1 Simple Thing You Can Do to Live a Long & Healthy Life

1 Simple Thing You Can Do to Live a Long & Healthy Life

I’m sure we’ve all seen the mil­lions of potions, pills, diets, and meth­ods aimed at increas­ing our lifes­pan and keep­ing us young fore­vah­h­h­hh.

And, as we also know, most of it is bull­dust, but I recent­ly came across one thing for a healthy life that isn’t. It’s sim­ple, it’s cheap, and accord­ing to stud­ies and inde­pen­dent feed­back, it works (!). Check it out and let me know what you think (espe­cial­ly if you’ve done it).

In a new and eas­ier twist on clas­sic caloric restric­tion, the “Alter­nate Day Diet” is a method of eat­ing pro­posed by Dr. James John­son, M.D. The idea is to cut your calo­ries every oth­er day, instead of dai­ly, to help acti­vate a gene known as SIRT1, a “repair bot” of sorts that goes after dam­age caused by free rad­i­cals, pre­vents our cells from dying before their time, and caus­es them to pro­duce more ener­gy sim­i­lar to that of young cells. SIRT1 also inhibits fat stor­age, increas­es metab­o­lism, and there­by reduces the risk of a heart attack, stroke, dia­betes, arthri­tis, and osteo­poro­sis. The gene also reduces inflam­ma­tion and oxi­da­tion (a.k.a. oxida­tive stress), which means few­er free rad­i­cals and slow­er aging. Sounds like a good deal to me.

I’m not one for “new, cure-all” diets, but this caught my atten­tion because I have been research­ing caloric restric­tion and prac­ticed it for near­ly 1 year, but found it to be too easy to become mal­nour­ished (and no, I wasn’t eat­ing muffins). Plus, I hon­est­ly didn’t like how long-time prac­ti­tion­ers of the diet looked bone-thin and defi­cient. How­ev­er, you can’t ignore the evi­dence that caloric restric­tion pro­duces lean, healthy, long-lived peo­ple and ani­mals — I think it just needs some tweak­ing. With that said, Dr. Johnson’s Alter­nate Day method seems more prac­ti­cal and health­ier, and makes more sense the way we would eat in nature…we wouldn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly be eat­ing love­ly full meals every day if we had to hunt and gath­er for our food.

1 Simple Thing You Can Do to Live a Long & Healthy Life - Alternate Day Calorie Restriction Diet

THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING (what a sil­ly say­ing…)

In an eight-week study of twen­ty over­weight peo­ple with asth­ma, the par­tic­i­pants expe­ri­enced some awe­some results:
• Lost an aver­age of 8% of their body weight
• Dras­tic improve­ment in asth­ma symp­toms
• Increased ener­gy lev­els
• Lev­els of oxida­tive stress decreased by 90%
• Inflam­ma­tion reduced by two-thirds

The excit­ing part, in my opin­ion, is that this method of eat­ing is so anti-inflam­ma­to­ry, and there­fore reduces the risk of dis­eases like can­cer, heart dis­ease, arthri­tis, and even eczema.

Anoth­er great part about this is you can work out more stren­u­ous­ly than you nor­mal­ly could on reg­u­lar caloric restric­tion. While Alter­nate Day pro­motes fat burn­ing and increas­es metab­o­lism thanks to the acti­va­tion of SIRT1 (see above), your body can­not go into keto­sis (star­va­tion mode) and there­fore will not use up your mus­cle for fuel. It will con­tin­ue to use stored fat for fuel to make up for the caloric “defi­cien­cy” every oth­er day. This is great news for those who are work­out fiends and body­builders who want to live long and healthy lives, but don’t want to sac­ri­fice their hard-earned mus­cle.

Dr. John­son rec­om­mends hav­ing blood work done before you begin, in order to mon­i­tor improve­ments in your cho­les­terol, insulin, and glu­cose lev­els. Okay, sounds like a plan (note to self: take fiancé with me so I can hold his hand and pre­tend I don’t feel a needle going into my arm…ugghhh).

