T Nation

Interesting New Dietary Approach


Hey, I ran across this the other day, it seems fairly interesting. Basically, eating normal one day followed by eating less the next seems to have a lot of health benefits.

I wonder if the every other day cycling would be enough to avoid metabolic downshifts due to the total overall effect of a calorie deficit?
Dr James Johnson, who co-wrote the report with colleagues from Stanford and New Orleans universities, said the diet involves eating normally one day and then cutting food intake the next day to between 20 and 50 per cent.

Dr Johnson, who reports having lost 35lbs in the first 11 weeks of being on the diet, said: "We have observed improvement in a variety of disease conditions, starting within two weeks, including insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, infectious disease, periodontal disease, and cardiac arrhythmias."

For people who want to lose weight, according to the report, the diet has the psychological advantage of not subjecting them to permanent food deprivation. But the scientists said what they call "up-day, down-day" dieting also has health-promoting effects.

"For three years we have experimented with an alternate day pattern of eating in which intake is limited to 20-50 per cent of estimated daily requirement one day followed by ad lib eating the next day," the report said. "This alternate day calorie restriction appears to have health-promoting effects in the absence of weight loss."


I used to work with a guy who did this in an even more extreme way: on every other day he would fast entirely. I could never do anything that extreme (love to eat too much), but the approach in the article sounds a lot more do-able. Anyway, this guy was able to lose and keep off a lot of weight this way. You could probably also arrange your fast days on non-workout days to keep your energy stable and preserve LBM.

This is the first research I've seen promoting health benefits for this type of diet as well. Interesting, since I suffer from chronic atrial fibrillation that is unresponsive to drugs. Sounds like something like this might be worth a try.


This sounds like the basic premise behind the Cheater's Diet. I'd be curious to learn more about this method and whether it has a negative affect on LBM or not.

Edit- 20-50% is sounds extreme for LBM preservation. Maybe 50-70 would be more appropriate.


I would be curious to see what the reccommendations are for the "up day" eating. Do you eat maintenance, above maintenance to boost metabolism, or below maintenance? I guess I should've clicked on the link...

It does sound interesting, but not exactly revolutionary. Most of us do this anyway after a cheat day or the like. We think that by eating less the next day you are somehow "counteracting" the cheat day. Haven't we all been told this doesn't work though? Funny thing... it does work for me and I've done it for a while. If I have a cheat type, or just a day where I don't really count what I eat. I'll follow it with a day or two of almost 0 carbs. It really seems to help. It probably doesn't help everyone though.

Thanks for the link vroom.


I suspect that on off days you could certainly take HOT-ROX and make sure you have some Velocity Diet style shakes?

I mean, people keep their LBM while on the V-Diet, so why not emulate the principles (a bit) on the low day? Inject a few shakes to keep the protein available and avoid muscle catabolism.

Hmm, howabout Carbolin 19 on the heavy eating days and HOT-ROX on the low days. Is there value to cycling them back and forth based on daily calorie expectations, or do they need to be used more consistently for effect?

Any answers out there?


I've been doing similar for a while. Eating big before a workout to replenish glycogen stores and basically allow me to work out as if I was bulking, then eating big (bulking diet) afterwards too until the same time the next day. Then I start using a cutting diet the next day until it's gym time again (if that doesn't happen for a while then I have two bigger meals before working out).

I've been able to add LBM as quickly as on a straight out bulk, but have leaned up a couple of % at the same time. Specifically I've been doing this for 7/8 weeks and I've put on 3lbs and lost about 2% BF. The bodyfat is a bit of a guess, but in theory that would make a LBM gain of close to 7lbs. I lovingly call it the Anacat Diet :smiley:


hrrrm interesting idea vrroom. I might tey the V diet with a mantenence diet the next...see what happens
i have plenty to cut, what could go wrong lol


A coworker of mine has been doing this for a number of weeks now. He eats 'normally' one day and then, I believe, takes fiber supplements and vitamins on the next. It seems to be working for him and other than hunger pains, he isn't experiencing any ill affects. He mentioned that he can still chase around his 5 kids and is actually getting better at catching them.


