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1 Aug 14
Eat, Fast and Live Longer. What does it mean?
The original basis of the 5:2 “diet” was Michael Mosley’s Horizons documentary. Michael’s endeavour to take control of his health was the catalyst. He was hoping to find a sustainable way of living a longer, healthier life.
It was not called Starve Yourself Occasionally and Eat Like a Pig the Rest of the Time to Lose Weight.
My interpretation of the title is this:
Eat – enjoy life by eating good foods which will keep you feeling happy, healthy and satisfied
Fast – eat 1/4 of your TDEE twice a week, or perhaps once, to allow your body some down time to heal itself
Live Longer – self explanatory (reduce effects of diabetes, dementia, cancer, blood pressure, depression…)
Losing weight was a by-product of the 5:2 process. The real purpose of this WOE should not be lost in the hype over weight loss. It is for the long term health benefits. And, as such, is FOR LIFE.
Many of us have used the 5:2 fasting process to get back to a normal healthy weight/BMI, but not by just relying on the fasting alone. To lose weight we really need to do more. Systemic changes to lifestyle need to take place.
As Michael, and the many people who have reached a healthy goal and have maintained it for some time can attest, you need to reassess what you eat and how much you eat normally. And most people seem to just naturally increase the amount of exercise they do as well.
Good food choices and increased physical activity just seem to come with this WOL.
Anything worth doing takes effort. But the rewards are immense.
What do you think?
What do I think? I think the “live longer” goal is a very long term and (thus) intangible goal. And because of that, honestly, it is less attractive than losing weight.
Whilst I do care about not getting diabetes, reducing the risk of heart decease or stroke, what I really care right now is whether I can fit into my pants without feeling squeezed from the inside; I care about my looks; I care about not being obese or fat.
That is my take anyway.
That is because “living longer” may or may not happen, independently of following the 5:2 regime. Who knows? One may be on an unfortunate plane that blows up, and there is no “living longer” no more.
But losing weight… that can be measured on a weekly basis.
Having experienced Weight Watchers in the past, I can say that WW works and there is no deprivation. There is no fasting. There is no calories counting. There are points or pro-points counting, portion sizes, substitutions (fatty vs non-fat ingredients), variety, and no forbidden foods.
It takes discipline, accountability to the group to stay focus, and the willingness to change life style. It takes you from wishful thinking (“I wish I lost weight”) to a methodical approach to actually losing weight.
In that sense, 5:2 is not different from WW, except in that the fasting days are a test of endurance.
Both are doable. But are they both “sustainable”? That depends on results, I guess: If I will be starving twice a week, I expect results. If these results do not happen, then I will question the sacrifice (it is a sacrifice).
On WW I can lose 1 kg a week. I’ve got records of that sort of achievement to prove it.
As for “eating like a pig” on the non-fasting days, well… that I thought that was the original promise of the program. Well, perhaps not “eating like a pig” but “eat whatever you want” on the non-fasting days.
But maths do not lie (except when used in statistics): One needs X amount of calories/points/kj a day to live healthily; often, we eat more than we need; often, we have sedentary lives and do not spend the surplus of points/calories/kj injested. Consequentially we store that energy in fat, and with that we bring onto ourselves health issues (weight, diabetes, cancer, etc).
Therefore, weight loss will only occur when we limit our intake.
In that sense, 5:2 is not a miracle method. It is just the same as WW and others. We must become “mindful” of what we eat, how much we move during the day, and how much we are weighing at the end of each week.
Why do 5:2 instead of WW then? I think it is a matter of choice and experimentation. For some, it is a fad. For others, it becomes a lifestyle change. Many fall off the wagon, and return to their original “sinful” life.
As for me… I will give 5:2 a go and see what happens. But if it becomes too taxing, I know I can always go back to my proven WW method.
Losing weight is not rocket science. You just have to reduce your caloric intake. To lose 2.2 pounds a week on 5:2, all you have to do is cut 1100 calories a day, on average, from your diet. (I’m sure weight watchers taught you how to figure that out.) If you don’t, it won’t be 5:2s fault.
But as you like WW, and lose 2.2 pounds a week doing it, why are you here? All you had to do is keep losing 2.2 pounds a week until you reached your weight loss goal. What made you change?
Thanks Simcoeluv. That’s what I thought.
Eat as much as you want on other days, while trying to lose weight, was based on Alternate Day Fasting, not 5:2.
As Simmo says, it is not rocket science, but some people keep saying it doesn’t work “for them”. It will. Just eat less to lose weight.
My take on 5:2 is that I wanted my healthy life to continue into very old age. I was in danger of sliding into a lazy next 10 years. I will be 68 later this year.
