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Intermittent fasting: The pros and cons behind the latest diet trend

Posted at 6:40 AM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-02 08:30:22-05

Fasting is one of the latest diet trends. It was one of the most googled diets in the United States last year. But does it work?

Intermittent fasting involves alternating periods of calorie restriction and normal eating. A study found mice who ate a high-fat diet around the clock developed fatty livers and diabetes. But those who ate the exact number of calories during eight hours were slimmer and healthier.

“Intermittent fasting reduces the inflammatory profile in the blood,” said Anne Haney Cross, MD, professor of neurology at Washington University in St. Louis.

Researchers believe it can help with weight loss and illnesses, such as arthritis, migraines, bowel diseases, and high blood pressure. It might also lower the risk of heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. But there are some downsides:

“it's hard. I've tried it myself,” Cross said.

One year-long study found those who fasted had higher cholesterol levels than those who didn’t. The bottom-line? While the jury may still be out, intermittent fasting is a diet that just might stick around.

There are a few different ways you can try intermittent fasting. With alternate day fasting, you fast every other day. The five: two plan involves eating normally for five days a week and limiting calories to 500 or less two days a week. And there's the time-restricted approach where you go 12 to 16 hours restricting food.