Sunday, July 26, 2009

Johnson Up Day Down Day (JUDDD) Diet Review

I have mentioned before the research done by Dr. James Johnson, author of The Alternate Day Diet. That's the title of the book, but on the Internet, it is known as the Johnson Up Day Down Day Diet (JUDDD diet). I suspect the publisher didn't like that title, and thus insisted on changing it for the book. From what I understand, authors do not have the final say when it comes to titles, unless the author is a proven best seller. Personally, I think "Up Day Down Day" is the perfect way to describe the diet, and they should have stuck with that.

The basic premise is to eat as much as you want one day--without intentionally overstuffing yourself--and to eat only 20% to 50% of your calories the next day. At least at first, Dr. Johnson suggests using canned protein drinks or other packaged foods on your down days, so you can be sure of the calories. The reason for the spread between 20% and 50% has to do with weight loss: If you have a lot to lose, go with 20%. If you've reached your goal and you're maintaining your weight, 50% is fine.

Dr. Johnson first got the idea from reading the mice studies on intermittent fasting (see list of sites on the right side of this page). Those studies involved mice on 24 hour on, 24 hour off fasting schedules, similar to mine. But Dr. Johnson, who had some weight to lose himself and always struggled with dieting, thought the idea of going 24 hours without food was insufferable. So he tried an experiment: What if you eat a little bit on the "down days," just to keep hunger at bay? Could you get similar results?

And lo and behold, he did. He lost weight, and several colleagues who tried it had improvements in various conditions such as asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, and even menopausal hot flashes.

I heard about this last Fall (2008) and decided to give it a try. Keep in mind the purpose of this blog is to document my experience with alternate day water fasting, and I have commented before how easy I find it to do. Well, when I tried the JUDDD diet, I was absolutely miserable! I was hungry, cranky, and unable to concentrate. That experiment lasted about 3 days, and it was over.

The problem? As I look back, it was twofold: First, it is done on an every other calendar day basis. So, for example, you go to bed on Tuesday night, and you're restricted to 400 calories or so until Thursday morning (unless you're up at Midnight, which I'm typically not). So it's effectively 32 to 36 hours of "fasting." Second, eating a little bit makes me hungry for more. Whereas I find it quite easy to go completely without food, as soon as I start eating I suddenly get very hungry, and I can't seem to stop eating until I'm full.

So Dr. Johnson's theory that "taking the edge off" the hunger with small snacks will make the diet easier, works the complete opposite for me. I'm certainly not questioning the effectiveness of the diet. As a matter of fact, if you can follow it, it should work just fine. My problem is that I just can't follow it.

So if you can't seem to tolerate the 24 on, 24 off schedule I follow, maybe you're better suited to the JUDDD diet. Either way, the book, The Alternate Day Diet, is worth reading, and I encourage you to pick it up from Amazon, the bookstore, etc.

For more information about the JUDDD diet, go to

Bon repos,


  1. you're makeup must be like mine. one small meal is like drinking just one beer, or eating one lays potato chip. it would just make me frustrated and stoke my hunger. total fasting makes me not think about food. my appetite goes to sleep sort of. is it an insulin response issue? not sure, but people can generally tell you right off the bat if they are a 'nibbler' or an 'eater'. grazing is not in my vocabulary!

  2. I first got into alternate day fasting through JUDDD (I did it about two years ago, before the book came out and I haven't read it, yet) and just like you find eating a little bit to be much harder than just not eating at all. Not eating anything at all keeps my appetite more dormant, somehow. I also got tired of thinking about how many calories I was eating on that down day. Counting calories is boring and took the joy out of food for me.
    I'm totally off fasting lately. I don't know why that is. Maybe the 24/24 is worth a try over my previous alternate day schedule. I did find some fast day evenings I felt wiped out.

  3. fasterly,
    Perhaps a 24/24 schedule would work for you. Since you've inexplicably stopped fasting lately, why not give it a try? Maybe the idea of going an entire calendar day without food is too much for your subconcious mind to take.

    One of the nice things about fasting is that you can always stop if you want to. If it works for you, great. If not, just stop, and don't worry about it.


  4. Why not do it 6pm till 6pm? That way you have some food each 'day' but it doesn't end up too long between meals as sleeps not shifting things.

    Monday would be no breakfast or lunch and have an evening meal. Tuesday would be breakfast and lunch and no evening meal. Etc.

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