A type of fasting known as intermittent fasting has been generating buzz as data starts to back up potential benefits beyond just weight loss. The most popular way to do it involves reducing calorie intake for two days each week. On fasting days, you eat two meals of about 500 calories each. On nonfasting days, you still follow a healthy diet (no junk food), but you don’t have to restrict calories.
Most recently, a study in the journal Cell Metabolism showed that the practice may decrease risk factors for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. But it’s important to note that this type of fasting is not starving yourself. Instead, it’s cutting way back on calories for short time periods, which may diminish hunger and cravings over time.
Before you try it, check in with your doctor to make sure you have no health concerns that would prevent you from fasting. People with a history of eating disorders, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, children and people recovering from surgery should steer clear.
And, real food such as eggs, tomato-based soups, hummus, whole-wheat crackers and good fats like avocado should be your staples on both fasting and nonfasting days.
Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, is wellness manager for the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.