My Mum is almost 93 and is fit and has her faculties. She has never over eaten, has always worked hard physically, and has rarely indulged in bought processed food. She doesn’t like alcohol or sugar. She believes in moderation in all things. There is my role model and Michael Mosley’s documentary pointed me back towards her.
I began on 25 January 2014 and have lost 16 kg. More importantly, I have lost two sizes in shirts and trousers. That gives me great pleasure,as I realise I have lost the “bad” fat around my waist, thighs, upper arms and across my back.
However, to lose this weight in six months, as well as get my health back, I added some more restraint to the 5:2. In the early days I banned sugar in all its forms, starches, alcohol, processed food, cheese. I learnt what a normal portion size should be. I drank a lot of water. I am very grateful to Dr Mosley and Mimi for publicising this work. 🙂
I make sure I have some form of exercise, hard work in the garden or house cleaning or walking every day.
I sleep much better these days, particularly after a fast day. Even though I have reached my goals, I intend to fast all the rest of my life. It is indeed a way of life! 🙂
Very thoughtful and thought-provoking posts everyone.
I started the 5:2 WOL about the same time as you Bayleaf but I have lost 1kg/month on average. As I’ve said before on another thread, that rate fits well into my and my family’s lifestyle and is therefore sustainable for the rest of my life.
Sure, fasting is a challenge but being able to stick to it has changed my view of food and given me a such a great feeling of control and empowerment about my eating, which was in danger of becoming pathological.
Keep up the good work all and have a good weekend.
The answers to your questions are already in my previous post, so, I won’t repeat them.
However, I must point out that I have not faulted 5:2 at all. All I said was that there is no difference, really between WW and 5:2, except in the 2 days fasting.
And I agree, losing weight is not rocket science. I summarised that when I said:
“But maths do not lie (except when used in statistics): One needs X amount of calories/points/kj a day to live healthily; often, we eat more than we need; often, we have sedentary lives and do not spend the surplus of points/calories/kj injested. Consequentially we store that energy in fat, and with that we bring onto ourselves health issues (weight, diabetes, cancer, etc).
Therefore, weight loss will only occur when we limit our intake.”
Looking at your profile you do appear to have had trouble sustaining the weight loss from WW.
I think the point of 5:2 is that it normalizes the other 5 days, thus making it much easier to sustain. And two days fasting really seem to help the body to heal. (Michael’s evidence and my own husband’s daily feedback with blood sugar testing). WW does not have that. It is a weight loss system. This is a health promoting system.
All the best with your venture into the fasting world.
It actually took me a few years to put weight back on, mainly through “abandonment” or complacency.
I am not having a go at 5:2. In fact, I am onto it right now.
The original post asked “what is your take?”. Well, that is my take. Please do not take it as an attack. I know people become very attached and protective of their beliefs, but if it is working for you, good for you. I am yet to find out, and I am doing everything I can to make it work.
Perhaps I will change “my take” later on. Or perhaps I won’t. Who knows?
Anyway… have a lovely day/evening.
If you read the forum Jeff you will see that there are many tangible health benefits associated with intermittent fasting realised over shorter timescales, weight loss being one of them. These include reduced blood pressure/cholesterol, insulin/blood sugar control, improved mental function, reduction in inflammation, etc.
From personal experience, fasting has made me mentally sharper, improved my memory, and my mood (hence ‘HappyNow’). I have also seen a remarkable improvement in menstruation (‘Hey, I can now leave the house when having a period’ is not quite so catchy though….). I was only just on the cusp of healthy/overweight BMI, and that is the heaviest I have ever been, so any health issues were not obesity related.
Intermittent fasting is not all about living to a ripe and healthy old age, it’s also about living healthier now. Weight loss is just one benefit.
I am not aware that WW, or any other weight loss programme, achieves the same health benefits as intermittent fasting.
But if you are interested only in losing weight and looking good, and not about improving health and lifestyle change to maintain a healthy weight for life, then maybe this won’t be for you. It certainly sounds from your posts that you might not be mentally ready for it yet. Many of us who have lost our weight and have incorporated intermittent fasting into our lives do not think of it in terms of sacrifice, deprivation or starvation. I’m afraid we appear to look forward to our fasting days! And quite enjoy the emptiness/lightness/hunger of the fast!
I wonder what proportion of newcomers honestly get into 5:2 not for weight loss, but for the long term benefits. Have you guys done a survey in this forum? (A proper survey, that is. Not just responses to this thread).
Amongst my friends and coworkers 5:2 is only attractive as a way to lose weight. The health benefits are – to most of us – the icing on the cake (pun intended).
