Alternate Day Fasting: The facts you need to know

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Alternate Day Fasting has been hailed a success in recent trials, but can it really help you lose weight and keep it off? Handbag investigates....

Alternate Day Fasting
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that eating less is one of the ways to successfully lose weight. Cutting calories, skipping junk food and exercising regularly are the best ways to beat the bulge, but now some scientists are recommending eating hardly anything at all.

Alternate Day Fasting requires you to severely restrict your calories every other day. On your fast day you can eat one 400-600 calorie meal and as much black coffee and water as you want. The next day (your feed day) you can eat whatever you want.

By following this 'one day on one day off' diet scientists are convinced that we can lose weight and drastically improve our overall health. Trials suggest this system can reduce our risk of heart disease and cancer as well as reduce symptoms of asthma and allergies. Serious supporters believe this diet can help improve our life-expectancy too.

One of the most popular books based on this feasting and fasting system is 'The Alternate-Day Diet' by plastic surgeon Dr James Johnson. Here's what you need to know....

+This is a way of cutting calories. Studies show that on 'feast days' dieters don't necessarily eat MORE because they fasted the day before. As a result you're eating roughly 50-75% less calories every two days.

+The idea of restricting calories every other day, rather than every day, was introduced in 2003 following lab research at the National Institute of Ageing in America. Studies on mice showed that intermittent fasting helped them live longer.

+One small human study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that Alternate Day Fasting can aid weight loss. After three weeks, the 16 participants lost an average of 2.5% of their body weight and 4% of their fat mass.

+Some studies suggest that calorie restriction activates SIRT1 aka The Skinny Gene. The theory is when cells don't have enough energy from food they become stressed and 'die'. This is thought to trigger a reaction that activates SIRT1 to keep cells alive.

+The Skinny Gene is believed to make our metabolism more efficient, inhibit fat storage and reduce inflammation (which is seen as the root cause of heart disease, cancer, premature ageing, asthma and arthritis).

The Downsides

-Feeling hungry

-Bingeing on feast days 

-Possibility that you could become deficient in nutrients in the long run.

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