As the Fast Diet gains popularity in North America with the release of the bestselling The Fast Diet: The Secret of Intermittent Fasting- Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, Live Longer, we have to wonder if the British diet fad will develop a fan following in the months to come. Making headlines just in time for bikini season, the Fast Diet is exactly what it sounds like — an emphasis on fasting, with periods of eating whatever you feel like.
Followers of the diet enjoy their favourite hearty meals for five days of the week, with two days of limited eating (at 500 calories for women and 600 for men). Known as intermittent fasting, supporters of the Fast Diet claim it reduces risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
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Brad Pilon is responsible for bringing the trend to Canada, with his 2007 book Eat Stop Eat. After earning a degree in applied human nutrition, Pilon began his career as a research analyst specializing in supplements, with a focus on health and dieting. He praises the Fast Diet system for helping dieters build self-control, lose weight, and maintain an eating regimen which can be flexible. He describes the diet on his website as being ideal for women, who often eat the same size portions (and often the same amount of calories) as the men in their lives. After all, meals at restaurants or even at home tend to be the same size, while women tend to weigh less than their male counterparts. With the fasting system in place, women can take a break from overeating with the fast days, and are therefore overeating far less.
What to eat: With a limited amount of calories and three meals in a day, the stricter days of the Fast Diet require some thinking ahead. If you’re at the supermarket figuring out how to stretch a slim 500-600 calories into meals, think of healthy and filling options as opposed to meals which are just low in calories.
For breakfast, a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries (which are also high in antioxidants) is a good start to a fast day. You can also go with a small bowl of whole grain cereal with skim milk and sliced strawberries.
As for lunch, the Fast Diet leaves you with plenty of room for more nutritious vegan or vegetarian options. Try a spinach salad without the dressing and an apple on the side, or a bowl of homemade vegetable soup with peppers, lentils, and herbs.
Sliced fruit, carrot sticks, or whole grain crackers make great snacks if you’re hungry in the middle of the day. With a limited calorie margin, the diet asks you to avoid dairy and other protein on fast days.
For dinner, try skinless chicken breast or a grilled salmon fillet with fresh greens. This way, you’ll have the energy to get through your day (thanks to the iron-rich vegetables, fish, and vitamin C found in many fruit). However, the Fast Diet requires careful planning and consideration before you decide to eat, stop, and eat! Always consult with your family doctor or another nutritional expert to find out if a diet is right for your needs.
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Photo Courtesy of: Simon & Schuster Canada (The Fast Diet: The Secret of Intermittent Fasting- Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, Live Longer)