Lose Weight by Dieting Every Other Day

Updated: May 23, 2016

Why is it if you tell people you ate 2,400 calories in a day and you feel so fat it’s

Why is it if you tell people you ate 2,400 calories in a day and you feel so fat it’s acceptable, whereas if you tell the same people you ate 600 calories in one day they freak out? Studies have disproved that a few low-calorie days will lower your metabolism, yet we all fear anything below the 1,200 calorie level—the dreaded starvation mode. However, recent reputable studies show that alternating calorie intake may be good for weight loss and your health.

Whether you call it the every other day diet, alternate day fasting, intermittent fasting, or calorie cycling, studies have suggested that alternating days of higher calorie intake with very low-calorie intake is just as good for your health and waist as typical dieting. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, calorie restriction could be replaced with [pull_quote]another dietary regimen, termed alternate-day fasting (ADF)…ADF regimens generally involve a ‘feast day’ on which food is consumed ad libitum that alternates with a ‘fast day’ on which food is withheld or reduced.[/pull_quote]

The AJCN has noted that alternate day fasting without calorie restriction may be just as effective as overall calorie restriction for reducing the risk of heart disease and Type-2 diabetes. They also believe that it

[pull_quote]seems intuitively likely that persons will find it easier to fast or reduce intake on alternate days than to reduce their intake every day.[/pull_quote]

Most diets prescribe a general amount to eat each day. Proponents of intermittent fasting such as the Warrior Diet, Eat Stop Eat and QOD diet all give different ways of consuming more on some days and less on others. The basic premise is simple, determine the amount of calories you need to eat to lose weight and then find some way to stay below or at that weekly goal. This handy website freedieting.com will take your age, weight, and activity level into account and then provide you with a link for a 7-day calorie-cycling diet or zig-zag diet.

So for a woman who needs to eat 1460 calories to lose weight the amount she needs to eat in a week is 10,220 calories. Freedieting.com will cycle the calories so that the dieter is not eating 1,460 calories each day but more or less to avoid deprivation.

So a week would look like this:

M: 1,460

T: 1,168

W: 1,752

Th: 1,460

Fri: 1,314

Sat: 1,607

Sun: 1,460

There is a caveat–and every diet has one. Brad Pilon, the creator of Eat Stop Eat, which advocates two days of 24 hour fasts per week, warns that nutritional guidelines should not be thrown out the window. In other words no IFC, or “intermittent fasting on crap.” The Warrior Diet and QOD both emphasize fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat proteins on low-calorie days to keep up minerals and a balanced diet on your feast days. Can you eat a brownie on your feast days? Yes. 30 brownies? No.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest