What is Alternate Day Fasting | How to do Alternate Day Fasting | How it Works | Weight loss | Benefits | Side Effects | Safety
The most recommended weight loss intervention for obese people is calories restriction. However, people find it challenging to adhere to a conventional weight loss regime as food intake needs to be limited every day. Also, adherence to daily calorie restriction starts decreasing after a certain amount of time. Alternate day fasting can help you overcome this issue where you will fast for a day alternated with a regular eating day.
If you find it hard to follow a strict diet every day, alternate-day fasting can be the perfect choice for you. It is believed that you can achieve up to 3 to 7% of weight loss within 2 to 3 months with this diet approach. Alternate day fasting also improves blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and lipid profiles. However, discussing your medical condition with a doctor is recommended before following this restrictive diet pattern.
What is Alternate Day Fasting (ADF)?
Alternate day fasting is a lifestyle trend that has gained popularity for effective weight management. It consists of a feast day on which food is consumed as usual and an alternate fasting day on which food is very restricted or withheld.
Alternate day fasting is a form of intermittent fasting in which you will have a strict 24 hours of fasting without any calorie intake followed by a 12 hour period of ad libitum food consumption. It is beneficial for your metabolic and cardiovascular health as it leads to reduced glucose concentration in the blood.
To know more about intermittent fasting, read our article A beginners guide to intermittent fasting.
Studies say the flexibility of meal timings in Alternate day fasting increases its tolerability, helps in weight loss, and yields cardioprotective effects. Some people find alternate day fasting more feasible than daily calorie restrictions.
How to do Alternate Day Fasting
In alternate day fasting you extend your intermittent fasting interval to 24 hours and eat normally the next day. However, fasting for 24 hours a day multiple times a week may not sound feasible. Hence it is recommended to consume up to 25% of your regular calorie intake on your fasting day; this is considered more safe in obese people. You can also consume non-caloric beverages like water, tea, and coffee. You can start your day with liquids followed by a single small meal at lunch or dinner time to get through the day.
As your calorie intake is limited on fasting days, you should eat protein-rich, nutritious food. You can add fruits, veggies, fish, meat, and soup to your alternate-day fasting diets. Look for low-calorie meal recipes online according to your preferences.
Alternate day fasting includes days of fasting and normal eating. With a modified approach that is suitable for you, it is possible to achieve weight loss. On your fasting days, you can eat low-calorie meals of around 500 calories per day. Choose a regime based on your goals and follow it consistently to get good results.
How it Works
Fasting generally increases the amount of ketones in your body. It doesn’t matter whether you follow intermittent fasting 16/8, One Meal A Day or Alternate day fasting; any type of fasting can result in ketosis.
You achieve a metabolic switch by fasting. This means you experience the body’s preferential shift from the utilization of glucose to ketones. This metabolic switch generally occurs between 12 to 24 hours after cessation of food. It also depends on your glycogen content before fast and your physical activity.
The metabolic shift leads to the mobilization of fat, resulting in weight loss. Also, increased circulating ketone bodies are believed to have anti-aging and cardioprotective properties.
A detailed study was conducted to evaluate the effects of Alternate day fasting. The study results indicated that Alternate day fasting reduces the risk of cardiac diseases not only in obese people but also in healthy individuals. It has been mentioned that individuals who followed this diet chose to eat normally on their eating day and did not show any binge eating pattern. Alternate day fasting seems to be a perfect way to achieve calorie restriction and weight loss among obese individuals. A balanced diet and exercise are crucial for the success of any diet intervention.
Alternate day fasting and Weight loss
As mentioned earlier, one of the most effective diet strategies for weight loss is restriction. Alternate day fasting is an age-old way of fasting followed in various parts of the world. For instance, Ramadan is a form of alternate-day fasting followed by Muslims all over the world.
Traditional methods of weight management such as daily calorie restriction are thought effective, but the control and adherence are poor. Alternate day fasting can effectively reduce BMI, body weight, and other weight-related biomarkers.
