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What if, instead of cutting down on calories and restricting the types of food we eat to lose weight, we didn’t eat at all for a period of time: Is fasting the answer?
Credible sources are starting to support something called “intermittent fasting” as an effective and safe weight-loss tool. In a recent column in the Globe and Mail, nutritionist and author Leslie Beck outlined three forms of fasting, which appear to help dieters shed pounds.
"Intermittent fasting is an alternative to constant calorie restriction," Beck writes. "It allows you to eat normally on certain days and then fast (water and low-calorie drinks are permitted) or drastically cut your calorie intake on other days."
Here are the most popular forms of fasting:
The 5:2 diet
Beck says this diet lets you eat normally five days of the week and then you fast on the remaining two days (consuming no more than 500 to 600 calories on fasting days).
Pick your day(s)
You eat 500 to 600 calories every other day, every third day or once a week.
You fast for 16 hours of the day and eat only during an eight-hour window. "For instance, you might skip breakfast, eat lunch at noon and then finish eating dinner by 8 p.m. During the fasting period, water is allowed," Beck writes.
A growing body of research is finding that these styles of fasting can assist in lowering blood pressure, help the body regulate blood sugar and reduce inflammation and other physical symptoms.
In one study Beck cites, a group of overweight women either cut calories by 25 percent daily or adopted the 5:2 diet. After three months, the 5:2 group had lost more body fat than those on a more conventional diet.
It should be noted that teens, pregnant women and those with medical conditions like diabetes shouldn’t fast. For those would like to try fasting, it’s important to remember to eat healthful foods when it’s time to eat. And, of course, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new diet.
Read on for more on diet trends and a six-week slim-down.