Tag Archives: Diet and exercise

In a 24/7 food culture, periodic fasting gains followers


On low-carb diets, meat and cheese are OK.

On low-fat diets, fruit and oatmeal are fine.

With the latest diet trend, no foods at all are allowed for long stretches of time.

A diet that forbids eating for hours on end might seem doomed in a culture where food is constantly available, but apps and Facebook groups are popping up for people practicing “intermittent fasting.”

Bri Wyatt, a 32-year-old Tennessee resident, tried it this summer.

“At first I was like, there’s no way,” she said.

But after reading more about it, she thought it might not be that hard. She started by skipping breakfast and night-time snacks, and later moved on to a 60-day challenge of fasting every other day.

Melissa Breaux Bankston, a Crossfit instructor in New Orleans, Louisiana, also tried intermittent fasting as a way to curb her snacking. “I wanted to limit the amount of time that I was eating,” she said.

Studies on the potential health benefits of intermittent fasting are still limited, including for its effectiveness with weight loss. But heading into the new year, you may be wondering whether it could help you get in better shape.


Like other diets, intermittent fasting helps you lose weight by setting boundaries around food. But instead of limiting what you eat, it restricts when you eat.

“It’s really another way of fooling your body into eating less calories,” said Krista Varady, who studies intermittent fasting at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Proponents say intermittent fasting helps with weight loss in other ways. For instance, they say it forces your body to start burning its own fat for fuel after depleting the energy it normally gets from food. But any effects would depend on the specific approach you take, and Varady said there isn’t strong evidence yet that intermittent fasting has any unique effects compared with other diets.

Regardless, people should consult their doctor before trying it. It’s not advised for children, people on certain medications and people with a history of eating disorders.


One of the more popular approaches to intermittent fasting is to limit eating to an 8-hour window and to fast during the day’s other 16 hours. This is called time-restricted feeding and isn’t as difficult as some other approaches, since the fasting period can include the time you’re asleep.

Many people tailor the eating window to be shorter or longer. Some eat just one meal a day, while others fast entire days a couple times a week. On fasting days, people may allow themselves around 600 calories if needed. But Dr. Jason Fung, who has written books on intermittent fasting, says skipping food altogether might actually be easier, since eating small amounts could stimulate appetite.

Whatever the method, people aren’t supposed to gorge when they stop fasting. Fung says it’s a myth that fasting leaves you famished.

Sumaya Kazi, who posts about her intermittent fasting online and offers coaching services on the diet, says it seems more difficult than it is partly because overeating has become the norm. “Intermittent fasting is more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge,” she says.

But people react differently to diets, and fasting may be a lot harder for some than for others, says Dr. Fatima Stanford, a Harvard Medical School obesity specialist.

“There’s no one size fits all,” she said.


Obesity experts have become interested in intermittent fasting, but studies on the diet are still emerging. For now, limited research suggests it may not be any better for weight loss than conventional calorie-cutting over the long term.

“Unfortunately, intermittent fasting gets a little hyped,” said Courtney Peterson, who studies the diet at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Still, some fasting approaches may be more effective than others. And Peterson notes the difficulty of designing studies that definitively capture a diet’s effects. That’s in part because so many other variables could be at play.

For instance, researchers are looking at whether any benefits of intermittent fasting might be tied to when the eating period falls and fluctuations in how well our bodies process food throughout the day.

Some health experts say intermittent fasting might be too difficult for many people. They point to a study of 100 people where those placed in the alternate-day fasting group lost around the same amount of weight as those on conventional calorie-restriction diets over time. But the fasting group had a dropout rate of 38%, compared with 29% for the conventional diet group.

But intermittent fasting may be easier than other diets for people who already skip meals when they’re too busy, said Varady of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

To make weight loss stick, she said people should pick diets that resemble how they already eat.

“Different diets do work for different people,” she said.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.


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Wholesome breakfast on a busy college morning? It isn’t so exhausting


Breakfast, as you’ll have heard, is crucial meal of the day. That is very true for teenagers returning to high school, who want gas for vitality and studying.

However serving a wholesome breakfast can really feel like yet another problem for fogeys making an attempt to get themselves and their youngsters out the door on time.

By no means worry. With a little bit of planning, breakfast generally is a nice alternative to get dairy, fiber, fruits and even greens into a toddler’s eating regimen. And it does not should be difficult.

