More About Benefits of Alternate Day Fasting

Last week I blogged about a friend who derived great benefits from alternate-day fasting. There were several reader questions. I put them to my friend:

Q How does exercise fit in with all this fasting?

A I do Iyengar yoga every day, about 2 hours.

Q I assume he drank water. Did he consume any liquid calories or probiotics (Yakult?) on his fasting days?

A Yes, water. I replace electrolytes, but that’s for other reasons.  (I don’t regulate electrolytes well.)  There may have been 8 or 10 days in the last 9 months when I had a very small amount of food on a fasting day — a little yogurt or a little rice & sauerkraut, maybe.

Q What did he eat on non-fasting days?

A Breakfast of stir-fry + egg + some fruit & yoghurt & nuts & flax seeds. Maybe I break that into two meals or maybe not. Dinner of … veggies/rice/chicken or … something like that. [He didn’t change what he ate when he started alternate-day fasting.]

Q Something is missing in the story. He didn’t get to be an Ivy League math professor by being confused, exhausted, overwhelmed and depressed all the time. Were his indigestion and tiredness increasing in severity before he started the diet?

A I was severely ADHD all my life, and collapsed in the early 2000’s. I turned out to suffer from heavy metal poisoning: mercury, lead and a little bit of arsenic. I’ve been detoxing for a number of years with steady improvement. As to how I managed to become an Ivy League math professor, that’s not unusual. There are a lot of us. There is a subtype of ADHD called “with hyperfocus”. Hyperfocus is a mild form of the Asperger’s “little professor” syndrome, in which a person is completely consumed by one subject, at the expense of anything else.

11 Replies to “More About Benefits of Alternate Day Fasting”

  1. That clinches it for me. Beginning today, I’m starting alternate day fasting. I’ve had issues with candida since childhood and I want to finally kill it off. Most of the candida diets severely limit food choices and it’s been hard to adhere to them.

  2. A few questions for you or your friend about the practicality of ADF:

    * If you take medications that are supposed to be taken “with food” (which typically means that they are fat-soluble I think) how do you deal with this?

    * How do you deal with the social aspect of eating? When your friends invite you to go out for lunch/dinner/drinks with them, do you just order a water?

    Seth: I’m not taking any medications. When eating with friends, I just eat very little.

  3. Also just came across this interesting snippet at

    Water-soluble nutrients work best when you get them in the proper amounts. When you eat or take more than your body needs, the body adapts by absorbing just what it needs, and then it usually excretes the excess in your urine — but not always. A study in the August 2010 Journal of Nutrition Science and Vitaminology found that urinary excretion of certain vitamins and other nutrients was reduced when study participants fasted.

  4. @Thomas Johnson: Most medications can be taken with or without food, the food slows absorption & can minimize stomach upset. There are only a few that really need to be taken with food. Off the top of my head, I can only think of one & it is an anti-parasite drug that you’re probably not taking. What drugs do you take that you think must be taken with food?

  5. Does fasting give him bad breath? That seems to be a common side effect. Aren’t bad smells, like the smell of feces, our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong – or, in the case of feces, “don’t eat this”? (As a practical matter, how does he deal with the fasting-induced halitosis?)

    Also – I know, so many questions – what is our best understanding of the physiological process by which fasting creates benefits such as loss of bad fat, reduced GERD, etc.? My experience is that missing a meal increases acid reflux, so I hesitate to go all the way.


  6. @Thomas Johnson: I see. I think I got a little nausea as well when I tried zinc. You could try splitting the dose up. I found some info that suggests the amount your body absorbs is inversely proportional to the dose you take, so taking smaller doses more frequently would probably benefit you in 2 ways: less stomach upset & a greater percentage absorbed in each dose.

  7. What about drinking coffee on fast days? Encouraged or what that alter the effects of fasting? I would be concerned about low blood sugar making me cranky, but I think black coffee would help compensate.

    Seth: I drink lots of tea on fast days. Including Choffy, a coffee substitute made with chocolate. I brew it like tea.

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