Alternate day dieting

I once read an article about alternate day dieting, consuming low calories one day, then ‘‘normal’’ higher calories the next. Has anyone any experience of this, say 600 or 800 calories on the diet day, normal food (or with a mixture of normal food and Huel) on the next day. Did it work for losing weight? Pros and cons? It would seem to work easier for the long term rather than lower calories every day.

It will work for losing weight since half days you’re consuming fewer calories than what your body requires to maintain your weight.
Achievable? Not in the long run: events, socials, mood swings, etc.
Doable? Sure, did it, it’s like doing alternate fasting: 1 day you eat, the other one you skip. Hard at the beginning, your body will adapt in no time (our bodies are magical in this, they adapt to whatever we “force” them into).

  • lower calories intake
  • easy to setup compared to a “lower but steady - on everyday” calories deficit: you can eat your normal things 1 day, and cut out 2 meals the other


  • not sustainable in the long run in my opinion
  • not socially friendly
  • almost starving the first two-three days of this
  • not eating-disorder friendly AT ALL
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I think this would work, as long as on your “normal” eating days you’re not making up for the calorie deficit of the day before. In fact, I think its a great idea for people who really struggle to stuck to diets long term, because every other day you would be able to eat as you previously were, which, although generally not ideal, would at least eliminate yo-yo dieting. A work collegue embarked on her yearly diet 3 or 4 weeks ago, at first she was very positive, just calorie counting with a 1500 calorie daily limit, she said it was fine cos she could still eat whatever she wanted as long as she didnt exceed the calorie limit. First week she lost 5lb, second week she lost 1lb, third week she threw in the towel because dieting was making her miserable, she would rather be fat and happy. I think alternate day dieting could work for someone like this, who simply can’t envisage making long term changes to the quantity and quality of their food, but doing it one day on one day off would still result in weight loss, and might even result in a long term gradual shift in eating habits, where less highly processed carbs etc are being eaten, and more wholefoods are gradually introduced.
As for it not being possible due to social events etc, for that day, just call it your normal eating day, whether its due to be that or not, then continue with the pattern of one day dieting, one day eating normally. Flexibility is surely the name of the game with a diet like this, and it also avoids that mentality of having failed on your diet, so why bother, it’s too hard and can’t be done. Once I get down to my goal weight, I might even give it a go myself in order to maintain that weight. It would certainly be interesting.

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Today is my first day on Huel (black) and I’m having 4 x 200 calorie shakes through the day, half way through that now, then tomorrow I’ll have a 400 calorie shake for breakfast then normal food through the rest of the day, trying to keep to healthy food as much as possible, higher protein, plenty of fibre etc.
Thats the plan, lets see how it works!

I have been trying intermittent fasting for three weeks now, and I really like it. 18 hours of fasting, a six hour window for meals (12 noon to 6 pm). Every day. I want to lose weight, but slowly, and that’s exactly what is happening. But it’s much more than that, it has other advantages. No cravings, instead in the morning I get hungry very slowly, as we should, it’s never a struggle. The body adapts and learns to switch from glucose to fat burning again. So happy I’m even considering it as a permanent lifestyle now, so for that reason I’m currently studying the subject of fasting in depth. I got lots of inspiration from Tom Bilyeu’s youtube channel, great interviews about fasting which in turn leads you to interesting books. I think it works great for the kind of ‘all in or nothing’ person like myself. Tom B says: if your weight and health are so important, you’ll need to establish a ‘bright line’. That’s what I did, IF is perfect for that and so far I’m loving it.


And where does this come from?

The body already knows how to do it, you don’t teach the body to do so while fasting: you force your body to do so, as you don’t have glucose storage anymore after a given amount of time.
Also, keep in mind that that state is not permanent if you don’t maintain a ketosis state, and that’s only achieved with VERY low levels of carbohydrates (just to say: a 2k kcal diet on Huel BE will move you out of ketosis).


That’s really not true, having a day’s worth of calories in 6 hours windows will most likely make your blood sugar peak since you would have huge meals.
And remember, every body is different, I have to eat 5 to 6 times a day to keep my blood sugar steady and “at bay”

I’ve used Huel to practise “intermittent fasting” for a very long time. I fast during the week, have Huel for lunch, a normal dinner, and then on the weekends I may eat anything / as often as I want.

