ADVERTISING: Advertorial — DR. WENDY CUNNINGHAM: Four intermittent fasting methods

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Fasting can help you manage your weight, increase mental clarity and reduce your risk for disease, simply by changing when you eat. Fasting is one of the easiest dieting strategies out there because it does not involve reading labels or cooking differently. Whether you are just skipping a meal or limiting your eating to a few hours a day, small changes to the way you eat can have a big impact on the scale. Depending on your eating habits and health goals, you can find a style that fits your routine. Here are four of the most popular fasting diets.

1. The 16/8 Method involves fasting every day for 14 (women) to 16 (men) hours and restricting eating to an eight to 10-hour window (noon to 7 p.m. is popular). Within the eating window, you can fit in two or three normal calorie, healthy meals. You can drink water, coffee and other noncaloric beverages during the fast, which can help reduce feelings of hunger. Lower-carb diets with nutrient-dense foods can boost weight loss.

2. The 5:2 diet involves eating normally for five days of the week while restricting calories to 500-600 for two non-consecutive days out of the week. On fasting days, it’s recommended that women eat 500 calories and men eat 600 calories. Studies show that 5:2 fasting may lead to weight loss and improved insulin resistance compared to cutting calories alone. Focus on nutritious foods like green veggies and fish on non-fasting days and try not to overeat for best results.

3. Eat-Stop-Eat involves a 24-hour fast twice per week. By fasting from dinner one day to dinner the next day, this amounts to a full 24-hour fast. This fasting diet allows you to follow normal eating patterns most of the week. Water, coffee and other noncaloric beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid foods are permitted.

4. The 4:3, or Alternate day fasting, means fasting every other day. Fast every other day, eating whatever you want during non-fasting days. On fasting days, limit yourself to 500 calories. Many of the lab studies showing health benefits of intermittent fasting used some version of this method. With this method, you will be going to bed very hungry several times per week which makes it the most difficult one to stick with long term.

Finding the best fasting diet for you may take some experimenting, and these are not the only methods out there. The 16/8 method is an easy starting point because you are basically eating an early dinner and skipping breakfast. With any of the fasting diets, avoid blood sugar crashes during fasting periods by cutting back on carbs and filling up on good fats when you eat. Stay hydrated with increased water intake. When you break your fast, do it with healthy foods. Fill your plate with vegetables, quality fats and pasture-raised meat to maximize your nutrient intake. You cannot binge on junk foods during the eating periods and expect to lose weight and improve your health.

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. If you have any medical conditions or special dietary requirements, consult your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.

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For more information, contact Dr. Wendy Cunningham at haydenhealth@gmail.com.

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