"Are You Crazy?" and Other FAQ I Get About Me Fasting

Day 62, Fast Day #30

Alternate day fasting and other forms of intermittent fasting (IF) like 5:2 have only recently become more popular as diets in the last few years due to new research on IF, new books, and increased media coverage. The earliest published research I could find on alternate day fasting is from 1988, in which scientists studied the renal functions of elderly rats that were fed every other day. (Spoiler: The old rats on ADF had better eye health.) Since them, there has been more relevant research on human subjects.

I have been alternate day fasting for nearly 9 weeks at this point and am used to fielding a variety of reactions and questions from the people I tell about my current unorthodox eating pattern. Some typical responses I get from my peers are along the lines of:

Question #1: "Are you serious?" or "Are you crazy?"

Question #2: "Why don't you just eat less every day?"

Question #3: "There is no way I could do that." or "How do you have the willpower to eat 500 calories in a day?"

Question #4: "Don't you just binge after you fast?"

Question #5: "So, how long are you on this diet?"

Question #6: "Can you do that long-term?" or "There is no way you can sustain that long-term, right?"

Question #7: "There is no way that can be healthy for you." or "Isn't that going to hurt your metabolism?"

There is no such thing as a stupid question, right? However, it is very stupid to not ask questions or try to get them answered. I can answer most of these questions without getting into a lengthy science discussion:

Answer #1: I am serious and I am fairly positive that I am not crazy in the clinical sense.

Answer #2: Because I feel deprived when I try to eat less every day and I give up. The daily calorie restriction is endless and depressing. It is like I committed a fat crime and was sentenced to a lifetime of never getting to drink real beer, eat ice cream, or indulge in dessert again. With alternate day fasting, my dieting mental prison sentence is only every other day. The end is always in sight and it makes you really appreciate feast days and look forward to the next day. Alternate day fasting is a good weight loss method for people like me that can't commit to daily calorie restriction.

Answer #3: I just quit talking about, false promising myself, and generally just thinking about trying to lose weight. In the spur of the moment I decided to actually do something about the 40 lbs (18 kg) or so of extra weight on my body with Zach after watching Eat, Fast, Live Longer. I am an incredibly stubborn human being, so when my mind is set, that is what I am doing. My willpower is perhaps just my stubbornness. 

The thought of continuing life being overweight and my eating habits contributing to my own physical and mental demise is also a motivator. So some anxiety and fear is a part of my willpower. Me being overweight forever and getting weight-related diseases later in life is not inevitable. Anyone that is overweight is able to solve their own weight problem with a little willpower and by acting on known weight loss solutions instead of maintaining the status quo. Obviously the status quo lifestyle is the problem.

Answer #4: Define "binge." I don't eat everything in sight on my feast days. Sure, I have my beer and chocolate chip pancakes moments, But, I don't think my feast day eating even remotely resembles the binge-eating I have seen on Dr. Phil episodes about eating disorders.

I do want to eat most of the food around me, especially the pretzel M&Ms. I don't need the food around me. I now ask myself, "Do I need to eat that? Am I hungry? Or do I just want to eat that for taste/to cure boredom/because other people are eating it?" The answer is usually that I don't need the food and I just have mouthlust.

Answer #5: Until I decide not to do it? My body has adjusted to this eating pattern, so it's not that difficult anymore. If I ever get to be under a healthy weight (hahahahaha, right) then I would obviously stop. I would also stop if I got pregnant. For humanity's sake I hope that doesn't happen for a few years or more (yes I am knocking on wood while typing this). I also would go on a lighter maintenance plan of 5:2 or 6:1 if I hit my goal weight/a healthy weight. I will also be stopping when I get married to Zach in late August temporarily. I am not going to be on any sort of diet on my wedding day or my honeymoon. My family will create more than enough stress for me during this period of time that fasting would be an overload.

Answer #6: I have read the forum posts of people that have been alternate day fasting for 6 years or so, so I think it is possible to stick to this diet long-term. Plus, people restrict their calories daily long-term and do just fine.

Answer #7: I am cooking up a research-laden post on the metabolism question. Something for you to look forward to.


  1. Hi, I just read all your blog and it's given me the kick to both start alternate day fasting - an idea I've been toying with for a while - and also to start a blog about the experience. I mentioned your blog in my first post, I hope that's ok.
    I'll be following you with interest from now - I'm glad to see that your doing well and still managing to eat tasty things!

    If you want to have a look at my blog, feel free. I only have one post up so far though.http://alternatedayfastingblog.blogspot.ie/

  2. Thanks for the shout out Charlotte. I look forward to reading about your experience alternate day fasting on your blog. It sounds like from what you've already done by way of calorie restriction this week and your desire to have the option to eat rich foods occasionally that ADF might be a method you can stick with to lose weight. Congrats on taking charge! That shake diet sounded tough.