Sunday, January 17

Update: Alternate Day Feasting

It's been two weeks since I began Alternate Day Feasting.

And I like it.

I honestly *really* like it.

I feel better about myself, I feel better in the morning, I feel better during the day. I love being reminded to study the scriptures, and after two weeks, I'm not as hungry on my fast days. So I'm going to keep going.

As a recap, this is how Alternate Day Feasting works:

1. On Day 1, I eat as much as I like. I'm still vegan and don't eat sugar, so food is still pretty healthy.

2. On Day 2, when I'm hungry, I drink a glass of water and study the scriptures. Don't eat at all.

3. If someone offers me food and today is a Fast day, take some for tomorrow. If I want to eat something specific, make a plan to eat it tomorrow.

4. Exercise regularly. When I exercise, I listen to scriptures using headphones. It's something I did for a long time, then stopped... and it helps me enjoy the time I spend working out.

I thought it would be a major social issue. Social events and activities are based on food - and when whether I eat or not on a given day changes each week, that *ensures* that there will be some hurt feelings and some people who will wonder why I'm not eating.

But it hasn't been that much of an issue. I've tried some crazy diets. And, interestingly, it caused far more stress for people in social situations when I was on a super-strict diet (like no carbs) than when I'm fasting. People seem to be okay with fasting in Utah... even if it's every other day. I haven't done any major holidays yet though.

I told my family about how it works, and convinced my younger brother to try it as well. He still acts the part of a cancer survivor, and I think this will give him some new life. One of my sisters wants to try it as well.

I'm excited.

I'll say it again, I *really* like this.

I'm not a huge fan of the hungry feeling that sometimes comes on fast days, but that has lessened dramatically. And I can eat tomorrow. :)

Some more specifics for people who, like me, like the nitty-gritty details about my version of Alternate Day Feasting:

5. Each day matches with a calendar day - so midnight to midnight. This is for multiple reasons. First: to make it simpler for me and others. Today is either a food day, or it's a fast day. Second: to make it easier at the hardest parts of fasting - the beginning and the end. That way this type of IF (intermittent fasting) approach is in practice more like a 30-18 or 36-12 (36 hours of fasting followed by 12 hours of food - if food happens between around 8am and 8pm on food days) than a 24-24.

5b. There is an exception to that rule. Fast days begin faithfully at midnight, so I need to finish eating before then. But food days don't begin until I've slept. Regardless of how late I stay up on a fast day (including past midnight), I don't eat until I've slept for the night. Part of that is hormone balancing - I feel like letting sleep be a differentiator for my body will help it understand what's happening. The other part is to motivate me to go to sleep on time.

6. I can add another fast day to the mix, but not another food day. It's not suggested, as the added fast day replaces a food day... and that means not eating for 3 days. Water fasting for 3 days won't hurt anyone who doesn't have hormonal or sugar imbalances... but I'm already going to be fasting 15 days a month. I think I'm good.

7. If Fast Sunday falls on a food day... then I'll either wait to eat until everyone else breaks their fast, or I'll have a special fast the day before. It doesn't change the cycle.

8. Holidays will be interesting. Because there are other people involved. But while it's totally not normal to fast at Thanksgiving... no one will disown me if I do, right?

While I may feel good about my diet and feel good physically, I have to be real with myself. Alternate Day Feasting isn't the best thing the world has ever seen. It's not going to fix all my problems. It may have some neuroprotective effects, but it isn't likely to cure autism. And while better physical health may give me better emotional resiliency, it's not going to make me superman by any stretch. 

Look at today as an example: I feel great physically, and most of the day I've been really happy. Today is a fast day. Then something emotionally rough came along. I say rough, but most people probably wouldn't think twice about it. In my case, I got knocked down, found myself second-guessing everything I try to do, and felt like garbage. I'll be ok in another hour. But my minuscule emotional and social capacity hasn't changed.

I'm excited. Tired, stressed, concerned for a dozen different things... but also excited. And that's a feeling I want to hold on to.


  1. I am curious about why you are shooting for 15 days of fasting a month. I have not seen any IF plans at all that call for that much fasting.

    The main purpose for IF eating plans is to help bodybuilders make big muscle gains by being able to eat large protein filled meals post workouts so facilitate muscle repair.

    It can be a weight loss plan but generally its not used that way.

    1. As a diet, IF has many forms and functions - whether for bodybuilders or weight loss. This isn't designed as a diet, but as a lifestyle.

      My journey into IF actually began with CRON - calorie restriction optimal nutrition - a much more restrictive dietary lifestyle that involves extreme calorie restriction, nutrient tracking, and meal planning. CRON is a difficult in a social atmosphere, but has had positive neurological effects, effects on longevity, and protective effects against degenerative diseases.

      Some animal research has found that regular intermittent fasting - specifically fasting 1 day in 2 or 1 day in 3 - can have some of the same effects on longevity as calorie restriction. It seems like the effects on lower order animals are more visible, with lifespan increasing sometimes dramatically, while higher order animals exhibit better blood profiles and better end-of-life health with a moderate potential effect on lifespan.

      I'm doing it because I've been drawn to it for years. I'm not sure why. But I've wanted to do it. And the last diet I tried cured my incurable bipolar disorder... and that was a thousand times harder than this one.

      My goal isn't 15 days a month. It's just every other day. This month, I eat on even days, and fast on odd days. And I love it. :)

  2. Hi! I am thinking of trying the Alternate Day Feasting your are doing. Question: if a special occasion is coming up and it falls on a Fast day, can't I just fast two days in a row so that the special event isn't a Fast day? I.e. switch from even numbers to odd numbers by fasting two times in a row? Just wondering why that wouldn't work...

    1. The most important part of a lifestyle is making it work for *you.* This post was about my version. I'd definitely expect that anyone else following a similar plan would have their own interpretations, adaptations, and additions. This is definitely not intended as dietary advice. I'm not a dietician, nutritionist, or doctor.

  3. Are you still keeping up with this?


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