Why WHEN you eat matters

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  • That actually mirrors what I’d been doing anyway – as long as I have an egg for breakfast, I can eat well within my 400 calorie limit for the fast day, as long as it includes being able to have skim milk in several cups of tea during the day. Then steamed vegies or salad to about 200 cals for dinner. If I don’t have the skim milk in my tea, chances are I pig out after dinner, so lose the day of fasting.

    Having said that, I’ve been very stressed and tired after a nasty flu virus late last year, so I’m still not entirely back doing 5:2, more like 6:1 however I’m still losing weight, but very slowly.

    What I’m really interested to see is my cholesterol level next blood test – for me that’s what it is really about.

    I agree with this post. The timing of your food has a really huge impact on your hormones. There are four hormones that determine your body weight. They also decide where the calories accumulate on our body. Not eating at the right time causes hormonal imbalance of the estrogen, insulin, throid and the cortisol and this has a major influence on your metabolism as well.

    Well, I really am interesting in fasting but I am a bit in doubt for the fact won’t it make me weak after and will it not affect my skin as food brings everything needed to have a healthy skin, I would appreciate some further explanation about it and thanks for your reply!

    Hi Lucy, Psyllium husk is brilliant at keeping you regular internally and also fools your insides into thinking you ate something. You still get the great empty feeling and all the benefits but no growling or hunger pangs.
    Drink lots of water with it or black coffee.

    Hi Michael,
    I’ve lost about 70 lbs in the last 5 months through low carb eating, as well as eating less frequently. May wife has lost even more weight in the same time period. But we have reached a 2 month plateau, because we lost this weight through continual low carb, and only in the last 2 months or so did we include some fasts. [it was no grains, sugar or starches] So I’m thinking that some thyroid hormones have down regulated causing the stall and now I’m like to do carb/calorie cycling 2 days a week, but sort of the inverse of the 5:2 diet, with only 2 of the days being high calorie, high carb days, (about 15 cal/lb/d) with the increase over 10 cal/lb/d during the low carb days to up regulate the thyroid hormones like T3. My question is this. On the high carb days, do you think that it might be better to eat more frequently since the intent on these days is to deliberately spike the insulin to send the body a message, or should I limit myself to 2 meals or less on a high carb day as well. I should mention that on the re-feed high carb days that I plan on doing resistance training.

    Have a look at Jason Fung on YouTube. He argues that if you fast, then you will lose weight.

    A person will lose weight then they fast, but I did about 1.5 months of 1 meal a day and I didn’t lose any weight, I actually went up by 2 lbs. And before that there was a 3 day fast, and a 48 hour fast, but I think that my body has compensated. So now I’m trying to reset some of the hormones with carb cycling in combination with 18 hr fasts, and resistance training.

    Hi, from what ive heard it is relation to sleep. Ive heard things like dont eat three hours before bed so then your body has time to process the food you have just eaten and use some, where as eating and then going to bed means all that energy gets stored immediately. I think that 7pm time limited is a generalised suggestion to stop people from eating right before bed. Im the same way i work nights at a supermarket finishing generally around 9pm so i fit my fasting times around that.

    Hi @annette52. Dr Jason Fung on YouTube is fascinating indeed.

    He argues that the calories in/calories out paradigm is misdirected and misleading, and also cruel because it results in false blame-the-victim thinking. He argues this thinking simply doesn’t work long term for various reasons including:

    1. the hunger hormones (gherkin and leptin) work non-stop and long-term to bring weight back to the programmed set point.

    2. calorie restriction results in reduced metabolism, again bringing long-term weight back to a programmed set point.

    3. calories are not all the same from a weight control perspective.

    4. energy expenditure and eating impact each other (eg hormones automatically make us hungrier when we exercise, and more sluggish when we eat heavily; stress hormones also impact).

    5. fat is not a simple storage and retrieval system as simplistically painted by the calories in/out theory of weight management.

    The central driver in his model of weight control and health recovery is fixing insulin sensitivity/resistance. Insulin resistance increases our long term weight set point. And fasting (including fasting enforced by gastric procedures) and LCHF (or more accurately eliminating just the processed carbs and high starch foods) both improve insulin sensitivity and reprogram our weight set point downwards by forcing fat burning cycles. There are also some other things that improve (eg vinegar) or damage (eg high fructose, artificial sweeteners) our insulin sensitivity.

