The effect on health of alternate day calorie restriction: eating less and more than needed on alternate days prolongs life
Authors: Johnson JB, Laub DR, John S. Department of Surgery, Louisiana State University Medical Center
Restricting caloric intake to 60-70% of normal adult weight maintenance requirement prolongs lifespan 30-50% and confers near perfect health across a broad range of species.
Every other day feeding produces similar effects in rodents, and profound beneficial physiologic changes have been demonstrated in the absence of weight loss in ob/ob mice.
Since May 2003 we have experimented with alternate day calorie restriction, one day consuming 20-50% of estimated daily caloric requirement and the next day ad lib eating, and have observed health benefits starting in as little as two weeks, in insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, infectious diseases of viral, bacterial and fungal origin (viral URI, recurrent bacterial tonsillitis, chronic sinusitis, periodontal disease), autoimmune disorder (rheumatoid arthritis), osteoarthritis, symptoms due to CNS inflammatory lesions (Tourette’s, Meniere’s) cardiac arrhythmias (PVCs, atrial fibrillation), menopause related hot flashes.
We hypothesize that many other conditions would be delayed, prevented or improved, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, brain injury due to thrombotic stroke atherosclerosis, NIDDM, congestive heart failure.
Our hypothesis is supported by an article from 1957 in the Spanish medical literature which due to a translation error has been construed by several authors to be the only existing example of calorie restriction with good nutrition. We contend for reasons cited that there was no reduction in calories overall, but that the subjects were eating, on alternate days, either 900 calories or 2300 calories, averaging 1600, and that body weight was maintained. Thus they consumed either 56% or 144% of daily caloric requirement. The subjects were in a residence for old people, and all were in perfect health and over 65.
Over three years, there were 6 deaths among 60 study subjects and 13 deaths among 60 ad lib-fed controls, non-significant difference. Study subjects were in hospital 123 days, controls 219, highly significant difference.
We believe widespread use of this pattern of eating could impact influenza epidemics and other communicable diseases by improving resistance to infection.
In addition to the health effects, this pattern of eating has proven to be a good method of weight control, and we are continuing to study the process in conjunction with the NIH.
Med Hypotheses. 2006;67(2):209-11. Epub 2006 Mar 10.