The idea is simple. By eating a fraction of what you normally would every other day, you compensate for the days in between when you eat normally, or even indulgently.
A sample meal-plan on the alternate day diet would include eating whatever you want on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, followed by a meager 500 to 600 calories on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday - made up perhaps of yogurt for breakfast, soup for lunch, and salad for dinner.This diet is the brainchild of plastic surgeon James B. Johnson, whose book, "The Alternate-Day Diet," was released April 2008. Johnson was inspired by data from animal studies indicating that mice and primates fed only every other day show surprising health benefits, including the shrinking of fat cells, resulting in a decreased risk of diabetes and obesity.Studies suggest that alternate day dieting may:
Help you lose weight (Johnson lost 35 pounds after following the diet for three months).
Reduce oxidative stress markers - indicators of free-radical damage, which leads to cancer, heart disease, arthritis and more.
Lead to long-term health improvements by activating a genetic mechanism called SIRT1. This so-called "longevity gene" has been shown to promote the long-term survival of irreplaceable cells, thus contributing to extended life.
Help people with inflammatory disease. A study by Johnson, published in Free Radical Biology & Medicine, found that asthmatics had a significant reduction in their symptoms after two weeks on the diet.
The chart on the right shows the lifespan of calorie restricted mice versus non-calorie restricted mice. The greater the restriction, the longer the lifespan until restriction is great enough to cause starvation. This chart could represent daily calorie restriction or every other day feeding.
These rats are both 1000 days old, which is very old for rats. The difference between the two is that the one on the right was calorie restricted. The one on the left is near death and shows typical signs of old age similar to what happens in humans. Feeding every other day produces similar results. This graphically demonstrates the remarkable effect calorie restriction has on aging. (Source: Clive McCay (1951))
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