"Eat stop eat" Anyone?

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  • Ì have been doing 5-2 for over a year. Today I was told about “the Eat stop eat” method. It was sescribed as:

    1 Once or twice a week, don’t eat for 24 hours.
    2 Start your fast in the morning, at lunch, or at dinner. It doesn’t matter as long as you don’t eat for 24 hours.
    3 Break your fast with a “normal-sized meal.” Don’t try to make up for the lost calories by feasting.
    Who should try it?

    People interesting in fasting for the therapeutic benefits (cancer protection, autophagy, life extension, etc.) would probably get a lot out of this method, as opposed to people interested in the body composition benefits.

    Has anyone here tried it? It says that “Once or twice a week, don’t eat for 24 hours.”
    I guess once would suffice (I rather do my 5-2 than two days os 24hour fasting a week)), but does any one know more about that?

    That’s pretty much what I do on the 5:2. eg normal evening meal on Sunday, then nothing till 4-500 cal meal on Monday evening. Same again from Weds evening – Thurs evening.

    On fast days I find saving the calories till the evening makes it easier because I can have something like poached eggs or beans on toast, half a pizza and some salad, and so get to eat normal food with my wife.

    Some of the meal suggestions in the book when they are trying to eke out 5-600 calories over 3 meals are quite odd.

    If you think about it carefully, EatStopEat is basically 5:2 with a single meal at dinner time.

    5:2: Last meal Sunday evening, fast all day Monday.Then 500 kcal dinner. Do it twice a week. Since we do not usually eat during our sleep, we have a 24 hour period without food.

    ESE: Last meal Sunday dinner, then 24 hour fast. Monday evening “normal” dinner. Do it twice a week. Brad Pilon suggests normal size meals, which for most people will be 400 – 600 kcal.

    Summary: in both cases Sunday evening dinner, then fast until Monday dinner with ca. 500 kcal. If you look around the forums here you will find that most people fasting for health benefits go for a single meal on a fast day, as do those who get very hungry once they start to eat.

    As a couple on maintenance for a year now, that is exactly what we do now. Nothing after dinner on Sunday until dinner on Monday night. We find we don’t eat much then as you simply don’t feel that hungry. We don’t count calories, but just naturally avoid white carbs.
    Two fasts a week seems too much now, so one good fast and a couple of 18/6 days (no breakfast, late, light “lunch” and normal dinner) still give a longish fast to regenerate cells, but not so much to lose weight. We don’t need that anymore 😆 Purple

    be careful with this diet. The truth is that it’s very possible to GAIN weight on eat stop eat. Even author Brad Pilon talks about it in his article – http://eatstopeat.us/can-you-gain-weight-while-you-fast/

    And remember that fasting is not magic!

    Hi ferret:

    I guess your warning is if you are on a diet and over eat, the diet may not work? Happens all the time to people starting 5:2.

    HI, simcoeluv

    Yes, exactly.


    I’ve been wondering about this 24 hour (no food) approach compared to the longer 34-38 5:2 fast (broken up by 500/600 calories worth of food).

    I’m thinking, and other things I’ve read as well as ESE that 24 hours straight of no food (say 6pm to 6pm next day) has a metabolic advantage over a much longer 34-36 fast interrupted 1-3 times by food (however small the amount). I wish I could find the article, but it said that interruption of a fast with food, stops the fasting process in the body and slows down fat burning while the body takes a break for digestion. It then takes longer to get back into fat burning. Whereas, 24 hours of no food gives your body enough time to really enter into the fasting state and burn more fat.

    A lot of people doing 34-36 hours (including sleep hours, not just daytime hours) often don’t have long enough gap between eating their 500kcal, especially if they break it up to 3 small meals, so even though they are only eating a little, because they are eating at all, it somehow affects the fast?

    Obviously, lots of people on 5:2 can get a good 24 hours of no food between meals, if they finish eating early the night before and don’t have their 500 until late the next evening. Then, on top of that, they get an extra fast in while they’re sleeping up until they have breakfast (these people tend to do really well on 5:2 as they are essentially fasting 4 times!)

    I guess it depends what’s true: quality over quantity? Wi 24 hours of no eating get better or the same results as a lower quality food-containing 36 hour fast? And if you eat normally outside the 24 hour window or gorge.

