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The Alternate Day Diet (ADD) - Feasting and Fasting - UpDayDownDay Diet™ - eat-one-day and starve-the-next diet

appetising diet food

Yes - you can eat this (every other day... )


This is a very popular diet - half of Hollywood has used it! and it is becoming increasingly popular in the UK.
Developed by Dr. James Johnson, the diet came from his research on alternate-day calorie restriction.

Extensive studies found that SIRT1, the so called 'skinny gene', is activated by the drop in calories on the alternate-day calorie restriction diet. This apparently blocks another gene involved in storing fat.

At a recent 10-week trial it was reported that all 16 participants lost from 10 - 30lb on the alternate-day diet. Other studies have revealed that as well as helping weight loss, restricting your daily calories can help extend your life and lower your risk of disease.

Dr Johnson's diet certainly helps to reduce the stress that all dieters face when trying to reduce their calorie intake. It's easier to cope with a day of dieting if you only have to wait until tomorrow to eat 'normally'.

This is obviously not going to work if you 'pig out' on the Up days, but the aim is to feel satisfied not hungry. Also maintenance of the diet seems very successful, unlike many other specific food diets which quickly become too monotonous to keep up (I mean how much cabbage soup or grapefruit can you endure!)

The Alternate Day Diet Tips

The two-week induction

  • Eat no more than 500 calories on Down days - some people find it easier to stick to slimming shakes or replacement meals so they can be sure they stick to 500 calories.
  • Eat what you like on Up days (within reason!) plenty of fruit and veg is recommended for your health.
  • Drink plenty of water and try to incorporate some exercise on your Up days.
  • Only weigh yourself once a week and on the morning after your Down day

After the two-week induction phase, you can start adjusting the Down days calorie intake according to your weight loss plans : consume up to 35 per cent of your normal daily calories if you want to continue to lose weight. To maintain your weight eat up to 50 to 60 per cent of your usual calories.


Diet Trial

Karen (25yrs old from Canterbury)

Day 1 - easy peasy as I decided to start with an Up day! Ate cereal, orange juice, coffee and croissant and a banana in the morning. A chicken and rocket wrap and a fruit salad for lunch, a cookie mid-afternoon with tea, then for dinner - cottage pie, beans and raspberries and ice cream (and a glass of white wine!)

Day 2 - am ready for the challenge of a Down day - started with a lovely glass of hot water with lemon in it! Snacked on a satsuma on the way to work (25 calories). Had to have an emergency cup of coffee in order to stay awake (Tall Skinny Cappuccino - 80 calories). Snacked on half a small box of raisins (65 cals) and cup of tea with semi-skimmed milk (13 calories). Had a cup of soup (60 calories) and a rice cake (35 cals). It's tedious when everyone else in the office is stuffing pizza and sandwiches etc, but it will be worth it and I've only got to hold on until tomorrow. Had a yummy low cal hot chocolate drink (40 cals) which leaves me a huge 242 calories before the end of the day! I have a grilled chicken breast with salad and that's it. Feel unsatisfied, but tomorrow is round the corner!

Day 3 - I wake feeling great and full of energy and my tum is really flat. Orange juice, coffee and porridge with blueberries to start the a wonderful day of no calorie counting. I don't overdo it all day, apart from a biggish piece of my friend's birthday cake.

Day 4 - I can do this, feeling hungry for just a day is so much easier than being hungry all the time on a reduced diet. Today I ate a jacket potato with cheese (205cals), a small fromage frais (55cals) and a prawn stir fry (240 cals). Think I'll try not to blow so many cals for lunch on my next Down day, as it left me without many options for the evening - iced water gets a bit samey!

Day 5 - it's funny but i don't feel that eager to eat any empty calories. Find I am enjoying lots more fresh fruit and salads. I am walking to work on my Up days and am enjoying how I feel at the end (heroic!). It is great to feel no pressure to restrict myself, but the strange thing is I feel less tempted to overeat now I can! Am only eating when I feel genuinely hungry.

Day 6 - started with a slice of brown toast and a smear of jam (102 calories) - no butter and my hot lemon water. Allowed myself a skinny Cappuccino (80 calories) and snacked on a kiwi and grapefruit (83 calories). Scrambled 1 egg with a little milk - no fat (99 cals) and a little smoked salmon (65 cals) for dinner. Hard stressful day at work made me crave chocolate, but resisted temptation with a low cal chocolate mousse (68.8 cals).


  • Easier to stick with than conventional diets
  • Appetite on Up days seems to gradually decrease.
  • Lots of energy still, one day of fasting doesn't seem to affect me too much.
  • Makes you recognise when you are really hungry, as opposed to eating automatically when you don't really need to.
  • Lost 3.5 lbs in a week! Must have found my 'skinny gene', so I can now seek out my first pair of skinny jeans!


  • I always thought that if you reduce your calorie intake too much your metabolism slows down and reduces burning calories to save energy. Not sure this is a healthy diet - yo-yo dieting is supposed to be bad for you.
  • Difficult to work into lifestyle - my Down days always seemed to be on a party or celebration day, which left me feeling left out and a bit stressed.

Probably won't stick to this alternate day eating plan as a lifestyle, but may well use it again as a short -term fix it solution.

more info (opens in new window)

Before trying a new diet you should always consult your doctor to discuss whether you are healthy enough to restrict your calorie intake.

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