The effect of alternate-day caloric restriction on the metabolic consequences of 8 days of bed rest in healthy lean men: a randomized trial

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2017 Feb 1;122(2):230-241. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00846.2016. Epub 2016 Nov 23.


Physical activity and alternate-day fasting/caloric restriction may both ameliorate aspects of the metabolic syndrome, such as insulin resistance, visceral fat mass accumulation, and cognitive impairment by overlapping mechanisms. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that alternate-day caloric restriction (ADCR) with overall energy balance would reduce insulin resistance and accumulation of visceral fat, in addition to improving cognitive functions, after 8 consecutive days in bed. Healthy, lean men (n = 20) were randomized to 1) 8 days of bed rest with three daily isoenergetic meals (control group, n = 10); and 2) 8 days of bed rest with 25% of total energy requirements every other day and 175% of total energy requirements every other day (ADCR group). Oral glucose tolerance testing, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans, magnetic resonance imaging of the abdomen and brain, V̇o2max, and tests for cognitive function were performed before and after bed rest. In addition, daily fasting blood samples and 24-h glucose profiles by continuous glucose monitoring system were assessed during the 8 days of bed rest period. Bed rest induced insulin resistance, visceral fat accumulation, and worsening of mood. No positive effects emerged from ADCR on these negative health outcomes. Compared with the control group, ADCR was associated with improved and steadier glycemic control on fasting days and higher glycemic fluctuation and indexes of insulin resistance on overeating days. In contrast to our hypothesis, the metabolic impairment induced by 8 days of bed rest was not counteracted by ADCR with overall energy balance.

New & noteworthy: Alternate-day caloric restriction without overall energy reduction does not ameliorate the metabolic impairment induced in lean men by 8 days of bed rest.

Keywords: alternate-day fasting; clinical; cognitive performance; inactivity; metabolism; oral glucose tolerance test; visceral fat mass.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology
  • Bed Rest / adverse effects*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Caloric Restriction / methods
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Fasting / physiology
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose Tolerance Test / methods
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / metabolism
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Glucose