    His methods address BOTH the size of the insulin hits in our Western diet (through changing what we eat) AND the persistence of these high insulin levels (through changing when we eat). Fasts are central to beating the persistence problem. And timing of meals and avoidance of snacks (to create long fasts between eating) is therefore also important.

    @onel. I think its a typo and you meant ghrelin. As you eat less your stomach shrinks. Ghrelin is produced when your stomach is contracted and turns off when it is stretched. It turns off sooner as your stomach shrinks. Fructose interferes with lepton receptors so that your brain doesn’t get the “Im full” message. That’s why big food puts fructose into EVERYTHING including vinegar!!

    Haha. Damned autocorrect. Yes you are right @bigbooty. Ghrelin, not gherkin. And it tried to autocorrect me again.


    Can someone confirm for me that 5:2 is within a 7 day cycle. If I start one of my 500 cal days on Sat and I wish to change to say a Tuesday and Thursday is that ok, providing its in the seven day cycle? A little confused.

    Hi Tray:

    You can have your diet days be any days you want, and change them any time you want. The only ‘rule’ is two a week. You can also eat any time you want during your diet days – again, there is no ‘rule’ that says you have to eat during certain times or allow a certain number of hours between meals.

    Here are some tips: https://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/the-basics-for-newbies-your-questions-answered/

    Good Luck!

    I have been following the 5:2 diet for about 9 months now. On the fast days I eat 3 ‘meals’ Breakfast is a low calorie cereal like Special K Berry with 1/2 cup of soy milk and coffee with no sweetener and just 2 tsp. of creamer. Lunch is a 6-oz cup of Lipton Spring Veg. soup (45 calories) plus a cup of coffee. Dinner is 3-egg whites cooked in under .25tsp. of butter with 2-slices of lower calorie whole wheat bread along with my coffee. Then for an evening snack I have a peeled Gala apple. With that said my total calories for the day are around 487, under the 500 limit. I drink a lot of water throughout the day. I really don’t feel hungry at all. My fast days are Monday and Thursday. Following this diet along with changing my eating plan to a more plant based menu and keeping it at around 1,100 calories on non-fast days; I have successfully lost 55 lbs. to date.
    Hope this helps. Keep with it, its worth it. 🙂

    Hello yall! So I have been reading a few posts that sort of answer my question but I am not sure it was completely answered so I am just going to ask here.

    I work nights. So I am working 7pm-4,5,6am. So far I have been doing my fast days as midnight to midnight. So when I am on a fast day at work and the clock strikes midnight, I have been considering my fast day over because I have stayed under 500 calories since the midnight before.

    My question is this: Am I doing this correctly for the most benefits? Should I instead be doing my fast day from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed? I know that a lot of the fasting benefits have to do with your body being in repair mode while sleeping instead of processing mode. Since I sometimes eat after midnight when my fast is over, there is food in my stomach by the time I go to bed at 5am. Am I doing it wrong? Thanks in advance for the help!

    I have often heard “Breakfast like a king, Lunch like a lord and have dinner like a pauper”. which seems to me to make sense, as you can burn of the calories throughout the working day, rather than going to bed with a full stomach. Yet most Western countries seem to do it the other way round, eating our biggest meal at dinner time in the evening.

    I think it’s important to listen to our bodies. Why would we assume that one size fits all with eating patterns? Rather than thinking I should eat because it’s lunch time or breakfast time, a better question would be “am I actually hungry”? If not, why am I eating?

    I never have an appetite first thing in the morning, yet for years I ate a healthy breakfast because of the many messages telling me that I shouldn’t skip breakfast or my metabolism will be too low. What happens for me is that eating early in the day seems to trigger a desire to keep eating that I struggle to manage and I end up overeating or bingeing. By paying close attention to my actual hunger I’ve realised that in cold weather my appetite tends to kick in late morning and in hot weather I’m not hungry until the afternoon. When I’m hungry I eat.

