Does 5:2 really work?

This topic contains 26 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by  Ah-tee 6 years, 1 month ago.

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  • Hi all

    I just wanted to share with you my experiences of the 5:2 diet over the past 3 months.

    I started 5:2 in mid July so I have been doing it for just over 3 months now. In that time, I have lost about 3kgs max.

    I have a very set routine for my fast days. I have a slice of brown toast and butter for breakfast, no more than about 100cals for lunch (bag of propercorn for example) and then a relatively biggish evening meal (about 300kls). I dont count coffees as much but probably consume about 100cals or so on this and other small things. So im there or there abouts when it comes to limiting my cal intake to 600cals on a fast day.

    I would describe myself as moderately active. I play squash (at a decent level) maybe 3-4 times a week, sometimes on fast days.

    Yet when considering all of the above, I have only lost 3kgs in 3 months which is about half of what you are ‘supposed’ to lose on 5:2 (say 2 kgs a month).

    I’m not particularly overweight – im currently fluctuating between 69.5kgs and 70.5kgs and my height is about 5ft7in (although that is overweight according to some BMI calculators!!)

    I really love the diet and the concept of abstaining two days a week, but i primarily took it up to lose weight which is simply not happening. My goal was to lose 10% of my body weight so my target weight was about 66kgs.

    So for me, the diet just doesn’t work! Maybe im consuming too many cals on my non fast days but I wouldn’t say I did (albeit I don’t keep count in fairness). I’m also fairly active on some of these days so my net calorie intake should be less than my recommended daily intake.

    Id be keen to get other peoples views – what works particulary well for you? Have others found it hard to lose weight on the diet and if so, what changes (if any) have you made? How do others treat non fast days?

    Im going to continue doing 5:2 but ultimately I want to lose weight!

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    PS. My GF is also doing the diet and is experiencing exactly the same issues as me.

    I think I’m similar to you. I was 105kg back on Xmas day 2013. Today I’m about 85kg. So it’s taken me a slow but steady 10 months to lose the weight… and that’s with me exercising every single morning (just about) for at least 1 hour.

    I’m happy that it does work but I think you need to be patient. It’s going to vary from person to person based on your age, gender, levels of activity, how much you eat on non-fasting days. Basically lots of variables.

    Keep it going though. 🙂



    My story:

    Hi ecfc:

    Let’s see – you have lost 6 1/2 pounds in 12 weeks and say 5:2 does not work?

    The average weight loss for those on 5:2 is about a pound a week. This includes very overweight men and women who can sometimes lose two pounds a week for two to three months. That means there are a lot of not very overweight people, like yourself, that lose less than a pound a week.

    You don’t give your TDEE, but given the information you provided, it is around 1850. If you are doing your diet days correctly, you might expect to lose about 3/4 of a pound a week on 5:2, max. That would be 9 pounds in 12 weeks. But you say you are not counting calories and could be going over your TDEE on your non diet days.

    5:2 is clearly working. If you want to lose weight faster, you just have to eat less on your non diet days.

    Good Luck!

    Hi all

    I read it takes 7500 calorie deficient to lose a kg.

    So according to my fitness pal app. I am approximately 4500 to 5000 down each week. I eat 500 to 600 fat days and 1600 on non fast days.

    So 500g to 750 grams a week adds up.

    I have a long way to go so will continue with this. I have lost 8.2kg in 7 weeks lost a half of that in first two weeks. Was really bloated when started.

    Keep on then

    Simcoeluv – my TDEE is more like 2500. I exercise 3-4 times a week minimum and my height is 5ft7 and my weight is 69kgs. So I havent lost anywhere near what is recommended.

    To say it doesnt work is maybe harsh, but the results havent been spectacular.

    Im keen to find out what others do that could make a difference. Id actually be happy losing about 2kgs a month.


    First, the TDEE calculator is at best an estimate of a person’s TDEE – everyone is different.

    Second, most people overestimate their exercise levels. Your squash three to four times a week will put you in ‘Lightly Active’ level. Here are some guidelines I posted in how to do your TDEE thread:

    “Generally, walking on level ground, you burn about one calorie for every 20 steps. So 10000 steps will burn 500 calories. 10000 steps equals five miles. So if you walk five miles a day you will burn 3500 calories in a week walking. (As an aside, an average walking pace is about three miles per hour, so five miles comes out to around one hour, 40 minutes of walking.)

