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Johnson Up Day Down Day Diet & Lifestyle

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FAQ [Aug. 20th, 2007|12:57 am]
Johnson Up Day Down Day Diet & Lifestyle


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Johnson Up Day Down Day (JUDDD) Diet – FAQ

What is the basis for the diet? Why should I do it?

In a nutshell, it’s a diet based on intermittent fasting and calorie restriction, which have been shown in both rodent and human research to have considerable health benefits, including significant weight loss, lowered cholesterol, improved insulin sensitivity, improved muscle development, improved coordination, endurance, and strength, and life extension. Inflammation decreases, which can benefit a variety of disorders (allergies, asthma, arthritis…) and immunity to illness increases. The diet also increases your metabolic rate, while decreasing oxidative stress – a major cause of aging.

JUDDDD achieves these effects by activating a gene called SIRT1, which has a cascading effect on other beneficial genes. Who wouldn’t want to be healthy, lean, and young for longer?

How does JUDDDD lead to weight loss? Will I lose muscle mass?

Fasting via basic thermodynamics causes weight loss, because you are burning more calories than you are consuming – as with any successful diet. The less you eat, the more you will burn. However, if you fast or restrict for multiple days in a row, your metabolism will go into starvation mode and slow dramatically, such that you burn many fewer calories than usual. Essentially, your body adapts to your fast/restriction. When this happens, your body is likely to burn muscle over fat (especially if you are not exercising much), which slows your metabolism even further, as muscle cells burn more calories than fat cells.

However, the FIRST day of fasting or restriction, your metabolism is still high, and you can lose significant weight. Before your metabolism can slow down, you have an UD, which keeps your metabolism high (and even revs it up a bit!). And then the next DD, you can keep burning away fat. Also, because you avoid starvation mode, you burn primarily fat not muscle, increasing your metabolic rate per lb of body weight as your fat % decreases.

What is this up day/down day schedule?

It’s extremely simple. You alternate up days with down days in a 1:1 ratio. So for example, if you start on an up day on a Monday, your schedule will look like this: Mon- up, Tue- down, Wed-up, Thur-down, Fri-up, Sat-down, Sun-up, Mon-down, and so on. It will rotate so that which day of the week is down or up will change every week.

What are Up Days (UD) and Down Days (DD)?

On an UD, you can eat as much as you like. Truly! It’s best if you aim for what the JUDDD calculator gives you for your recommended caloric intake, but it’s fine to go over. What’s most important is that you do NOT GO UNDER on your up days, as this will inhibit weight loss by putting your metabolism into starvation mode. It’s better to go over than under, certainly. However, you shouldn’t go crazy and stuff yourself – eat whenever you’re hungry until you are full, but don’t binge unnecessarily.

On a DD, you eat 0-50% of your recommended caloric intake, i.e., 0-50% of your UD calories.

It's really okay if I go over on my UDs?

Yes - but if you go over by more than a few hundred calories, you will not lose as quickly.

What if I'm exceeding my UD calories but more than a few hundred? What if I binge drastically because I'm worrying about not eating the following day, and feel that I have to eat everything I can today as a result?

I struggled with this mindset for a while. The first couple weeks I counted religiously on my UDs, and then roughly kept track after that. Around 3-4 weeks in, however, I started greatly exceeding my up day calories - by 500+ - which I now realize probably slowed my weight loss. Here are some things I have found helpful for dealing with this mindset:

1. I tell myself that the NEXT up day I can have one of the things I'm craving. I can fulfill some cravings today, and some next time. I don't need to eat EVERYTHING today. I have more time!

2. I limit my portions. Yes, I can have some chocolate, some ice cream, some cake. But I serve myself a reasonable portion, put the rest away, and eat my portion slowly, savouring it. If I want MORE, I can have it in 2 days.

3. If I really cannot help but eat constantly, at least I should eat lo-cal things, so don't forget to stock up on these items. Celery, lots of fresh veggies, melon, grapefruit, sugar free puddings and popsicles, fat free frozen yogurt, low fat or fat free popcorn, etc.