WW also has similar benefits, but they are the reverse of 5:2 –> the good health benefits follow weight loss and change in lifestyle! including the incorporation of exercise, and the development of awareness of portion sizes, ingredients, and situational responses.
I am not advocating WW here. I am just sharing my experience for what is worth, and comparing WW with 5:2, and drawing my own conclusions.
And you may be right. 5:2 may not be for me. But I still wish to give it a go. I do not think I will ever look forward to fasting. To me that is only a means to an end: weight loss. As I work in an office environment, fasting is kind of easy for me. Alas! I often miss meals on work days! And if other health benefits derive from structured fasting, that will be good.
It won’t cost me anything, as I bought the book last year. I have nothing to lose (other than weight, if I do it right), but have a lot to learn through the experience.
Will I adapt it as a life long regime? Who knows. Probably not.
At the end of the experiment, I may go back to the WW regime. Or I may have gotten used to the 5:2 regime by then.
But how will I really find out if I do not give it a go?
This week’s results have been positive, but I did 24 hours fasting (2x) as opposed to 36 hours. Next week I will do it right and see what happens.
Simcoeluv – “To lose 2.2 pounds a week on 5:2, all you have to do is cut 1100 calories a day, on average, from your diet.” Excellent news (sarcasm) since my tdee is 1200 Cals!
PVE – You seem concerned about others’ overindulgence. Does it bother you if some people, as you put it, starve themselves occasionally and pig out the rest of the time? Why? If that works for them then why not? One person’s pigging out is another’s normal tdee amount anyway. My take on it is that it’s a principle (frequently switching between lower Cal days and higher Cal days) that you can adapt to your own circumstances and goals. It is whatever you make of it.
JeffR – I haven’t done any kind of survey, but my observation on this and other forums is that it tends to be older people who do it for the health/longevity benefits, and younger people who do it for the weight loss. If this is true, and you’re only asking people of around your own age, you might get a misleading result from your survey.
I don’t care at all about how much others eat. We are all sentient beings who can make our own choices. 🙂 In fact, I find 5:2 brilliant, now that I am at maintenance, to eat whatever on normal days.
It is when someone says 5:2 doesn’t work that I question 1) Are they doing it for the health benefits or 2) Are they doing it for weight loss?
For weight loss, if they are not losing, they probably need to look at their total weekly intake. As Simcoeluv says, it is not 5:2’s fault if their ideal healthy weight is not achieved.
I have never been a ‘dieter’.
I honestly would not have started 5:2 if it was just another weight loss diet as I know that diets tend to work short term, but reverting to old habits then results in weight gain. Long term weight maintenance relies upon adopting appropriate habits in the long term. So a quick fix for short term weight loss has never appealed to me.
Perhaps it is partly my age (mid 40s) that makes the idea of heading into old age as heathily as possible attractive to me. And intermittent fasting offers that in a way that WW or similar does not.
What I can tell you is that I naturally maintained a healthy weight (around 140lbs, at 5ft6) through my late 20s and 30s by intermittent fasting (16:8, although I did not know there was a name for it at the time!). I subsequently gained weight when I caved in to pressure to eat first thing in the morning and that lead on to an increase in carbs in my diet (raised insulin, carb ‘addiction’, etc).
So now I have lost 28lbs (so easy for me I was worried I might have a tapeworm…!) and am maintaining that loss. How? By not eating breakfast and reduced processed carb consumption, a natural side effect of lowering insulin and blood sugar by intermittent fasting, and not a conscious decision that I have to work at. Do I feel deprived? No, I feel energized and fantastic in a way that I haven’t for years.
As I know from being an inadvertent IFer in the past, this is sustainable for me. I hope you find something sustainable for you, although you will have tot make permanent changes to achieve that I’m afraid!
All the best.
Re: do you care about how much others eat.
Yes, if it’s my friends and family and it’s harming their health/ impacting on their lives.
Yes, if it’s the population at large since the obesity crisis is putting an intolerable strain on the NHS.
You should probably try to accept those things tbh Happy. They are way outside your control and not worth the increase in blood pressure! (Not because they don’t matter, but because your being bothered by it will affect nobody but you – and the effect on you will not be positive).
If what you do impacts adversely on me or on society then I’m afraid I’m going to have to try and educate you about the error of your ways!
Examples from nature show that in social species working together for collective benefit is better for all, although obviously selfish individuals in the population may not benefit.
We are Borg….
Oh, and BP is fine thanks! 110/70….
@happynow: you did IF 16:8 inadvertently because you skipped breakfast on a regular basis ? Have you been working at that time ?
