By Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

Most fad diets are bad diets. They travel through a revolving door of health trends, making it hard to determine which diets are viable health options and which will take you back to square one. One of the newest diets to appear on the British health scene is the Fast Diet. The diet is generating a lot of praise, but is it really the answer to our weight-loss woes? Let’s take a look at the methodology behind this diet, and see whether it is truly a healthy option.

The Fast Diet, Explained

fast diet review: fad or healthy option?The Brits are shaking up their metabolisms and shedding pounds thanks to a controversial technique: weekly fasting. The plan is simple. Dieters eat normal meals five days per week and consume only 25 percent of a normal adult’s daily caloric intake the other two fast days, which means 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men.

This fasting diet seems easy — too easy. Imagine eating whatever you want five days per week and having small, sensible meals on the other two days. Where’s the “no pain, no gain” concept of dieting? The funny thing is that the “fasting” part of the diet isn’t truly fasting. You actually get good, healthy meals on the fast days — so it really is that easy.

The Key to the Fast Diet’s Success

The success behind the Fast Diet is pretty basic: Fasting is like a weekly “cleanse” of our bodily systems. It’s kind of like pushing the “reset” button on your computer when it gets sluggish; in this case, it is done to our metabolisms.

Fasting cleanses our bodily systems because we produce less insulin on the days we consume fewer calories. Insulin is the primary hormone for increasing weight (thyroid and cortisol are secondary). Insulin is released whenever we eat, especially when we consume carbohydrates such as sugar and starch. Therefore, producing less insulin on a weekly basis causes our bodies to store less fat.

Fast Diet Controversy and Risks

Despite the Fast Diet’s impressive results, it is still generating controversy. Nutrition education has primarily focused on calories. It has been hypothesized that fasting may cause an irregular heartbeat or low blood sugar. Because of this, most health educators have considered fasting diets to be dangerous.

However, years of experience and multiple research studies have failed to find any reason that healthy people should not fast. The research surrounding the Fast Diet, tested on everything from worms to monkeys, indicates that periodic fasting is good for the body.

fast diet cleanseIf this diet is carried out correctly, there are no potential risks. The risks appear when fad dieters eat unapproved foods on the fast days or overindulge on the other days. Those who adhere to the Fast Diet find that they are less hungry on the normal eating days. When people eat less on those days, the stomach then decreases in size and weight loss can be achieved.

Is the Fast Diet Right for Everyone?

One reason there are thousands of diet books is because people have different needs, body types, and lifestyles. The Fast Diet may not be right for everyone, but research seems to indicate that the actual diet someone chooses is less important than her ability to stick with it. Those who “go off” their diet lose any benefits initially gained.

Every diet has its shortcomings, but the Fast Diet seems to be sensible. The fasting diet doesn’t require special foods, pills, or calorie calculating. For the right person, it could be an easy diet to stick to for a lifetime. The important thing is to decide whether the fasting diet fits your lifestyle. Among the thousands of fad diets, the Fast Diet doesn’t appear to be one of the bad diets, and it may be worth a try.

Do you think you can be full on 500 or 600 calories? Is the Fast Diet too boring and restrictive to try?

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Dr. Scott Saunders, Home Cures That WorkDr. Scott Saunders is the Health and Nutrition Advisor of Barton Publishing, a company that promotes natural health through teaching people how to cure themselves using alternative home remedies instead of expensive and harmful prescription drugs. Saunders is the director of The Integrative Medicine Center of Santa Barbara, which balances conventional medicine with alternative healing modalities to achieve optimal wellness.