22 Responses to “The every other day diet (Alternate day fasting)”

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  1. avatar Richard Glover says:

    I have been on the ADF for a few months now and like the simplicity of the diet.
    I eat what I like one day, forget about food the next.
    Lost just over a stone, settling at about 10 stone.
    Difficult at first because you are moody, constipated and hungery and as the weather was still cold I put my glasses of water in the microway for 30 seconds and tepid water is then easy to drink.
    but whilst I like the diet I think it only works for me because I recently retired so if I am tired on my diet day it doesn’t matter.
    The ADF feels like a diet I can do long term but any diet that you can live with has to be good

  2. avatar Roger says:

    Hi Zoe, thanks for your very informative nutrition blog.

    Have you had a chance to review this recent 2014 article from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London,”Effects of Diet on Brain Plasticity in Animal and Human Studies: Mind the Gap”?

    http://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2014/563160/

    It highlights the effects of diet on Calorie Restriction (CR) and Intermittent Fasting (IF) on Brain Plasticity. It also includes updated references to more recent studies on IF. Looks quite supportive of IF. What are your thoughts?

    Cheers,

    Roger

    • avatar Zoë Harcombe says:

      Hi Roger – many thanks for your kind words and for the link. Sadly there are too many interesting studies and too little time so I probably won’t get round to this one. Just about to look at yesterday’s aspirin article.
      Very best wishes – Zoe

  3. avatar A.L says:

    The AFD diet works. No need to restrict what you eat on the feast days if want to go out. No worrying about calorie counting every day or trying to avoid ‘bad’ foods. Refreshing not having to worry about grabbing a pizza on the way home on a feast day.

    The other respondents are correct, you end up eating less on the feast days even if you were looking forward to really pigging out. And its got me more inclined to start eating better home cooked meals on the feast days as well.

  4. avatar kristian says:

    im doing ADF but im water fasting on my fast days……..i dont get hungry at all especially knowing that tomorrow i can eat….

    i dont understand these people who “cant handle the hunger” PLEASE. you need hunger in order to lose weight…news flash, you’ll never find a diet where you wont ever be hungry…

    the reason why you put on weight to begin with is because you ate more calories than your body needed so your body stored it for later, for when you are starving and need it…

    STARVING. your body needs to starve it off OR work it off with excercise….

    im an all or nothing kind of girl water fasting works ADF works you just gotta be motivated and suck it up and do it.

  5. avatar Lesley says:

    My partner and I started the ‘alternate day fasting’ diet straight after we saw Michael Mosely’s program which was thought provoking but raised more questions than it answered. A month later we both stopped because I didn’t think it was a long term solution. On my fast days I couldn’t bear the hunger and lacked the energy or will to do anything.

    In the past 20 months we have been on a fantastic and enlightening journey. We opted instead to eat a ‘low carb high fat’ diet and will continue for the rest of our lives. There was a transitional period of wondering ‘what can we eat?’ but finding Zoe and her recipe book made things easy. We are so grateful. We have lost weight and look better. My recent blood test revealed I had very low triglyceride and I have higher levels of cholesterol. I’m happy about that too!

    I would like to recommend to everyone the DVD ‘$tatin Nation – The Great Cholesterol Cover-up’. Go to http://www.statinnation.net for more information.

    Thank you Zoe

  6. avatar Lois Pallister says:

    I agree with several points made here in favour of this lifestyle.

    The biggest point I have to make is that the western world has gone crazy with ridiculously large portion sizes and we are bombarded with advertising every moment of the day encouraging us to eat unhealthy foods.

    Now the choice to still consume such unhealthy options or not when on this ‘diet’ is entirely up to the individual. Weight will still be lost if the 500 calories (or 25% of the calories needed to maintain the current weight) is adhered to on the diet days.

    The second best point of this way of life for me was the fact that I only had to count calories every other day and then I only had to count up to 500! I HATE the idea of looking at food that way and have never restricted my calorie intake in my life before. Life is too short to waste time working out how many calories I am eating every day!

