The simplest weapon against holiday weight gain there is

The average American gains eight to ten pounds over the holidays, and it’s no wonder why. Thanksgiving is right around the corner — kicking off another six weeks of virtually non-stop eating. And even the most die-hard health nuts will have a tough time escaping the feeding frenzy.

In other words, you’re going to need all the help you can get. Which makes the following study timely, to say the least. Because it focuses on an important dietary strategy I’ve shared with you before — intermittent fasting.

This study appeared recently in the journal Cell Research. And it looked at the effects of 16 weeks of intermittent fasting on mice. Researchers withheld food on every third day, to mimic a typical therapeutic fasting regimen — but there were no adjustments to overall calorie intake otherwise.

By the end of the study, the fasting mice weighed less than non-fasting mice — but that wasn’t the only change. They also had higher levels of metabolically active, calorie-burning brown fat, and lower levels of calorie-storing white fat. And they had more stable blood sugar and insulin levels, too.

The best part? These benefits were evident after only six weeks.

But wait! There’s more: Further analysis revealed that fasting actually changed immune reactions within fat cells — specifically, altering gene pathways involved in inflammation.

It appears as though periods of intermittent fasting boost a biochemical called vascular growth factor (VEGF). And among other things, VEGF is responsible for activating anti-inflammatory immune cells called macrophages, which stimulate the burning of stored fat.

Once again, there was no overall calorie reduction required. And these small but critical changes began to take hold within just a single 24-hour fasting period.

Does this mean you’ll get the same results from regular fasting? Well, this being an animal study, there are no guarantees. But based on what we already know, I’d say the odds are very much in your favor.

Previous human studies have found that periods of intermittent fasting can fight diabetes, heart disease, and fatty liver. All while cutting oxidative stress, boosting metabolism, and greasing the wheels for weight loss.

In other words, this isn’t some trendy starvation diet we’re talking about. It’s a research-supported tool that can raise your health to the next level.

A 24-hour water fast is all it takes — and I find that most people are able to manage that just fine. Even if you only do this once a month, you will see a difference. But clearly, fasting once or twice a week really kicks things into high gear, helping to keep your weight and blood sugar in check without counting calories every day.

And in this season of plenty, that’s not a bad tactic to keep in your back pocket.