    Hi All!
    I am new to this, and, as you may be able to tell, am a first year med student looking to lose the freshman 15 from undergrad! I have managed to lose about 10 lbs but am down to the last five and thought that maybe changing up my diet would help!
    Before I begin this fast, I had a question about a slight adjustment I was planning on making in my diet!
    As I am only planning on losing about 5 more pounds, I wanted to have the 2 fast days just once a month, rather than every week. I understand that this will greatly slow down my progress, but I am a little scared to jump into things too quickly and worried about how it may affect my metabolism! So, I was thinking that if I do this fast once a month, it will take me about five months to lose those last five pounds. Given this, my question is: once I lose these five pounds, will I be able to resume my regular diet (as in, not fasting every month), without gaining weight? I am always super scared about starting new diets because I do not want to gain it all back, and then some!
    Your answers would be greatly appreciated! I am so glad to have found this support group 🙂

    Oh my I thought these forums were meant to be helpful and full of friendly advise? Not people arguing.
    I’ve only just started this month and I’m glad this wasn’t my first forum because it would definitely put me off!
    It clearly says in the info 5 days TDEE 2 days 500 for a woman.

    Can I eat breakfast and dinner on a fast day if I am eating 500 calories in the whole day? What is the ideal time to eat breakfast and dinner on a fasting day? How long do I fast for?

    If you are struggling to lose weight, it could be related to when you eat rather than what you eat. A new study suggests that eating at the right time of the day is more important in weight loss than consuming less amount of calories

    For me, the time of day doesn’t seem to matter as long as I stay under 500 calories on FD. Everyone is different. Listen to your body. For me, lunch and dinner seems to work. I’m never hungry in the morning. Some people really feel like they need something first thing in the morning. Stick with what works for you and keeps you feeling good through your FD. Some people find it easier to not eat at all on FD and they have great success with that.

    So I came to the post called “why when we eat matters” that says 3 meals a day doesn’t work. But then it’s contradicted by saying it doesn’t matter it’s the calories that count …very confused newbie

    whike the 5:2 diet can be used for losing weight. I have found it useful over the last two years to maintain my weight lose.
    The continuation of the 5:2 regime may have other benefits for metabolism so including it in a healthy diet and lifestyle could have long term benefits. (As explored in Horizon episode entitled ‘ Eat Fast and Live Longer’)

    Two years ago I had a Thyroidectomy and now take a daily dose of Thyroxine to compensate for the lack of natural thyroid hormone. Since my operation I have gained 20 pounds in weight and have so far been unable to stop the slow but steady increase.
    However, I have just started on IF and am hopeful that it will help me. I am adapting to the diet very well except when I wake in the night I experience strong hunger pangs which do not subside after drinking water. I have a relatively late eating window of around four hours, usually between four and eight.
    Maybe eating even later, say from five to nine would be a solution to night hunger.
    It is very early days, but so far, I have lost no weight.
    I would appreciate comments from any other hypothoid dieters.
    I am hoping to hear that they have successfully lost weight!

    Yes I have found this approach fine. It’s very difficult to stick with the same two days every week.

    Thank you for your encouraging comment, Oneperspective.

    Interesting question. I think you would be able to possibly keep the weight off as the stomach shrinks slightly with the fasting making you feel full when eating less. Although you may lose the metabolic benefits of not continuity the fasting.

    Eating early morning and then late afternoon on a fast day has worked best for me. It’s not just the lower calories that matter it’s the time between meals that give the metabolic improvement. If you’ve not seen it Check out the Horizon episode still on iPlayer entitled ‘ Eat Fast and Live longer’ where very good advice can be found.

    I have been successful with diets in the past but post Thyroidectomy op none of them work at all. I just keep collecting fat. This eating plan is new to me but I feel sure that the combination of a narrow eating window, calorie control and intermittent fasting will work well to overcome the problem of a permanently sluggish metabolism.
    It is such a flexible programme that can be tailored to individual needs until it feels right and starts to burn fat. A late four to six hour eating window should prevent hunger being a problem during the night. During the day keeping busy prevents hunger from being an issue.
    Apart from the metabolic benefits lengthy periods without eating I expect the habit of snacking to become a thing of the past.
    I feel very optimistic that with patience and persistence I shall burn the fat and get my figure back! Oneperspective, I appreciate your thoughts. Thank you.