    But the best point of all is that I am left completely free to decide WHAT to eat. I am very healthy with my choices and eat all organic produce and hardly ever consume refined sugars. I’ll make a starter when I eat at home over a dessert any day.

    I have been on this diet for a month now and have lost 13lb so far, have tons more energy and have such an increased level of fitness now being able to jive all night when I want to, when I couldn’t get through one dance just a few weeks ago.

    I have been working out for the past 3 weeks also and I have to say that the extra energy that this way of eating gave me went a long way in helping me to get started with an exercise regime. As a driving instructor I previously led a VERY sedentary lifestyle as I hadn’t worked out properly for years. Now I am addicted and loving every minute of it.

    I was suffering VERY high blood pressure and refused the drugs that my GP is trying so hard to get me to take for the rest of my life! Part of my 500 calories on diet day is a 250ml glass of organic beetroot juice (about 100 calories) and at least 3 cups of raw cocoa (2 tsp in a green or herbal tea with no milk or sweetener – a total of 45 calories). I think that those two foods, the exercise, the deep breathing/meditation I am doing every day and the weight loss as a result of it all are the things most responsible for helping to bring my BP closer to ‘normal’. Going to cancel my appointment this Wednesday and wait until it IS ‘normal’ before I go back to have it checked at the surgery where they told me that because my mother suffered high BP there is absolutely nothing I can do to bring it down! I also take 50 calories worth of fish oil and powered green lipped mussel supplements each day so that leaves me just 300 calories for my late lunch/early evening meal.

    On my ‘feast’ days I eat scrambled eggs for breakfast which I cook in coconut oil and sprinkle with turmeric, which I love.
    I have now cut out bread from my diet.
    And I will usually have a salad or veggie dish for lunch or a veg and fruit smoothie.

    If I want a glass or two of red wine later in the day I don’t worry about it and I may snack on some brie or stilton and have a real slap up meal two or three times a fortnight such as boeuf bourguignon with pommes dauphinoise but will more often enjoy something such as tuna steaks with a lovely green peppercorn sauce with rice and a green salad. It is all cooked by me at home and virtually all organically produced.

    I work out on the ‘diet’ days and I feel fine.
    I honestly think that if my body was going into starvation mode that I would notice that. I am on a diet day today and it is almost 2300 and I still haven’t had my beetroot juice and am not suffering in any way whatsoever. I have never felt dizzy or lethargic. I was just a little hungry in the first week.

    My partner is doing this also and he has lost more weight than I, but then he was more overweight than I was. What we have both found is that we just naturally eat less on our feast days at a meal than we did before.
    We cook smaller portions and our bodies tell us when we have had enough. Those signals were just not there before!

    We also take supplements because I believe that we do need them because we need far less calories than our ancestors have been discovered to have eaten. What they were eating was all fresh fruit, berries, meat and fish as and when available and today I believe we cannot get enough nutrients in our diets of less food which is not just farmed but often in soils that have been depleted of the minerals they would contain if better managed. And I think that it is VERY important to right the Omega 3/6 balance too.

    For losing weight this diet DOES work and it isn’t a diet that you will ever stop following either which tosses the yo-yo effect out of the window (I am SO glad that I have never dieted in my life before). Once at my target weight I will go on to consume 1000 calories on 3 days a week and continually monitor my weight and health.

    Is it dangerous in any way? I do not believe so.
    And it is certainly not as dangerous as just eating proteins or any of the other diets that get you to consume very odd combinations of foods that are not balanced in any way.

    Is it necessary?
    For me, it is the easiest way to eat healthily. The 48 hour eating pattern does seem to heal the body to the extent that you know when you have eaten enough and the counting is easy and only every other day.
    I never did heed them much but now I hardly even notice those that want to make money out of making me sick. I am happy, fit and even starting to sleep better, which has been a problem for me all my life. I honestly feel as though I have been set free.

