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It was with a fair amount of chagrin that I read the recent Journal of the American Medical Association article, “Effect of Alternate-Day Fasting on Weight Loss, Weight Maintenance, and Cardioprotection Among Metabolically Healthy Obese Adults.” And not just because the title is longer than this post.

A study produced by twelve authors (talk about obesity), concluded that people who participate in alternate-day fasting do not lose more weight, maintain their weight better, or cut their risk for cardiovascular disease in any greater frequency than people who restrict their intake of calories on a daily basis.

The 34 adults in the alternate-day fasting group ate more than they should on fasting days, less than they could have on feasting days, and dropped out of the study completely in greater numbers than the daily calorie restriction group or the control group.

And let’s be clear: when we say fasting we don’t mean eating nothing.  In the study, the fasting day consisted of eating 25% of what you usually eat or 500 calories.  True, that’s not a lot of food.  But, on the feasting days you could eat food ad libitum.  I looked that up and it means “in accordance with desires.”  It sounds decadent.

Although it’s not how we usually eat, I have to say this feasting/fasting appeals to my base instincts. Think about it.  Couldn’t you deny yourself one day if you knew you could go wild the next?  Could you eat broth with vegetables and a couple of noodles on Monday if you knew pizza was coming Tuesday?  And, then, after you stuffed yourself on pizza, wouldn’t you then say, “Ugh!  I’m so full!  Tomorrow, it’s back to broth.”  And so on.

For me, this one-day-on-one-day-off scenario goes way beyond eating.  Either by design or by accident, I believe it’s the way everything in life works.  Allow me to illustrate.

Let’s start with exercise.  I work out six days a week but I never do the same thing on consecutive days.  I’m sure this is beneficial for my body.  I take a spin class Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  I do weights supplemented with cardio on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  I usually enjoy the exercise I do on any given day, but I also look forward to doing something different the next day.

How about weekend work around the house?  If you live in a house with a modest yard, there’s always plenty to do. If you get a lot done on Saturday, are you going to jump out of bed and do it all over again on Sunday?  It also works if you reverse the days.  If you’re stuck inside playing video games on Saturday because it rained, would you let a sunny day go by on Sunday or would you mow the lawn?

When the vegan daughter (aka The Kipper) was a preschooler, I would occasionally come home from work to two unhappy females.  Toddlers can be fussy.  They can pout and throw tantrums.  They may resist taking naps.  Yet almost every time that the ladies had a bad day, it would be followed up by a good day.

I constantly hear golfers talk about how poorly they played one day, and, with no real explanation, how much better they played the next.  Was it due to the clubs, the weather, or how they slept the night before?  Maybe none of the above.

I’m pretty sure that if people looked at their own lives, they would find similar patterns.  When it comes to our eating, we will probably continue to make meals that last three or even four nights (plus any left-overs beyond those nights become, on occasion, breakfast or lunch).  Our daily intake of calories will be pretty consistent, with the occasional treat. But the idea of denying yourself one day and splurging the next definitely has its appeal.

What do you think of feasting/fasting?  Would you or have you tried it?  Please leave a comment…