Cyclical diets arent anything new... so the diet itself doesnt seem to ground breaking.

The list of health benifits on the other hand is definatly interesting.


See Thib's Carb Cycling codex...


There is some guy out there that calls this the hunter-gatherer diet. I thought I read about it/him on this site... If the hunting was good he eats well if not, well, I guess he goes hungry. Basically he is trying to say this is how we evolved and therefore it must be better for us. Sounds like an excuse to binge one day and then punish yourself the next...gateway to an eating disorder??


Sort of like a consensed version of 'ABCDE' that Bill Phillip's and this Swedish Guy, forget his name Tobjorn something were advocating, except it was 2 weeks stuff your face, 2 weeks strict calorie control. It worked primarily for mass though as it got closer to primitive stuff more than usual diet / eating plans. By that I mean, the extreme's of having excess calories to eating very strictly brings in some interesting hormonal and physiological aspects.


I realize there are already cyclical diets, but from what I've seen they mostly deal with macronutrient ratios and calculations and lots of complex things to consider. I won't pretend I've researched all of them though.

This particular articles says you eat normally, not binging, one day, then restrict your calories the next. If I'm not mistaken, the warrior diet involved eating certain foods and then one large feast at dinner time.

In comparison, I think this concept is extremely simple... and could easily be adopted by a large quantity of fat people with no difficult explanations involved... ?


Yeah but adding up the calories over 1 week would just have the same effect as eating somewhere in between the two values (normal and restricted), with an undesirable effect on insulin and other hormones on the days where you eat more.


Are you sure?

If you just restrict your calories, won't your body get the impression it's not getting enough food and adjust? Is the body able to generate an "average" consumption and throttle the metabolism accordingly?

Questions, questions, I know...


If your body thinks its not getting enough calories at least after a while the metabolism would see a downturn. The idea of eating less one day then 'normally' is not really sufficient time to cause some benefit over just dieting for weeks at a time.

If you dieted for a few weeks, typically it would take a while before you got tem p decrease and the resulting lethargy and less calorific expenditure to compensate. Just yo-yo one day to the next would be no more beneficial than just cutting calories on each day.

In fact if you 'dieted' on Monday then on Tuesday ate more the increased insulin response would probably make you store more fat. Even if on the following day you lost some fat from the calories restriction, you'd probably be at the same as eating normally or just dropping calories every day.


Thinking about it, if it avoids metabolic downshifts then it probably (whilst avoiding tricks like macronutrient manipulation like say going into ketosis on no carbs)doesn't work well for dieting...but it would probably work well for putting on mass.

Most of us who don't get anal about calories probably already follow this pattern anyway, eat more on training days and eat less when we are tired the next day.


Well, maybe to some degree. But definitely not enough to halt fat loss. People get quite lean on diets with a steady caloric deficit all the time. When losing fat, I've often naturally cycled calories, the difference being my PWO shake on lifting days. Probably not to the degree this article suggests. I'm not sure if there'd be any more benefit to a greater discrepancy than a lesser one or none at all. My feeling is, though is 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' But if someone would enjoy eating along these lines and giving it a go, i don't think it'd harm them.


While weight loss is a welcome side effect of this dieting approach, the primary focus of the researchers is disease prevention. The following link has a nice synopsis of a presentation one of the doctors did on benefits of the diet for asthma sufferers:



I've heard before about the health benefits of this approach. I think we all do this in some degree.
Only disadvantage for huge (daily) calorie changes are extreme hungry on your low days (also depending on the amount of carbs you eat). I think big changes can be demanding for your body too, especially if you work out hard. After a tough workout or HIIT, you can feel hungry, also the next day (at least I do :smiley: ).