The How, Part 1: Alternate Day Fasting

NEW DIET!Alternate Day Fasting is a type of intermittent fasting. It’s fairly simple to describe: One day you eat like you normally would, the next you limit your calorie intake. Problem solved, goodnight!

Okay, there’s more. The specific program I’m working on is one popularized by a BBC program on Intermittent Fasting and Krista Varaday, assistant professor of kinesiology and nutrition (it’s a thing) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). If I can find a link for the BBC doc, I’ll share, but I recommend you read this interview with Krista. Here are some highlights that sum up the program:

“You reduce calories by about 25 percent. That works for a little while,” she said. “The problem is that you probably can’t stick to it more than two months. You’re hungry and uncomfortable throughout the day.”

Fasting every other day works better, she said. “You have a day in between where you can feel totally normal again,” Varady said.

With alternate-day fasting, dieters have a fast day followed by a feed day. They consume a good-sized lunch — 400 to 500 calories for women and 500 to 600 calories for men — between noon and 2 p.m. on the fast day.

Pretty simple, right? Eat what I want one day, keep it to 500-600 calories the next! But what’s keeping you from going crazy and binging on the non-fast days?

She had assumed dieters would make up for what they didn’t eat on fast day by pigging out on feed day.

“But people eat only about 110 percent of their energy needs on feed day,” she said. “They don’t binge, and they end up losing weight.”

They don’t say why, but I’m sure there’s a fascinating psychological study in there somewhere. Granted that didn’t apply to everyone as about 10 percent of the people in the study dropped out in the first ten days. Still, 90% is a pretty solid number. I’m liking my odds…

Her research shows that alternate-day fasting dieters can shed 10 to 30 pounds in about eight weeks.

But the rest ended up not feeling hungry on fast days.

“Your body gets used to it,” Varady said.

I would be happy with 15-20 in eight weeks. And I believe that’s just diet alone.


Alternate-day fasting has other benefits in addition to weight loss. One study showed that after eight weeks, LDL cholesterol can be lowered 10 to 25 percent. Blood pressure and heart may drop 10 percent.

Lose weight. Get healthy. Live longer. Sounds deceptively simple and too good to be true. It usually is in my experience… but still. Something resonates (probably the eating). I don’t have an answer as to whether it is too good to be true or not, but I’m going to find out. I’m considering this Phase 1 of my multi-phase program. We’ll work up to the exercise and eating the right food phases a little bit later, but for now this is the base of the weight loss plan. Alternate Day Fasting! Good for me now, but will probably cause cancer somehow…


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