Better to eat 500 cals at breakfast or split into 3 tiny meals?

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Better to eat 500 cals at breakfast or split into 3 tiny meals?

This topic contains 16 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  dykask 5 years, 9 months ago.

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  • I am new to this and an am on day 3 of the diet.

    Is it better to eat a 500 calorie breakfast and fast until the next morning, or split the 500 cals into 3 tiny meals for break/lunch/dinner?

    The goal is reduced cancer risk etc rather than weight loss.


    The perceived health benefits of 5:2 are due to the extended fasting period between meals so you are better off only eating one meal on fast days. If you don’t want to lose weight there is no need to limit your one meal to 500 calories.

    Youre wanting to do this for reduced cancer risk rather than weight loss? I’ll assume you are at a good weight already. Then you probably need to fast as in eat nothing and enter ketosis. Three small meals will jump you out of ketosis for the day unless its extremely low carb. Then your effort has been a waste of time. Look up Valter Longo on you tube. If you are a normal weight and eat low carb it will take you about 24-36 hours to get into ketosis. Initially it may take you a lot longer to get there, maybe 48-60 hours of true fasting. You enter ketosis quicker the more you practice it.

    Ive been doing this for over three years now. No weight loss now, but I still water fast every Monday. Ive had one cold in three and a half years. And I live in a family with three kids. If there is a cold going around they will bring it home with them. Hope that helps.

    I agree with bigbooty on the fasting, a water fast is the way to go. You want to get as much time in fasting as possible. The 500 calories allowed are for people just trying to loss weight and it likely greatly reduces the positive impacts of fasting other than those related to weight loss.

    Now in 48 hours your not going to be that far into ketosis, but your body will be burning mostly fat. It takes a while for the ketones to build up. The reason why you might be interested in ketosis is because cancer cells can’t metabolize anything except glucose. By shifting more of your energy supply over to fat you are making it hard for the cancer cells to eat. There is still a lot of research to be done so it isn’t clear how much fasting has to be done for what impact.


    Many people think that ketosis carries with it some healthy, protective effects. Some diets even suggest you take ‘additional’ ketones to help boost ketone levels. However, if you go through Dr. Longo’s interviews you will hear that he does not believe that ketosis or ketones carry any positive benefits by themselves. I don’t have time to find all of his comments on the subject, but if you go to minutes 18 to 20 on this interview you will get the gist of his beliefs about ketones.

    In other interviews he states that he uses ketone levels during water fasting as one of four markers indicating the body has begun destroying damaged cells and stem cells have been activated to replace the damaged cells that have been removed as a result of the water fasting. In general, today’s research indicates a person must do about 4 or 5 consecutive days of water fasting to see some of the ‘other health benefits’ of (real) fasting.

    If you are interested in what are commonly called the ‘other health benefits’ of fasting, I recommend you get Dr. Longo’s ‘The Longevity Diet’, which explains what current research indicates you need to do to get some of the many benefits of water fasting.

    Interesting, thanks for the replies.

    From the tv program I was under the impression that a short 24 hour fast will reduce the IGF-1 and that this somehow reduces cancer risk and reduces aging. I dont remember him mentioning Ketone, and I am way to new to this to consider a 4 days fast, but will bare in mind for the future.

    I think for now as a first step I will do 600 cals split across three meals to lose weight as I have about 7kg to lose to become BMI normal.

    There simply hasn’t been enough research done to know how much of some of the benefits happen. Clearly the longer the fast the better at least up to a week, it is possible at some point some detrimental effects develop. It is possible there is gains in repeated shorter fasts, we just don’t know yet. What we do know for sure is that a 5 day fast is long enough to have a large impact on our bodies.

    Personally I know that with my body is there a shift generally 20 to 22 hours into a fast. I believe it is triggered by the liver running out of glycogen. I can feel it and measure a large dip in my blood glucose that typically recovers within a couple of hours. However form that point on I feel different. It isn’t better or worse just different. It isn’t ketosis, you don’t normally feel that, although you can feel sometimes feel when blood glucose is low.

    Dr. Longo is concerned about longevity, so he is going for the biggest bang for the fast. That is your 5 day fast. Still it is possible that X number of 36 hour fasts are just as good, but my gut feeling is that X isn’t a small number. Personally I’m not that interested in the FDM … it is expensive and reviews of it claim the have hunger on the five day Fast Mimicking Diet. One of the key advantages of water fasting is the very limited hunger, at least for me.

    Hi mame:

    The 5:2 TV program did imply that following 5:2 would lead to lower IGF-1 levels. However, the moderator’s five week one person experiment was hardly a clinical trial yielding solid research results.

    High IGF-1 levels over time lead to more cancers, among other things. IGF-1 is necessary for many bodily functions, but high levels over time should be avoided. IGF-1 levels are largely controlled by the amount of protein intake. The more protein you eat, the higher your IGF-1 levels. Not surprisingly, research shows that people eating high protein diets have much higher mortality rates than those that don’t. That is why Dr. Longo’s Longevity diet is a relatively low protein diet.

    Your plan to lose weight will work just fine. However, if you find yourself being too hungry during your diet days, many have found after trying to eat several small meals a day on their diet days that it works better to eat only one evening meal, high in fat and complex carbs (think a salad or other vegetables with a lot of olive oil). Protein works, too, but I discussed that above.


    Dr. Longo has been specifically asked if shorter water fasts will yield the same benefits as four plus day water fasts. He said no. His explanation for his answer was that for the benefits to show up a cycle of destroying diseased and damaged cells, with an activation of stem cells to replace the destroyed cells, and a replacement of those cells when refeeding begins, is necessary. He says research shows that the body does not begin the destruction of diseased and damaged cells during one or two day water fasts, nor does it activate stem cells in that period.

