Every Other Day…I’m Dieting Fine!

Steven P. Timmons

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By Steven P. Timmons

She loves me, she loves me not. I’m fasting, I’m fasting not. I’m penitent, I’m penitent not. I’m just kidding…not! So what am I talking about? Well, the most recent revival of the Alternate Day Diet (ADD) of course! But before we delve into the latest research from the current champion of alternate day dieting, Krista Varady, PhD, we need to take a step back in time.

For a million years, mankind has been searching for food and craving for the ability to gain enough fat to survive the lean winters. Throw us back even 200 years and, except for religious fasting, there was little need for, or even a thought about dieting. All of our thoughts were focused on finding the next meal. Intermittent fasting has been the normal, though involuntary, state of humanity for a million years. Now we take a step forward through time to the modern era, where economies in the free world provide an unlimited supply of food to most of the population. Here, we find hundreds of diets, of every food type, flavor and variety; promoted, marketed and preached in every venue imaginable.

In fact, the only similarity between all modern diets is the immediate denouncement that these diets will provoke from most nutritional and medical experts, who are quick to point out the dangers of “restrictive dieting,” and the need for the dieter to seek medical approval before embarking upon the stormy sea of caloric denial. Who can disagree with them? For instance, can any of us believe that the “beer and sausage diet” is harmless? How about the banana diet or the egg diet?

This is why my interest was piqued as I read the latest study by Krista Varady and her co-researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, published in the Nutrition Journal, (November 2013). The study followed 30 participants for 12 weeks, who used an Alternate Day Diet that consisted of consuming 25 percent of their normal caloric energy needs on an every-other-day schedule. The meals on the diet days consisted of 30 percent kcal from fat, 15 percent kcal from protein and 55 percent kcal from carbohydrates. Energy-free beverages were allowed on this diet day, including coffee and tea. On the regular day there were no restrictions. The study measured the effects of this diet on body weight, body composition and on coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors. Unlike many previous studies, this one did not focus on obese individuals.

Not only is this diet free of any marketing influence (aside from Varady’s book), it attempts to show that there is little to fear, from a medical standpoint, in adopting this form of alternate day “restrictive dieting.” In fact, not only did the participants lose an average of 11.4 pounds, but they also improved many of their cardiovascular risk factors.

One of the most beautiful things about the Alternate Day Diet is that it allows us to eat the things we want. All of us are included: vegetarians, vegans, meat-eaters, religious fasters and even junk-food enthusiasts. Every other day we are free to eat as we like, as long as we can control ourselves on the diet day.

She loves me, she loves me not. I’m fasting, I’m fasting not. I’m penitent, I’m penitent not. I can do this diet…my way.  I kid you not!

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