Alternate-Day Fasting

In recent years, intermittent fasting, also known as IF, has emerged as a novel way of losing weight and keeping healthy. Many people begin to learn about the magic of IF and have a try. However, there is always something far less than our expectations and trying intermittent fasting is no exception. In fact, fasting comes in many forms. If you have been in fasting for a period of time, but are not satisfied with the result of daily fasting, or you just fail to conform to the same IF routine every day, then you are advised to break out of yourself and try two effective but challenging fasting windows. Even though the two fasting patterns may be a big challenge for you, they are still effective to excite you for their effect on weight loss, and the two are called Alternate-Day Fasting and Modified Alternate-Day Fasting.

What is Alternate-Day Fasting and Modified Alternate-Day Fasting?

Fasting resembles a big super set, and among its scope, there are several eating windows, such as 5:2 pattern, 12:12 pattern, 16:8 patterns, Whole-Day Fasting, Overnight Fasting and some others. Alternate-Day fasting as one of these patterns can be abbreviated as ADF, which is a diet plan that suggests a 24-hour fasting every other day. For example, if you eat the last meal at 8 p.m. on Monday night, then you are not required to eat anything for the next 24 hours until 8 p.m. the next day. But the good news is that the Alternate-Day Fasting tends to include both regular food intake alternating with full fasting, meaning no food intake at all. You can have the normal meals and eat what you want during the eating window.

Now that you know what Alternate-Day Fasting is, the Modified Alternate-Day Fasting is not difficult to understand. Literally speaking, it is the modified version of ADF. Dr. Krista Varady, one of the leading researchers on alternate day fasting, has found that the consumption of 20–25% of your body’s energy requirements can increase adherence without the expense of the health and weight loss benefits. So, the Modified Alternate-Day Fasting allows you to eat about 500 calories on fasting days while the full ADF allows you to consume no calories during the fasting window.

Benefits of Alternate-Day Fasting

As one form of intermittent fasting, Alternate-Day Fasting shares a bevy of benefits with IF. Here is only a part listed.

Switch on autophagy

Fasting may turn on a process known as autophagy, which happens when your body engages in deep cleaning, getting rid of damaged cells, and creating new ones. Generally speaking, autophagy has the function of self-protection, anti-aging, and anti-injury. In addition, it can also degrade foreign substances swallowed by cells, thus playing a protective role in the body.

Lose weight

Those who usually have an uncontrolled diet tend to be overweight, dramatically increasing the risk of chronic diseases. On the contrary, the decrease in calorie intake regularly which meets the requirements of ADF can effectively help you lose weight. In addition, a 2013 study has approved that short-time ADF is a viable dietary option to help obese individuals lose weight and decrease some CAD risk factors.

Prolong life span

As is known to all, fasting does a favor of burning fat, and in the process of weight loss, the level of the hormone triiodothyronine has also been decreased, which can increase longevity, as a study put it, in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A. Besides, based on the Honoring Clive McCay and 75 Years of Calorie Restriction Research by Roger B. McDonald and Jon J. Ramsey, rats with severely restricted diets lived up to 33% longer than those that don’t.

Control blood sugar

As everyone knows, insulin plays an important role in decreasing blood sugar, regulating the metabolism and synthesis of fat, without which, people, especially those who are with diabetes or become resistant to insulin, are easily in danger of high blood sugar. Luckily, in a 2019 study in Obesity, alternate day fasting was proved its effect of improving the body’s response to insulin.

How to Do Alternate-Day Fasting?

Without a doubt, you must be dead for knowing the specific way to do them, considering their powerful effect. Here is a detailed schedule for you.

Alternate day fasting schedule

  • Day 1: Eat regular meals
  • Day 2: Fast
  • Day3: Eat regular meals
  • Day 4: Fast
  • Day 5: Eat regular meals

Modified Alternate-Day Fasting

  • Day 1: Eat regular meals
  • Day 2: Fast but keep 500 calories intake
  • Day3: Eat regular meals
  • Day 4: Fat but keep 500 calories intake
  • Day 5: Eat regular meals

On the day of having a 500 calories intake, you can take these foods and beverages into account if you fail to know the proper foods.


