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Hello Newbies…

And a really warm welcome to the Fast Diet website. This first week of January is, of course, prime time for embarking on a get-fit-lose-fat programme – and lots of people (across the world) are about to fast for the first time. So what do you need to know? You’ll have gathered the basics from the book – but my year of intermittent fasting has taught me a few more subtle things that might help anyone trying the plan for the first time.

First, be kind to yourself. For me, the main psychological advantage of the Fast Diet – and the key that differentiates it from conventional diet plans – is that it is never about admonishment. It shouldn’t feel like an unending slog, or a continual nagging in the gut that says you should be eating less, doing more. It will work best if you allow yourself to be human, slip up, make mistakes – always knowing that tomorrow is another day. Flexibility is built in: choose your Fast Days, adapt the diet to suit your diary, stop if it doesn’t feel right, start again when it does – thinking of it as a broad, on-going lifestyle change, not a daily drudge.

Second, do (however) stick to your targets and exercise willpower. On the days which you have designated as Fast Days, do try to be a bit tougher on yourself. Hunger is a canny beast, and you will certainly encounter it if you’re only eating a quarter of your usual calorie intake on any given day. So, use your mind to master your appetite. Keep busy. Stay engaged. Share your day with a Fast Buddy (or this forum). Try hard to stick to the calorie quota, but don’t dwell on it too much. Demote eating on those particular days and find something else to occupy your mind.

Third, know that fasting (like anything at all) gets easier as it becomes a habit. Week four will be easier than week one. Week six will almost certainly be easier still, particularly if you’re seeing a shift on the scales. Plenty of people report that they come to enjoy their Fast Days. OK, so that may sound like baloney if you’re only just setting off on this journey, but there’s something galvanising and strengthening about understanding your appetite, embracing the odd period of hunger, eating well, with thought and application rather than simply shovelling in whatever comes to hand.

So, stay committed, stay light, stay strong. After all, it’s not for long. And do let us know how you get on. Mimi x

Archive for the ‘q & a’ Category:

Hello Newbies…

What a year it’s been! The Fast Diet has, much to our surprise and delight, become part of the national conversation – one of those instantly recognisable titles that became a buzz-phrase of the year. Michael and I have had an incredible 12 months since the book was first published. I remember being with friends in the sticks of Somerset last New Year’s Eve and watching it climb, bit by bit, up the Amazon chart. At 2am, having had a cup or two of wine, my mates all decided to buy a copy to see if it affected the rankings. It didn’t. But we sold an extra 17 copies just to prove a point! Since then, the Fast Diet has held fast at the top of the charts, ending the year, remarkably, as Amazon’s best-selling book, and back in the top ten as we tumble into 2014. That’s great, but the real story – the thing that makes us both tick – is the countless individuals who have lost impressive amounts of weight on the Fast Diet. Some have succeeded in spectacular fashion, others have found the going tough; many have found support and encouragement on this site. We’re still only just beginning to discover why the 5:2 method works so well for some – and we really enjoy reading and hearing stories from Fast Dieters around the globe. Thank you for your commitment and your enthusiasm, good luck to all those about to embark, and huge congratulations to all those who’ve hit their target weight this year.

And so to 2014… Michael’s new book, Fast Exercise, comes out in the next few days – it’s a great companion to the Fast Diet and offers a similarly radical approach: add a few minutes of high intensity exercise to your weekly 5:2 plan and you’ll maximise your health, fitness and well-being in the year ahead. My new book, Fast Cook, is published in early spring – a collection of simple, satisfying, satiating and distinctly yummy recipes to get you through your Fast Days with ease (with really lovely pictures too – thanks Romas!) But for now, we raise a glass to you all. Happy New Year. Let’s make it a good one.

Archive for the ‘q & a’ Category:

Hello Newbies…

While many people have found that they easily adapt to the 5:2 Fast Diet, others find it more challenging. If you persist it will work. If you are sticking to your normal diet on the other 5 days, then what you are doing is reducing your total calorie intake for the week by around 3000 calories. This translates to the loss of around 1lb of fat a week.

  1. If you want to lose weight faster, or have hit a plateau, then you might want to consider doing Alternate Day Fasting, which I have written about in the book. As the name implies, with ADF you cut your calories to ¼ of their normal level (ie 500 for women, 600 for men), every other day. On your non-fast days you should eat normally, though in some of the trials that have been done on ADF the volunteers were actually allowed to eat pretty much what they wanted and still lose weight. Studies on people doing ADF have shown that, on average, they tend to lose around 2lbs a week, most of it fat. Some more, some less. You don’t want to obsess about weight. What you really want to do is lose fat, preferably around the gut. I always encourage people, before they start, to measure their girth (around the belly button), and monitor the change over a period of time.
  2. Look at the calories you are getting from drinks on your non fast days. Juices, lattes, alcohol, fizzy drinks, smoothies all contain a lot of calories. If you can move to drinking more water and sugar free tea/coffee that will help. Calories you drink do not satiate. If you eat three apples they will fill you up. Drink 3 apples in form of a small fruit juice and it will not fill you up.
  3. Simply moving more will help. I always take the stairs, even up 7 flights. Get a pedometer. Aim to do 10,000 steps a day. Most people do less than 5000. A long term study on people who lost weight and kept it off found that those who were successful all increased the amounts they walked.
  4. Keep a diary of everything you eat or drink for a week.  Then look at the calorie content. Some foods may leap out. I was horrified to discover a muffin can be anywhere between 300-600 calories. Lots of evidence that people who keep an honest diary lose more weight
  5. If you cut your calories 2 days a week, don’t overcompensate on the other days and keep reasonably active then you will lose fat. Unfortunately fat is incredibly energy dense, which is why for some people the process can be frustratingly slow.