How do I decide how much to consume on my DDs?

That depends on your goals. If you don’t want to lose weight, but simply want to gain the other health benefits of the diet, eat 50% on your DDs. If you want to lose weight, you should eat 0-35% on your DDs. The less you eat on your DDs, the faster your weight loss will be, and theoretically, it should speed up gene activation as well. However, many people have difficulty fasting completely (of course, you can still consume calorie free beverages, and should make sure you stay hydrated). If you are prone to symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), like dizziness and headaches, then 0 cal DDs are not for you.

You can also start at a higher level (say 35%) and then gradually work your way down to a lower level on your DDs, to allow your body and mind to adapt. Whatever level you choose, just make sure to stay under that number of calories, and again, the less you eat, the better.

Do I start on an UD or a DD?

It doesn’t matter all that much, as it will very quickly even out regardless. However, if you’ve been eating normally or overeating, it’s ideal to start on a DD. If you’ve been restricting calories or fasting, you’ll want to start on an UD to rev your metabolism.

Do I have to count calories?

Unfortunately, at least at first, you will need to count calories. CalorieCounter is a good site you can use to determine your caloric intake; it includes virtually every food and ingredient. If you fast completely on your DDs, then you won’t need to count on those days, but otherwise you will always need to count calories on your DDs to make sure you do not exceed your DD allotment. On UDs, you will need to count calories at least initially, to see how many calories you normally eat, and to get an idea of the amount of food you will need to consume on UDs. After a week or two of counting on UDs, you will probably have a good idea of how much you need to eat to at least meet your UD calories, at which point you can stop counting if you trust your judgement adequately.

How do I divide the days; at what point does a DD become an UD?

Usually people simply use sleep as the divider; whenever you get up is the new day. However, if you have a very erratic sleep schedule, I recommend choosing a set time at which to switch.

Do I have to eat certain foods, or avoid others?

No! That’s the beauty of JUDDDD. You can eat anything you want (although, it’s always best to stick to mostly fresh fruit and veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and incorporate adequate protein). Only calories matter – so as long as you stay under you DD limit, you’re fine. Of course, it’s hard to stay under your DD limit eating high fat foods because they contain more calories. There is one benefit though, to eating high fat foods on your DDs – if you stick to fat/protein and avoid carbs on DDs, your body will remain in a deeper state of ketosis (fat burning).

Another benefit is that you can combine this diet with others – like low carb, south beach, atkins, weight watcher, raw, vegan – whatever you want.

I do however recommend that you consume a lot of fiber to maintain proper bowel movements. This is not necessary for the diet to work, but it will certainly improve your overall health and reduce constipation.

Can I drink alcohol? How about caffeine and other substances?

Alcohol is fine, but it does contain calories which you must account for, so I recommend avoiding it on your DDs. Additionally, drinking can often increase hunger and lead to bingeing, so try not to go overboard with it. Other drugs are fine as well, though you should avoid strong stimulants (ephedra, prescription/recreational drugs), as they interfere with metabolism.

Do eating patterns/meals per day matter?

No. You can snack constantly or eat set meals, or even one lump meal, provided you stay below your DD allowance and reach or exceed your UD allowance. You can eat as early or as late in the day as you like.

How much can I expect to lose per week?

The average is 2.5 lbs per week, but that’s across all DD levels. You will lose more if you are heavier/fatter to begin with, and also more the less you eat on your DDs. It’s not uncommon for people to lose more than 5 lbs in the first week! The rate of loss will slow gradually over time, unless you keep decreasing your DD level.

Why I am not losing weight?

There are several possibilities. Are you not eating enough calories on your UDs? Undershooting your UD caloric intake is the most common reason people fail to lose. Are you not staying under your DD limit/exceeding 35%?

Many women also retain water (commonly referred to as ‘bloating’ although that is actually an incorrect term, as bloating refers to excess air, not water) during certain points in their menstrual cycles, and so you may actually be losing but not realize it. If you’re easily discouraged and female, I recommend you start the diet a few days after your period has ended, to avoid this issue. Of course, you can also retain water regardless of your sex or the time of month if you consume a lot of salt and do not stay hydrated.