    And THEN there are the findings that this way of eating reduces our cholesterol, and igf-1 levels and that the weight that we lose is almost all fat rather than muscle.

    Only been at it for a month but it would take some convincing to tell me that this is not the best thing the world has so far encountered when it comes to a healthy lifestyle!

    Thank you again, Krista
    I seem to be forever thanking this woman

    p.s. Partly through writing this I took a break to check out my BMI
    An NHS web site threw this at me:

    Before I started when I was 13st 4lbs and living a sedentary lifestyle:
    BMI = 28.2 – not far from being termed ‘obese’!
    Recommended calorie intake between 1515 and 1947

    Now at 12st 5lbs and following a moderate exercise regime:
    BMI = 26.3 – not far from being termed ‘normal’
    Recommended calorie intake between 1708 and 2197

    So now that I’ve lost a little weight but am still termed ‘overweight’ they are suggesting that I eat more!
    Think I’d rather listen to Krista’s findings and my own body!

  7. avatar Ashley says:

    Varady’s point is simple – it is about weight loss and I can speak from personal experience ADF/EODD is much easier to intergrate into my lifestyle and stick to than a regular diet. Last year I lost 24lbs on EODD and it’s still off and I’m down to fasting only 2 days a week to maintain.

    If you read Varady’s input to Eat, Fast and Live Longer, she says clearly the best thing about EODD is people stick to it because the sense of deprivation is minimal.

    In an ideal world people would eat a health balanced diet 7 days a week and no one would be overweight but we are facing a global obesity crisis.

  8. avatar Teresa says:

    I’m really excited about EOD! It’s about savouring and positive eating. I know the mindset from years of being told the importance of regular meals (usually up-sized too) throughout the day etc (which is maybe not suitable or physiologically appropriate) a person may be unsure of EOD.

    I would never usually speak up about a diet- but this one has really changed my life! I was pathologically addicted to food and from years of over-eating and ignoring the true hunger signs this is the ONLY one that seemed to have a chance of success. It’s enjoyable, completely doable and healthy doing it!

    In two weeks I have lost over 7 kgs and feel full of life!

    Maybe people that talk about it should try it perhaps? (:

  9. avatar Andi says:

    My EODD after 10 months:
    - Weight loss of 13kg
    - BMI 29 to 24
    - waist circumference 103cm to 90cm

    Minimal exercise and heaps of yummy food!

    In fact I hate exercise and love yummy food!

  10. avatar matt Baker says:

    I agree with David and Mark – EODD works. I’ve lost 1st 10lbs over 2 months and I don’t binge on my feast days. I generally eat normally plus maybe a little more now and then, and the 500 cals on the fast days are easy to meet.
    I’ve switched to black coffee and mint tea and improved my diet of the feast days; less bread, more hoe cooked food and I’ve upped my exercise levels.
    So yes its working and only requires 1 day of willpower and I don’t have to avoid any food types.
    Dr Varady has got it right

  11. avatar Ambika says:

    I have been doing alternative eating days for little over two weeks and I can already see the benefits.. sure the first two fast days were hard but once you get over that it gets much easier.

    On the fast days I make sure that I drink lots of fluids. I normally have black coffee without sugar, 3 cups of green tea with lemon, water etc. I’ve now lost 8 pounds and on days when I eat,I try to eat healthy greens, proteins, good fats, high fibre foods etc. My portion size are also much more sensible so I don’t over eat and I feel full. Also I don’t restrict myself too much; on days when I feel like eating something sweet or a takeout I just eat it. I just make sure that it’s on my eating days. You have to be sensible, if you wanna stick to any diet for a long time. You have to think about food and our body in a realistic manner. We can’t completely get rid of your cravings so once in a while I have a cheat meal. My biggest problem was snacking. I would snack on salty and sweet food which made me put on more than a stone in just few months but now I have much more control over my eating habits. I feel that I have more energy.