    For TDEE purposes, you need to put in an activity level. The McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign indicates that 2,500 steps or less per day is very inactive, up to 5,000 steps in inactive, 5,000 to 7,500 steps is moderately active, 7,501 to 10,000 steps is active and more than 10,000 is very active.”

    So, if you walk 2.5 miles a day seven days a week, for TDEE purposes you are ‘Inactive’.

    In addition, your results reflect a lower TDEE than you think you have. If you actually had a 2500 TDEE, you would be losing weight faster, but you are not.

    I suspect your issue is a combination of having a lower TDEE than you think you have combined with eating more than your TDEE (whatever it is) on your non diet days. But you are losing weight, so your two diet days are working quite nicely.

    I stick with my advice that to lose weight faster, you need to eat less on your non diet days (assuming you are doing 500 cal or less on your diet days).

    Good Luck!

    I always love your logic applied to statistics, @simcoeluv.

    Hi ecfc29

    I think your TDEE calculation is a little off.

    Mine is 2582 I still have 30kg to lose. I am 178cm tall female and 46 with 4 circuit exercise sessions a week moderate. I only eat 1600 or so non fast days.

    I suspect yours is about 1700 or 1800. At a guess.

    Well I used the TDEE calculator and it said my TDEE was 2500.

    I dont agree with you simcoe. Squash is one of the most calorie intensive sports you can do and I would estimate that id burn at least 700-800 calories (if not more) per game. That aside, I take your point that i havent lost as much weight as I had hoped, and therefore my TDEE is probably lower than I suspect.

    I think I need to understand this a little better. Is your RDI not 2500 cals? Would I need to be eating to me TDEE on my non fast days as opposed to following this? This is the part I dont get – the correlation between TDEE and the ‘recommended’ daily calorie intake for men.

    To summarise the above points, are you suggesting I would get better results if I restrcited my cal intake on non fast days to about 1800cals? Obv i appreciate the less calorie intake on non fast days will produce better results, but this is a fasting diet, not a 7 day per week diet. I just want to eat ‘normally’ on a non fast day.


    Well, ecfc, to me the problem seems to be you, not the diet. As a 154 pound man with a BMI under 25, you are not going to lose weight very fast on any diet unless you cut calories significantly. There is no diet that will cause you to lose weight faster than you are now unless you really start to restrict your caloric intake. To lose an additional half pound a week on 5:2 as you are currently doing it, you need to cut another 1750 calories a week out of your diet somewhere. But you seem unwilling to do that.

    You are losing weight, but not ‘fast enough’. Yet you want to continue to eat normally on your non diet days.

    So you choices are simple. Continue doing 5:2 as you are and losing weight slowly. This will allow you to continue to eat normally on your non diet days.

    Or you can follow the basic rule of weight loss – the less you eat, the more you lose. You can then lose weight faster on 5:2, or any other diet.

    It is your choice. With diet as with many other things, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    Good Luck!

    PS – If RDI means recommended daily intake, there is no such thing with 5:2. You simply eat to your TDEE or less on your non diet days. Notice the ‘or less’. Here is some information – number 4 might help –

    Did you try skip lunch and/or not “consume about 100cals or so on this and other small things”? I am not an expert but it looks like you are doing some nibbling throughout the day which may prevent your body to going into fasting mode and lose weight faster. in theory, a longer period without the food should produce better results compare to small amounts more frequently.

    Are you sure you’re not blowing out a little on coffees and snacks? How do you take your coffee and what snacks are you eating? I’ve found even if I got over by 50-100 cals, I won’t lose anywhere near as much, and my fiance has found the same. I measure everything with MyFitnessPal, but sometimes they have conflicting info (i.e. look up “eye fillet steak” and there are some conflicting calorie counts!).

    Anyway, just a thought!

    I’m just starting the 5:2 diet today ! I find it very difficult sticking to a long gentle diet of around 1500 calories per day for weeks on end, so thought I’d give it a try. If I do manage to stick to the 5:2 I would expect to lose the same amount – 1 pound per week.

    On the 2 days, it is very important to cound up ALL the calories consumed. It’s surprising how many calories are in a cup of tea or coffee (around 30 with skimmed milk). Plus I would think toast and margerine will be around 120 + depending on the bread and marg! Soon adds up to 500 cals on the diet days.

    I have made a saucepan of vegetable soup using a tin of tomatoes and a very small potato, so the calories I can actually cound should be around 100. I will have two small bowls of porridge and would not expect to be able to eat anything else on the diet days, not if I want to lose a pound per week.

    We shall see !!!