One more important thing – you shouldn’t rely too much on weight as an assessment of fat loss. I strongly recommend that you measure yourself (bust/chest, waist, and hips) as well. I say this because if you are exercising a lot on the diet, you may gain muscle (which weighs more than fat) while losing fat, and so your overall weight will not decrease but may even increase, even though you are actually becoming smaller. If you measure yourself, you will be able to see that you are nonetheless burning fat and making progress.

How often should I weigh and measure myself?

I urge you to do so weekly, and to restrain from more frequent checking. Especially during the first week, the weight loss can occur strangely, such as all at once on the 6th day. Of course, you will also weigh more the mornings after UDs (because of food in your digestive tract), and less after DDs. Ideally, you should pick one type of morning to weigh/measure yourself on – either UDs, or DDs – it doesn’t matter, although after DDs (i.e. morning of UDs) will probably be more psychologically beneficial. That way you’ll be consistent. In the long term, the day you weigh yourself on will shift by one day every week. Examples below:

If you start on an UD:

Week 1: Mon- up (weigh), Tue- down, Wed-up, Thur-down, Fri-up, Sat-down, Sun-up
Week 2: Mon-down, Tue-up (weigh) Wed-down, Thur-up, Fri-down, Sat-up, Sun-down
Week 3:Mon-up, Tue-down, Wed-up (weigh), Thur-down, Fri-up, Sat-down, Sun-up
Week 4: Mon-down, Tue-up, Wed-down, Thur-up (weigh), Fri-down, Sat-up, Sun-down…

If you start on a DD:

Week 1: Mon-down (weigh), Tue-up, Wed-down, Thur-up, Fri-down, Sat-up, Sun-down
Week 2: Mon- up (weigh), Tue- down, Wed-up, Thur-down, Fri-up, Sat-down, Sun-up
Week 3: Mon-down, Tue-up (weigh), Wed-down, Thur-up, Fri-down, Sat-up, Sun-down
Week 4: Mon-up, Tue-down, Wed-up (weigh), Thur-down, Fri-up, Sat-down, Sun-up…

Again, it’s very important that you measure yourself as well. I cannot emphasize this enough!

What if I need to shift my schedule, so that I can have an UD on a day that would normally be a DD? (such as for a special event)

So far, those of us who have tried shifting by doing two DDs in a row have found that we lose LESS weight (but do not gain weight) by doing so than we would have had we stuck to the normal schedule. So I do not advise increasing the ratio of DDs to UDs. Instead, I recommend you do two UDs in a row, but carefully so that you closely stick to your recommended intake, and don’t go over by very much (ie don’t eat without calorie counting/as much as you want, as you normally would on an UD).

What if I exercise a lot, how will DDs affect my strength and endurance?

You can absolutely exercise on this diet – exercise is always good. When you calculate your UD/DD calorie allotments, you incorporate your activity level. If it changes, you should re-calculate for the day(s) in question. At first, you may find yourself lacking in energy on DDs, but you will adapt over time. You can also try eating all of your DD calories as one lump meal 1-2 hours before you plan to exercise, so that your blood sugar is high while exercising.

Again, over time, your strength and endurance should increase on all days.

What if I plateau?

I’m the first person so far in the community to plateau, and I did so after the 5th week, which is common for many diets. I am currently experimenting on how to lose further, and will update this section with what works and what doesn’t.

What if I reach my goal weight, and don’t want to lose any more?

Ideally, for all the other health benefits, you should then switch to maintenance mode, which is 50% on DDs. However, theoretically if you went back to normal every day eating, not exceeding your recommended daily caloric intake, you should maintain your new weight.

How long can I do the diet for?

As long as you like! In fact, as said above, you’ll get the best long-term effects if you do it for life. You may just need to vary your DD allowance if you become too thin (see previous question).

Can I make changes to the diet? What are some possible variations?

