The downside: This diet excludes beans, chickpeas and other legumes because they are cultivated rather than foraged. “But this category is full of nutrients like magnesium and folate, and are some of the healthiest foods on the planet,” Cassetty says. Plus, in the modern world, it may be difficult to stick with the diet’s restrictions.
What to steal: Eat real foods. The standard American diet today is filled with ultra-processed foods and processed ingredients our forebears wouldn’t recognize. Limiting these categories as paleo does is a smart idea. Filling up on those caveperson faves — high-fiber, low-cal fruits and vegetables — can help keep pounds off.
16/8 intermittent fasting
With the 16/8 diet, you eat all your daily calories during an eight-hour window, then abstain completely the other 16. You might finish dinner by 8 p.m., say, then fast until lunch the next day. (Noncaloric beverages like coffee and water are OK.) By limiting the amount of time you eat every day, you may naturally take in fewer daily calories, Smith says. Fasting can kick your body into burning stored fat and provide other metabolic benefits that may boost longevity.
Does it work? To date, most of the research into fasting for weight loss has been done with animals. In humans, the evidence is mixed: One 2018 study published in the journal Nutrition and Healthy Aging found following a 16/8 regimen for three months decreased body weight by about 3 percent. But a 2020 human study in JAMA Internal Medicine showed little weight loss benefit: Overweight adults assigned to fast for 16 hours a day for three months lost only two or three pounds — much of it healthy muscle mass, not body fat.
The downsides: Not eating for long periods takes lots of willpower and can be hard to stick with over the long haul. “Fasting can foster an unhealthy attitude toward food. You are not learning to listen to your natural hunger cues, which is important for maintaining a healthy relationship with food,” Smith says. Fasting is not safe for people with prediabetes, diabetes or a history of disordered eating, she adds.
What to steal: Don’t nosh around the clock. Deciding the kitchen is closed after dinner can prevent mindless midnight munching. “Giving yourself a natural 12-hour break allows your body to get into healing and maintenance mode while you sleep instead of putting energy into digesting,” Cassetty says.