Could alternating diet days trim your waistline?

This time of year many people worry about gaining a super-sized waistline from holiday meals, but  there's a new trend in weight loss that could help you shed pounds. It's called "alternate day fasting."

Krista Varady, author of "The Every Other Day Diet” and associate professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, told the “CBS This Morning” co-hosts that typical diets do not work because you do them every day, but “if you do them every other day, it's different.”

“The diet involves something that we call a 'feast day,' where you can truly eat whatever you want and that’s alternated by something that’s called a diet day, where you eat 500 calories as either a lunch or a dinner,” she said. “The reason it works is that people can stick to it for a pretty long time and they stick to it because it’s a diet that lets you feel normal every other day.”

Varady said that with most diets “you’re always deprived” and “counting calories or carbs.”

“With this diet, you get to feel like a normal person and go back to your normal routine every other day,” she said.

She said that while this diet is counter-intuitive to what most people believe about dieting and losing weight, they’ve shown repeatedly that “people lose 12 pounds in four weeks.”

“We show reductions in cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, insulin – we also show that people stick to it for a long time,” she said. “We had a one-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health, so … we’ve shown that in repeated studies it does work. People stick with it and they get all these health benefits.”

Varady said that the 500-calorie days may seem to be too little and she can understand concern over such little nutrients, but it is not something to worry about in this case.

“It does seem like too little, however you are eating whatever you want every other day … if you’re eating 500 calories every day, then yeah, that would be too little. But, with the every other day basically – people are kind of making up for that,” she said.

Varady also said that people do not and should not binge on what her plan calls “the feast day.”

“The reason that they don't do that is – what we think is happening is the stomach is shrinking, slowly, basically as you have the alternate diet days,” she said. “When you sit down to eat that meal, maybe some big meal that you’re used to eating, you actually don't binge on that because the stomach has shrunken and it won't allow you to basically compensate for the lack of food.”