Alternate Day Diet by Dr. James Johnson

The Alternate Day Diet, otherwise known as the UpDayDownDay Diet, was created by Dr. James Johnson. Dr. Johnson based this diet on research that shows a calorie restrictive diet prolongs an animal’s lifespan by 30 to 40 percent. On this diet, individuals are able to eat what they want one day and go on a fast the following day. The aim is to have an overall calorie restriction or reduction, which may lead to weight loss and an increase in lifespan. 

The Premise

While on the Alternate Day Diet, dieters are allowed to eat as much as they want one day (the up day) and then on the following day, they are to follow an extremely restrictive and low calorie diet (the down day).  This pattern will increase a dieter’s overall metabolism, and therefore they will burn additional calories. 

The research behind this diet is based on the belief that implementing eating habits like this will help activate a dieter’s S1RT1 gene, or skinny gene as Dr. Johnson calls it. According to Dr. Johnson, dieters lost on average two to three pounds per week.

The Diet

While the days alternate one after another, on the up days, the dieter is advised not to overeat. Dr. Johnson simply advises that the dieter eats until she is satisfied. Additionally, Dr. Johnson recommends that dieters avoid trans fats on the up day’s focuses on eating a balanced diet.

On the down day’s, a dieter is supposed to keep their caloric intake between 300 to 500 calories.  For the first two weeks of the diet, on the down days, dieters are only allowed to consume a protein shake. Following the first two weeks, the dieter can eat their own foods, but are advised to still eat fewer than 500 calories per day.

Dr. Johnson does provide a plan for long-term maintenance. On this plan, dieters can eat 35% of their normal daily caloric requirements on the down days. The up days remain the same.

What to Get Excited About

On your up days, you will be able to eat anything you want. No foods are specifically off limits, yet Dr. Johnson recommends avoiding trans fats.

Things to Consider

While Dr. Johnson is a medical doctor, he is a plastic surgeon. Individuals should follow diets that are recommended by organizations such as the American Heart Association or the Mayo Clinic, neither of which approve of the Alternate Day Diet.


This diet is extreme, unhealthy, and has been dubbed by numerous people as “part-time anorexia”. This diet leads to disorderly eating habits. The American Heart Association recommends a nutritionally balanced diet as the best way to achieve long-term weight loss. This fad diet does not promote a balance diet based on healthy eating habits. Additionally, diets that recommend days with extremely low calorie intakes may lead to extreme side effects such as lightheadedness, hunger and tiredness.


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