I used to fast quite strictly and only eat certain foods in order to reap the supposed “health benefits,” but now I only do it because it actually works for me. I’ll reassess when I’ve reached the point where I no longer need to lose weight and instead want to bulk up, but for the time being, I truly enjoy what I’m doing, which is fantastic since it’s sustainable.

There is no right or wrong way to eat; it’s just what works for the individual. In my opinion, people have the right to have 1 meal per day just as much as they have the right to eat 5 or 6 meals per day.


Hey Christopher, good to see you back on the forum!

I think hearing from other Hueligans is really helpful, so thank you everyone for your thoughts. What’s easier for the long-term is super personal. You may find that it works for you, but there’s no guarantee.

What you’ve described is basically the 5:2 diet. The positives are the rules are easy to follow and it can be a method that leads to greater control over dietary choices however, it’s is not a way to be healthy while eating a poor-quality diet and for a lot of people they find it’s not sustainable after a few weeks.

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I’m not interested in an extremely low carb 24h ketosis crash diet to burn a lot of fat quickly. I don’t want to be in a permanent state of ketosis. I said I considered intermittent fasting as a permanent lifestyle, not permanent ketosis. I eat my normal meals with good carbs in moderation, not huge meals. Healthy stuff, no alcohol. I’m not worried at all if my 6 hour window moves me out of ketosis. The 18h fasting intervals clearly make me burn fat when the glycogen stores run out, the results are there after three weeks. The body can switch back and forth.


Just so you’re aware, an 18:6 intermittent fasting regime probably isn’t enough for you to enter ketosis.

However, if it works for you, that’s cool and it sounds like this regime is helping you with your goal of losing weight.

Remember burning more fat doesn’t equal weight loss because you might also be eating more fat!


I think his point was not about fat burning, he’s having an 18:6 regime, and most likely not eating enough to maintain his weight, so for him, it’s working (in the way of losing weight, not in the way of fat metabolisation, which happens in ketosis).
I wasn’t implying that what he said was wrong, just that it’s not true for everyone. As I said before: everyone is different, every body is different and reacts in different ways to carbs, fats, and proteins.

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Yeap I hear you Luca. Fasting is an interesting concept but as you said earlier there are some clear cons.

We wrote an article on intermittent fasting that you might be interested in: Intermittent Fasting and Huel

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Oh I know a lot about fasting, tried it myself, for months. Didn’t work (I suffered from eating disorders).

That’s horrible, glad to hear you’re out the other side now.

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Thanks to Huel! :smiley:
Might sound weird, but it really played a big part into my recovery.

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Hi I have been using 5-2 off and on for a few years now and have also used IF doing 16-8.
Both methods result in slow weight loss and also a feeling of well-being, so long as you don’t compensate on the normal eating days as another member mentioned. Huel helps me out a great deal on a ‘fasting’ day as I can sort out my lunch and mid afternoon snack with ease as the calories are already counted for me. This is really great when working 12 hour shifts.
Less prep on the morning as I make up my Huel the night before and refrigerate. The hardest bit is resisting high calorie suppers that my partner cooks on those ‘fasting’ days! :rofl:
Thanks Huel team.

I’ve been on intermittent fasting for about 2 years and lost about half my body weight in that time, which is nine stone.

I eat normally one day then nothing the next. I do find no on my eating days I also eat less than I normally would.

I am type one diabetic and so it has also halved my insulin need which is where my weight gain came from originally, not from the food choices I made or the food I ate. For me it was more complex than calories in calories out.

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This is great to hear Michelle! Kudos to you for managing 500kcal on a 12 hour shift AND not eating your partner’s dinner when you come home. Glad we could help :slight_smile:

This is a crazy result, well done! It sounds like intermittent fasting gave you a better judgement of how much you were eating, would you agree?

It always is. At the end of the day it’s a bit of maths but it doesn’t cover all the hard work or psychological and social aspects.

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Like I say for me it was about insulin, not the amount or type of food I was eating. I was in a situation where I hadn’t eaten more but being in chronic pain meant I had to vastly increase my insulin intake to keep my blood sugars stable.

Not eating for one out of two days meant that I could reduce my insulin by half as well and so the weight came down. What it did show me is the affect of chronic pain on the body and the stress it puts you under.