The latest evidence suggests that exercise and alternate-day fasting together can bring a significant reduction in cardiometabolic risk factors such as body weight, body composition, blood glucose, and triglycerides.
Alternate day fasting is an innovative type of intermittent fasting in which you will achieve weight loss in 4 to 12 weeks. It was observed that obese people can quickly adapt to alternate-day fasting and could control hunger and physical activities better. It is considered a safe and tolerable diet approach.
Though we have limited evidence, available research indicates alternate day fasting has favorable effects on body weight.
Alternate Day Fasting Benefits
Other than weight loss, Alternate day fasting carries various other health benefits.
1. Helps Reduce Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
Calorie restriction and weight loss are the most effective ways to improve symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Alternate day fasting can be more effective in reducing insulin in your body than daily calorie restrictions.
Alternate day fasting promotes glycogen synthesis in the liver and muscles. It improves insulin sensitivity as well as enhances lipid metabolism. A recent study has indicated that alternate-day fasting is an effective dietary intervention to counteract type 2 diabetes.
Alternate day fasting reduces insulin levels and insulin resistance in prediabetics, thus significantly reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
2. Cardioprotective Effect
Dietary interventions such as calorie restriction are proven to counteract risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases. By addressing the issues like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, calorie restriction prevents atherosclerosis and the progression of cardiac dysfunction.
According to studies, modified alternate-day fasting is considered a viable diet option to achieve weight loss and reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. In this type of Alternate day fasting, consuming 25% of energy needs on fasting days is allowed. Experts say that some flexibility in mealtime can increase the tolerability and adherence to the Alternate day fasting regime resulting in better heart health.
3. Activates Autophagy
Metabolic insufficiency leads to the accumulation of damaged cells in your body, contributing to various chronic diseases, including metabolic syndrome. Autophagy is the process of removal of dead and damaged cells from the body. As fasting activates autophagy, Alternate day fasting prevents age-related energy imbalance, dyslipidemia, and glucose intolerance.
Recent studies have recognized autophagy as a crucial defense system against chronic diseases, inflammation, and neurodegenerative diseases. Studies suggest that Alternate day fasting enhances autophagy, thus extends the life span and increases your brain’s resistance. It reduces the risk of age-related changes like memory loss or dementia. Autophagy also helps your body to absorb and utilize the nutrients well.
Side Effects of Alternate Day Fasting
Hunger is one of the main concerns of this type of fast. Alternate day fasting can cause extreme hunger on fasting days, and some people find it hard to maintain a steady calorie intake.
Any type of fasting can cause hunger, and in Alternate day fasting, your body might take a few weeks to adapt to fast and feast days. And it is believed that your hunger gradually suppresses.
People may find it challenging to face periods of hunger during fasting days. Keeping yourself motivated to stick to this diet is hard. Not staying consistent with this diet and regaining weight is also seen in many.
Also, some other side effects experienced during Alternate day fasting are constipation, water retention, dizziness, and general weakness. With minimum side effects, Alternate day fasting is a viable diet strategy for weight loss and to reduce risk factors associated with chronic diseases.
Is Alternate Day Fasting Safe?
For most people, Alternate day fasting is considered a safe and tolerable approach to lose weight. It is believed that Alternate day fasting can increase restrictive eating and improve body image perception. It even decreases binge eating and depression.
However, Alternate day fasting is not suitable for pregnant and lactating women, children, and underweight people. Also, if you have any underlying disorder, it is recommended to consult your doctor before starting this diet.
Although the results of Alternate day fasting are promising, we do not know the long-term consequences of strict Alternate day fasting.
To sum up, the results of Alternate day fasting look promising. Whether you follow an aggressive fasting or a modified version, your fasting period yields ketone bodies. This brings a metabolic shift allowing your body to go in and out of ketosis. With better metabolism and better health, you stay flexible with your diet.
Alternate day fasting may not work for everyone, but whoever gets hold of it experiences it’s fantastic health benefits.