Could fasting for a couple of days each week help you improve your health and live longer? Fasting for short periods helps people eat fewer calories, and also helps optimize some hormones related to weight control. The appeal is that unlike typical daily diets, part-time dieting plans allow you to eat freely for a few days a week so you don’t feel as deprived. Advocates say these diets may improve sleep and blood sugar control; reduce risk factors for chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. There are several different intermittent fasting methods. Three of the most popular are below:

The 5:2 Diet

The 5:2 diet is the most popular intermittent fasting method; it’s called the 5:2 diet because five days of the week are normal eating days, while the other two restrict calories to 500–600 per day. There are no requirements about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them. The appeal of the 5:2 method is that you don’t have stick to a particular caloric intake for more than 24 hours.

Time-restricted eating (TRE)

Time-restricted eating is a type of intermittent fasting that limits your food intake to a certain number of hours each day. An example of time-restricted eating is if you choose to eat all your food for the day in an eight-hour period, such as from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The remaining 16 hours each day are the fasting period, during which no calories are consumed. This same schedule would be repeated every day.

Eat-stop-eat

The eat-stop-eat method involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from breakfast one day until breakfast the next day.

How to Eat on Fasting Days

  1. Choose higher protein meals, which help you to feel full for longer.
  2. Keep carbohydrates to a minimum: they are high in calories and will make you feel hungrier sooner.
  3. Fill up your plate with low calorie, fiber-rich vegetables.

Keep in mind: intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Those with health conditions of any kind should check with their doctor before beginning any new diet or lifestyle change.