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The Fast Diet

Book Review

The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting
By Dr. Michael Mosely and Mimi Spencer
Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. (2013)
Reviewed by Angela Lemond, RDN, CSP, LD

Claims

Is it possible to eat well, most of the time, and get slimmer and healthier as you do it? With the Fast Diet it is.

Synopsis of the Diet Plan

The basis of the diet is that a person eat "normally" for five days out of the week while picking two non-consecutive days to limit calories to a quarter of normal intake (calories given for women: 500 calories and for men: 600 calories). On these "fast" days, the dieter is recommended to focus calories on a combination of lean protein and low glycemic foods.

In the book, you will find:

  • 10 sample days each of 500 calorie and 600 calorie menus that contain one breakfast and one dinner
  • Eight pages of photos that show you what a typical "fasting meal" looks like
  • Charts that show the glycemic index and glycemic load of a variety of foods
  • Calorie content of typical foods in appropriate portions.

Nutritional Pros and Cons

Pros: You can eat whatever you want five days per week, which is a nice feature. That means the "diet" is really a focus for only two days. Also, there is some emerging research that suggests intermittent fasting diets may actually help prevent disease. More research needs to be done. (Not suggested for people with Type 1 diabetes or pregnant and nursing women.)

Cons: There is very little research on intermittent fasting diets. Historically, fasting diets only lead to calories made up on subsequent days resulting in weight loss failure. Any variation of fasting may make a person irritable, cause daytime sleepiness/sleeplessness at night and can even lead to dehydration.

Bottom Line 

This book indirectly suggests that you can gorge on most days and then make up for it by starving yourself on other days. It is not something that is good behaviorally, and it is not a realistic long-term solution. It also does not complement other healthy lifestyle components, such as being physically active and achieving quality sleep. I do not recommend this diet.