I wish you all the best and let us know how you get on.

Archive for the ‘q & a’ Category:

Hello Newbies…

As readers of The Fast Diet know, the very best drink on a Fast Day is water – plenty of it, still or sparkling, with nothing added save an ice cube (if the weather ever improves enough to warrant it!). A lemon or lime slice can be nice. If you are looking for flavour, go for herbal tea, green tea, black tea and black coffee – if you add milk, the stealth calories soon add up.

Fruit juice and smoothies, though considered a ‘healthy’ option, in fact contain a lot of fruit sugars and are no replacement for eating the whole fruit, particularly on a Fast Day, when you are looking to avoid anything that will lead to an unwelcome spike in your blood sugars.

Lots of people have asked about The Fast Diet position on fizzy drinks. ‘Full-fat’ sodas are, of course, stacked with sugar – up to 10 teaspoons per can – so it’s no surprise that they should be avoided on a Fast Day. Diet sodas generally rely on aspartame or sucralose for their sweetness. There is some concern about the effects of these intense sweeteners on appetite and gut bacteria, and one study recently linked aspartame with certain blood cancers in men (though not in women).

The answer is that there is no clear answer on diet soda, at least not yet – so exercise caution. If a Diet Coke gets you through a Fast Day, fine. But limit your consumption over the course of a week. And if you’re reaching for the can time and again, reach for the tap too, whenever you can.

Archive for the ‘q & a’ Category:

Hello Newbies…

As we say in the book, it’s important to find a pattern that works for you when it comes to the timetable you decide to use when eating on a Fast Day.

My method is to wake up on a Fast Day morning and have breakfast of around 300 calories at about 7am, before going to work. Then I drink lots of calorie-free fluid but go without food until 7pm, when I have a 300 calorie supper with my family (I eat the 300 calories, they tend to eat rather more).

I think of it is as ‘a day of fasting’. This makes it straightforward to explain and understand. However, as some of you have pointed out,  if you eat supper at 7pm on the night before a Fast and then have a normal breakfast on the day after a Fast, you can argue that you are actually eating 600 calories over the course of 36 hours (7pm Fast Day 1 until 7am two days later).

If, however, you decide to fast from 2pm until 2pm, as some fasters do, you would have a normal lunch on Day 1, then a 300 calorie supper on Day 1 and a 300 calorie breakfast on Day 2.  If you have a normal lunch on Day 2 this would be a 24-hour fast, full stop.  You can, of course, decide to skip lunch on Day 2 and wait till supper to break your fast.

On the 2pm-2pm method, because your fasting window is diminished, your overall weekly calorie count will probably be higher than with the 7am-7am method. You will probably lose weight more slowly.

Some people find it hard to sleep when they are hungry and for them a 7pm to 7pm method might be easier. That way you never go to bed hungry. Again weight loss will be slower. Also, here are some great suggestions from Twitter about dealing with nighttime hunger, if you’d like to look at those. If one routine doesn’t suit you, try another. Flexibility (within the basic parameters) is key – do let us know what works for you.

Archive for the ‘q & a’ Category:

Hello Newbies…

Many people have found that they easily adapt to the 5:2 Fast Diet and start losing weight straight away, others find it more challenging. If you persist it will work, but there are things to bear in mind.

Firstly I would not obsess about weight. What you really want to do is lose fat, preferably around the gut. I would always start by measuring your stomach, around the belly button, and see what happens over a period of time. On a normal diet you will lose a mix of fat and muscle, which is why it is important to up your exercise levels when you diet, to maintain muscle mass. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat; it burns calories even when you are asleep. What is unusual about Intermittent Fasting is that studies have consistently shown that people on it tend to lose mostly fat and very little muscle.

I also think that people have to be realistic about what they eat and drink on non-fast days. You shouldn’t be obsessing about calories on your non-fast days, because that defeats the whole purpose of it, but nor should you go wild.

If you are not losing weight/fat then I would look first at the calories you are getting from drinks on your non fast days. Juices, lattes, alcohol, fizzy drinks, smoothies all contain a lot of calories. If you can move to drinking more water and sugar free tea/coffee that will help. Calories you drink do not satiate. If you eat three apples they will fill you up. Drink 3 apples in form of a small fruit juice and it will not fill you up.

The other thing is you should be moving more. I always take the stairs, even up 7 flights. Get a pedometer. Aim to do 10,000 steps a day. Most people do less than 5000. A long term study on people who lost weight and kept it off found that those who were successful all increased the amounts they walked.

Good luck

 

Archive for the ‘q & a’ Category:

Hello Newbies…

Hi Michael,
My wife has lost 1.5 stones doing IF and is loving it, but I feel a little deflated I am not seeing weight loss. I will get my bloods tested to see if cholesterol has fallen (incidentally my BP has gone from ELEVATED to COMPLETELY NORMAL) but it would be fantastic to lose some weight too. Any thoughts gratefully appreciated. I await your book with some excitement.

I am surprised that you aren’t losing weight and I wonder if on your non fast days you should try a higher protein – lower carb approach (lots of stuff on this in the book). You should also try to identify if there is something in your diet that is particularly calorie rich. Typically it will be drink (alcoholic or fruit juice or lattes) as you can drink a lot more calories than you can eat without ever getting satiated.

Thanks for the response. I drink lots of fruit juice so will watch that and with your book will give it a determined go starting next week.

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Hello Newbies…

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