So far, not many variations have been tried (other than two DDs in a row, which seems to inhibit loss, probably by slowing metabolism). I strongly recommend sticking to the up/down alternation as rigidly as you can. Other than that, what you eat and how much you exercise are up to you.

Are there certain medical conditions that would make this diet unsafe?

You should consult your physician if you have any concerns in this regard and suffer a serious medical condition, however, most people with common chronic disorders (diabetes, asthma, fibromyalgia, thyroid conditions, hypoglycemia, etc) should be able to do the diet without adverse effects. Certainly, if you ever feel unwell, you should cease the diet immediately and seek medical attention before continuing.

Are there any negative effects? How can I avoid them?

Some people may experience some side effects, especially at first. Low energy on DDs before one adapts can be a problem. Often, especially in the case of those who fast completely on DDs, constipation can occur. Laxatives, such as senna tea and milk of magnesia, can be useful in prompting bowel movements, but please use them sparingly, as frequent, regular laxative use can be harmful. The best solution is to consume a lot of water and fiber, as much as possible! Everyone should be doing so anyway for general health.

Some people may feel dizzy, shaky, or lightheaded on DDs, in which case they should increase their DD calories and stay at the higher level for a week or so before dropping down. This will allow your body to better adapt to the diet.

Insomnia can also be a problem on DDs; hunger makes it difficult to sleep. Avoid taking sleeping pills/sedatives if you can. Eating all of your DD calories in one meal right before bed may help, as may eating certain foods, such as turkey and warm milk. Also, avoid caffeine late in the day on your DDs.

-your mod, fairnymph


From: thisismyed
2007-08-20 09:09 am (UTC)
Excellent, thanks for that!
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[User Picture]From: fairnymph
2007-08-20 05:01 pm (UTC)
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From: thisismyed
2007-08-20 10:12 pm (UTC)


Reading through it again, the last part of the counting calories paragraph says:

you will probably have a good idea of how much you need to eat to at least meet your UD calories, at which point you can stop eating

I think 'eating' should be 'counting' :)
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[User Picture]From: fairnymph
2007-08-21 02:21 am (UTC)

Re: Typo

You're good! Thanks for catching that. :)
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[User Picture]From: monchhichi
2007-08-20 09:47 am (UTC)
I don't think the Calorie Counter link works.
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[User Picture]From: fairnymph
2007-08-20 05:01 pm (UTC)
Oh man, I was sooo tired last night and I wrote the FAQ in word and this created issues when I posted it to LJ...arghh! I messed with it a ton last night and still didn't fix it, sigh. :\
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[User Picture]From: ____iwantyou
2007-08-20 09:49 am (UTC)
that is amazing! i think its very well written and didnt see any typos.
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[User Picture]From: fairnymph
2007-08-20 05:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: ifitmakesubettr
2007-08-20 04:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you for writing this!
I think you'd like to fix the link to CalorieCounter, and also take the italics off from the questions, starting from "What if I need to shift my schedule....". Other than that, great!

Yours, "doing two UDs in a row"
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[User Picture]From: fairnymph
2007-08-20 05:02 pm (UTC)
Fixed, damn my fatigue last night.
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[User Picture]From: myzelig
2007-08-21 04:11 am (UTC)
This is wonderful! Thanks for doing this! :)
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[User Picture]From: lizziebg
2007-09-05 12:30 am (UTC)
awesome. having all this info at hand and written in a way that a non-doctor understands yet doesnt seem condescending. i think it has kick-started my wanting to do this diet again... tomorrow is a down day! (that should be my freakin' motto, ugh!)
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[User Picture]From: fairnymph
2007-09-05 12:53 am (UTC)
:) Thank you!
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-09-25 02:46 am (UTC)
Question: how well does this diet work for people who aren't overweight at all? My BMI is between 18.5 and 19, but I have a small frame and don't think I carry my weight very well. I'd like to be a bit lower (maybe 5-10 lbs). How would it work for me, do you think? Thanks very much for this informative post! : )
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[User Picture]From: fairnymph
2007-09-25 02:48 am (UTC)
Results are usually less dramatic/rapid with thinner people, but not always. I was 103 lbs and 5'5" to start, and I've lost nearly 15 lbs in less than 3 months.

