Fasting Diet Plans – The Real Deal or Just Another Fad?

It seems that as long as people continue to gain weight and struggle to lose it, each year will bring along with it a new and revolutionary way to lose weight. Each one of these brings along with it a certain amount of controversy as well. How many times have we heard the advantages verses the disadvantages of a certain method of losing weight?

There is a method of losing weight that is taking the world by storm as it gains popularity, particularly in Britain. People are losing weight rapidly by going on fasting diet plans. One female advocate of the diet plan lost as much as thirty-six pounds in seven months.

What is Fasting?

It is hardly anything new. People have been fasting over centuries of time, mostly for religious or ritualistic purposes. It’s likely you fast every day just as many people do. Technically, a fast is a period of time lasting about 8-12 hours during which time a person abstains from food or drink. We all break this fast in the morning; hence the name for our morning meal is “breakfast”.

What about Fasting Diet Plans?

These are based on the same basic principles, except that usually you are fasting during the day. These fasts generally do not exclude all food and drink, however. They merely limit the amount of calories you take in during a specific time period. Also known as ‘Intermittent fasting’  or ‘Alternate Day Fasting’, there are many varieties of this type of plan that have been developed.

One of the reasons these diet plans are so popular is that they only require you to fast for two non consecutive days a week. Then you can eat whatever you want to eat the other five days of the week. During these two days of fasting, you significantly decrease your calorie intake to 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men.

The diet was popularised by medical journalist Dr Michael Mosley, in which he featured in BBC2 Horizon documentary where he ate normally for 5 days a week and only consumed 600 calories the other two days — and has since become known as the 5:2 diet or The Fast Diet.

Dr Mosley has also co-writtten The Fast Diet book with journalist Mimi Spencer which has gone on to become a bestseller.

A string of celebrities have been rumoured to follow the fast diet, including model Miranda Kerr, Beyonce, Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck and Christy Turlington amongst many others.

Why are Fasting Diet Plans so Popular?

Many people are more likely to stick to a diet plan if they are allowed some freedom to eat however they want at least some part of the week. However, one of the reasons that fasting diet plans work is that instead of binging on high calorie foods on the free days, many people find themselves eating healthier and not as many calories as they formerly did.

One of the reasons many people find it very hard to lose weight is due to a stale metabolism. Fasting for a period of time can jump-start, trick, or even reset your metabolism in many cases.

Sometimes, we mistake feelings like boredom for hunger and we end up eating more than we should. Fasting for a time can help you to better understand your body’s signals for hunger so that you respond by eating only when you are actually hungry.

Different Ways to Fast

One of the strategies for tricking the metabolism is to stagger the fast days on two days such as Monday and Thursday. The days are evenly spaced so that the fasts are not too shocking on your mentality. Nearly anyone can withstand abstention from calories as long as they know that tomorrow is another “free day” when they can again have the liberty to eat more food if they so desire.

It is suggested that on your fast days, you choose to eat healthy fruits and vegetables. Some have found it helpful to eat vegetable soups on these days. Vegetables such as bell pepper and celery do not have any calories and are actually known for burning calories, so you might like to keep plenty of these on hand to snack on.

Another version of the diet is to fast for a portion of every day. For example, you can eat whatever you want all day, but then not eat anything at all from 5 PM to 9 AM. This option is appealing since for most of this time we are sleeping and fasting anyway.

Are There Any Side effects to Fasting?

You may think that going without food would put you in a bad mood, but some studies have shown that fasting diets can actually improve your overall feeling of well-being. This is because when you fast, your brain starts producing a protein that makes you feel happier and makes you smarter.

As was mentioned in the outset, however, there is always controversy attached with any popular weight loss method and fasting diet plans are no exception. Some doctors fear that people will not get the sufficient nutrients and vitamins they need on their fast days.

They are also concerned that people with less willpower will overdue it on their free days and gorge themselves on unhealthy foods so much so, that they will undo the benefits of the fasting.

Because of these concerns, these diets are not recommended for diabetics, pregnant women, those under 20 years of age, the under-weight, or those with eating disorders. It is also always recommendable to consult your physician before starting any diet. If you are a generally healthy person, though, you should be able to try out this popular method of losing weight.

Have you tried a fasting diet plan? What were your results? Do you think it is just a fad or here to stay? I welcome your comments below….

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