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
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
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
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
Porridge with nuts and fruit
Skinnier cooked breakfast
Alternate Day Diet low-calorie salad
Alternate Day Diet low-calorie soups
240 calories Rosemary Conley’s pepper soup
Carrot and leek soup
Carrot and mint soup
Slimy pond pea soup
Tuscan bean soup
Alternate Day Diet low-calorie dinners
Tuna with nectarine salad
264 calories Low-fat fish and chips
Sweet chilli salmon
Alternate Day Diet low-calorie puddings
Sticky pear and chocolate pudding
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
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