VANCOUVER -- Have you got the COVID bloat? If you put on a few pounds during the pandemic (like many other people), and you’re interested in losing weight, you may be considering intermittent fasting. It’s one of the most popular diet trends, but before you give it a try, there are a few things you need to consider to see if it’s right for you.

If you have certain pre-existing medical conditions, you’ll probably need to avoid it. But for Gisela Long, it seems to do the trick.

She’s been doing intermittent fasting for two years, and started because she was struggling to achieve her health and fitness goals.

“I do the 16:8 intermittent fasting, so I start my day eating at 12 p.m., right after my workout, and then I end around eight or nine at night,” Long says. “I have lost 20 lbs during that process.”

Intermittent fasting is an eating plan that focuses more on when you eat than what you eat. Typically, people eat only during an eight-hour period or only every other day. Studies suggest that it may have some health benefits, including improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and weight.

“When done in a healthful way, intermittent fasting can help control inflammation,” says Consumer Reports’ Trisha Calvo. “(It) may even lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.”

But it isn’t for everyone. It can be too extreme for older adults, especially those with diabetes or who take medications at particular times of day. If you’ve recovered from an eating disorder, it can be triggering. It’s important to check with your doctor before starting any kind of health or weight loss plan to make sure it won’t cause any problems for you.

Even if you don’t follow intermittent fasting to the letter, you can incorporate some of its strategies and boost your metabolism by making a couple of changes to how you eat.

“Be sure to include foods that have plenty of fibre and protein, such as fruit, oatmeal, cottage cheese and eggs,” Calvo says. “Foods like these will help keep you satisfied until your next meal.”

If sweets and desserts are your thing, try eating them before 3 p.m. Your body is more efficient at processing carbohydrates during the morning and early afternoon. And try having an earlier dinner, sometime between six and eight.

“Late-night eating has been linked to a greater risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease,” Calvo says.

Cutting down your dinners to around 600 calories can help with overnight digestion. And make sure to include more veggies, which are lower in calories, full of nutrition, and will help you feel full for longer.

Long says intermittent fasting has made a big difference to how she feels.

“I feel like I have more energy,” she says. “I feel like I’m 25 instead of my real age.”

But remember – your body needs energy and nutrition to keep things running smoothly and to maintain your health, and you shouldn’t prioritize losing weight over healthy eating and self-care.

With files from Consumer Reports