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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Alternate Day Calorie Restriction

Here is a beautiful mature red-tailed hawk I saw yesterday on a birdwalk up at Garrett Mountain. It's still cold and snow-covered here, but when the sun comes out it definitely has much more of a "feel" of a spring sun, not a cold and bleak winter sun. The birds are definitely twittering more in the mornings. Soon we see mating and nests and baby birds. And this red-tail will likely have a mate and nest somewhere in the park also. It made me think of the fact that wild-animals certainly don't have their three square meals a day. They look for food when they are hungry, and they go hungry if they don't find any. This red-tail seemed to be on the lookout, but there was nothing in sight right there.

So sometimes I feel this might be a better method for humans as well. I'm tired of my weight stall. I've lost a lot of weight, but have also been stalled for *16 months* now with still a lot of weight to lose, and I've decided I'm going to try the method that is sort of a form of intermittent fasting - one that is described here or here: (this are the abstracts from these two):

Short-term modified alternate-day fasting: a novel dietary strategy for weight loss and cardioprotection in obese adults.

Varady KA, Bhutani S, Church EC, Klempel MC.

Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL 60612, USA. varady@uic.edu


BACKGROUND: The ability of modified alternate-day fasting (ADF; ie, consuming 25% of energy needs on the fast day and ad libitum food intake on the following day) to facilitate weight loss and lower vascular disease risk in obese individuals remains unknown.

OBJECTIVE: This study examined the effects of ADF that is administered under controlled compared with self-implemented conditions on body weight and coronary artery disease (CAD) risk indicators in obese adults.

DESIGN: Sixteen obese subjects (12 women, 4 men) completed a 10-wk trial, which consisted of 3 phases: 1) a 2-wk control phase, 2) a 4-wk weight loss/ADF controlled food intake phase, and 3) a 4-wk weight loss/ADF self-selected food intake phase.

RESULTS: Dietary adherence remained high throughout the controlled food intake phase (days adherent: 86%) and the self-selected food intake phase (days adherent: 89%). The rate of weight loss remained constant during controlled food intake (0.67 +/- 0.1 kg/wk) and self-selected food intake phases (0.68 +/- 0.1 kg/wk). Body weight decreased (P <>

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that ADF is a viable diet option to help obese individuals lose weight and decrease CAD risk. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as UIC-004-2009.

The effect on health of alternate day calorie restriction: eating less and more than needed on alternate days prolongs life.

Johnson JB, Laub DR, John S.

Department of Surgery, Louisiana State University Medical Center, 2547A Lyon Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94123, USA. jim@jbjmd.com


Restricting caloric intake to 60-70% of normal adult weight maintenance requirement prolongs lifespan 30-50% and confers near perfect health across a broad range of species. Every other day feeding produces similar effects in rodents, and profound beneficial physiologic changes have been demonstrated in the absence of weight loss in ob/ob mice. Since May 2003 we have experimented with alternate day calorie restriction, one day consuming 20-50% of estimated daily caloric requirement and the next day ad lib eating, and have observed health benefits starting in as little as two weeks, in insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, infectious diseases of viral, bacterial and fungal origin (viral URI, recurrent bacterial tonsillitis, chronic sinusitis, periodontal disease), autoimmune disorder (rheumatoid arthritis), osteoarthritis, symptoms due to CNS inflammatory lesions (Tourette's, Meniere's) cardiac arrhythmias (PVCs, atrial fibrillation), menopause related hot flashes. We hypothesize that other many conditions would be delayed, prevented or improved, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, brain injury due to thrombotic stroke atherosclerosis, NIDDM, congestive heart failure. Our hypothesis is supported by an article from 1957 in the Spanish medical literature which due to a translation error has been construed by several authors to be the only existing example of calorie restriction with good nutrition. We contend for reasons cited that there was no reduction in calories overall, but that the subjects were eating, on alternate days, either 900 calories or 2300 calories, averaging 1600, and that body weight was maintained. Thus they consumed either 56% or 144% of daily caloric requirement. The subjects were in a residence for old people, and all were in perfect health and over 65. Over three years, there were 6 deaths among 60 study subjects and 13 deaths among 60 ad lib-fed controls, non-significant difference. Study subjects were in hospital 123 days, controls 219, highly significant difference. We believe widespread use of this pattern of eating could impact influenza epidemics and other communicable diseases by improving resistance to infection. In addition to the health effects, this pattern of eating has proven to be a good method of weight control, and we are continuing to study the process in conjunction with the NIH.

I had read about this approach elsewhere and, funnily enough, decided to try out this approach before someone pointed out these studies to me. I totally *cannot* live on a calorie-restricted diet day after day. I don't feel it's healthy for one thing, and it leads to unbearable cravings. But one day of very-low-calorie eating followed by a day of ad libitum eating is totally doable and really just another form of IFing. Since I had a big eating weekend between my winter choir party on Saturday night, and the annual Super Bowl Party I attend on the Sunday night, I decided to start yesterday with the VLC day. I had nothing but a cup of coffee with a little cream until 5 PM, so started with an actual 20-hour fast. Then ate at 5 PM and 8 PM for a total intake of 764 calories.

Today is my ad lib day. I had a great breakfast of bacon and a cheese and avocado omelet, and lunch was some really great-tasting chili made with grass-fed beef from Whole Foods. Not sure what dinner will be yet, though I do have more chili I need to eat up. :-)

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