Alternate-day Fasting Shows Surprising Health Benefits

A recent study looking into alternate-day fasting (ADF) in healthy people has found a number of health benefits associated with the practice. According to the results of the study, strict alternate-day fasting could be a valid alternative to intermittent fasting or caloric restriction. The findings have been reported in the journal Cell Metabolism.

The researchers enrolled 60 participants with a healthy weight and good overall health in a 4-week trial. The participants were randomly assigned to either an ADF group or a control group. The participants in the control group could eat whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. The ADF group alternated between a 36-hour, no-calorie fast and 12 hours of unlimited eating.

The ADF group was monitored with continuous glucose monitoring to ensure that they did not consume any calories during their fasting periods. The participants also kept diaries during their fasting days. During the 4-week trial, the ADF group experienced a mean caloric restriction of around 35 percent and lost an average of 7.7 pounds. The ADF group also had lower levels of cholesterol and reduced belly fat when compared to the control group.

The researchers also obtained data from 30 people who had been on a strict ADF diet for the last 6 months or more to assess the long term safety of the practice. Their data was compared to normal, healthy controls who had no fasting experience. While prior studies have indicated that long term adherents of ADF could experience malnutrition and an impaired immune function, the researchers found no immune function problems in the group who had practiced ADF for 6 months or more.

Many of the researchers that worked on the study were from the Medical University of Graz, in Austria. Professor Frank Madeo, of the Institute of Molecular Biosciences at the University of Graz, said of ADF, “We feel that it is a good regime, for some months, for obese people to cut weight, or it might even be a useful clinical intervention in diseases driven by inflammation. However, further research is needed before it can be applied in daily practice.”