The Alternate Day Diet

The Alternate Day Diet (also known as Intermittent Fasting, The Longevity Diet and the Up Day Down Day diet) encourages you to eat half your normal calorie intake every other day. This apparently triggers a skinny gene that encourages the body to burn fat.

In the 1930s it was discovered that a low-calorie diet increased life expectancy by around 30%. All very well, but not many of us would be prepared to be on an eternal diet.

However, in 2003, scientist Dr Mark Mattson discovered that these health benefits could also be enjoyed if the calories were only cut every other day.

The Alternate Day Diet was born! Find out how to do it with our diet plan.

Dr James Johnson wrote a book, The Alternate Day Diet, based on the
theory that halving your calorie intake every other day will help you
lose weight.

He suggests you stick to halving your calorie intake every day
for two weeks to kick-start your diet, then start doing it every other
day. This will maintain your initial weight loss. If you want to lose
more, then you will need to reduce your calories on your ‘down days’ to
around 35%.

The daily intake is 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 for men.

How does the Alternate Day Diet work?

Some scientists believe that the drop in calorie intake triggers a
skinny gene to kick in. This gene, called SIRT1, blocks another gene
from storing fat.

Your body then starts using your fat reserves, therefore making you lose

Who is the Alternate Day Diet good for?

The diet is good for anyone who hates depriving themselves of delicious
food, as you can eat what you like on the ‘up days’ (without, of course,

The diet is also good for anyone who doesn’t want to follow difficult
meal plans or who refuses to cut out any particular foods.

The eating plan is one you can follow for life, as eating just half your
normal intake on your ‘down days will’ maintain your weight loss.

Dr James Johnson, who devised the Alternate Day Diet, claims the plan
can reduce the symptoms of asthma, prevent heart disease and breast cancer and make you live longer, too.

Skeptics worry a very low calorie eating plan does not encourage a
healthy, balanced diet.

You need to make sure you eat lots of fruit and veg on your ‘feast
days’. The temptation may be to eat loads of junk food when you’re
allowed, but you have to be disciplined and make sure you are giving
your body all the vitamins and minerals it needs.

You do need to be able to spend time adding up the calories on your
‘fast days’.

What do you do on the Alternate Day Diet?

For the first two weeks of the eating plan you need to halve your calorie intake every day.
After this fasting stint, go back to eating what you normally do every
other day, and stick to fasting on the days in between.

Make sure you have lots of water every day and exercise regularly on
your ‘feast’ days.

For your ‘down days’ (or fasting days), you should only be eating
half your calorie intake. For a woman this is 1,000 calories, for a man,

To help you keep count, choose a selection from the meals and snacks
below. Remember to drink lots of water and to add the calories of all
drinks you have as well.

Alternate Day Diet Low-calorie breakfasts

Pomegranate, raspberry and banana smoothie

169 calories
Porridge with nuts and fruit

253 calories
Skinnier cooked breakfast

472 calories
Breakfast muffins

250 calories

Alternate Day Diet low-calorie salad

Roasted courgette and tomato couscous

426 calories

Alternate Day Diet low-calorie soups

Lentil and bacon soup

240 calories Rosemary Conley’s pepper soup

141 calories
Carrot and leek soup

120 calories
Carrot and mint soup

140 calories
Slimy pond pea soup

377 calories
Tuscan bean soup

211 calories

Alternate Day Diet low-calorie dinners

Courgette pasta bake

293 calories
Tuna with nectarine salad

264 calories Low-fat fish and chips

428 calories
Sweet chilli salmon

345 calories

Alternate Day Diet low-calorie puddings

Low-fat lemon and berry roulade

297 calories
Sticky pear and chocolate pudding

313 calories

Alternate Day Diet low-calorie snacks

One rice cake – 35 calories
Small bag of Twiglets – 97 calories
3 celery sticks stuffed with cottage cheese – 75 calories
8 cashew nuts – 100 calories
Cadbury’s Flake – 99 calories
Fun-size Milky Way – 76 calories

Alternate Day Diet low-calorie drinks

125ml glass of red or dry white wine – 85 calories
Flute of Champagne – 90 calories
Diet lemon Bacardi Breezer – 98 calories

If you prefer more flexibility in your diet, try the goodtoknow Diet Club, no foods are banned and you’ll get to track your calorie intake thanks to our clever food swap and recipe finder tools. Give it a try, sign up now for a free 5 day trial.