The Alternate Day Diet is a calorie restrictive diet plan different from others in that it basically restricts calories every other day. This approach is attractive to many who want to lose weight but don't want to adhere to the rigors of calorie counting and restrictive eating day in and day out.
Authors of the Alternate Day Approach
The book, The Alternate-Day Diet: Turn on Your "Skinny Gene," Shed the Pounds, and Live a Longer and Healthier Life was written by two doctors. James B. Johnson, M.D., a physician and instructor at Louisiana State University School of Medicine, and Donald R. Laub, M.D. In the book, Dr. Johnson shares his own weight loss struggle and the answer he found in this unique alternate day approach to dieting.
Does It Work
The real question on most people's minds with any diet is: Does it work? According to the authors, the alternate day approach to dieting is based on more than anecdotal testimonies and is founded on scientific and clinical studies. This research is said to show that a restrictive calorie diet, followed every other day, activates a gene referred to as the skinny gene. The activation of this gene is said to provide a number of benefits including:
- Better cellular energy production
- Better release of fat cells that surround organs
- Improved insulin resistance
- Improved metabolism
- Promotes weight loss
- Slows the aging process
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduced symptoms of menopause related to hot flashes
- Relief from symptoms of a number of chronic conditions and diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and asthma
Premise Behind the Alternate Day Diet
The research behind this diet shows that animals that ate between 30 and 40 percent less calories than normally consumed lived up to 40 percent longer than their counterparts who took in normal daily calorie amounts. Dr. Johnson believed that the same benefits could be enjoyed by humans who do the same. Thus he created the alternate day eating plan.
Metabolism and the Alternate Day Approach
Low calorie diets do result in weight loss, but one problem with staying on a low calorie diet for long term is that it can slow metabolism. The alternate day approach does not do this. In fact, Dr. Johnson claims it will increase your metabolism and as a result you'll burn calories faster. The result is faster weight loss.
Why Dieters Like It
Another important factor is whether or not a diet works is dependant on whether it will be followed. This alternate day dieting is embraced by many dieters who have struggled to stick to other diets. The main reason they like it is because they are allowed to eat whatever foods they want every other day. However, the thing some find hard to follow is that on the days between the "feasting" are more or less days of fasting. This alternating cycle is followed until you reach your desired weight.
How Much to Eat
If you decide to follow this diet, you'll have to change your dieting mindset. On the days you eat as much as you want, it doesn't mean you should stuff yourself at every meal. Instead, guidelines tell dieters to each whatever foods they want until they are satisfied.
On fasting days, dieters are required to cut back to 300-500 calories. Like many diets, the first two weeks are more strict. The book suggests only drinking protein shakes on your fasting or "down" days. After the first two weeks are complete, food can be eaten but must be kept between the recommended 300-500 calories.
Is It Safe
Many fad diets that restrict calories to below 1200 a day are considered unhealthy and in some cases unsafe. The alternate day plan is sometimes referred to as a fad. Claims as to whether or not it is safe and/or healthy are mixed. Before you try this or any diet, it is best to talk it over with your doctor.