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Dietary and physical activity adaptations to alternate day modified fasting: implications for optimal weight loss

Monica C Klempel1, Surabhi Bhutani1, Marian Fitzgibbon2, Sally Freels3 and Krista A Varady1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

2 Department of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

3 Department of Biostatistics, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:35  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-35

Published: 3 September 2010



Alternate day modified fasting (ADMF) is an effective strategy for weight loss in obese adults.


The objective of this study was to examine the dietary and physical activity adaptations that occur during short-term ADMF, and to determine how these modulations affect rate of weight loss.


Sixteen obese subjects (12 women/4 men) completed a 10-week trial consisting of 3 phases: 1) 2-week control phase, 2) 4-week ADMF controlled feeding phase, and 3) 4-week ADMF self-selected feeding phase.


Body weight decreased (P < 0.001) by 5.6 ± 1.0 kg post-treatment. Energy intake on the fast day was 26 ± 3% of baseline needs (501 ± 28 kcal/d). No hyperphagic response occurred on the feed day (95 ± 6% of baseline needs consumed, 1801 ± 226 kcal/d). Daily energy restriction (37 ± 7%) was correlated to rate of weight loss (r = 0.42, P = 0.01). Dietary fat intake decreased (36% to 33% of kcal, P < 0.05) with dietary counseling, and was related to rate of weight loss (r = 0.38, P = 0.03). Hunger on the fast day decreased (P < 0.05) by week 2, and remained low. Habitual physical activity was maintained throughout the study (fast day: 6416 ± 851 steps/d; feed day: 6569 ± 910 steps/d).


These findings indicate that obese subjects quickly adapt to ADMF, and that changes in energy/macronutrient intake, hunger, and maintenance of physical activity play a role in influencing rate of weight loss by ADMF.