    I’m going to try it, because if it works it will be more manageable. Two days a week of a 6pm-6pm fast would be easy and more fun if I could eat normally after 6pm the next night without gaining weight. But if you still have to keep that next night’s meal to below 600 it’s not really a 24 fast, it’s a 5:2 34-36 hour fast still with a meal in between.

    I have no idea if my ramblings made any sense 🙂

    Hi Jo and welcome:

    If you eat your TDEE or more before 6 pm, and eat your TDEE or more after 6 pm the next day, you will not lose weight despite your 24 hours of ‘fasting’. That means you will have to count calories and eat less than your TDEE four days a week, minimum, if you want to lose weight.

    Research has proven that time between meals is irrelevant for weight loss, and there is no research that proves time between meals is otherwise beneficial (although many seem to believe it is). See number 6 in this post for more information (and my 3 Jan 15 post in that number 6 thread): https://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/the-basics-for-newbies-your-questions-answered/

    Good Luck!

    I have gradually gone over to Eat Stop Eat because it is so easy. I have never been vastly overweight but 10 to 15 pounds tends to creep up on me and in the past I would go to 1000 to 1200 calories a day until the excess came off. I would then go “back to normal” and eat what and when I felt like! Like countless others I did this for years.

    Then came the Horizon show and a bit of self experimentation and now I find it easy to do without breakfast and lunch on Monday & Thursday. The only time I do not do it is if I am on holiday – but I am not on holiday for more than two weeks at a time and so cope quite well.

    Hi all,

    I’m an avid reader but this is my first post on the forum! I have been on and off the 5:2 for more than 18 months now (breaking for holidays, last minute celebrations/outings or illness). It has definitely helped me lose and keep off upward of 5kg.

    I have not lost any weight for over 5 months now but I am keeping up the 5:2 to maintain my current weight. I am certainly not over or under weight. Average and healthy BMI of 20.3.

    However, I have recently started to really, really struggle. I feel weak, lightheaded and shaky on my fast days. It may be that I have increased exercise (although I never fast and exercise on the same day).

    This has led me to think about doing the 24 hour fast, or the Eat Stop Eat.

    I totally get what keef66 and Dummerchen are saying about fast from Sunday evening to Monday evening (500 cal meal) and then fast & sleep 12 hours till Tuesday morning – the ESE and 36 hour fast are exactly the same in that sense.

    But what if I was to stop eating after Monday lunch and break my fast at Tuesday lunch time? Do you think this would give me more fuel during the day and stop my attacks of “weakness”? And how would it affect my weekly calorie intake/deficit? I can’t see to figure it out!

    Sorry, this evidently proves that I’m terrible at maths!

    Any advice or help would be REALLY appreciated.

    Black lab why not try it and see how it works for you. 🙂

    I’m guessing you only drink water during your 24 hour fasts? I work out 6 days a week and can not stand the thought of missing my protein shake before and after my weight routine. Any suggestions? Maybe make it a 6/1 and make the one day fast on my day off????

    Thats what ive been doing for yesrs. starting it again today. im fasting until 3:30 in the am

    I am a bit confused by this. I understand that 5.2 means not eating more than 500/600 calories 2 days a week but at the same time not going over your TDEE on the other 5 days. It shouldn’t make any difference to your weight loss in the long run whether you have all your calories in one sitting or spread over the day. The weight loss comes from restricting your total calorie intake for the week, not what time of day you eat. Personally I tend to have all my calories in the evening, but during the winter months, when it is cold, I have soup at lunchtime and something in the evening.

    JFitzy- Every time you eat, an insulin response is generated. If you have gained weight because of insulin resistance, i.e. chronically high insulin, then by eating fewer times per day (in addition to eating fewer calories and reducing carbs) you will reduce the number of insulin responses and cure your metabolic syndrome by having longer periods of low insulin. Remember, if you have high insulin, you are running on carbs, with the highs and lows. Fat burning cannot occur when insulin levels are high.

    Hi Lucylaw thanks for that explanation. As you say everyone’s body is different. I must not have high insulin then as I am losing, on average .75 lb to 1 lb per week by following the 5.2 as it was originally written i.e. eat 500 calories 2 days a week (at any time of the day) and eat normally the other 5 days. From reading these forums I know lots of people do pure water fasts etc and have modified 5.2 to suit their needs and that is the great thing about this WOL, it can be adapted to suit oneself 🙂

    I lost a lot of weight (30 lbs.) just going low carb, high fat. After the initial big drop (over about 4 months), I stalled a bit, but after adding intermittent fasting have lost another 23. I really like fasting actually, and as long as I keep away from carbs I don’t have a lot of hunger. I have read the ESE protocol, and I think it really is similar to 5:2.

