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'Fast one day and binge-eat the next to shed kilos'

Last updated on: August 31, 2012 12:44 IST

You might want to try the latest craze of 'alternate-day dieting' to shed flab!

This new trend involves eating to your heart's content one day and literally starving on the next. It's known as 'intermittent fasting' or 'alternate-day dieting' and fans claim the pounds just drop off.

The diet soared in popularity after featuring in a BBC2 Horizon documentary a few weeks ago by health journalist Dr Michael Mosley, the Daily Mail reported.

After a month of eating normally five days a week and eating just 600 calories the other two days -- known as the 5/2 diet -- Mosley lost nearly a stone, reduced his body fat by about 25 per cent and improved his blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Scientific data seems to show that as well as helping to shift pounds, this alternate-day dieting can help you live longer and reduce the risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and even Alzheimer's.

Now a book on the subject, The Alternate Day Diet, is on Amazon's list of best-selling diet books, while on Internet forums, fans of the plan are swapping tips for the best low-calorie meals for fast days.

'Fast one day and binge-eat the next to shed kilos'

Last updated on: August 31, 2012 12:44 IST

Some nutritionists believe that those on the alternate day diet could end up over-indulging on 'feast' days, and actually put on weight.

But Dr Krista Varady of the University of Illinois in Chicago, one of the scientists involved in research into intermittent fasting, insists that this doesn't happen.

"Our studies show that people end up losing weight because they can't fully make up for the lack of food on the fast day on the feed day. And people in our studies didn't binge. They only ate about 100 per cent to 110 per cent of their calorie needs," Varady was quoted as saying by the paper.

However, the craze has drawn criticism from nutritionists who believe that any weight loss on the diet would not be sustainable -- and claim that it could even trigger eating disorders.

"The idea that you have a very restricted diet on your fast days and can eat whatever you like on your feed days isn't something I'm very comfortable with," Zoe Harcombe, author of The Obesity Epidemic, said.

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