What’s hot in dieting: Intermittent fasting. In contrast to standard fasts, however, that usually involve drinking only juice or even sipping only water, the newest variation on fasting involves a 5:2 approach: Eat your normal diet five days a week, then cut your calorie intake dramatically two days a week, usually 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men. Think it sounds do-able? Read on to learn more.
First rule to remember: Talk with your physician about this approach. If you have certain conditions, such as diabetes, your physician may advise against intermittent fasting. So make sure that you have your personal health care provider’s approval before proceeding.
Second rule to remember: Focus on whole foods during your restricted calorie “fast” days. You want to choose foods that are low in calories, high in fibers and natural rather than processed products consisting of white flour and white sugar, which are higher in calories and result in energy spikes and drops that can accentuate your hunger.
For low-calorie foods and beverages for your restricted calorie “fasting days,” consider these options:
- Are you a coffee lover? Make sure to avoid adding empty calories to your morning beverage. Heading to that coffee house for a “treat” could result in using up all your calories on a sugar-laden, cream-heavy concoction! Instead, sip zero-calorie coffee flavored with zero-calorie, flavored stevia drops, such as vanilla crème Wisdom Natural SweetLeaf.
- Drink water…and drink more water. When it comes to hydration, it’s particularly important on those restricted calorie days. Jazz up that water, soothe your soul, and support healthy magnesium and calcium levels with Natural Vitality Natural Calm in flavors such as raspberry lemon.
- Choose your meals on those “fast” days carefully. Your goal: Get as much foods as possible for minimal calories. We’re talking about leafy green vegetables, cauliflower, mushrooms and tomatoes topped with a calorie-free dressing from Walden Farms to add flavor without fat or sugar. From Thousand Island to coleslaw dressing, Walden Farms can help you savor that salad without deducting from your calorie “allowance.”
- Include protein during your “fast” day to curb hunger. Those veggies will give you fiber, which helps, but protein is key. Try Mori-Nu Silken Tofu for just 50 calories a serving. It’s great steamed with lots of vegetables: Try zucchini, green beans, mushrooms, red cabbage and yellow summer squash for variety. Flavor it with herbs or try zero-calorie Bragg’s Amino Acids.
- Remember: Your fast days take place only two days a week. On the other five days, aim for healthy meals. We’ve got lots to choose from at Vitacost!
Joanne Eglash, Vitacost.com’s Diet Diva, has a master of science in holistic nutrition and more than 15 years experience as a nutrition consultant, blogger, author and journalist. She has written for a wide range of publications and websites, including ediets.com,Natural Health magazine, Shape magazine, Success magazine, Energy for Women and Chefs. Joanne is currently the national Diets columnist for the online news and entertainment site, Examiner.com, and a features food columnist for Yahoo.