    A few friends have started doing the “longer time between meals”/intermittent fasting. For them, even just cutting out snacks (i.e. insulin response) has been enough for them to slim down. Lucky them, and lucky you!!! 🙂

    I would not have been able to start a fasting routine without first going low carb, I believe I would have been consumed by my hunger, lol. It is very empowering to fast, and even more, it is empowering to find what best works for your body. I have 12 lbs. to go until I am no longer “over weight” and looking forward to getting there this spring.

    Happy Fasting!!

    Hi Everyone,

    I started my eat stop eat diet exactly a year ago. I usually wake up at around 7am, take kids to school by 8am, and drive myself to work. I would have lunch at 1pm, very light, 600 calories or so, mostly salads and sometimes sandwich. Then I would have dinner at 8pm, very light, sometimes just banana and apple. When I started I was 96kg, I am 180cm. Usually Monday and Thursday I wouldn’t eat anything. I would fast from Sunday 8pm to Monday 8pm, and on Monday evening I would just have 2 poached eggs and some ham. I was doing this for 12 weeks and I lost 4kg. Than I started running 3km a day in the morning, every day except the Mondays and Thursdays when I was fasting. In those 12 weeks I lost 7kg. For the last 24-26 weeks I was fasting just one day in a week, Monday. The thing that I noticed I eat very little now, sometimes just a sandwich and banana for a whole day. I am 72kg and I run about 8km a day now (still don’t run on Mondays). Now I will start eating even on Mondays and increase my runs to 10km a day.

    I lost 24kg, but the discipline was there, even when I was on Holidays I would still run and fast 2 days a week.

    I am surprised how my body works now, I can seriously eat less than 1500 calories a day and have more energy than when I was eating 3,000+ calories a day.

    My BMI now is 22, it used to be almost 30.

    Oh yes, I forgot, I made one mistake, I was only drinking sparkling water and 2 weeks ago I had to take out kidney stone! I just couldn’t drink still water. My doctor says my stone either formed in the years when I used to drink Coke ever day (1,5 litre a day) or when I was drinking sparking water (2,5 litres a day).

    I never thought I could lose weight. But if you can get a habit to eat less, I don’t think that one needs to fast even.

    I have done extensive research on IF lifestyle and I am inclined to think the Eat Stop Start has a lot of merit. I read Brad Pilon’s book/research and it is compelling. I started doing the 5:2 diet 6 weeks ago except I did 2 consecutive days fasting and lost 13 pounds (about 2 pounds a week).

    Then I read Brad Pilon’s book and I think I may try and do a 24 hour fast 2x a week but non-consecutive days.

    The one thing I took away from his research was that fasting is a stress on the body (as is exercise and dieting/calorie restriction). And so, one needs time for their body to heal. Consecutive days fasting (while producing ketosis) may not be the best idea long term for me or anyone.

    I am going to give ESE a try. I have canvassed the web and I cannot find a single negative review. On the 5:2, I typically saved my calories for supper. The longer one fasts (in so far as one is not doing 72 hours or more), the greater the benefit from a metabolic level and a cellular level. And so …Why not???

    I’ve been maintaining my 5:2 weight loss for two years now. This year I’ve started doing one 24 hour fast per week or so, followed by a ‘normal’ evening meal. This obviously cuts calories (but not to quarter TDEE) but also results in a low insulin state for a number of hours. Having read Jason Fung’s The Obesity Code I’m even more convinced of the benefits not only of intermittent calorie restriction but also of extended fasting windows.

    I’d agree with that, though I’m not doing the fasts as successfully as I’d like at present. The lbs are still coming down, however. I have begun to look forward to a fast day with almost relief in an odd sort of way, there’s a nice structure about it, even when I move the days around to accommodate things.
    My two ‘must re-read’ books are also The Obesity Code, plus Phinney and Volek’s ‘The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living’. They have good, solid, well referenced information and are an inspiration to carry on with this.

