To learn more about the method of alternate-day calorie restriction created by Dr. James Johnson, order The Alternate-Day Diet.
Dr. James Johnson's motivation to come up with the UpDayDownDay Diet™ stemmed from his desire to help patients lose weight more easily and effectively and to find a solution for his own personal struggle with weight loss. Although these interests inspired the creation of the UpDayDownDay Diet™, the actual development of the diet was based on the science behind calorie restriction. As Dr. Johnson examined the effects of daily calorie restriction and alternate-day calorie restriction in other studies and through his own research, he developed the parameters of the Johnson UpDayDownDay Diet™ and realized the true extent of the health benefits afforded by alternate-day dieting.
The evidence that has been compiled over the past 70 years in support of calorie restriction is nearly irrefutable. Several prominent nutrition scholars, including Clive McCay at Cornell University and Roy Walford at UCLA, have studied the effects of calorie restriction on rats and other laboratory animals. In nearly every organism tested, from fruit flies to rhesus monkeys, calorie restriction has been shown to prolong lifespan, often by as much as 30 to 40 percent. Other health benefits of calorie restriction have also been demonstrated. In one of the first studies on calorie restriction, McCay limited the food intake for one group of rats while allowing another group to eat as much as they desired. He found that the rats on the calorie-restricted diet were more active, had litters at later ages, and were less likely to become sick than the rats who were fed freely. Other studies have shown that calorie-restricted diets can lower cancer rates in animals and humans.
Why does calorie restriction have such a positive effect on health and lifespan? In addition to activating the SIRT1 gene, daily calorie restriction can lead to weight loss and a reduction in body fat. A low body weight is considered to be the primary key to a longer life, and body fat is a primary cause of inflammation, disease, and premature aging. A number of studies show that thinner individuals with lower body mass indexes are more likely to have healthier hearts and a lower risk of cancer than heavier men and women.
The results are clear: daily calorie restriction can help you lose weight and live longer. But is daily denial even realistic in today's food environment, where we face constant temptation to indulge in tasty drive-through meals or choose other fattening options on restaurant menus and grocery shelves? The willpower required to habitually give up favorite foods is too great for daily calorie restriction to become a realistic, long-term answer for most people.
However, recent studies have shown that calorie restriction is only necessary every other day in order to impart the same, and perhaps even greater, health benefits. Based on these findings, Dr. Johnson developed the UpDayDownDay Diet™ so that individuals can lose weight and improve their health while still being able to eat normal amounts of food every other day.
In 2003, Mark Mattson and his colleagues at the National Institute on Aging examined the effects of alternate-day calorie restriction on mice. One group was allowed to eat as much as they wanted every day. Another group was fed a calorie-restricted diet every day. A third group was given a calorie-restricted diet every other day.
The mice on the calorie-restricted and alternate-day calorie restricted diets fared better than the mice whose calories were not restricted at all, as was to be expected. But surprisingly, the mice whose calories were restricted every other day were just as healthy as, if not healthier than, the mice whose calories were restricted daily. The alternate-day mice had lower glucose and insulin levels, two indicators of longevity and heart health. The alternate-day mice also exhibited stronger central nervous systems.
The results of this study are even more remarkable considering that the alternate-day mice were genetically engineered to gorge on the days that they were allowed to eat freely. Even though they were not losing weight, they still experienced significant health improvements. Although the Johnson UpDayDownDay Diet™ is designed to help you lose weight, the implications of this study are that you can receive some of the health benefits that are associated with being thin even if you are not already at an ideal body weight.
Additional studies have further demonstrated the health benefits of alternate-day calorie restriction, including a reduction in free radicals, a lowered risk of cancer, and extended lifespan. These studies, conducted around the globe by scientists such as Oliver Descamps, Marc Hellerstein, and Eric Ravussin, are profiled in The Alternate-Day Diet.
How exactly does alternate-day calorie restriction work? Why does it promote such astonishing health benefits? The answer lies in the activation of SIRT1. Alternate-day calorie restriction turns on the SIRT1 gene, or the "skinny gene."
Dr. Johnson conducted the first study that examined the ability of alternate-day calorie restriction to treat symptoms of disease in humans. He selected asthma because it is associated with obesity and inflammation, and its symptoms are very easy to observe and monitor. Twenty overweight people with asthma were chosen to participate in the study. Every other day, they were allowed to eat as they normally would, and on alternate days they were instructed to consume no more than 20 percent of their normal caloric intake. Only one person was not able to comply with the diet. At the end of the eight-week study, the participants had lost, on average, about 8 percent of their initial body weight. They all experienced a drastic improvement in their asthma symptoms as well as increased energy. In addition, their nitrotyrosine levels, a measure of oxidative stress and an indicator of heart disease, decreased by 90 percent, and their levels of TN-alpha, a marker of inflammation, were reduced by two-thirds.
By demonstrating the anti-inflammatory effect of alternate-day calorie restriction on asthma sufferers, Dr. Johnson believes that this diet has the potential to have profound effects on other diseases associated with inflammation and aging, including heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's.
The asthma study also showed that many of the health benefits of alternate-day dieting take effect in a very short period of time. Although the study lasted eight weeks, most of the improvement took place in the first two to three weeks of the study. Dr. Johnson believes that the SIRT1 gene is the reason why the diet is so effective, and SIRT1 levels are increased very quickly after the gene is activated.
Evidence compiled over the past 70 years shows that daily calorie restriction reduces body weight, improves health, and increases lifespan, and recent studies indicate that alternate-day calorie restriction may be just as beneficial, if not more so. Using the latest research on alternate-day calorie restriction, Dr. James Johnson developed the UpDayDownDay Diet™ as a long-term strategy for successful weight loss and optimal health.