Tuesday, June 20

Calorie Restriction for Money and Health?

I guess this entry isn't so much a tip as speculation. Anyway, I read an awful lot of health and fitness related news and thought I'd share this one with you since it does have the potential to have a significant financial impact. Food is, after all, one of the largest expenses that we can easily influence.

Doctors Devise New Diet
Scientists claim to have discovered a new diet that not only ensures weight loss but also tackles diseases and could even prolong life, according to a new report.

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Dr James Johnson, who co-wrote the report with colleagues from Stanford and New Orleans universities, said the diet involves eating normally one day and then cutting food intake the next day to between 20 and 50 per cent.

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Dr Johnson, who reports having lost 35lbs in the first 11 weeks of being on the diet, said: "We have observed improvement in a variety of disease conditions, starting within two weeks, including insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, infectious disease, periodontal disease, and cardiac arrhythmias."

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For people who want to lose weight, according to the report, the diet has the psychological advantage of not subjecting them to permanent food deprivation. But the scientists said what they call "up-day, down-day" dieting also has health-promoting effects.

Some of you who have been following along with my blog know that I take frugality quite seriously. Cutting out 50% of your food needs every other day leads you to 25% less food in total. Given that it appears to be both very healthy and very frugal, it really does look like a win. An added frugal bonus is that improved health means less spent on doctors visits and medications as well.

I don't know about you, but I think I might give this a try. I hate the idea of depriving myself for long periods of time on traditional diets, but if I can avoid overcompensating too much on normal days, this sounds like a cakewalk. Eat normally, eat lightly, eat normally, eat lightly. How hard can it be? It's not like they have lists of foods or special purchases or consumption guidelines to follow.

If you give it a go, please try to come back and drop me a comment to let me know how it is going for you. Oh, hey, I'm not a doctor, but if you have any existing medical issues, please check with your doctor before starting any major new dietary or exercise program.

UPDATE: After following a calorie cycling diet I've posted my results.

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17 comments:

sgb said...

I'm about to give it a try too. I'll get back to you in eight weeks or so with observations.

Gail said...

I am also willing to give it a try, I am not a big eater, but at a stand still hoping it will boost whatever needs to be boosted to loose 10-15 lbs.

Julia said...

You know, I’ve never thought of this diet from the frugal perspective but it’s an excellent approach and extra motivation as well. I’ve been on this diet for only a week and have not stepped on the scale since I started (I want to monitor my progress weekly so I’ll get on the scale tomorrow), however, my jeans feel looser. I took the drastic approach and trying to stay within 20% of my “normal” calorie intake on my “down” days. I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy but the fact that it’s only for a day at a time helps tremendously. I don’t even have a desire to “cheat”. Unlike other diets I think I can handle this one. The first “up” day I gorged myself but it was more psychological than actual hunger. In fact I felt pretty bad and was looking forward to the next day of not eating much. The second “up” day I was not hungry at all and I think I stayed under the normal calories (I did approximate calculations). I like the fact that I don’t have to think about what kind of foods I can and can not eat or how many “points” I can consume today. If I want to go out (which I love doing) I can order anything I want and have a drink without feeling guilty. I don’t have to prepare any special foods either, which is great. I think if it works (and I don’t see a reason why it won’t) it’s a winner. I’m very curious to see how much I lost (if any). I’ll give you an update in a couple of weeks. Just to give you some stats: F, Age 30, Height 5’3”, Weight 143lb (at start), Goal weight 120-125lb. I’m not a big person to begin with but would like to shape up a little without too much work (yes, I’m pretty lazy when it comes to exercising).

Frugal Guy said...

Thanks for the comments! Please come on back and let me know how things work out...

I've enjoyed the diet quite a bit myself. it's easy to cut back too much on light eating days once you get used to it. There's just no drive to go eat since you get used to having a "free range" day always right around the corner.

Julia said...

Ok, I’m back! My first weight-in last Saturday was very encouraging – I lost 5lb. Of course the first week is usually the easiest on any diet. Tomorrow will be my second weight-in and I can’t wait. I know I lost some more. My boyfriend is doing it too and his first week was 10lb loss, but he is a big guy and has at least 50 extra lb (well, 40 now ). And I got to tell you, my grocery bill definitely went down. Loving it!

Anonymous said...

Free help for nutrient and calorie counts: fitday.com. I've been using it for three years while going from 208 lbs. to 160 lbs. Still working at it. Anyway, it's free and once you get used to it and enter some of your common foods in the "custom foods" area (it's a little tricky to look some things up), it's quick and you know what your intake really is. I've checked items on it repeatedly against labels and books I have and it's nearly always accurate for calories and nutrients.

diane lee said...

