Alternate day fasting is a variant of intermittent fasting where you fast on one day and eat the other day. Modified Alternate-Day Fasting, or MADF, allows for eating on fasting days as long as you do not consume over 500 calories or 20 to 25% of your calorie requirements. The MADF is more sustainable without losing out on its efficacy. Studies indicate that people find it easier to stick to ADF/MADF than calorie-restricting diets.
Given that this eating pattern allows you to eat half of what you would, it is a powerful weight-loss tool. However, alternate-day fasting has other health benefits too. In this article, we will explore everything that you ought to know about the alternate-day fasting diet!
Alternate Day Fasting and Weight Loss
Alternate-day fasting (ADF) can lead to weight loss, as evidenced by scientific research. Studies(1) have discovered that ADF could help you shed bodyweight in 2 to 12 weeks. ADF is found to be highly effective for overweight and obese adults who are between ages 50 to 59.
It helps in getting rid of the stubborn belly fat and reduces the inflammatory markers in obese people.
Further, ADF triumphs over the calorie-restricting diet(2) in terms of ease of following, weight loss, and retention of muscle mass.
When ADF is combined with endurance exercise, it can double its efficacy.
Health Benefits of Alternate-Day Diet
Fasting every other day may seem like a daunting task. However, it offers a wealth of health benefits. Let us have a look at the benefits of fasting every other day:
1. Type 2 Diabetes
The most effective way to improve diabetic or pre-diabetic conditions is to lose weight and reduce calorie consumption. Eating every other day helps lower insulin levels, thereby helping with blood sugar control. Although there aren’t many studies on the human population to confirm this, the general consensus among diabetes patients states that alternate-day fasting can control blood glucose levels.
2. Promotes Heart Health
Obese individuals have a higher tendency to develop chronic heart-related issues. Since ADF helps in shedding pounds, the subsequent heart problems are also avoided(3). ADF accounts for a decrease in blood pressure, lower LDL concentration, and decreased blood triglycerides.
3. Stimulates Autophagy
Autophagy is the process where parts of old tissues and cells are recycled. Autophagy can prevent cancer, heart disease, and neurodegeneration. In addition to delayed aging, autophagy also helps elongate lifespan due to the reduction in oxidative stress.
Foods During Fasting Days
On strict ADF, you can follow water fasting every other day. Alternatively, you can consume zero-calorie beverages such as unsweetened black coffee and green tea. However, it is easier to stick to MADF. In MADF, you can eat one big meal at the end of the day. Alternatively, you can also spread out the feeding window throughout the day.
As long as you do not consume over 500 calories, you are good to go. Focus on high-protein and high-fiber foods as they are more satiating. Plus, consuming more low-calorie vegetables will also make you feel full without adding to your calorie count.
Some excellent meals that you can fix on fasting days are:
- Eggs and vegetables
- Grilled fish with veggies
- Lean meat with veggies
[Read: Home Remedies For Weight Loss]
Drawbacks and Safety Concerns
Before you get all excited to try out ADF, here are a few limitations worth considering:
- ADF is not a “one-size-fits-all” mechanism to lose weight. Different people respond differently to fasting, and you could be messing up your metabolism.
- ADF may not be suitable for those having a disordered relationship with food.
- Pregnant and lactating women, underweight individuals, children, and those suffering from conditions like diabetes and kidney-issues must stay off ADF.
- If your body is fighting an infection, it may lose access to energy resources, which could lead to a compromised immune system.
Now, coming to the question: is alternate-day fasting safe? Studies indicate that alternate-day fasting is safe for most individuals. The benefits of ADF extend to the restriction of calories, which leads to weight maintenance. However, as mentioned earlier, different bodies respond differently.
Hence, it is highly advisable to consult your physician before starting ADF.
Start by identifying the fasting days and the feeding days, depending on your schedule. Normally, people follow Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as their fasting days as it allows them the weekend to binge on their favorite foods.
Typically, your ADF schedule should look something like this:
|Sunday: Eating between 10 am and 6 pm
Monday: Eating between 6 pm and 8 pm
Tuesday: Eating between 10 am to 6 pm
Wednesday: Eating between 6 pm and 8 pm
Thursday: Eating between 10 am to 6 pm
Friday: Eating between 6 pm and 8 pm
Saturday: Feeding day
As you can see, the above schedule allows you to fast for a 24-hour duration without keeping you hungry. You can experiment with different fasting and feeding days, depending on what suits you best.
[Read: Fasting for Weight Loss]
Tips for ADF
Here are a few tips to make every other day fasting a piece of cake:
- Consume nutrient-dense foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins on fasting days.
- Even on non-fasting days, track your calories and try and restrict them for added benefits.
- To accelerate the weight loss process, pair ADF with exercises and physical activity.
It has been established that alternate-day fasting is a quick way to lose weight. The fact that it is easier to follow than other calorie-restricted diets contributes to the popularity of the diet. Apart from weight loss, ADF can also help with getting rid of belly fat, decreased cholesterol levels, and countering diabetes.
[Read: Intermittent Fasting Benefits]
1. Which Is Better, Intermittent Fasting or Alternate-Day Fasting?
Alternate-day fasting is a kind of Intermittent Fasting (IF). The schedule for IF could be in the form of 16:8, 18:6, and 20:4. Depending on your schedule, either of the two – ADF or IF – are suitable, and hence better than the other.
2. How Much Weight Can You Lose With Alternate-Day Fasting?
A study discovered that those following the alternate-day fasting method for four weeks registered an average weight loss of about 3.5 kgs. This number varies on the basis of your body type and calorie consumption.
3. Does Fasting Help Lose Belly Fat?
Yes, indeed! Alternate-day fasting helps shed visceral fat, which is due to modifications in C-reactive protein and insulin-like growth factor-1. ADF also promotes ketone production, which helps burn fat even from stubborn spots.
4. Does Alternate-Day Fasting Slow Down Metabolism?
Technically, all weight-loss diets cause a dip in the metabolic rate. This metabolic slowdown is a result of adaptive thermogenesis. However, the metabolic slowdown in the case of ADF is almost negligible. While calorie-restricting diets may slow down metabolism by 6%, ADF can cause a reduction of a mere 1%.