    At first I wasn’t sure about this life style but I did a lot of research, looked at lots of youtube videos, websites, forms etc on people that tried this lifestyle or intermittent fast and I feel more secure about this lifestyle. Through my research I found that, for your body to reach the starvation mode you have to restrict your calories severely for long periods of time(little or no food for more than a week or two) which can have damaging effects to your body same with over eating. When we normally eat, we store calories that don’t get used up into fats for future in case our body does not get any fuel. If we don’t use the ‘reserve’ energy (fats) it just accumulates and over time it has negative effect. On fast days by not eating it just makes sure that the fats (reserve energy) gets used up. Also our bodies are built to keep our organs safe and organs are made from muscles so don’t worry too much about muscles wasting just make sure you exercise normally and move about. Your body will not start attacking our muscles just because we haven’t eaten for a day. The fats are first things that shifts.

    Well this my take on it.. I know that there are lots of ways to be healthy and to lose weight but I honestly feel that this lifestyle is for me. I think the most important thing to remember is that everybody is different so your body is going to react differently to different things. So do lots of research and find a healthy lifestyle that suits you.

  12. avatar David Jackson says:

    I am now on my 3rd fast day after recently beginning the ADF diet. I have lost 6 pounds already, and already notice that on my feast days that I get fuller quicker, and have less desire to eat more.

    It is easy to follow knowing that it’s based on scientific research, and that settles any worries or misconceptions about whether it may or may not work. Dr Varady has proved through her work that it DOES work, yet is honest enough to admit that she doesn’t quite know EXACTLY why it works.

    Ignore the diet plagiarist Dr Mosley, and do something worthwhile to your body..time is ticking!

  13. avatar Mark says:

    Ok, Varady does not knows the answer. Why? Because she is a scientist.

    By the other side, you may have ALL the answers. Why? you are a marketeer.

    Like atkins, dunkan, sisson, horton, “paleo-it guy”, “ketogenic-that lady”, “crossfit-bith freak”…. all of you, knows well about one answer: making money.

    Varady makes science. She lives in doubt. Its her job.

    PS: dropped 6% body-fat. Gained 4 kg of muscle. i can sprint like a cat. lift like hulk, and see my abs. Thanks Krista. EODD is simple, is effective.

  14. avatar annette says:

    Could you give me feedback on last night’s sugar versus fat on BBC 2.thanks in advance Annette

  15. avatar PhilT says:

    ” But the person who has been researching this for 10 years still can’t “tease apart” the effect of fasting.” – to be fair, she didn’t say she *couldn’t* merely that she *hasn’t*.

    She would need a eucaloric protocol to avoid weight loss, which may be a challenge to achieve if subjects don’t overeat massively on their feed days in an ADF diet. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/1/69.long tried and failed.

  16. avatar Bill Lagakos says:

    Dr. Varady seems surprisingly [refreshingly?] prudent when addressing the question on how ADF might work: “How does it do it? It’s basically the weight loss.”

  17. avatar clark russell says:

    Hi Zoe,

    Happy New Year to you. I hope 2014 is better; the British media are sickening me to death. How can these sill women (sorry, no offense) health editors sleep at night?

    Have you seen this?

    Basically sounds like every other day diet, although I just skimmed over it.

    Kind regards,

    Clark

  18. avatar PJ says:

    I admit I’m confused. 500 calories a day is not a fast, it’s merely starvation level calories. And unrestricted eating half the time, followed by that, is not necessarily any calorie deficit when averaged per week.

    I don’t think research on actual fasting is appropriate to apply to something that does not involve any actual fasting.

    Let alone which involves binging just before the fast (a nice binge/purge mechanism there — there are many forms of purging, including starvation, exercise, etc.).

    I can see that a binge/purge approach to your weekend, along with ignoring it all week, would probably be very sellable in our culture though!

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