Like The Every-Other-Day Diet on Facebook to keep up with Dr. Varady as she answers more frequently asked questions weekly!
What is the Every Other Day diet?
The Every-Other-Day (EOD) Diet consists of a “diet day” where you eat 500 calories as a lunch, alternated with a “feast day” where you eat whatever and whenever you want. In this way, one week will consist of 3 diet days, and the next week will consist of 4 diet days. Recent studies from our lab show that people can lose between 10-30 pounds in 8 weeks while following this diet.
How is your fasting book different from the others out there?
It’s true that several books have been published regarding intermittent fasting. Most of these books discuss the author’s personal experiences with the diet, and offer little or no scientific evidence to support their claims. My book differs from these books in that all of the advice given is supported by rigorous clinical trial evidence generated by my lab group. We have run approximately 500 subjects through Every-Other-Day Diet protocols that lasted 3-12 months in duration. We have tested several key questions, such as: What is the best exercise regimen to use during the diet? What kinds of foods help to boost weight loss while doing this diet? How can Every-Other-Day dieting be used as a weight maintenance strategy? Is the diet effective for people who only want to lose 10 pounds? The answers to all of these questions are discussed in detail in the book, and I hope will be of value to anyone who is considering this diet.
How can the EOD diet result in weight loss, when it allows for ‘feasting’ every other day?
Our research has shown that people don’t (or maybe even can’t) binge on the feast day. When I started doing this research, I assumed that people would eat 175% of their calories on the feast day, to fully compensate for eating only 25% of their calories on the diet day. This isn’t the case though. Our findings show that people only eat about 110% of their daily calories on the feast day, instead of the predicted 175%. Why is this? We don’t exactly know yet, but we assume it involves stomach shrinking, or an increased sensitivity to fullness signals. We are currently performing studies to find out what is responsible for this effect.
How long does it take to get used to the diet days?
For those of you who are trying out the diet for the first time, please note that the first 10 days (i.e 5 diet days) are somewhat difficult. However, once you’ve passed this initial 10 day “hump” most people find the diet days rather easy to get through.
How can I reduce my hunger on the diet day?
Drinking black coffee or black tea is a good way to stave off hunger (for periods of 1-2 hours) on the diet day. A recent study published in the Journal, Obesity, suggests that appetite suppression can be achieved by consuming 6 mg caffeine/kg body weight. Just for reference, most drip coffees contain 150-200 mg of caffeine per cup. Several other tips for suppressing hunger are discussed in the book, so stay tuned!
Can I break up the 500-600 calorie lunch into a 150-200 calorie breakfast, lunch and dinner?
This is a great question that people ask all the time. We are currently running a study to see whether breaking up the lunch time meal on the diet day leads to better adherence to the diet, and greater weight loss. Although the study is still underway, at this stage, we are noticing higher dropout rates in the group consuming these “small meals” versus the group consuming the meal as a lunch. Most individuals find it difficult to only eat 150-200 calories for each meal, which leads them to cheat (eat extra calories at each meal) or quit the diet all together. So at this stage, I would recommend eating the 500 calories as one meal (generally around lunch time).
Can I exercise on the diet day?
In a recent study, we found that people could exercise on the diet day, but lost more weight if they exercised in the morning rather than the afternoon. Why is this? People tend to have a hunger surge about 40 minutes after exercising. Thus, if you exercise in the morning on the diet day, you can eat your lunch shortly after training. In contrast, if you exercise in the afternoon, you’ll be more likely to cheat and grab a snack to sooth the hunger surge.
What type of exercise is best during EOD dieting?
To date, we’ve only tested the combination of Every-Other-Day dieting with aerobic exercise (i.e. elliptical training and stationary biking). Findings from this study showed that muscle mass was maintained with exercise, even while fasting. Although we haven’t done a study using resistance training/weight lifting, I would assume that this would be an excellent adjunct to endurance training, and may even help increase muscle mass. This increase in muscle mass could also help maintain or possibly augment metabolic rate, which would be very helpful for weight loss maintenance.
What type of foods should I be eating during EOD dieting?
At this point, we have only examined whether the diet works when eating high fat foods. Results from this high fat study indicate that people can lose just a much weight while eating high fat foods on diet days and feast days, as compared to eating low fat foods on these days. These findings are described in detail in the book. Whether these same effects are noted with a low glycemic diet or high protein diet, have not yet been tested, but we hope to do so soon.
Do certain types of foods help to suppress hunger?
Whether or not you feel hungry after a meal may depend on the fat/protein/carb composition (what is called the macronutrient profile) of what you ate. Studies show that meals high in protein may have the best hunger-surpressing effects. Meals high in simple sugars and carbs, on the other hand, may have the highest hunger-stimulating effects. In general, if you steer clear of meals that are loaded with sugar and carbs (for example, pasta, rice or bread), and go for meals with high protein content (like meats and beans), it is likely that you will not feel hungry after eating.
Should I keep my calories up on the feast days in order for my metabolism to not slow down?
Unfortunately, all weight loss diets lower your metabolism by 10-15% when you reduce your body weight by 10% or more. This occurs with both daily calorie restriction and intermittent fasting. The only way to prevent this drop in metabolic rate is to exercise 5 times per week for 45 min/session (which increases your muscle mass). Since your muscle mass is a key determinant of your metabolic rate, increasing muscle mass will ensure that your metabolism stays high, even post-weight loss.
Is it normal to feel cold while losing weight?
In general, people feel cold while losing weight for a couple of reasons: 1) you are losing fat (which acts as insulation against the cold), and 2) since you are consuming a restricted amount of calories, your body may be using less calories to keep you warm, and more calories to keep other important body functions running.