The Alternate Day Diet (2008) by James Johnson M.D. is commonly known as Alternate Day Eating, JUDDD, or Johnson’s Up Day Down Day Diet.
Dr. Johnson practiced as a New Orleans plastic surgeon. He appears to be another Diet Guru with an MD who, although knowing very little about nutrition, has discovered an eating gimmick or… different type of dieting method… that appears to work for some people.
Although his book was published in 2008, it is based on conventional wisdom, and states many “scientific facts” that have been proven false during the past decade or so. Dr. Johnson still fervently believes in the cholesterol myth, and he clearly states that a low-carb diet is unhealthy.
The scientific data used by Dr Johnson as a foundation of his Theory relates to some rat studies involving calorie restriction and longevity research, along with a bit of research involving the effects of short-term alternate day fasting on the human metabolism.
Dr. Johnson created a modified version of an alternate day fast, in which he ate 20% (a number apparently pulled out of thin air) of his normal maintenance calories on “down” days, and normal maintenance calories on “up” days. He quickly lost 35 lbs, and then started using it on his own patients (without ….as far as it appears in his book… any additional prior testing). Based on his own results, and reports of his patients, Johnson proceeded to write a book about it: The Alternate Day Diet (2008) by James Johnson, M.D.
The basic premise is to eat as much as you want one day--without intentionally overstuffing yourself--and to eat only 20% to 50% of your daily calorie requirement the next day. At least at first, Dr. Johnson suggests using prepackaged protein drinks or other packaged foods on your down days, so you can be sure of the calories. The reason for the spread between 20% and 50% has to do with weight loss: If you have a lot to lose, go with 20%. If you've reached your goal and you're maintaining your weight, 50% is fine.
The idea behind JUDDD, (and any kind of alternate day eating plan) is that it works because if one eats within reason during UP days, one's average calorie intake (which is your UP day total added to your DOWN day total) divided by 2, will be low enough to cause weight loss.
The percentage calculations are based on the standard 3500 calories = 1 fat lb Theory, which is used together with one’s BMR as determined by the Harris-Benedict formula, or one’s RMR as determined by the Mifflin formula. A small percentage for one’s activity factor is then added to that Base number.
For example, an UP day of 2000 calories and a Down day of 500 calories, are added together and then divided by 2, therefore those two days have an average calorie intake of 1250 per day.
An advantage of alternate day eating, is that one eats “normally” every other day, and therefore, one is only dieting “half” of the time… i.e. every other day.
A disadvantage of alternate day eating, is that because one is not consistently eating small amounts, the amount of hunger one feels on “down” days does not decrease over time.
It is the nature of the human body to adapt….and the body’s tendency is to lower metabolism due to consistently reduced food intake. Although there have been a few short-term studies which indicate that metabolism rate is not affected by fasts of 48 hours or less, there have been no studies as to whether the metabolism rate is affected by the use of short-term fasting ... such as alternate day eating or intermittent fasting ... on a regular basis for lengthy time periods. Perhaps it is, perhaps it isn’t.
My first experiment with the Alternate Day Eating concept was in July 2006 when I experimented with following QOD. A link to that diet book, along with several others mentioned in this article can be found here at DietHobby under RESOURCES Books & Tools. In my own case, alternate day eating plans worked better for me weight-wise during the first year that I experimented with them, and not as well in later years. However, this could have been due to a drop in metabolism as a result of my long-term maintenance, rather than due to any specific food plan, because in later years, this lowered metabolic rate has appeared within every food plan I’ve used.
Alternate Day Eating, is also known as QOD, or Eating Every Other Day, or Alternate Day Fasting, or Intermittent Fasting. It has elements in common with Calorie cycling or Zigzag dieting. All of these labels apply to the concept of varying the amount of caloric intake from day-to-day with a goal of keeping the body’s metabolic rate up while restricting calories. There is no long-term research indicating whether or not this way of eating is metabolically helpful, and the anecdotal evidence appears inconsistent..some people say they’ve tried it and that it helps their metabolism, other people say they’ve tried it and seen no benefit at all.
Many People who experiment with JUDDD, appear to also be familiar with QOD, and with various other popular Intermittent Fasting plans, such as EatStopEat, and Fast5. These Plans have much in common, and each of them can be used alone, or can be combined in various ways.
During recent years, the various forms of Alternate Day Eating, including JUDDD, have become quite popular in various weight-loss forums, and numerous people appear to have achieved substantial weight-loss by using them as a calorie restriction method. I’ve personally conducted quite a few individual experiments with these plans, and with various combinations of these plans. Sometimes they’ve “worked” for me…. in that they brought me weight-loss. Sometimes they haven’t worked….in that I’ve failed to achieve weight-loss. I am still attracted to the concepts and open to the theories that surround them. I also still run personal experiments with these various ways of eating.
I’ve learned that when using the DietPower computer software program, it is possible for me to make careful food choices and meet my own nutritional requirements while eating very low calorie. No matter what diet or way of eating I choose to use, I track all my food in that program every day, and along with watching my calories, it is fairly easy for me to see which food choices will ensure that my basic nutritional needs are met. For more information on this see my recent article: Records: My Past 8 Years, which shows a review of my past 8 years of food records.
You can read Dr. Johnson's marketing hype as well as learn details about how the diet plan works here at the JUDDD online site. I am opposed to buying supplements from weight-loss Gurus, and I advice against any such purchase. However, I believe that the mechanics of just about every Diet works for someone, and that the Best Diet is whichever one that you personally can live with.
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