    One important thing to add. Keep well hydrated especially on fast days. Wishing you Avery success!

    Good tips. I will do as you suggest.

    Six plus years ago when I started reducing my weight, eating many small meals a day was really being pushed hard. Now we know that it is an unhealthy way to eat since it promotes excess insulin production 5:2 WOL was way out in front on this issue.

    I still have days where a snack between meals, but over all the time spent not eating has greatly increased. Even on my non-fasting days I typically have 14 or 15 hours between my last meal of the day and the first meal. If one is into calorie counting it makes life easier too as zero is very easy to count and add. 🙂

    Thankfully common sense is starting to prevail. It isn’t just the calories, it is also the WHEN, HOW and WHAT is eaten. There is so much interplay between our food and our health and many factors are important. Condensing when we eat can improve our hormone levels, controlling how we eat for example eating slowly helps us control our eating and what we eat can have profoundly deep impacts on our health and body weight. There are probably a lot of other important factors too.

    Informative post thanks. Enjoyed your comment about zero being easy to count. (Good point) 😊

    Yes I can imagine having the late evening meal has not been good for our society over the last couple of generations. This is probably due to societal changes in work patterns as much as anything else. Does not give the digestion time to work properly.
    Another reason why 5:2 fasting can make a valuable contribution.

    Hi all. I’ve just joined today and haven’t read all the comments as they are many. However there seems to be a lot of concern re availability of the article. Well I just downloaded it without any problem. Click on title then chose PDF. Haven’t read it yet but I think it’s the whole article.

    When mice on a high-fat diet are restricted to eating for eight hours per day, they eat just as much as those who can eat around the clock, yet they are protected against obesity and other metabolic ills, the new study shows. The discovery suggests that the health consequences of a poor diet might result in part from a mismatch between our body clocks and our eating schedules.

    “Every organ has a clock,” said lead author of the study Satchidananda Panda of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. That means there are times that our livers, intestines, muscles, and other organs will work at peak efficiency and other times when they are — more or less — sleeping.

    Those metabolic cycles are critical for processes from cholesterol breakdown to glucose production, and they should be primed to turn on when we eat and back off when we don’t, or vice versa. When mice or people eat frequently throughout the day and night, it can throw off those normal metabolic cycles.

    “When we eat randomly, those genes aren’t on completely or off completely,” Panda said. The principle is just like it is with sleep and waking, he explained. If we don’t sleep well at night, we aren’t completely awake during the day, and we work less efficiently as a consequence.

    To find out whether restricted feeding alone — without a change in calorie intake — could prevent metabolic disease, Panda’s team fed mice either a standard or high-fat diet with one of two types of food access: ad lib feeding or restricted access.

    The time-restricted mice on a high-fat diet were protected from the adverse effects of a high-fat diet and showed improvements in their metabolic and physiological rhythms. They gained less weight and suffered less liver damage. The mice also had lower levels of inflammation, among other benefits.

    Panda says there is a reason to think our eating patterns have changed in recent years, as many people have greater access to food and reasons to stay up into the night, even if just to watch TV. And when people are awake, they tend to snack.

    The findings suggest that restricted meal times might be an underappreciated lifestyle change to help people keep off the pounds. At the very least, the new evidence suggests that this is a factor in the obesity epidemic that should be given more careful consideration.

    “The focus has been on what people eat,” Panda said. “We don’t collect data on when people eat.”

    Only because it reduces overnight fasting time.
    If you eat dinner later just don’t eat breakfast – it’s all about giving your body the longest break overnight between eating to get your insulin really low and burn fat.

    I’ll eat till 10pm, then not again till 1pm the next day ( really need to cap it at 9pm to do my 16:8)

    Binks, according to the most recent research by Dr. Panda and others, most peoples organ clocks are synchronized with the master circadian clock in the brain. The master clock is set by waking up to sunlight. For most people the optimum way to eat is starting your eating window early in the morning and stopping early in the evening. Having a time restricted window is better than nothing but not optimum for most people.

    I suggest you read the paper SIMCO.

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