MADF: Modified Alternate Day Fasting

About a month ago, I made a change to my lose-weight-and-get-healthy system. I’ve talked about how important it is to have systems in my first blog, How the Dilbert Guy Made Me Lose 100lbs.

Systems are made for change. If an old part of my system isn’t working for me anymore, I can try something new. There’s no deadline. There’s limited willpower involved. It’s plug & play. Setup & go. Set it & forget…wait, no, not that one.

This last February, I started regular alternate day fasting (ADF). Every other day, I ate nothing but water and salt, which amounts to three 40-ish hour fasts a week. I burned out of that after about 4 weeks, so I had to make a change.

I got into extended fasting. The benefit to these at the time was that once I got 48 hours into a fast, it became SO MUCH EASIER. For a few months, I did monthly extended fasts with occasional shorter fasts in between, ranging between 4 days and 8 days. I lost about 15lbs doing this. But in August, I burned out of that, too. All fasting except for daily Time-Restricted Eating (eating within a small specified window of time) became impossible. So I settled on OMAD-EW (one meal a day-except weekends) for a couple months. During this time, I added strength training & some cardio to my life for overall health, not to lose weight.

My weight has stagnated around 168lbs since July. I’ve gotten slimmer, especially my arms and legs, and my muscle mass has definitely increased. But I’ve got unhealthy body fat to shift, and most of that resides on my midsection.

I read Dr. Krista Varady’s The Every Other Day Diet a while back. This is the book about modified ADF. At the time, I was stuck in an all-or-nothing mentality (note: this is bad for systems thinking), so I wasn’t interested in eating 500 calories per fasting day when I could eat NOTHING (ah-ha aren’t I so impressive!???). Until now anyway.

What’s the Science Behind MADF?

MADF has a number of studies behind it.

How Does MADF Work?

It’s pretty easy:

  • Monday: Eat up to 500 calories in two meals and a snack, ideally earlier in the day, prioritize protein
  • Tuesday: Eat 3 meals of whatever
  • Wednesday: Eat up to 500 calories in two meals and a snack, ideally earlier in the day, prioritize protein
  • Thursday: Eat 3 meals of whatever
  • Friday: Eat up to 500 calories in two meals and a snack, ideally earlier in the day, prioritize protein
  • Sat/Sun: Eat 3 meals of whatever

I modified this MADF a little further to still keep OMAD time-restricted eating on feasting days (except weekends) and fasting days, to still keep a dinner schedule, and to keep keto. All fasting regimens can be done with any diet. But the blood sugar control you get from keto makes fasting a super-scientific gazillion times easier.

What Does 500 Calories Look Like?

You’d be surprised how much you can pack into 500 calories, especially when you’re going for nutrient-dense food. Here are a few of my meals (and always coffee w/ 2 tbsp of half & half).

How’d My First Month of MADF Go?

Sorta great, sorta not great.

I started this at the lamest time of the month. You know, the part where hunger sky rockets? The first two weeks, I was able to do 2 of the fasting days with more mental effort than I’d like. However, the last two weeks have been easy-peasy lemon squeezy.

What Are Some Tips?

  • I was already doing OMAD, so not eating until dinner time was already easier.
  • Super satiating foods made the 500-calorie meal filling and created less hunger later in the day. For me, this was eggs, salmon, and liver. This next week, I’m busting out my frozen liverwurst to see if I get the same satisfaction.
  • Any exercise makes me hungrier later in the day, but fasted strength training on these days helps boost fat loss (and is super good for your body generally).
  • And one that is true for all fasting: being busy makes the time go by faster.

What About Weight Loss?

I’m kind of at a weird place for weight loss. Because I added in strength training, my weight has stalled on the scale (which doesn’t mean anything). But I also think I’m at a body set weight, so my physiology may be trying to keep me more at this weight. I had gotten down to 158 in June, but over the following month, I had gone back to 168 (before starting exercise). What’s so great about 168?

I had lost weight about 11 years ago and stayed at/near that weight for a few years before packing it back on. That weight? 168.

So I’ve felt I needed something that packed a stronger punch than what OMAD was providing. And it’s been working!

The first two weeks were a wash because I ate way too much Rebel Creamery Keto ice cream (milk—even skim—can be problematic because it’s designed for growth—fattening), and I was over-indulging. That’s also part of my new system: no more milk-based keto desserts.

The last two weeks, I went from 168 to 164. I’ll take that.

I’m happy with this for now. If it stops working or I lose taste for it, I’ve got other tools to whip out. At the end of the day, I will have lost at least 130lbs of fat, which is an entire healthy woman of my height of 5’3”, so there’s going to be hiccups along the way. Things won’t always go as quickly as they did in the first year. I carried this weight for a looonnnnnng time. The longer you carry weight, the harder it is for your body to let go. (So if you’ve recently gained weight, now may be the time to lose it).

The key is to adjust the system to keep me sane, healthy, and on track.

*Note: This is not medical advice.

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