Protein Cycling Diet: 12

The Alternate Day Calorie Restriction Diet

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Chapter 12
Describes another noteworthy diet plan that should also induce autophagy.

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The Alternate Day Calorie Restriction Diet

As I mentioned earlier, protein cycling was inspired as a less stressful way of achieving the benefits seen with the alternate-day calorie-restriction (ADCR) diet.

The ADCR diet has been around a few years and its practitioners have reported benefits for a broad range of conditions including:

  • obesity

  • insulin resistance

  • asthma31

  • seasonal allergies

  • viral diseases

  • Lyme disease

  • recurrent bacterial tonsillitis

  • chronic sinusitis

  • periodontal disease

  • rheumatoid arthritis

  • osteoarthritis

  • menopause

In this diet calories from protein, carbohydrate and fat are restricted every other day as opposed to just the calories from protein in the protein cycling diet. It has been shown not to change the overall metabolism of the organism87 and must therefore act through some other mechanism most likely autophagy. It should therefore be as effective as protein cycling in inducing autophagy and even more effective for weight reduction. Some of the other benefits to conditions listed above may not be seen with protein cycling; the studies have yet to be done.

For these reasons, especially for initial weight reduction, you might want to try this diet before starting a life long protein cycling regime. Fortunately there are ways to make this diet less stressful than it otherwise appears.

First it is not necessary to cease all eating. Many foods are so low in calories for their bulk that they effectively deliver zero net calories after digestion. Most raw or pickled vegetables and many cooked vegetables such as spinach fall into the category and can be freely eaten on CR fast days. Sugar free gum can occupy the mouth. Soluble fiber drinks can occupy the stomach and provide a sensation of fullness. Guar gum or psyllium work well for this purpose.

Nor do all calories have to be eliminated on fast days. In studies benefits have been seen with a mere 50% calorie reduction on fast days. I would think up to 300 calories a day would be allowed for milk in coffee or tea or other ‘necessary’ indulgences.

Nor does every other day have to be a fast day nor does a fast day have to begin at midnight. The week has an uneven number of days. Fasting every Monday, Wednesday and Friday might better suit a weekly schedule since you are likely to feel weaker and sleep more when fasting. The weekends are then freed for social or recreational eating and high energy activities.

One of the arguments advanced against the ADCR diet is that, since it resembles starvation, it would produce a condition sometimes associated with starvation, rhabdomyolysis, that occurs when muscle cells are damaged and release the protein myoglobin into the bloodstream where it gums up the kidneys. In fact, where it is seen in association with starvation, the cause is lack of vitamins or electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride etc.). Or alcohol poisoning is also present and it the real cause. For the ADCR diet and for protein cycling, nutrients other than calories or protein are kept normal and this argument should not apply. The muscle ‘wasting’ from autophagy is internal to the cell. The cell does not die and does not release its contents into the bloodstream.

For perhaps most people, the ADCR diet is not so difficult as it first appears though one major concern for many is maintaining adequate blood sugar levels. Most people at some point in their lives have experienced the dizziness and distress from low blood sugar as a result of a delayed or missing meal, and that is what comes to mind when they envision dieting of any form. This is a particular problem for some people more than others.

I have myself followed the ADCR diet while monitoring my blood sugar levels. For me they have dropped some but have remained in the normal range on fast days. Home blood glucose testing kit are now freely available (in the USA at least) for about a dollar per test at the time this was written. You can then monitor your own blood sugar levels to see if your dieting is creating problems. (Tip: if you numb your finger with an ice cube, the necessary pricking can be painless though you then have to wait for the finger to warm before the blood flows.)

If you are unable to maintain adequate blood sugar levels on the ADCR diet, you can use protein cycling instead. You must then watch your over-all calories and accept a lower rate of weight reduction if that is your goal.

Even if your intention is to use the ADCR diet indefinitely, you may want to ease into it with some preliminary rounds of protein cycling. Since the protein cycling diet is less demanding, you might want to start with the protein cycling diet to get used to the pattern and then switch to the ADCR diet to lose weight or to get its ‘proven’ benefits.

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