Have you guys heard of the fasting diet fad? Basically, you starve yourself a few days a week.

Does it work?

Let’s take a look.

There are two fasting diets that I researched: The Alternative Day Diet by James Johnson and The Fast Diet by Michael Mosley.

Let’s start with the Alternative Day Diet.

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In this diet, you severely restrict your calorie intake every other day.  So, day one, eat what ever you want.  Day 2, eat 500 hundred calories. Day 3, eat whatever you want. Day 4, eat 500 hundred calories.

This diet claims “Only diet half the time and turn on your skinny gene!”

Well, yes, technically, you are only dieting have the time, but when are you are dieting you are dieting.  I mean starving to death dieting.

Yeah, but does it work?  

Let’s crunch some numbers.  So say you normally eat 2,000 calories a day.  But on your eating days you go a little crazy because you are starving from the day before, so we will say on your eating days you eat 2,500 calories.  Then on your dieting days you only eat 500 calories.  So over the course of 2 days you consume 3,000 calories (instead of your typical 2,000).  So every 2 days you are not eating 1,000 calories.  Which is 3,500 calories a week, which is how many calories you need to not eat to lose a pound.

So should it work?

Yes in theory.  You should lose about a pound week, typically.

But is it worth it?  

Not sure.  It would hard to keep up.  I think it would be a great way to jump start a diet, but probably not very feasible for the long term.

What about turning on your skinny gene?

So there is supposedly a skinny gene.  And its called SIRT1. Basically when this gene is present, it leads to slower cell death. Some organs in the body, constantly regenerate cells after they die, but some (think brain and heart) do not.  So the presence of this gene can help lead to a longer life since the death rate at the cellular level is much lower. This diet claims that by skipping meals your SIRT1 levels raise. They call SIRT1 the skinny gene because it also increases activity in fat cells. More activity in fat cells=weight loss. There is a ton of research citing in the book, why their claims are true.  Sounds to good to be true, and things like that normally are.

Yeah but should I try it?

Always consult with a doctor, but I think any good weight loss plan needs a good kick start to get you going.  Slow and steady wins the race, but we are human.  We like the instant gratification.  So I think it would be good to see some weight fall off quickly to keep you on a healthier track. Also, when we were caveman we we were hunter gatherers right? So, it was feast or famine.  Kind of like this diet proposes.  I think it would be worth a try.

This book also has a bunch of recipes to make eating on your fasting days a little easier, instead of counting calories all day.

The Fasting Diet advocates basically the same thing, the only difference is you eat normally for 5 days a week and fast 2 days a week.

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This might seem like a much better deal than the Alternative Day Diet.

Yeah but does it work?

There is not as much research in this book as the Alternative Day Diet.  The author tracks his weight loss for only 3 months.  Is that enough to tell is a diet really works?  Sure every diet works in the beginning, but how much staying powder does it have?

This book also contains a lot a recipes to help make eating on your fasting days easier.

My parents have been trying a modified version of a fasting diet for a few months now.  They fast 3 days a week.  While they both have lost weight, it does put a kink in social plans.  They have had to reschedule or cancel dinner or social events since they weren’t eating.

Fasting would be something I would try to jump start a new way of eating.  Diets don’t work.  You need to change your whole way of thinking about eating.

(Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietitian. The views I have expressed about this are mine, and mine alone.) 

 

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