Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Alternanate Day diet

Matt Metzger's blog is always worth reading as it records his developing thoughts on exercise and eating.

He has recently been thinking more about intermittent fasting and particularly a model of alternate day eating - The Alternate Day Diet - where the off day is a low calories day rather than a total fast. This is similar in pattern to the QOD diet or but one of the things that Matt refers to is the Up Day Down Day work of Dr Johnson:

What is the Johnson UpDayDownDay Diet™?

It is an adaptation of an experimental model used in animal research. For 70 years scientist have recognized that animals fed 30 – 40% less calories than normal live 40% longer. In May 2003, an article was published showing that mice fed every other day had profound health effects which exceeded those seen in mice fed 40% less than normal every day.

Dr. Johnson invented a method which achieved these results in humans with the UpDayDownDay Diet™. Humans are generally unable to restrict their caloric intake even a modest amount on a daily basis. However, most motivated people can restrict themselves on an every other day basis to 50% or less of their normal calories. The discovery of this aspect of human behavior is the key to success. In other words we are able to do for one day what we are unable to do every day.

The scientific basis of our human experience is described in the article titled The effect on health of alternate day calorie restriction: Eating less and more than needed on alternate days prolongs life (see article).

On the “up” day you eat whatever you want and as much as you want. It is important to feel satisfied.

On the “down” day, you limit your intake to between 20% – 50% of normal. A guide to your caloric needs and a method to calculate the number of calories to consume is available here.

You might expect to be hungrier after a down day, but our research has shown that appetite is normal or decreased on the morning of an up day.
We strongly recommend using only commercially prepared meal replacement shakes for the first two weeks. This conditions you in several ways which promotes success.

I'm still happier with the more random and flexible approach of Eat Stop Eat.


Patri Friedman said...

I'm really curious about the theory and practice of when to overeat/undereat. I've been on the Warrior Diet for a couple months, and I loved it's daily undereat/overeat cycle, but eventually I got tired of the same thing every day, and didn't feel as good on it. I've read about how when you first overeat, you put on muscle, but eventually it shifts to fat, and so you should switch back and forth every 1-2 weeks. Then there are various weekly schedules (1-2 fasts each week). There is Evolutionary Fitness (randomize).

So I'm left pretty confused...I know I like fasting/undereating, but what cycles? Daily (Warrior)? Random (EF)? 14-days (ABCDE)?

Chris said...

Hi Patri. Thanks for the comment. As I said I am happier with something a little more random. Maybe I'll do warrior style a couple of days a week or perhaps 1 or 2 full 24 hour fasts.

If you look back over Matt's blog you can see how he is thinking about and through similar confusions.