What do you eat on a feast day as an intermittent faster or when you follow an alternate day fasting diet? That is perhaps the second most common question, right behind, “What do I eat on a Fast Day (FD)?”
Follow Brian Hall as he explains the IF Continuum and how to find what feast day meals work best to fit your lifestyle.
“What do I eat on a feast day or Up Day (UD)?”
This is a question we hear with regularity. The short answer for 99.9% of the population is, “Anything you want.” And of course, this if followed by skepticism. Most people can’t envision being able to diet half the time and still improve health and lose weight. In the early days, they’ll probably feel like they’re “cheating on their diet.”
That’s normal. The creators of the three main intermittent alternate day fasting plans we emphasize on Fast Days Healing Days, maintain that the beauty of their plans reside in the premise that you do not have to alter your diet in any way on non-fasting or feast days (aka Up Days or UDs), and that in fact, restricting the diet on Fast Days “could” be counter-productive.
3 Main Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting Diets:
EOD Diet (Every Other Day Diet by Krista Varady)
Of course, Dr. Johnson is quick to caution to only weigh once a week, after a Down Day (DD – aka FD). Dr. Varady on the other hand suggests you weigh every day; that dieters who weigh daily experience as much as a 33% increase in weight loss over non-daily weighers. Dr. Mosley suggests weighing once or twice a week. We mention this because, when you intermittent fast, it’s normal to see weight fluctuations from day-to-day, beyond what you might see in a diet that consistently restricts calories or a particular group of macronutrients (i.e. low carb diets).
The question about weighing and weight fluctuation is important, because if you are a daily weigher, eating whatever you want without restriction could lead to big fluctuations on the scale, which could then reflect poorly on attitude and mental health, increasing stress. However, when you view the big picture, the weigh loss pattern will resemble a spike-staircase in a downward trending direction.
The question of a bouncing scale is pertinent, because Fast Days Healing Days believes this bouncing helps shape and condition the intermittent faster. We call it the IF Continuum. We’ll talk at length about the IF Continuum in another post, but the broad definition is that the IF Continuum is a progression along the intermittent fasting or alternate day dieting path where a person’s eating patterns on alternating feast days shift to give better scale results, weight loss and better attitudes (happier) on the Fast Day (FD) following the feast. It’s a slow, gradual progression where food choices might shift from the product and fast-food filled SAD (Standard American Diet) to a diet filled with better and healthier choices.
So to answer the question about what you should eat on a feast day? Most intermittent fasters don’t “have” to restrict their eating in any way. And when first beginning an ADF lifestyle, will find themselves eating every salty, sweet, high fat, food they crave—and they will likely have a few UUAAD (Up UP And Away Days), where they do eat over 110% of normal calories (per Dr. Varady’s studies). Over time, the majority of intermittent fasters’ feast days will calm down as they become more comfortable with the alternate day schedule, and as blood sugars and insulin come into control. You start to realize that making smart choices on feast days result in significantly easier fast days and so the trade-off of feeling better, experiencing fewer weight fluctuations and having easier FDs with less hunger is enough of a reward to merit behavioral changes.
Over time, it’s quite likely you will come to realize your UD or feast day choices consist of nutrient dense, whole foods, with minimal products and processing. It happens naturally. And most hold their “feasting” behaviors for true “feast days” or high holidays, knowing that within one to two FD cycles, any weight fluctuation will be gone.
Susie T, DocP and I choose to follow a low or controlled carb lifestyle on both feast days and FDs, although the JUDDD diet we follow does not specify doing that in order to stick to Dr. Johnson’s method. We find low carb – keto or paleo/primal lifestyles help keep blood sugar low, which yields easier FDs and helps us feel much better. That’s why most of our foods on Fast Days Healing Days fall into the low carb category—because that kind of food keeps you full longer. You can eat more of it. It’s nutrient dense and FDs are easier—but it isn’t a Fast Day meal requirement.
So wherever you fall within the IF Continuum, and whatever your feast day food choices are today, fear not the feast day. Eat up. It’s all a process. Regardless of choice, if you adhere to the alternating day, calorie restricted cycle, the majority of folks will realize results.