✓    Tomatoes

✓    Broccoli

✓    Citrus fruits

✓    Spinach and lettuces

✓    Carrots


✓    Water

✓    Coffee or coffee with a bit of milk

✓    Other noncaloric beverages

Alternate-Day Fasting Meal Plan

Breakfast: Poached Eggs & Avocado Toasts

Nutritional values (per serving)

  • Net carbs : 26.6 grams
  • Protein : 16.2 grams
  • Fat : 31.2 grams
  • Calories : 439.8 kcal


  • 4 eggs
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (or juice of 1 lime)
  • 4 slices thick bread
  • 1 cup cheese (grated, edam, gruyere or whatever you have on hand)
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons butter (for spreading on toast)


  • Poach eggs using your favourite method. Meanwhile cut the avocados in half and remove the stones. Using a spoon scoop out the flesh into a bowl and add the lemon or lime juice and the salt & pepper. Mash roughly using a fork.
  • Toast the bread and spread with butter. Spread the avocado mix onto each slice of buttered toast and top each with a poached egg.
  • Sprinkle over the grated cheese and serve immediately. These are also nice with either fresh or grilled tomato halves on the side.

Snack: Microwave Sweet Potato

microwave sweet potato

Nutritional values (per serving)

  • Net carbs : 7 grams
  • Protein : 2 grams
  • Fat : 6.6 grams
  • Calories : 117 kcal


  • ½ microwaved sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons sour cream
  • Dash of cinnamon


Place ½ microwaved sweet potato on a plate and cover with 1 tablespoon chopped pecans and 2 teaspoons sour cream + dash of cinnamon; That’s all. So easy!

Lunch: Golden Quinoa Salad with Radish, Dill & Avocado

Nutritional values (per serving)

  • Net carbs : 38.3 gram
  • Protein : 10.0 gram
  • Fat : 14.9 gram
  • Calories : 315 kcal


  • 1 cup golden quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 8 small red radishes, well-cleaned and tops removed
  • 1/3 seedless English cucumber, about 1/4 pound, unpeeled
  • 1 large shallot
  • 2/3 lightly filled cup dill fronds, without stems
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced, about 1 1/2 tablespoons
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon liquid smoked olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (omit for a vegan adaptation)
  • Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ripe avocado, to serve


  • Rinse the quinoa for 2 to 3 minutes in a fine mesh strainer, rubbing vigorously. Drain. Heat a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the quinoa and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in the broth, bring to a boil, cover, and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment and spread the cooked quinoa over it in an even layer. Let cool while preparing the vegetables.
  • Dice the radishes finely — about 1/4-inch to a side. Do the same with the cucumber. Finely dice the shallot. Finely chop the dill fronds. Toss with the quinoa in a large bowl.
  • Zest the lemon right into the bowl and fold in the zest. Juice the lemon half and whisk the juice together with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and liquid smoke until emulsified and thick. Toss this with the quinoa.
  • Fold in the almonds, chopped dates, and Parmesan. Taste and season to taste with salt and pepper. When ready to serve, top with chopped avocado.

Snack: Berry – Pistachio Yogurt

Nutritional values (per serving)

  • Net carbs : 20 grams
  • Protein : 12 grams
  • Fat : 3.6 grams
  • Calories : 124 kcal


  • ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon chopped unsalted pistachios
  • ½ teaspoon honey


Place ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons blueberries and 1 tablespoon chopped unsalted pistachios in a bowl or a cup and cover with ½ teaspoon honey; finally, mix it up if you start to eat.

