How Intermittent Fasting Works to Blast Off Blubber

7211-eat6Intermittent fasting is becoming increasingly popular. What is it? One version is a two-days-a-week diet. Twice a week you eat only 600 calories a day, and according to many, the bodyfat just falls off without much effort.

In the September ’13 Health, Dr. Michael Mosley, a science journalist and author of the new book The Fast Diet, says that intermittent fasting helps people shed weight and also reduces their risk of heart disease and diabetes. He speaks from experience:

“After three months, I had lost 19 pounds (down from 187 to 168), and my bodyfat had dropped from 28 to 21 percent. I lost three inches around my waist and stopped snoring. Even better, my diabetes and heart disease risks, as indicated by blood tests, improved in spectacular fashion. My wife, Clare, who is also a doctor, was impressed.”

So how do you eat on “fast days”? You can eat all of your calories at one sitting—500 for women, 600 for men—split them between breakfast and dinner or even have three small meals. If you’re concerned about keeping muscle, the three meals a day will probably be best, emphasizing protein and high-fiber, low-glycemic carbs. The best days for most people will be Monday, after a “cheat” day or days on the weekend, and Thursday or Friday.

Will you lose muscle on the fasting days? Good question. Six hundred calories isn’t much, but it’s just for one day, not consecutive days. And will you be able to tolerate a workout on the low-calorie days? Another good question. Most of those in the bodybuilding industry who do intermittent fasting—and there are a few—say no. You may have to try it to determine how it affects you.

—Steve Holman

 

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