Maybe you've heard of the Alternate-Day Diet, or the Fast-and-Feast Diet, or maybe you've heard me call it my Salad-and-Cake Diet™. It's had quite a lot of press over the years, so it's safe to say this isn't exactly a fad.
The basic premise is this: You spend one day consuming as few calories as possible, and then the next day you can eat whatever you'd like.
There are two major eye-brow raisers with this system. First, if you are prone to eating disorders, this diet should be avoided. It can exacerbate an existing, or underlying, disorder. Proceed in solid self awareness, and with caution. Second, there is no official call for any kind of exercise.
Why do I like this diet? It's super easy to follow, and has actually made me eat better. Here's the thing... by only being able to eat every other day, after about a week and a half, on my eating days, I started craving things like celery, lima beans, cabbage, and pop corn (that last one isn't such a shock.. I love pop corn ;P ). Apparently, with only a limited number of calories coming in, my body began sending stronger signals to my brain for what it really needed.
Don't get me wrong, I still look at cookies and cakes and lick my lips, but it's with less ferocity than when I was just eating whenever I wanted to. When your body dons't know when your next meal is coming, it will make sure you crave what it needs.
Okay, so.. here's what I've been doing over the past few weeks:
Exercise: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday - Take Wednesday off to rest. I do primarily strength training / toning exercises. 30 - 45 minutes, each day focusing on two different areas.
Micro-Cal Days: Monday, Wednesday, Friday - Protein shake in the morning after working out (180-200 kcal), and a light meal at night. The whole day shouldn't total more than 500 kcal.
Normal Days: Called Normal Day because that's what it is. Do NOT use this as an excuse to binge eat. Normal Days are the days you just eat as you normally would. Have your cake and eat it too ;P In my personal experience, I started to eat even better on these days as my brain was more in tune with my body's needs (I suppose I should say "individual results may vary").
Weekends: Because I try to keep the work-week as routine as possible, having a true alternating-day schedule is impossible for me. Weekends, therefore, are days I try to use my best judgment. Saturdays and Sundays usually find me consuming less than on a Normal day, but much more than on a Micro-Cal day. But if there's a party to go to, or it's one of those rainy days where you just sit on the couch all day, meh, i'm not going to worry too much about it. Just be sensible and conscious of what you're eating. As you begin to recognize your body's cravings better throughout this process, the weekends will become semi-splurge days
And there you go. That's it. In the first two weeks of following this plan, I lost the 10 Christmas pounds I've been struggling to get rid of. Keep your protein high as you work out with this plan, and you should be fine.
There a many theories as to why this kind of diet not only works, but also helps in the regulation of all kinds of things (like blood sugar and cholesterol), but those are of secondary concerns for me. I just like how I'm eating better, losing weight, and not feeling deprived.