Dinner: Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Dill Yogurt Sauce

Nutritional values (per serving)

  • Net carbs : 20 grams
  • Protein : 39 grams
  • Fat : 32 grams
  • Calories : 511 kcal


  • 12oz. Carrot
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Persian Cucumber
  • 2 Dill Spring
  • 12 oz. Salmon Fillets
  • ⅗ oz. Butter
  • 4 oz. Greek Yogurt
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & pepper


  • Peel, trim, and cut carrot into steak fry-sized sticks. Mince garlic. Zest lemon, halve, and juice. Finely chop cucumber or grate on largest holes of a grater. Squeeze cucumber to remove excess liquid. Reserve two dill tops for garnish and mince remaining dill (no need to stem). Alternatively, mince all dill for garnish. Pat salmon fillets dry, and season flesh side with ¼ tsp. salt and a pinch of pepper.
  • Place carrot sticks on a double layer of foil, and add 2 Tbsp. water, 2 tsp. olive oil, ¼ tsp. salt, and a pinch of pepper. Wrap foil around carrot sticks, forming a pouch. Keep carrot sticks flat to cook evenly. They do not need to be in a single layer.
  • Place foil packet on grill. Grill 5 minutes on each side. Remove from grill, keep closed, and set aside.
  • Lightly coat grill with cooking spray. Add salmon, skin side up, to hot grill and cook until lightly charred, 4-6 minutes. Flip, and grill until salmon reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees, 4-6 minutes. Remove to a plate, cover with foil, and set aside.
  • Lightly coat grill again with cooking spray. Remove carrot from foil and grill until lightly charred, 2-4 minutes. Remove to a mixing bowl and toss with butter, half the garlic (reserve remaining for sauce), and lemon zest (to taste). In another mixing bowl, combine yogurt, cucumber, dill (reserve a pinch for garnish), remaining garlic, 1 tsp. lemon juice, ¼ tsp. salt, and a pinch of pepper.
  • Place salmon on a plate and top with sauce. Garnish with dill tops. Serve carrot alongside.

Alternate-Day Fasting vs. Intermittent Fasting

When it comes to the relationship between Alternate-Day Fasting and intermittent fasting, the similarity clearly lies in fasting. In other words, Alternate-Day Fasting is one branch of intermittent fasting with a specific eating and fasting window. Each method operates around the central principle of reducing total calorie intake to achieve weight loss. But here is the slight difference between these two concepts.

Intermittent Fasting: a general eating pattern focusing on when to eat rather than what to eat. It is cyclical and you switch back and forth between eating and fasting periods. But there is no rule on the specific eating and fasting time. It just suggests you fast from time to time to keep a healthy life.

Alternate-Day Fasting: a specific way of intermittent fasting that allows you to eat normally one day and to fast the other day. In fact, it’s just like saying all purples are colors but not all colors are shades of purple. Therefore, all variants of ADF including the Modified Alternate-Day Fasting belong to intermittent fasting but not all forms of intermittent fasting are ADF.

Is Alternate-Day Fasting Safe?

You may have heard a saying that ADF will increase the risk of binge eating, thus giving in to it. However, Alternate-Day Fasting is safe for most people to a large extent. As early as 2015, it was found out that ADF produces minimal adverse outcomes and has either benign or beneficial effects on eating disorder symptoms. So, it is considered a safe and tolerable approach to intermittent fasting.

It’s worth noting that for most people, ADF is relatively safe. So how about the rest? ADF is likely not suitable for certain populations, such as children, pregnant and lactating women, people under certain medical conditions or with low body weight, anyone with eating disorders, and also those in need of enough nutrients every day.

Therefore, you’d better consult a healthcare doctor to learn whether ADF is right for you before trying the Alternate-Day Fasting method.

Bottom Line

  • Alternate-Day Fasting and Modified Alternate-Day Fasting are two common types of fasting. Among them, the former follows the rule of fasting on one day and then eat what you want the next day, while the latter to eat around 500 calories on fasting days.
  • Alternate-Day Fasting and Modified Alternate-Day Fasting are packed with an array of health benefits, such as helping losing weight, prolonging life span, switching on autophagy and Improving body’s response to insulin.
  • Generally, Alternate-Day Fasting and Modified Alternate-Day Fasting are two relatively safe ways of weight loss for most people. However, despite that, it is not recommended for certain people, and it is a good idea to ask for the doctor’s suggestions before you try any form of intermittent fasting.


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