Like you I have a small frame and look and feel best at a low weight. :)
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-09-25 03:02 am (UTC)
Thanks for the info! I saw some before/after pictures of you on your page (I'm not looking in a creepy way, I swear). I thought you looked great before, but you are definitely very slim and look awesome now.... Cheers.
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[User Picture]From: fairnymph
2007-09-25 03:05 am (UTC)
Hey, I realize that if I post things publicly, people will look. It's all good. :)

And thank you! I feel wonderful.
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[User Picture]From: peacefulndfree
2008-03-27 03:39 pm (UTC)

Before and Afters?

I would love to see your before and afters! i'm not sure where they are located in your journal. If it's not to much trouble can you direct me to a link?

Thank you so much!
And so fair after doing this diet for only three days i am feeling better! I'm not sure if it's my excitment to be on the diet or what but i can't wait to see the changes!

And these FAQ are perfect! They helped me understand a lot about the diet :) Thank you so much.
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[User Picture]From: fairnymph
2008-03-27 06:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Before and Afters?

Well, to be fair, my B&As wouldn't be very useful. I lost a lot of weight very quickly, about 10% of my starting weight in under a month, and then I briefly dipped down to a BMI just under 15, before stabilizing in the low 15s and staying there for about 3 months. Then I slowly began to gain again, and I'm now heavier than I was to begin with, though my measurements are smaller, so a good deal of what I gained was muscle, and my body is still shaped better.

But I do this diet for health primarily, NOT weight loss, so while I'd like to get down to my low weight again because I do indeed have body image issues, I overeat too much on my up days and I'm not well enough to exercise heavily, though that is changing lately!

I don't like to post too much about 'regression' (and I don't really see it as that, as I've still progressed long term in every other way OTHER than weight loss on juddd), but I will post a nice long post when I hit 9 months soon - I promise!
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From: unicornstories
2007-10-22 02:36 pm (UTC)
I'm reading the entries and people keep using "CW, HW, LW, GW" what exactly are these things?
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[User Picture]From: fairnymph
2007-10-22 04:54 pm (UTC)
CW = current weight
HW = high weight
LW = low weight
GW = goal weight
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[User Picture]From: fearandromance
2007-11-05 01:33 am (UTC)
I find it impossible to count calories, but I really want to do this. The main reason is because I live at home and most food get transferred from their packaging into a container, so I can't keep track of cals. Also, when I eat fruit/veg I'm not sure of their weights (don't have a food weigh scale thing anymore) and so I can't can't count exactly how many cals i'm consuming. What do you recommend I do?
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[User Picture]From: fairnymph
2007-11-06 03:22 am (UTC)
I would just not count on up days, since you can't anyway - and just eat normally on those days. Then fast completely on your down days. That's how I did it for months, and it was very easy. No counting ever!
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[User Picture]From: sang_ok
2007-11-18 09:38 am (UTC)
You've really done something great, especially since I can remember that you answered some questions we where discussing in summer...

It's really nice to see problems solved :]
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[User Picture]From: fairnymph
2007-11-18 05:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much! :)
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[User Picture]From: xheil_kitler
2008-02-09 05:18 pm (UTC)
Wow!!! This is so cool! I've never heard of this, but I'm so excited to try it. ( *-*)

I'm a little slow though so can you help me out a bit?
Basically, what I do is eat normally for a few days and find out how many calories I usually eat and then I take 35% of that and its how much I eat on down days? Also, on my up days do I need to do the thing where you eat 6 small meals or can I just eat however?
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[User Picture]From: fairnymph
2008-02-09 07:25 pm (UTC)
:) The more the merrier!

You use the calculator on Dr. Johnson's site to figure out the calories to consume on your up and down days. It will give you all the numbers. I recommend going lower than 35% (30% max) if you can, because you'll see much better results.

On your up days, you can eat however you like!
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