What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a diet (or, more specifically, a dieting pattern) that is catching on in popularity. While the answer to what it is (fasting intermittently?) might seem obvious, it's actually a little more complicated than that.

Put into the simplest terms, intermittent fasting is "making a conscious decision to skip certain meals," according to NerdFitness.com. It comes in a couple forms: One, you can only eat during an eight, six, or four-hour window (say, from noon to 6 p.m., skipping breakfast), or two, you can go a full 24 hours without eating (like eating dinner at 7 p.m. and not eating again until 7 p.m. the following day).

So why does it work? When you're eating regularly, your body uses the food you've just eaten for its energy as opposed to stored fat. But when you're fasting, your body is more likely to pull energy from the fat that's stored in your body. And if you exercise while fasting, your body will need to pull even more energy from stored fat.

Of course, this is just a basic overview, so be sure to discuss any diet changes with your doctor before you decide to take the plunge!