    Hi All

    The Original Post in October (OP)- The calories on the 5.2 day are too high and consuming too many carbs (which converts to sugars)keep carbs to pulses and beans only – avoid any fast release carbs including popcorn and bread

    Avoid alcohol on these days Try eating 2 meals so a brunch at 11am (2 egg omelette with weighed tomatoes and herbs) and dinner at 6pm

    For example a Very THIN slice of Brown toast and butter (Average Cals) are 250 Now this also depends on how thick the toast is and how much butter is on on it so you could be eating the WHOLE DAYS calories at breakfast – I level teaspoon of butter is 34 calories and I have just tried it and I needed 3 teaspoons to spread on a normal slice of bread and it as just covering the bread

    The Propercorn at lunchtime is high in carbs and fat and a waste at 120 cals you could eat 1 small apple – 1 carrot and half a grapefruit for that

    quarter of a pint of semi skimmed milk is 65 cals that is a few cups of tea depending how milky you have it

    The OP also says they have a “BIGGISH” meal for dinner – I have yet to have anything big (LOL) unless you count a large bag of salad !!

    For example a large prawn salad with 200 gram of prawns (approx 18 large) 100 grams of tomatoes and a large salad (no dressings) is over 200 cals

    If dinner contains pasta or potatoes or bread this may put you well over the days allowance

    REMEMBER this is a FASTING Day so you can if you like eating nothing at all and you can just drink lots of water and eat 3 bits of fruit

    I have lost 8KG in 12-14 weeks – I have stuck to the 500 cals or less and I have increased my exercise

    For this diet to work you should follow these rules

    Eat LESS than 500 calories NOT more – 500 cals is the MOST you should eat and don’t kid yourself you MUST weigh your food as you will be surprised how many cals are in food and 100 grams is a very small portion (Think child portions) or less than a handful
    You SHOULD NOT be eating bread/cakes/pasta/potatoes on these days unless you only have one meal all day (average potato portion is over 300 cals)
    Avoid ALL Carbs on 5.2 days it will work then – Carbs make you more hungry by releasing sugars in the bloodstream
    Weigh your food and make sure you are counting the calories INCLUDING Milk in tea and coffee if you have more than 2 cups
    Stick to 1800 to 2000 cals on the other days – WATCH these other 5 days – a friend of mine was eating over 4000 cals as she decided to “Make up” for being hungry

    My normal 5.2 day is

    Breakfast 55 cal pot of yogurt – 1 small banana weighed skin off (70 cals)
    Lunch 1 apple (weighed 40 cals) small carrot 100 gram (40 cals)
    Dinner Large bag of salad (32 cals) 100gram tomatoes (18cals) 100grams prawns (70 cals) half pink grapefruit (weighed 50 cals) (total 375 ish cals)

    If I am still hungry I can eat some more weighed fruit / or 5 grams of sunflower seeds and mixed dried fruit

    Water only – black peppermint tea or fruit tea – no sugar or milk

    Total cals are less than 500

    Try eating a hard boiled egg or two slowly for breakfast (much better than bread)- or chicken (no skin) for lunch (50 grams) Prawns are also low in calories and quite filling if used as a snack for lunch with a large bag of salad

    2 egg omelette for dinner or some beansprouts with prawns

    You can eat 1 or 2 meals a day if you prefer rather than stretching the cals over 3 meals

    Trust me stick to 500 cals or less – avoid carbs eat proteins and fruit and veg and you WILL lose weight

    The easiest thing to do is plan your fasting days meals and design 2 or 3 days and STICK to them -after all its only 2 days a week – set them in stone and repeat them and you should find it easier

    Hope that helps – Try it for 2 weeks and stick to 2000 cals other days you will see a weight loss if you ENSURE you are only eating 500 cals or less

    As an office manager you should have access to the stationery cupboard to stock up on PUNCTUATION!

    My two cents … you need to make sure you are also eating less that TDEE. Don’t count exercise as part of your deficit.

    Hi, this is great! very helpful, I think I was doing about 530 – 600 so far maybe thats why it does not work to much, I will follow your food schedule, lets see how it goes 🙂
    Very motivating thank u!

    How did everyone get on?

    First of all, you don’t have a lot of weight to lose. The less you have to lose, the slower it is. Unfortunately, that’s just the way our body works!

    Second of all, consider this perspective: I was a Weight Watchers meeting member for many years, and they told us repeatedly that .5- 2 lbs. per week is considered normal weight loss. You’ve lost about .5 lb. a week, which fits right in there!

