FASTING: How this ancient practice could lead to a slimmer waistline

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Intermittent fasting is a diet that's starting to receive a lot of attention.

People have been fasting for centuries, sometimes for religious reasons, but now different forms of fasting are becoming a popular way to lose weight.

Sharon Smalling, a dietitian at Memorial Hermann hospital, says that she is always looking for new ways to help patients achieve their goals.

"I definitely think when people see weight loss quickly it empowers them."

Smalling agrees that intermittent fasting can be a way to lose weight.

"I've never tried it, but I've thought about it," said Maddie Lux, who is just one of many health-conscious individuals wondering if fasting really works.

Smalling say if you're going to try the diet, use a less restrictive approach, meaning you eat during a 12-hour period and then fast for 12 hours.

"You're probably sleeping eight of those hours and then there's only four hours left. Two hours at the front end and two hours at the back end. During those times you're not eating," Smalling said.

She says there is no significant research comparing different approaches to fasting, but believes there is evidence it can help you do more than lose weight.

"It puts your body in starvation mode, so it becomes more resilient. So it decreases the aging process, decreases the disease process," Smalling added.

She emphasizes, what you're eating still makes a difference, so choose wisely.

"I think we're just all searching for the magic bullet," said Smalling.

Smalling recommends consulting a doctor and dietitian if you have any health concerns.

She says fasting may not be good for diabetic patients to do unsupervised, or for those who need to eat with their regularly scheduled medications.
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