Literatus: The alternate day fasting method

Zosimo T. Literatus

PHIL McGraw in “The Ultimate Weight Solution” (2003) wrote, “Reality check: You can never, ever, use weight loss to solve problems that are not related to your weight.” Nevertheless, there is a new popular weight loss regimen circulating among nutritionists and kinesiologists in the United States. It is called the Alternative Day Fasting (ADF) weight management method. This weight management regimen includes a “feast day” alternating with a “fast day.”

During the “feast day,” which covers an entire 24-hour period, food is consumed ad libitum—as often as needed or desired, often around 1,000 kilocalories. During the “fast day,” food intake is limited to 600 kilocalories over 24 hours.

Evidence is growing among obese individuals lose more body weight when a low-carbohydrate diet (LCD) is used during the feast and fast days. An LCD requires that only 30 percent of the energy requirements for the day come from carbohydrates. Usually, the other macronutrients are similarly structured—35 percent of energy requirements from protein and the remaining 35 percent energy from fat.

Faiza Kalam and colleagues at the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition in the University of Illinois in Chicago studied this ADF-LCD combination with encouraging results. In their 2019 report in the journal “Obesity Science and Practice,” body weight declined 6.3 kg within six months. Fat mass also declined while keeping the lean mass (LM) and visceral fat mass (VFM) stayed the same.

Fat mass is an index, which is the ratio of the fat weight (kg) and height (meters squared). Meanwhile, LM is the difference between total body weight (TBW) and the fat mass. Alternatively, body mass index may replace TBW to make computation easier.

Other obesity indicators also declined, which included total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, systolic blood pressure and fasting insulin. Meanwhile, the unchanged indicators included high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, diastolic blood pressure, fasting glucose, heart rate, insulin resistance and hemoglobin A1C.

This weight reduction method is worth trying personally because it is relatively easy to do. It is also evidence-based. Designing the meal is usually the more complex option.

Cicero once wrote, “Thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat.” Similarly, fasting may also be done to live.