Starve then splurge: Does the Alternate Day Diet work?

alexandra meyer

Follow Y7 Lifestyle on Twitter: @y7lifestyle

Credit: Getty images

Would you go so far as to eat no more than one or two eggs, a small piece of fish and few veggies two days a week if it meant you could splurge every other day?

The latest diet book on Amazon’s list of best sellers is The Alternate Day Diet. The diet allows you to eat whatever you like on certain days and fast the other days. Also known as ‘intermittent fasting’ or ‘alternate-day dieting.’ The diet has been around for years and been criticized for sounding like an eating disorder, but recently it has been revamped and gained a lot more devotees.

Related: Is your diet ageing you?

The original diet, includes eating very little one day (about 50 per cent of your normal intake) and as much as you like the next. The days alternate constantly and apparently the diet also promises significant health benefits. Including easing asthma symptoms and reducing blood sugar levels.

Is it worth starving two days a week to eat like this? Credit: Getty images

Dr Michael Mosley, a health journalist, featured the revamped diet, now known as the 5/2 diet, on a BBC2 Horizon documentary a few weeks ago. The diet has seen a huge spurt in popularity since it was aired. Instead of alternating between fast days and feed days, the diet only requires you to fast two days a week and eat whatever you want the other five days.

After a month of following the 5/2 diet, Mosley lost nearly 6.5 kilos, reduced his body fat by about 25 per cent and improved his blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

According to Mosley, “there are no firm rules because so far there have been few proper human trials. I found that I could get through my fast days best if I had a light breakfast (scrambled eggs, thin slice of ham, lots of black tea, adding up to about 300 calories), lots of water and herbal tea during the day, then a light dinner (grilled fish with lots of vegetables) at night.”

On the diet, you can eat about 400-500 calories on the fast days, split however you like. Some people split it between a breakfast and dinner meal, others opt for a protein shake at lunchtime, and others eat fruit throughout the day.

Related: Coconut water: is it healthy?

Researchers from the University of Illinois in Chicago carried out a trial with the Alternate Day Diet, which involved two groups of overweight patients who fasted on alternate days. The study found that if people stuck to fast days, then it didn’t matter if you ate foods high in fat on the non-fasting days.

Credit: Getty images

Scientists have also discovered that periods of eating very little or nothing may be the key to controlling chemicals produced by the body linked to the development of disease and the ageing process.

The regime has still drawn criticism from nutritionists who believe that any weight loss on the diet would not be sustainable. Nutritionists also claim that the diet sounds like the same practices of someone with bulimia or ‘part-time anorexia.’

Despite all the controversy surrounding the diet, many have sworn it has helped them lose weight. Would you try the Alternate Day Diet?

Related: What is the wheat-free diet?

Like Yahoo7 Lifestyle on Facebook for more health news and tips