“It isn’t like there’s one good breakfast,” says Jessica Jaeger, a registered dietitian at Adelphi College in Backyard Metropolis, New York.

Simply attempt to embody a mixture of proteins, advanced carbs from entire grains and wholesome fat. “This helps stabilize blood sugar and urge for food,” Jaeger says.

Diane Dembicki, an affiliate professor of vitamin who works with Jaeger at Adelphi, suggests involving youngsters in decision-making, and even in prep work the evening earlier than.

Keep away from the packaged frozen breakfast sandwiches and “breakfast bars” which have names that counsel vitamin however are sometimes excessive in sugar and fats, Dembicki says.

A couple of methods for planning good breakfasts on college mornings:


Strive make-ahead egg cups or breakfast burritos. Kirsten Clodfelter, a mother of three from Louisville, Kentucky, does meal prep on Sundays with the assistance of her oldest, who’s 7. They scramble eggs with a wide range of chopped add-ins (sausage with diced onion and peppers, or maybe bacon and spinach), after which put the eggs in a tortilla with a little bit of chilly cheese and wrap it in foil (for reheating within the oven the subsequent morning) or plastic wrap (for reheating within the microwave), and freeze it. You may reduce the burrito in half for little youngsters. Select whole-grain tortillas or flatbread.

One other make-ahead possibility: Fill the cups of a muffin tin with a mixture of egg, veggies and meat, then bake. As soon as they’ve cooled, pop them out and freeze or refrigerate the person egg cups. Then shortly microwave them at breakfast time, served with a chunk of recent fruit.

For straightforward eggs ready within the morning, Kate Wehr, a mom of 4 in Montana, suggests combining some chopped veggies and maybe meat with a well-whisked egg and a little bit of butter or olive oil in a ceramic bowl. Cowl with a paper towel and microwave for about 45 seconds. The eggs will likely be able to scoop into an entire wheat wrap, and breakfast is prepared.

For those who’re operating late, wrap it in wax paper and your little one can eat it on the way in which to high school.


Strive topping whole-grain toast or a whole-grain waffle with pure nut butter, sliced bananas or different recent fruit on high, and maybe a drizzle of honey.

Use pure peanut butter or one other pure unfold, somewhat than a model that is excessive in sugar. “I discovered that beginning my youngsters early with pure peanut butter meant they actually did not ask for the sweeter stuff,” says Sarah Shemkus, of Gloucester, Massachusetts.

This breakfast hits the macro-nutrient objectives of protein, entire grain and wholesome fat, and the fruit provides nutritional vitamins. A tough-boiled egg made the evening earlier than can present additional protein.

Dembicki additionally recommends avocado, which has wholesome monounsaturated fats and is excessive in nutritional vitamins. Contemplate a fast avocado toast on whole-grain bread, served with a hard-boiled egg and piece of fruit.

One other whole-grain possibility: in a single day oats made in a Mason jar, or oatmeal arrange the evening earlier than in a slow-cooker. Let youngsters select their substances, together with fruits and nuts. By flavoring the oatmeal your self somewhat than shopping for pre-flavored, the sugar is saved low.

Shemkus generally cooks fast oats in a bowl in her microwave with grated carrot and raisins, then tops it with maple syrup, cinnamon and milk: “We name it ‘carrot cake oat bowl,’ and the 3-year-old loves it.”


For teenagers preferring a chilly breakfast, attempt Greek yogurt with flaxseed, granola and recent fruit combined in, and maybe a little bit of honey. Laborious-boiled eggs additionally go nicely with this.

Some households pack a whole breakfast right into a blender to create smoothies. Contemporary fruit, yogurt or milk, peanut butter and even greens can go in. Clodfelter received her youngsters to embrace spinach in smoothies by including it to a berry mix and calling them “Christmas smoothies,” because the inexperienced flecks of spinach have been mixed with pink berries.

Or bake wholesome muffins upfront. Seek for recipes with loads of fruit or nuts and entire grains. Make a big batch and freeze them. Veggies will be hidden in lots of muffin recipes, and are front-and-center in recipes like carrot-raisin muffins.

And remember dinner for breakfast: Not each child likes typical American “breakfast meals,” and that is high quality, Dembicki says. If they’ve favourite dinner meals, make additional and pack leftovers in small containers for straightforward reheating the subsequent morning.


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