    I am neutral on the FMD. It was only developed because people refused to fast and Longo could not conduct clinical studies without subjects. It took him six years to get 18 participants for his first study on cancer. With the FMD, he is filling up clinical studies worldwide on cancer, MS, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and other diseases, so it is obviously very useful. But for those willing to fast, it is unnecessary (and free). And, an added benefit, while the FMD takes five days, you can get the same results from water fasting for four days!

    Hi simcoeluv,

    I think you need to take some of Dr. Longo’s comments with a grain of salt. For example in his book the “Longevity Diet” he clearly pushes FMD as being even better than a water fast. That may be true, but it implies a very narrow focus. There are lots of benefits to fasting besides possible stem cell activation.

    Its really hard to make money by selling someone a box full of nothing. Hence the birth of FMD. Even Valter needs to earn a living. And yes its damn expensive to buy into FMD. If you can do it, a true fast is the way to go and its way cheaper.

    I should have book marked the site, but the comment has resonated with me. You have billions of cells and at any one time some of them turn “cancerous”. Most of the time your immune system kills them off very quickly. A compromised immune system places you at increased risk. During fasting your white blood cell count goes down as the most poorly performing cells are killed off. Post fasting the white blood cell count goes up. Your immune system is at its peak. The concept of 3 meals a day plus snacks is a very recent phenomenon and it has done us a very big disservice. Personally I believe it leads to a compromised immune system.

    Hi big:

    Well, the FMD was only developed because clinical trials with fasting could not be conducted for lack of participants. Seems patients and their doctors were not willing to participate because fasting was dangerous and not accepted as standard medical practice for the disease involved (cancer). He was only able to find 18 participants in six years. So he came up with the FMD, which simply mimicks a fast, and patients and their doctors openly agreed to participate in trials, which are now ongoing worldwide for many diseases. Seems eating diet foods was ok, but fasting was not. The diet you state is a box of nothing has allowed clinical trials that would not be happening if it had not been developed.

    And, as you don’t seem to know, Dr. Longo does not receive any money from sales of the diet or from any value of shares in the company that sells it. He is not even a paid consultant for the company, and all of his shares in the company have been donated to charity.

    Hope this helps with your understanding of the situation.

    I think bring Dr. Longo’s work into a discussion about reducing cancer risk isn’t that useful. His focus is on longevity and even he admits that it is still early to verify his approach. His focus on cancer is more of reducing the toxic effects of traditional cancer therapies to allow them to be more effective.

    As for cancer risks there are a lot of benefits from fasting that may be beneficial. For example:
    – Lower insulin
    – Lower IGF1, especially when coupled with lower protein diets
    – Lower body fat
    – More ketosis (or continued in some cases)
    – Increased autophagy and apoptosis

    There are likely more. The amount of this effects are variable, but in general the more we fast the more pronounced. Some of these are probably pretty limited in a 36 hour fast, but it is unlikely they are not occurring at all. Generally in the body it is a matter of degree.

    From personal experience I know that I have a major shift at around 20 to 22 hours and another one after 3 days of fasting where my blood glucose will slowly drop to run about 2/3rds of normal, that probably is more related to ketones being readily available. Still even 36 hours in, fats are being burned like crazy when fasting.

    While there is still a lot of research to be done, since cancerous tumors can only handle glucose for fuel it makes sense that even shorter fasts are providing some protection against cancer. It is just a question of how much.

    Sim, Either Valter is 100% altruistic or the money trail is not fully disclosed. He works for a university, either UCS is different to every other university on the planet (including mine) or they are truly the only altruistic university in existence. That may very well be true but it would be most unusual. Does the money go to the Valter Longo Foundation, which does research into longevity etc.? Is that the charity you’re referring to? Im not casting aspersion on Valter’s integrity, its just that research costs a bucket load of money. The research money has got to come from somewhere.

    Dy, I think there is a lot of overlap between longevity and cancer. True that the two concepts are not the same, but I suspect that a diet that promotes longevity will have some overlap regards cancer.

    I agree there is a lot of overlap between longevity and cancer. What I don’t think is reasonable is to only focus on something like stem cell activation. That is a very narrow focus when fasting is actually more like a shotgun.

    I never gave it such a narrow focus? The more casual observation I make into diet and eating and our modern way of doing things related to health the more convinced I am that we’ve got it wrong. People always want a magic wand solution which involves no pain, no effort. So we spend billions on health care to come up with a magic pill so that we can continue to eat pure junk as part of our diet. To me that’s just crazy.

    I think you have to take some of Dr. Longo’s remarks with a grain of salt. For instance in his book the “Life span Diet” he obviously pushes FMD as being surprisingly better than a water quick. That might be valid, however it suggests an extremely limited core interest. There are heaps of advantages to fasting other than conceivable undifferentiated cell actuation.

    @bigbooty earlier in this thread @simcoeluv brought up Dr. Longo and stem cell activation. My comments prior to that were largely focused on the improved hormone levels. Stem cell activation may actually require a longer fast and refeeding, but the topic is cancer prevention and there are probably many factor involved in that. I feel that just focusing on possible stem cell activation is a very narrow focus.

    In my own case I watch my protein consumption as lower protein probably improves the amount of HGH being produced. It also likely lowers IGF1 and as long as I can gain strength and build muscles I probably have enough protein. IGF1 may be the biggest factor in reducing cancer risk. For that lower protein consumption and fasting.

    Autophagy is another factor that while it is always going on, the amount can increase a lot after all of the liver glycogen is depleted. For most people that happens in about a day of fasting. That process could possible also help with cancer prevention.

    It think a 36 hour water fast is on the short side for some of these benefits and it may take several 36 hour fasts to be as effective as one 48 hour fast or 72 hour fast.

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