I tried IF 16:8 by skipping breakfast for some 2-3 month but I have had problems like lack of concentration and mental activity switched to slow motion. So I changed to skipping dinner. This works fine during the week but is difficult to hang on at the end of the week Fri/Sat/Sun.
Yes, I have worked full time since leaving university so practiced 16:8 while working.
I’m rarely hungry first thing in the morning, and don’t really believe in eating for the sake of it when I’m not hungry. So breaking my fast at maybe 11am is natural for me.
At weekends I sometimes eat earlier, especially if I’ve drunk too much the night before and need something in my stomach!
Luckily I find I’m more alert when I don’t eat (hence why many people report problems sleeping on fast days as their brains don’t switch off).
BTW, my husband has also naturally maintained a healthy weight by intermittent fasting – when he’s busy he often just ‘forgets’ to eat!
@PVE: I hope you are not referring to me.
I have not said 5:2 does not work.
I have not said or implied that WW is better. In fact, I state that both seem to do the job.
If I do 5:2 and end up saying it does not work, it will not be the system’s fault. I think it is a question of whether this ‘lifestyle’ suits me or not.
Jeff, I don’t even know you, but I wish you all the best with whatever you choose.
I certainly got people talking,though 😉
“If what you do impacts adversely on me or on society then I’m afraid I’m going to have to try and educate you about the error of your ways!”
WOW! Really, are you sure you actually do that?! As in, you tell fat people, smokers etc that they should mend their ways so they don’t end up costing you extra in future through your taxes? Do you do the same with prisoners, drug addicts etc about their life of crime?
I also feel sorry for your relatives if what you’re saying is actually true, which I find hard to believe tbh. You can’t possibly expect to make other people’s choices for them, or to even influence them that much (whether it’s for their own good or yours). Trying to have an overbearing influence on what someone else chooses to eat is just awful. I’d cut ties with, or at least avoid contact as much as humanly possible with any relative who did that to me.
my thought is that any type of fasting, intermittent or for longer periods is a tool to do something for my health.
I am not interested in loosing weight. Some years ago I gained about 8 kilos in a short period of time cause the place I stayed during the week was close to a pizzeria. They had the best pizza salami ever plus I enjoyed the red wine. So one day by chance I saw the result on a scale and I decided to go back to normal size. It was fairly easy. I was then no longer accommodated close to the pizzeria, I cut out the daily 2 chocolate bars, the 3 heaping teaspoon of sugar for each coffee and the baklava (Turkish pastry) at the weekend. I added 30 minutes heavy exercise in the gym 3 times a week and that was it. After one year I was back to normal. The main control of changing weight in either direction is changing the ratio of spend calories versus intake. I have seen someone from my family loosing and maintaining weight with WW. I have seen my brother gaining and successfully maintaining his obese BMI for many years now by overeating. The spent intake ratio works in both directions.
I am thrilled by any lab value that shows me I can do something for my health by natural, simple live style changes. Any change from borderline bad numbers to healthy numbers for blood sugar, blood pressure, lipid profile makes me all smiles. I liked the idea of Eat Fast and Live Longer show because it MIGHT be one of those live style changes which comes free of charge, simple, natural.
You take my comments out of context. I was responding to a poster who said they liked WW, could lose 2.2 pounds a week on it, and if 5:2 did not work they would return to WW. I simply told them how they could lose 2.2 pounds a week on 5:2, or any other diet.
If you read my posts, I think you know that I know how hard it is to lose weight when you have a low TDEE. I even have a long post illustrating the difficulty: http://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/tdee-for-the-curious-or-why-dont-i-lose-weight-faster/
2fast. I’m sorry! My response was slightly tongue in cheek but yes I will intervene when I see something illegal/ inappropriate happening. But I do know full well that there is no point in worrying about things that I cannot change.
However there is a serious point here. The population as a whole has been influenced to date by the dietary guidelines promoted by government (and as lobbied by the food industry). Our 3 meals a day/high carb/low fat/keep snacking philosophy has nothing to do with health but everything to do with business and profit.
If, by example or through discussion/information, I am able to influence someone to make a positive change as an individual that could, if enough people did it, make a difference for society as a whole then would that nor actually be the responsible thing to do?
And please! Don’t bother yourself with feeling sorry for my family and friends! They won’t appreciate it. They know that I am intelligent, educated to a high degree, generally well imformed, and confident and willing to defend my (generally evidence based) point of view. They are similarly intelligent, educated and informed, and would expect nothing less.
Another thing that life has taught me is that you should not expect to like everyone, nor everyone to like you. So please do not worry yourself about me being someone you would not like to kbow!
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