Alternate Day Fasting – How To Do It Right To Get The Best Results
Alternate day fasting or ADF is one of the most popular diet weight loss programs today, not just among fitness buffs but also doctors and nutritionists who point out that it is safe. Of course, this is not the first weight loss program you’ve come across. So is there anything about this diet that sets it apart from the rest?
Since there are a lot of crash and weight loss diets around, one might be tempted to dismiss this. But a closer look will show that the ADF diet is different from the typical diet, which is why it is more effective.
What is Alternate Day Fasting Actually?
As the name suggests, ADF is an every other day diet wherein you fast every other day and eat whatever you like the next day. There are many versions of ADF but the most common is limiting consumption to 500 calories when you’re fasting. Apart from losing weight, ADF also reduces your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
And that is really all there is to the ADF diet. This alone goes to show how different it is from other weight loss programs. With other diets, you need to eat only specific types of foods and your calorie intake needs to be limited daily. However with the ADF that will not be necessary since you fast on alternate days.
How Alternate Fasting Works
As an intermittent fasting diet, ADF is as simple as it gets. As stated above you just need to fast one day (500 calories maximum) and eat whatever you like the next day. Fast again the next day, eat and so on.
ADF lets you drink whatever you want: ideally, it should be calorie-free such as tea, unsweetened tea, and water. Depending on the ADF diet you’re on, you may also be allowed on fasting days to consume 500 calories or 25% of your body’s energy needs.
To get results you need to go on this diet for at least a few weeks. It will only take a week or two before you notice the difference. You’re going to lose weight and burn calories, but as the following will show the ADF diet is not the same as other weight loss programs for several reasons.
ADF and Hunger
The biggest question that users ask about ADF – or any diet for that matter – is how hungry it’s going to make them feel. With ADF you won’t feel as hungry. In fact, many of those who go on this diet end up having reduced appetites. One reason for this is that ADF produces a favorable response from the leptin hormone which is involved in satiety, and the ghrelin hormone, which is for hunger.
The positive effect of ADF is not limited to people, however, as clinical studies on animals have proven it to be just as effective. What studies have indicated is that ADF reduces the effect of hunger hormones and boosts that of satiety more effectively than other diets.
ADF also does not generate the compensatory hunger, where one has the urge to eat after going on a restricted diet. What makes ADF even more practical for overweight people is how quickly it allows your body to adjust. For a lot of people, the hunger cravings on fasting day disappear after just a couple of weeks. Some of those who regularly go on diets also don’t need a lot of adjustment.
Bottom line: the ADF diet won’t starve you. A lot of the other weight loss programs suffer from this, which is why people have a hard time sticking with it. With ADF you probably won't have any problem getting used to it.
Is It Safe?
Fasting every other day is safe as is the ADF diet. Because its approach is different from other diets, it doesn’t lead to food binges and has long term benefits. The alternate day approach is effective because it’s easier on your body.
The ADF diet is safe for most people including those who are overweight. However, you should consult a doctor if you have an eating disorder or other medical conditions. Pregnant women, children, and lactating mothers should not go on a diet without consulting a doctor.
So is ADF safe? Yes, this weight loss program is safer than most. Provided you don’t have any medical conditions or taking special medications, there won’t be any serious side effects.
Alternate Day Fasting Benefits
Alternate day fasting provides a lot of benefits, and you get the same benefits whether you eat small meals or at lunch and dinner. While there are several versions to choose from, the 500 calorie fasting day is the most suitable for most as it is easier than fasting for long periods.
The benefits of ADF do not end there, however, as ADF also preserves muscle mass. One of the most common problems with dieting is you end up losing both weight and mass. If you’re working out and building muscles, losing all that muscle tissue forces you to start over again.
Preserving muscle mass not only benefits bodybuilders but everyone in general because losing both fat and mass cuts down the calories you’re burning. If you’re on a diet you definitely do not want that.
What makes ADF efficient is it does not lead to thermogenesis or commonly known as starvation mode. Crash diets and most weight loss programs cause your resting metabolic rate to go down. The effect of thermogenesis is: when your body’s calorie intake is drastically reduced, your body begins limiting the calories burned.
When this happens, your body’s ability to lose weight is reduced and you start to feel weak. This is what makes ADF different from the rest because it doesn’t cause this drop. A head to head comparison will show that ADF is indeed more effective than regular diets.
