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Does Fasting on Alternate Days Work? A New Study Weighs In

A CNN feature on alternate-day fasting argued that adherents to this program drop out at a higher rate than those who practiced calorie restriction. What they only mentioned in passing was that the alternate-day fasting was more effective for losing weight, and they only scratched the surface of the benefits provided by this method.

Comparing calorie restriction and alternate-day fasting is comparing apples and oranges. Alternate-day fasting is more properly compared to complete fasting. Research has shown that alternate-day fasting, where you consume about 500 calories on fasting days and can eat whatever you want on non-fasting days, works equally well for weight loss as complete fasting, and it's a lot easier to maintain this type of modified fasting regimen.

There are a few tips that can increase your odds of success with alternate-day fasting. On fasting days, eating your one meal for breakfast tends to set you up for failure, as you'll then spend the rest of the day thinking about how you'll have nothing to eat until the following morning. From a psychological and compliance perspective, it's easier to go without if you know you can eat something in the middle or toward the end of the day.

Another important consideration is that fat is among the most satiating foods. Eating healthy fats can go a long way toward preventing hunger pangs. Just keep track of your calorie intake, as you want to stay below 500 calories on fasting days if you follow alternate-day fasting.

Alternate-day fasting has a far greater retention and compliance rate compared to conventional all-day fasting regimens. My preferred version of intermittent fasting, which simply calls for restricting your eating to a narrower window of about six to eight hours or so each day, also has a far greater success rate than more extensive fasting protocols.

Alternate-day and intermittent fasting are not “fad diets.” Lumping in these time tested practices with such nonsense as grapefruit diets, magic weight loss pills and the now debunked low-fat craze does a great disservice to these health promoting strategies. In our ancient past, people did not have access to food around the clock. They would cycle through periods of feast and famine, which modern research shows actually has biochemical benefits.

What you eat is just as important as the timing of your meals. Most will benefit from 50 to 85 percent of their daily calories being in the form of healthy fat from avocados, organic grass fed butter, pastured egg yolks, coconut oil, and raw nuts such as macadamia, pecans and pine nuts. 

I recommend moderate amounts of high-quality protein from organically raised, grass fed or pastured animals. Very few people need more than 40 to 80 grams of protein per day. Fresh vegetables do not have the same sort of quantity restrictions, but ideally they should be organically sourced. 

For more information on healthy dieting I strongly urge you to read my nutrition plan. It starts at the beginner phase and systematically guides you step-by-step to the advanced level. Preparing your own food may sound time-consuming, but the health benefits are immense. The convenience and price of processed food is entirely illusory. 
 
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