ATLANTA - You've counted calories, obsessed over the scale. But if you really want to jumpstart your weight loss, Dr. Taz Bhatia, the founder of CentreSpring MD, says you may want to take a food break.
"I think many people don't realize there is work involved when we are constantly eating food, or grazing, or snacking or drinking," Bhatia says.
So, Bhatia says her patients are increasingly trying something known as intermittent fasting, either forgoing food for certain periods of the day, or certain days of the week.
"So, this is just a rest period for the body, and it helps the body reboot and reset," she says.
The science on intermittent fasting is mixed.
University of Florida researchers found it may jumpstart the fat burning process. But Brazilian researchers caution forgoing food may raise a person's risk of insulin-related health problems.
Dr. Bhatia believes intermittent fasting can be helpful if you know what you're doing and don't overdo it.
"So you give the body a break, you give the digestive system a break," Dr. Bhatia says. "You give the liver an opportunity to clean out and get rid of toxins and pollutants."
Fasting is not safe for pregnant women, older people, anyone with an underlying health problem, like kidney disease or type 1 diabetes. And if you're a woman with hormonal issues, Bhatia says to be careful.
"Don't go crazy with this," she says. " Don't do the 24 to 48-hour fasts. It's too much hormonal havoc for you. Stay within that 12 to 16 hours max fasting and that can help you reset your body."
To try fasting, Dr. Taz says, start small, with 12-hour overnight fast.
"So I would was cut off eating at a certain time," she says. "Then, count 12 hours past that. Then in the morning, don't start eating until that 12-hour mark has been reached."
When you do eat again, go for something healthy and high in protein.
"You could do a couple of eggs, that's going to give you 14 grams of protein. Remember one egg is 7 grams each. You could do a little bit of nut butter with it."
Dr. Bhatia says if you're interested in fasting, do your research and have a plan.
And, she says, make sure you stay hydrated, drinking plenty of water.