New diet books are a dime a dozen, but one that has been making major waves as of late is The FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting ($14.39). A big hit in the UK, the book recently came to the US and has already been lauded by readers and doctors. I’m not a fan of extreme diets because from experience – and from what I’ve seen firsthand with countless friends – it leads to nothing besides binging, but given that this book was written by a doctor I was intrigued. The premise of the diet is intermittent fasting. Five days out of the week you eat whatever you want and for two non consecutive days you are restricted to 500 calories if you’re a woman or 600 calories if you’re a man.
A number of studies have shown that intermittent fasting can have a slew of benefits including reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and delaying aging. Diet-wise when you cut your calories the body goes into survival mode and cools down on fat storage while turning up mechanisms responsible for fat burning. The problem is if you do this too long you risk putting your body in starvation mode, which will have the opposite effect. You also risk stressing your body and a stressed body tends to crave the very foods you’re likely trying to avoid. While this might work in the short-term any diet that involves extreme calorie restriction with or without binging isn’t the best idea. Plus am I the only one who becomes a raging bitch when she binges and when she’s starving!?
I try to eat as healthfully as possible, but sometimes you fall off the wagon (it happens, we have to stop beating ourselves up about it!!). I went to Vegas for four days recently and on every one of those days I ate an absurd amount of food (on one of those days my friend and I ate over $600 in fact at Chef Masa Takayama’s restaurant Tetsu..oy!). Instead of beating myself up about it however I just vowed to eat nothing but fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts and bread (I need the carbs because I run every day), for a week when I got back. Of course that didn’t work out flawlessly and some sweets made it in, but we can’t always be perfect and as long as it’s in moderation…
All that said the book does have some very interesting research, case studies, and recipes in it that make it worth checking out. Next month they’ll also be launching a cookbook with low calorie meals so while I won’t be surviving on 500 calories a day anytime soon I’m all for adding some of their 500 calorie recipes into my diet!