5:2 Diet: ‘Fast’ diet a new way to prevent weight gain this holiday?

Eating disorders are an exploding problem for both teen girls and boys. Beginning next school year, Virginia schools will arm parents with information about signs to look for that could indicate their child has an eating disorder. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON – The big diet craze of this holiday season has a number of people pondering the wisdom of trying to prevent end-of-year weight gain by intermittent fasting.

The idea is to mix feasting and famine — literally. The most popular approach is the 5:2 Diet — a British export that mixes five days of normal eating per week with two days of restricted meals totaling between 500 and 1,000 calories.

Some folks swear by it. Others remain very skeptical

It’s so new that there hasn’t been a lot of research on humans, although animal studies — including some at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore — indicate there may be some benefits.

Critics, though, claim any weight loss is likely to be short-lived, and there are some concerns that repeated fasting could do a number on your metabolism.

Will Kimbrough, a primary care physician with One Medical Group in D.C., says he believes fad diets aren’t the way to go. A balanced approach is a better and safer way to prevent holiday weight gain.

Kimbrough says he has noticed during the course of his years practicing that most of his patients tend to gain two or three pounds during the holidays.

“If you live making smart choices on a daily basis, then you don’t have to make up for those choices early in the new year,” he says.

That being said, he says a certain degree of self-discipline is involved.

So he has a couple of tips for holiday eating: use a small plate at parties, load up on vegetables first, and consider alternating glasses of water with drinks like beer and wine.

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