By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On the day after Christmas, many are feeling stuffed with some even thinking about diet resolutions for the new year. New research surfaced Thursday on a diet that’s growing in popularity that has people abstaining from food for extended periods of time.

It’s called intermittent fasting. There’s now more evidence that it can help not just weight loss but has benefits that include lower cholesterol and reduced stress.

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So people might be thinking about trading holiday feasting for fasting.

Intermittent fasting diets see people stop eating for extended periods of time that triggers metabolic switching, where cells use up their fuel stores and convert fat to energy — “flipping a switch” from fat-storing to fat being used for fuel.

The diets are growing in popularity. Google searches for them have quadrupled in the past three years.

“I was 360 pounds,” Donate Franklin said.

Franklin, a fitness trainer, credits a lot of his weight loss to intermittent fasting and careful food choices.

“I have peanuts in a shell. I have some quinoa — made quinoa with beans, there’s some sausage, cilantro, tomatoes, green onions,” Franklin said.

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There are two basic intermittent fasting diets:

One, only eating during a six-hour period and fasting for 18 on a daily basis.

Second, weekly fasting, eating on two days and fasting for five.

“There doesn’t seem to be any negative impact on the short burst of fasting,” UNMC College of Public Health Dr. Paul Estabrooks said.

Intermittent fasting has been shown to help with weight loss and improve conditions like diabetes and heart disease and even boost memory and brain functioning.

But research has shown many people can’t sustain fasting diets because they’re hungry and irritable — common side effects that usually pass after a few weeks.

Another issue with fasting diets is, in the periods when people are allowed to eat they tend to go overboard because they’re so hungry.

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An important note — you should consult with your doctor before starting any diet.

Stephanie Stahl