Why Alternate Day Fasting is a Poor Excuse for a Healthy Lifestyle

Did you finish the carton of Ben & Jerry’s last night? Help yourself to your kid’s dinner plate when he surrendered his place at the table?

We’ve all been there. The feeling of indulging to the point of discomfort is frustrating and annoying, and yet it happens more often than we’d like to admit. When something tastes good, it’s just so darn hard to stop eating—even when we recognize the familiar signs of feeling sated. Before we know it, our jeans are tighter and our favorite little black dress hangs neglected in the back of the closet.

In the winter, it can be even easier to pile on a few extra pounds, especially with all the roomy sweaters we’ve gotten used to wearing and the hearty stews we’ve grown accustomed to cooking. Come spring, however, we find ourselves wanting to be rid of that extra weight just as fast as we put it on. Alternate day fasting is one option a few of us have admittedly mulled over. In a way, it makes sense. If we take in too many calories one day, the next day we just don’t eat or consume very little, and it’ll be like the high-calorie day just spills over into the low-calorie day, right?


According to Brooklyn-based holistic nutrition counselor, Jen Schonborn, “alternate day fasting is just another fad diet.” Although she acknowledges that it can be an effective way to lose weight quickly, it’s not a long-term lifestyle solution for good health and nutrition. “Is this type of diet sustainable?” Schonborn asks. “I think the answer is an obvious no. How many people can realistically eat little to no food every other day and still function at work? Get through the day without biting off their partner’s head?”

Schonborn’s points are hard to misinterpret. Few of us likely have the willpower it would require to maintain this kind of eating rhythm. On non-fasting days, the chances of binge eating increase significantly, for when you deprive yourself one day, your desire the next is bound to skyrocket.

Plus, if you work out regularly and are a generally active person, all-out fasting could be detrimental to your physical health. Our bodies need fuel for energy, and if you’re not ingesting the vitamins and minerals you need to thrive, you’re also opening the door to illness caused by a weakened immune system.

The bottom line: It’s far better to practice moderation than alternate day fasting. Maybe you don’t indulge in dessert every night. Perhaps you add a day of exercise to your regimen. Whatever it is that you decide is right for you probably shouldn’t involve crazy extremes.