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How does a part-time diet work?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
It's a dieter's dream: you don't have to restrict calories or carbs every day to see results! Eat fewer carbs and calories just a few days a week and you'll lose weight -- and keep it off. Fantasy? No. It's reality. Part-time weight-loss plans deliver real results and may even lower breast cancer risk.

A healthy diet-two-days-a-week plan that cuts out extra carbs, such as the added sugars, syrups and refined grains that don't do your body any favors, can help you lose a little more weight over four to six months (about a pound a week) than following a low-calorie diet for the same length of time.

Here's how to make it work for you:

On diet days, don't overload on fatty meats and cheeses. If you think cutting carbs is all that matters, that's not true! There's more to weight loss than losing pounds. Make healthy food choices and skip added sugars, saturated fat, trans fat, fried foods and processed foods. This will help you sidestep hunger pangs and cravings, as well as lower your risk for diabetes and heart disease.

On diet-free days, don't overdo it. One challenge with two-day or alternate-day diets is that off-day eating can keep your stomach stretched and ready for the next big meal. It takes about six weeks of consistently small, diet-sized meals until your stomach and brain feel full with less food. That's a great place to be because it means smaller meals will keep you feeling happy when the diet's done and you're maintaining your new physique. Try eating four to six times a day. Frequent, small servings will keep you satisfied and help reduce your appetite.

Here's an even simpler approach: eat only between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. (or any 8-hour period). Limit the hours your kitchen is open and you just might eat 28% less food -- an easy way to lose pounds without counting every little calorie. Making healthy choices (plenty of produce, some low-fat dairy and whole grains, and lean, healthy protein, such as beans, fish, and skinless chicken and turkey) still matters.

Don't graze the rest of the time! The key to weight loss is eating smart, not dieting hard, so avoid the five food felons (saturated and trans fats, added sugars, added syrups and any grain that isn't 100% whole grain), eat smaller portions or limit eating times, and you'll transform your life and your body.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.