says it's not what you eat but how often - San Diego, California Talk Radio Station - AM 760 KFMB

New diet says it's not what you eat but how often

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8 ) - The latest diet craze to hit the health world is called "intermittent fasting" -- when you give your body a break from food during certain hours of the day or certain days of the week.

Is it just the latest fad diet or could it be the key to combating obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes?

There are many forms of intermittent fasting and one popular method is to only eat during an eight hour window of the day -- say from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. -- then you eat nothing else for 16 hours.

So what's the benefit?

The research that supports this way of eating is pretty compelling and for the first time, a local scientist shares an exclusive photo with News 8 of the dramatic results.

Dr. Satchin Panda, researcher at the Salk Institute in La Jolla is talking about his 20 week study on intermittent fasting.

He took two groups of healthy mice and fed them the same high fat diet. One group had access to food around the clock, while mice in the other group were only allowed to eat eight hours a day.

Watch the video above and take a look at what happened.

The mouse on your left is the one that snacked all hours of the day and night, while the mouse on the right, restricted to eating for eight hours a day, stayed trim and healthy.

And here's the kicker -- both mice consumed about the same amount of calories.

Doctor Panda believes our bodies were designed to function with a much-needed break from eating. When you continue to eat late into the night, your body never gets the chance to tap into your stored fat and burn those calories.

"What we found is... Just like our brain has a clock that tells us how to sleep and wake up... Almost every part of our body has a clock."

Dr. Panda is cautiously optimistic, a scientific study on people is still in the works but if intermittent fasting is proven to work, he believes it could be the key to combating obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes.

"We have become obsessed with counting calories and counting steps... But now, if this translates to human, then it becomes much easier, because you have to just remember how many hours you eat," he said.

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