    You are doing fine! Please don’t be discouraged,

    Hey, there, Sheryljoyce53 and Chocolatelovingoptimist ! –

    I’ve just come on here and looking for an active thread. Looks like just it’s just the 3 of us right here since last before was on 8 Feb 2017.

    Howz it going for you all ?

    Are you doing 16/8 or 5/2 type of intermittent fasting ? I’ve been doing 16/8 on and off but not sure what to do when I feel hungry, besides eat something. Think I’d like to try the 5/2.

    I’d like to chat w folks while doing this. The 5-600 cal/day on Fast days seems pretty reasonable – easier than NOTHING.

    Best to you !

    Day 2. yesterday was my very first 5:2 fast day! 😀 I’m overweight (38 YO, female, 5′ 3″ and 166) though a solid 32% of that is muscle mass– I’m happy to say– I have a 32% body fat percentage and I look it! I have a good, two stone of body fat to lose before I’m out of “Chubsville”. (That’ll put me at 140.) I already eat really healthily, exercize regularly and my job keeps me on my feet. I eat paleo 80% of the time, I never binge eat. My body just DOES NOT opt to EVER lose any body fat. It only ever gains. This was the case even when I kept low carb (under 50 carbs per day) AND at the peak of my fitness activity for FIVE months!!! I think I’m a perfectly evolved Ice Age-surviving endomorph. :p (Bless you, Body!) But the 5:2 seems promising since I feel there isn’t anything I don’t already do for a healthy diet and lifestyle, and this diet boils it down to simple calorie cutting without having to live life anorexic-style where you’re counting and cutting everything all the time, day in and day out. No way. I’d go mad. So we’ll see if the 5:2 works for me! Feeling hopeful. 🙂 I’m looking forward to sharing notes with you Ah-tee (and everyone else, as well)!

    700 to 800 calories for one game of squash? Man I could have saved myself a lot of shoes I worn out running! 😀

    Hey there, Mblue – you sound just like me, endomorphically !! I did lose abt 8-10 pounds with 4 months Ketogenic just last fall. But it’s so darn anti-social, my husb and I like to do food together – cook it, go out for it, eat with friends and so on. We just remodelled our kitchen !! So, long term Keto – even though I bought a keto meter and did quite well with the numbers of it. I’ve been playing around w 16/8 IF and my husb does this with me, cool ! Problem with that has been, if I get hungry before 2pm, I eat ! Just cause I’m busy with what I’m doing and don’t want that distraction. Hoping mightily to get on a MON and THURS 5/2 Plan 2 days from now. BMI 22.3 wanting to get down to 20 and yes, this ain’t easy. Sounds like you and I are quite alike – in that we’re not too full of water most of the time. I got muscles too, ha ha. We are organic vegie fish/seafood but eat out a lot so that kinda dampens things a bit. Yes, talk soon, this is what I’m here for.

    Ah-tee, I am doing 5:2 at the newer 800 calorie version. I did 16/8 a while back for many months. While I loved the health benefits like better sleep and more energy, I never could lose weight by an 8 hour eating window alone. When I threw In counting Weight Watchers Points, I did slowly lose, but the daily counting drove me crazy. I became obsessed with numbers! I hated it. And as time went on, I started resenting an eating window, counting down hours until you can eat and then eating just before your window closes, out of fear of hunger, is a recipe for disordered eating.

    Now I’m following Dr. Mosley’s recommendations which I love and make sense. 2 Days of 800 calories a week. No counting the rest of the week, but eating healthy Mediterranean style. Eating three meals a day without snacking, and an easy 14 hour overnight fast instead of eating windows. In the end, we all have to find what works for us. I believe I can do this long term.

    Cool, thanks for that, Sheryljoyce53 !

    I’ll just do that, starting day after tomorrow. Good way to start this with 800 cals instead of 500. Can always go to 500 either on days it’s easy or if for some reason i don’t think something’s working right.

    Do you have a favorite cal counter ? I have a couple, always like to hear about any easy ones : )
    Have spent a little time on something called NOOM and it has a real nice one in that they divide foods by colors in terms of calorie density. Their counting system is real easy. Others ?

    Thanks, talk soon !

    I use Calorie King calorie counter. He’s a Registered Dietician, has a website and also a pocket guide.

    Thanks, @sheryljoyce53 – so do you take the fast for 24 hours or 36hours ?

    I’ll have a look at Calorie King –

    Thanks !


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