The basic idea is to lim­it your calo­ries on Down Days, and eat nor­mal­ly on Up Days. So your week­ly eat­ing habits would look some­thing like this:

Mon­day, Wednes­day, and Fri­day —  you eat 20–50% of your nor­mal calo­ries, stick­ing to fruits, veg­gies, sal­ads, soups, and smooth­ies.
Sun­day, Tues­day, Thurs­day, and Sat­ur­day — eat what­ev­er and how­ev­er much you want (with­out overeat­ing and stuff­ing your­self, of course).

There is an ini­tial two-week “induc­tion phase”, where you acti­vate your body’s SIRT1 respon­se. Dur­ing the­se two weeks, you lim­it your­self to just 500 calo­ries on Down Days, and eat nor­mal­ly on Up Days. Dr. John­son rec­om­mends some pret­ty crap­py chem­i­cal-filled prepack­aged diet shakes and bars to eat on Down Days, so instead, use your nog­gin and buy some nat­u­ral good­ness, such as bars from GREENS+, larabars, World Pantry, Smart Mon­key, Tanka Bar, and make your own real food smooth­ies or find some no-junk pre-made ones at the health store. After the two-week phase, you can increase your Down Days calo­ries. For detailed infor­ma­tion, check out the links at the bot­tom of this post.

I’ve been hunt­ing around to gath­er some inde­pen­dent feed­back on the Alter­nate Day method, and found a few to share with you:

I’ve employed this approach, and found after months of play­ing around with the same two pounds, I lost six pounds in two weeks. I feel great.” —Lisa (whata­grl), North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, review on MyFitTribe.com

I used this diet and lost 20lbs of fat in two months. Dur­ing that time, my ener­gy went up, my per­for­mance mea­sur­ably increased (more pushups, more pullups, more weight dur­ing lift­ing, etc). … Is this diet easy? No, but it worked for us and it’s worked for oth­er peo­ple too! What are the dis­ad­van­tages? Well the alter­nate days are hard. For the first few ‘fasts’ we were hun­gry, bit­ter and crab­by, but it only lasts 24 hours, not for weeks and weeks like oth­er diets or cut­ting. And we soon adapt­ed. Our stom­achs seemed to shrink and we craved less food on our fast­ing days.” —Dan, Cal­i­for­nia, review given on MyFitTribe.com

I have been fol­low­ing this lifestyle for over two years since dis­cov­er­ing it online, and I con­sid­er it utter­ly rev­o­lu­tion­ary; I plan to do it for the rest of my life and I believe that every­one (who is med­ical­ly capa­ble) should do so as well. Few things have changed my life as dra­mat­i­cal­ly as this diet. … My per­son­al ben­e­fits include weight loss, body fat reduc­tion and redis­tri­b­u­tion (espe­cial­ly tar­get­ed loss of abdom­i­nal fat), reduced envi­ron­men­tal aller­gy symp­toms, com­plete remis­sion of my crip­pling ten­donitis, more ener­gy & less need for sleep, improved exer­cise strength & endurance, and most notably, enhanced cog­ni­tion.” —Julia Noble, Chapel Hill, NC, review given on Amazon.com

…my expe­ri­ence is that this diet does work, though it isn’t for every­one. I have read the book, perused the web­site, and fol­lowed the plan. I have lost 22 pounds in a very short peri­od of time and my weight is stay­ing off. How­ev­er, if you can’t stand to feel a lit­tle hun­gry and you cheat, it won’t work. I LOVE eat­ing what I want every oth­er day. On my ‘down’ day, I do pro­tein shakes and bars, which is easy and cheap. On my up day, I eat every­thing I can get my man hands on. No more con­stant hunger or wait­ing for one day a week to splurge. I splurge FOUR days a week. My eat­ing plan is now a way of life. I like my ‘down’ days and actu­al­ly work out on those days because I feel calm and lean.” —S. New­man, review given on Amazon.com

I’ve decid­ed to give this a try, just to see how my ener­gy, brain­pow­er, and work­outs are effect­ed. I get my blood nee­dled out tomor­row, so I start my plan this Tues­day. I’ll keep you post­ed.

Sources & More Info Links:
Dr. Johnson’s Web­site
My Fit Tribe’s Alter­nate Day Arti­cle

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