Fasting may help prevent holiday weight gain

You know the tried and true tricks to avoid holiday weight gain: eat before you go, don't hover at the table,

and go easy on the alcohol.

Dr. Taz Bhatia, founder of CentreSpring MD, says fasting is a newer approach.

"There are some ways of fasting that seem to be helpful in managing weight gain, especially holiday weight gain," Bhatia says.,

She's a fan of an approach that is gaining popularity: intermittent fasting, an on-and-off approach to fasting.

"Intermittent fasting is where you set clear intervals of eating," Bhatia explains. "For example, you sent an 8-hour interval, where you're going to eat from 10 to 6.  Or you eat from 12 to 8."

Then, you take a break from eating, typically, for anywhere from 12 to 16 hours.

So, say it's Thanksgiving Day, the one day of the year many of us overdo it.

Bhatia says you would eat over an 8-hour window, from noon to 8pm, keeping in mind that you still have to make wise choices.

Then, you would fast for 12 to 14 hours overnight, to give your digestive system a rest.

"The other way, is the week before Thanksgiving, that could be your fasting week, or the week after Thanksgiving, that could be your fasting week," Bhatia says.

There's another approach Dr. Bhatia recommends avoiding: water fasting.

"That's where you just drink water, for an extended period of time," Bhatia explains. "It can be 24 hours, but I've also see water fasts that are 5 days. I have a problem with this. While the body likes fasting, as a break, as a break to clean things out, clean out the gut, clean up the liver, doing extreme fasts like that, like a water fast is going to change your metabolism.  I just don't think it's healthy."

A better (and safer) approach, Dr. Bhatia says, is the fasting mimicking diet. 

That's where people eat normally most days.

"Then, maybe about 5 days of the month, they go into some sort of fast, where they don't eat for 12 hours or they don't eat for 16 hours," Bhatia says. "The researchers that are looking at fasting find some benefit with fasting mimicking diets.  They say it helps to lose visceral fat. It helps to clean out the liver and clean out the colon."