This is a diet I think I could stick with! I'm going to have to try it.

Dee said...

Well, actually I've been doing this for about 5 days trying to both save money and to lose weight - lo! and behold! You've posted something here about it. Instead of buying more food, I've been using up what I find in the refrigerator. I feel really good eating like this, and have LOST THREE POUNDS. A little bit of food and lots of water and some seasoning makes great and filling soup on the 'lean' days. When we did go out to eat last night, I had a tuna salad platter, the cheapest and actually healthiest thing on the menu.. I was so used to eating light that I brought half of it home. Had half of that for our evening meal along with added sliced onions and some lasagna that someone had given us, (stretched that too, with half a can of spinach) And I still have some salad left over! I'm stuffed and this dinner for the two of us COST ZERO extra.

Frugal Guy said...

Great stuff Dee, thanks for letting us know how this is working for you.

Confused said...

So basically the idea of this is to eat within you alloted calories per day? For e.g. 1750 calories is required per day. hence one would eat probably 1500 calories today, 1300 calories tomorrow, 1500 calories day after tomorrow?

Frugal Guy said...

Hi Confused,

I'm not an expert, but the style that interested involved no calorie counting.

One day I'd eat very little. It was only for one day, so it was quite easy to do. Knowing the next day wasn't restricted in any way removed the "monumental" feelings that are often associated with "depriving" yourself.

The next day, I'd eat free range. This doesn't mean going nuts, but it means eating healthy food - whatever you want, as much as you want.

While you might eat a bit more than normal on the "up" day, it's very likely to be less than the amount you reduced on the "down" day.

However, for the sake of maintaining your metabolism, don't restrict yourself to below your "baseline".

On the other hand, if you are looking into "pure" calorie restriction, you'll probably be able to find much better resources. There are a lot more considerations if you are truly going to restrict your intake long term... especially with respect to nutrition.

Personally, I don't enjoy long term "diets", so the up day down day approach made things easy.

Confused said...

I see...I sort of get the idea. How do I know what is the 'baseline' of my metabolism? sorry for being so confused.

Frugal Guy said...

Hmm, I'm not sure how to describe finding your baseline.

There are two different ideas (in my mind). One is how much you eat to stay at your current weight. Another is how much your body needs before daily exercise -- which is based on your body and muscle mass.

This gets confusing easily, but if you restrict too much your body will "shut down". You'll feel lethargic and so forth. The idea isn't to starve yourself.

When you cycle, you basically help your body avoid adapting to calorie changes. By the time the body starts to slow it's use of energy, you are giving it plenty of food again.

Your body, thinking "no shortage here", continues to merrily burn calories.

If you cycle daily, as I did, and honestly don't restrict intact on your up day, you probably won't have to worry about it.

However, if you are someone who is already trying to lose weight, and then you choose to drasticly reduce calories for a cycle and do not return to realistic consumption levels, you won't be doing yourself any favors.

Hmm, try this wiki page on basal metabolic rate...

basal metabolic rate

Thomas Anthony said...

Don’t let this stuff fall through the cracks! There is free coupon organizing software available at: http://www.couponandcodes.com
good luck - Tom

Anonymous said...

I lost most my weight eating really closely to what your talking about here. My weight was almost four hundred pounds. Now I am between one forty five and one fifty five. When I got close I started to drink a lot of green tea and it gave my matabolism a boost to get the last bit of my weight down. I am at my weight goal because I need to remove some skin. I am older and it just did not go away like it should for younger people. Best Wishes for all.

Frugal Guy said...

Anon, thank you very much for sharing your experience with this type of diet. That's great news and motivational to everyone else!

--

On a different note:

I see a fair number of people dropping by to look into this idea... and we all know that being overweight is a bit of an epidemic these days.

The up-day down-day approach is very simple and really does avoid the mental issues associated with long term dieting.

For simplicity you can pick specific days for up or down day goals. For example, if friday was an up day you could participate in social events that evening without throwing yourself off.

If you have too much going on or are a party animal, then maybe you should reduce your social calendar a little bit, as it can get in the way of health goals.

Ginny said...

I've heard about his before and kind of forgot it. I just went gluten-free due to a long-term wheat allergy that I have not taken seriously.

Starting tomorrow I'm just going to eat less (maybe half) and see what happens. I've recently regained some weight I'd lost so I want to get it back off.

I eat healthy anyway, and now gluten-free so alternating normal amount days with light-eating days should be easy. I'll keep you posted!