If two people were to go on an 8-week diet, one on ADF and the other restricting their calorie intake, the resting metabolic rate difference will be significant. With ADF, the reduction is only 1%, whereas with calorie restrictive diets it is 6%. While the main benefit of ADF is weight loss, there are many other reasons why you may consider going on the ADF diet.
1. Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common diabetes in America, and several health complications can arise from this condition. However, exercise and diet can help. ADF is especially useful when it comes to minimizing the many risk factors among those who are overweight. ADF is also most effective when it comes to reducing resistance to insulin and keeping insulin levels manageable.
Not does this reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, but it also means you’re less vulnerable to heart disease and cancer. ADF also cuts down insulin levels by up to 30% in prediabetic cases so the health benefits are real.
2. Reduces Heart Risk
ADF is also the ideal diet for those who are overweight, as they are the ones most vulnerable to heart attacks. Studies have indicated that men and women who are on the ADF lose weight more rapidly than those who are on other diets. Apart from lowering your risk for cardiovascular diseases, ADF also provides other benefits such as the following.
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces your waistline
- Cuts down triglycerides by up to 30%
- Lowers bad cholesterol levels.
A lesser known benefit of ADF is autophagy, where old cell components are recycled. Autophagy is an important process and helps your body fight off diseases like cancer, heart ailments, and various infections.
The positive effects of autophagy have been proven in both humans and animals. What research has shown is that autophagy also lowers the risk of tumors and aging. Autophagy also increases the lifespan of worm, yeasts, and flies, but more research is needed to determine if this is also the case with humans.
What has been proven in cell studies is that autophagy has properties that can revitalize your body. An ADF diet also stimulates changes that are good for your body and cut down oxidative damage.
These are just some of the more common benefits, and we have not even mentioned the other benefits such as increased mobility, flexibility, and greater self-confidence.
Alternate Day Fasting and Weight Loss
The every other day diet is very good for weight loss as you can lose up to 8% of your body weight in less than 3 months. The diet works for people of all ages but is especially potent among middle aged individuals. Not only do you lose weight, but ADF also reduces belly fat.
Another reason to try ADF is that it is very effective preserving muscle mass and calorie intake. Part of the reason is people find it easier to follow the diet since it does not require you to fast for prolonged periods.
The problem with prolonged fasting is as soon as your diet ends, you’ll feel the urge to go on an eating binge. With ADF there is no such craving because you can eat whatever you want every other day.
Weight loss is always more effective when you exercise, and that is the case with ADF. When you work out and go on an ADF diet you’ll double the number of pounds you lose. Even more impressive is you will lose up to six times the weight while working out alone.
What if Normal Weight People Follow This Diet?
The alternate day diet is for those who want or need to lose weight. For normal weight people, an ADF diet will reduce your risk of a heart attack and other diseases related to being overweight.
Normal weight people will also lose fat and reduce insulin, though there might be a few hunger pangs depending on what ADF version you use. If you don’t need to lose a lot of weight though, ADF may not be for you and you’ll want to just exercise and stick to a healthy diet.
If you opt for an ADF diet you will benefit in other ways. If you’re on ADF for 3 weeks and you will notice that it reduces fat mass and insulin levels as well. Someone on ADF for 12 weeks, on the other hand, reduces their risk of getting a heart attack.
Even so, ADF gives your body sufficient amount of calories so you lose weight. This might not seem possible given the fact that you only fast every other day, but it does work.
What to Drink and Eat
Alternate day fasting results will depend on the food and drinks you consume. The good thing about ADF is you can eat or drink whatever you want s long as it does not exceed the 500 calorie limit.
While drinks with calories are not frowned upon, it’s better to stick with no calorie drinks so you’ll be able to save those calories for the food. Speaking of food, you may eat 2 to 3 meals during fasting day or a single large meal, it really depends on you.
You can eat whatever you like, but because your calorie intake is only 500 your diet should consist of protein rich foods as it will fill you up quickly. Here some foods that you may want to consume during fasting days:
- Lean meat salad
- Soup and fruit
- Lean meat with vegetables
- Grilled fish
- Vegetables and eggs
There is also an assortment of recipes online with less than 500 calories which you can try out. Because you can eat anything you want it is tempting to binge on the days when you’re not fasting. But since you’re limited to only 500 calories, it is better to go with healthy snacks that will fill you up.
Alternate day fasting may seem like your typical diet, but it’s actually very effective. Compared to other diets which limit your calorie intake, the ADF is easier to follow because it doesn’t feel like you’re starving.