The fasting every other day diet is becoming more and more popular and has been found to be effective with weight loss.
Essentially all you have to do is not eat one day and then you can eat the following day. Fast, feast, fast, feast. Easy enough right?
Many people have found this helps them lose weight. Along with many other health benefits including staying young.
Fasting every other day is basically a form of intermittent fasting. A common modified version of this is eating up to 500 calories on the day you’re fasting.
The problems with fasting every other day are the hunger pains you can get. You might have spots of mood swings, irritability, and crankiness while fasting. This can make it difficult to stick to and even tougher on the people around you!
But the good news is you will adapt to it. Studies have found the hunger pains go down significantly after just a couple weeks.
I’m sure you’ll agree using the fasting every other day diet can help you lose weight when done the right way.
You’ll still be able to eat some of your favorite foods and lose weight while Alternate Day Fasting (ADF).
Here you’ll discover the pros and cons of fasting every other day. How to do it. As well as a plethora of additional health benefits.
How To Do Every Other Day Fasting
Alternate Day Fasting isn’t rocket science. Just eat what you’d normally eat one day and then fast the next day.
Of course, you’re going to have to keep your calories in check. It’s always better to eat healthier food choices on the days you’re feasting instead of going crazy and eating pizza and candy bars.
On the days that you’re fasting, you can only have zero calorie beverages such as black coffee or unsweetened tea.
I like to take Athletic Greens while fasting to get some healthy nutrients into my body without breaking my fast.
The modified approach to the fasting day allows you to have up to 500 calories. This study found being able to have 500 calories on a fasting day was much more tolerable for the majority of people.
Yet this recent 2017 study by JAMA found it’s hard to have just one meal in a day than it is to not eat it all.
Funny enough the researchers compared it to peeing. Once you start peeing it’s hard for you to stop. Same goes for eating when you’re hungry. Once you start eating it can become hard to stop.
This study found it doesn’t really matter when you want to fast and the meal that you have.
The study found it doesn’t matter if have your meal at dinner or at lunch. You can even smaller meals throughout the day as long as you don’t go over your daily calorie limit.
The researchers found this helps to increase the tolerability and long-term adherence to Alternate Day Fasting.
Keys To Fasting Every Other Day (For Weight Loss)
The good news with fasting every other day is it can be very effective for weight loss. Studies have backed up these claims too.
This study by the JAMA Network followed 400 obese women and place them on a fasting every other day diet. They ended up losing 5.5% of their body weight but they did end up regaining 1.8% by the end of the year.
The researchers also found improvements in other health benefits. These include reductions in blood pressure, blood sugar and insulin levels.
This study in Nutrition Journal found alternate fasting effective for losing weight as well as for heart protection.
The participants in this study lost 12 pounds more compared to the control group in only four weeks.
Another 2014 study found Alternate Day Fasting to be effective for lowering oxidative stress in the body. This in effect helped to lower inflammation in the body.
These are two big factors in helping you stay looking and feeling young. You’ll also be increasing your longevity.
Fasting every other day was found to be most effective in middle age people according to this study.
But that doesn’t mean if you’re younger or older it won’t work for you. The researchers just found it worked best for middle-aged people.
One more study found participants fasting every other day were able to double their weight loss by adding in cardio workouts.
Crazy enough the researchers also discovered cardio in addition to alternate fasting resulted in six times the weight loss you’d normally get from doing just endurance training.
Benefits Of Testing Every Other Day (And The Bad)
One of the problems some research has found with fasting every other day is a significant dropout rate.
One study found only 69% ended up sticking with the diet until the end. Participants ended up feeling uncomfortably hungry and irritable on their fasting days. This resulted with them feeling dissatisfied with the diet.
Some people never got accustomed to the discomforts on fasting days. But in this review study researchers found people are more much more likely over time to stick to it compared to calorie restriction diets.
This ended up resulting in greater fat loss and more muscle mass than those on a calorie restricted diet.
Researchers also discovered fasting is better for hunger hormones compared to calorie restriction.
Alternate Day Fasting ended up increasing the satiety hormone leptin while helping to decrease the hunger hormone ghrelin.
One of the problems with calorie restriction diets is binging when you’re allowed to eat again.
Researchers found Alternate Day Fasting was better at this. When participants break their fast they didn’t eat nearly as much as those on a calorie restricted diet.
This study found the first two weeks are going to be the hardest when you’re fasting. After that, the hunger pains go down significantly.
It’s a lie to say your fasting days will be effortless but the good news is your body will eventually get used to it.
While you’re fasting it’s nice to know the next day you’ll be able to feast again. But that won’t entitle you to eat Big Macs all the time.
Alternate Day Fasting Guide
On your fasting days, you should not try to put any calories into your body. That way you have a true fast.
Some of the calorie-free beverages you can have include:
I like to take some zero calorie Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) to help preserve muscle mass.
BCAAs are the building blocks of protein without the calories. This way you can still feed your muscles without breaking your fast.
Another trick I use while fasting is to chew gum. Some people think chewing gum can cause an insulin spike but according to this study that isn’t the case.
When you’re fasting every other day it’s a good idea to try and keep your weekends free and open. Family and friend gatherings can make it hard to stick to your fasting days.
If you’re following the 500 calorie fasting day version then try to have your meal at lunchtime. This way you cut yourself off for the rest of the day.
The theory is if you spread those 500 calories throughout the day you’ll be more likely to end up going over your limit.
People have found after a couple weeks eating anything on your fasting day can make it much harder than if you didn’t eat anything at all.
You can lose 10-20 pounds with a 7 day water fast if you want to take it up a notch.
Fasting Burns Belly Fat
One of the big advantages of fasting every other day is the preservation of lean body mass.
Having muscle on your body helps to give you the toned and attractive body look.
This is a much more appealing body look than the “skinny fat” look. The latter happens when you’re just restricting calories.
Muscle has also been found to increase your metabolism so you’re able to burn fat around the clock.
This study found Alternate Day Fasting to be effective in lowering belly fat. You’ll lose belly fat while also getting many other health improvements.
Belly fat isn’t only unsightly but it’s also linked to many health problems. The big ones include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Belly fat is a very stubborn area to get rid of for most people. But the good news is adding intermittent fasting into your diet can be effective in helping you get rid of those last pounds of fat on your stomach.
You can find more ways to get rid of belly fat naturally here.
Does Fasting Slow Down Your Metabolism?
Some people out there think fasting for 24 hours will put your body into “starvation mode.”
This is when your body slows down your metabolism and prevents you from maximizing the calories you can burn.
When you’re not eating enough calories your body wants to preserve its own energy source in case of a famine. Your body responds by conserving energy and reduces the number of calories it burns.
If your body is in starvation mode then it’ll keep you from burning more fat off your body.
Your body will actually lose muscle first as your body works to preserve its fat stores.
But in reality, 24 hours really isn’t long enough for your body to go into starvation mode. Feasting the next day will reset your body so it doesn’t end up slowing you down your metabolism.
This study found severe calorie restriction was worse in slowing down your metabolism.
The researchers found calorie restriction slowed metabolism by 6% while Alternate Day Fasting only slowed by 1%.
Interestingly enough long-term calorie restriction was found to slow down your metabolism much more than Alternate Day Fasting.
Is Alternate Day Fasting Safe For You?
Fasting every other day has been found to be safe for most people wanting to lose weight and improve their health.
In many ways is actually better for you than calorie restriction.
There’s much less risk of the weight bouncing back with fasting every other day compared to calorie restriction diets.
Long-term studies also discovered Alternate Day Fasting to be better at improving binge eating.
Anyone who has ever dieted knows how hard it can be to not binge eat. But with Alternate Day Fasting researches have found it to be much more tolerable.
This study also found fasting helped to reduce depression. Not only that but it actually improved body image perception.
Here’s what I think about alternate day vs. intermittent fasting.
I generally recommend a 16 to 8 fasting protocol. This is when you fast for 16 hours and then eat for the following eight.
I found this to be highly effective long-term for getting results. This will still make it tolerable so you can do it in the long run.
One of the hardest parts with fasting is just getting started and used to it. Once you get the ball rolling then it becomes easier and easier to do.
How long can you do alternate day fasting?
Theoretically you can keep doing alternate day fasting forever as long as it’s working for you. I’ve known people doing it for quite a few years now and they’re still getting the benefits from doing it. In the long run it’s more about psychologically staying motivated to keep doing it.
Is fasting one day a week good for weight loss?
If you’re only fasting for a full day one time per week then you shouldn’t expect a whole lot of results when it comes to weight loss. Yes you will be having a massive calorie deficit by not eating one day but if you’re eating too much of the bad foods throughout the rest of the week then your results will be severely diminished. It’s best to use intermittent fasting for one day and then follow it by a feeding day the next.
The Last Word
Fasting every other day is a great way to help you lose more weight, drop belly fat and improve your overall health.
Studies have found fasting to be effective in improving your heart health, reversing type II diabetes, and even preventing certain cancers.
Not to mention fasting helps to boost the killing of bad cells in your body. These bad cells can lead to cancer and heart disease.
The only bad part with fasting is sometimes going to the hunger pains. Especially in those first two weeks.
But the good news is those hunger pains will gradually go away. It’ll become much easier to get through the fasts after that.
I generally recommend fasting over calorie-restricted diets for faster and better long-term success.
Keep in mind fasting doesn’t give you license to eat whatever you want on your feasting days.
When you’re fasting every other day you can expect to lose weight, feel better and improve your overall. Sounds good to me.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college level. He has over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He hopes to be able to bring inspiration & results to people all over the world to live a healthier life through diet & exercise.