    I’ve just started fasting using this method, mostly because it’s easy and I don’t have to worry about any food. I find it easier eating nothing as opposed to eating little bits of food throughout a day.

    Twice a week, my last meal of the day is lunch. Then nothing until lunch the next day (save for tea and water). It’s easy because I sleep 9 hours of the fast away.

    After about 20 hours I’m ready to quit, but I can usually hold out for a couple more.

    So far it’s proving a nice process for me. I’m eating a lot less overall, it’s helped reset my hunger signals.

    I’m intending to do this for another 4 weeks minimum, happy to update with progress if anyone is interested.

    Hi Lela1979 and anyone else out there doing Eat Stop Eat style WOL. Is anyone having success? I would really appreciate some feedback. I’ve been testing it a few days per week when I’m. Asicakly eating nothing in between on a fasting day. On other days I basically eat pretty much what I want without going crazy. However, on a non fasting day I tend to eat things like pizza and bread which I normally would. Or eat! I am maintaining but not really losing much. However, I really ideally would like to lose 10 pounds so maybe that makes it harder. I’m thinking now of continuing to do this, yet cutting out carbs pretty much as well. Results and feedback appreciated! 🙂

    I’ve been doing the basic 5:2 for almost 13 weeks and have had dependable weight loss. I eat lots of carbs in the form of fruit and some bread. I never go more than 16 hours without eating and usually it’s more like 14 hours, overnight and into the morning. I always count calories for the 500 on FD’s and rarely count them on NFD. I probably go over my TDEE on most NFD’s because my TDEE is so low now, around 1400. I have no idea where my insulin levels are, only that they’re in normal range when I tested once per year.

    Fasting for 24 hours would seem like a chore for me. That’s too long with just liquids. The 5:2 is fairly easy and I’m getting good results so I plan to stick with that.

    Hi Calidreamer!

    Thanks for your response. So if I’m getting this right you stick to 500 on fast days but basically skip breakfast every day? Right? I’ve been skipping breakfast almost every day with the exception of coffee and a splash of light cream. I hate black coffee. On my “fast days” I have been sort of following eat stop eat. I finish a decent sensible dinner at 6pm then only have the coffee and other liquids until the 6pm the next day. As long as I only consume the 500 calories on that second day when breaking the fast it could be considered 5:2 in that I’m consuming at one go. The problem is, I think I have been eating more than that when I break the fast. I plan to track more carefully. I can’t consume the fast day 500 throughout the day. I can’t stick to it and become ravenous. Rather have one bigger meal. Can I ask how much you have lost? Looking for encouragement.

    I’ve actually read Brad Pilon’s “Eat Stop Eat” and several later books. When he wrote “Eat Stop Eat” he was primary still of the belief that is was just the calories that mattered. He was also concerned about the effects of fasting while doing hard workouts. His views have changed since then although he still really likes the 24 hour fasts. My take is if that approach allows one to get more pure fasting time, then go for it.

    He is now very much in the camp that what type of foods are eaten being more important than the actual calories. In his “Good Belly Bad Belly” book he focuses on gut health and form that perspective even believe it is better to drink orange juice with a heavy greasy meal because it reduces endotoxins and is better for your gut regardless of the sugar in the juice. Although in general he is in the sugar isn’t good for you camp. He also believes many eat too much protein. Basically he spends his time studying research being done and writes books about it for a living. His books aren’t free but they aren’t horribly priced, he just sell publishes. You pay and download a pdf of the book.

    Some points:
    * Meal timing isn’t a major factor if you are eating, however it is a HUGE factor when fasting. Basically the longer you can go without eating the better. Tiny amounts of food can stop things like HGH production, even if it doesn’t impact your insulin levels. However once you are eating that is no longer a factor.

    * Fasting does put some strain on you body so it is even more important to eat healthy foods if you are fasting. While I’m a long ways away from believing it is just about the calories, calories are a factor so don’t waste them on things that don’t give back to your body. The body needs fiber and it doesn’t need empty calories.

    * Exercise creates additional demands on your body and can increase your protein requirements. However one only has to have just enough nutrition to build muscles, throwing more at it has only marginal benefits for people that don’t live in the gym.

    * Fasting helps many like myself listen too our bodies. It is surprising how much my body tells me when I’m willing to listen to it. However it takes time and practice to understand the signals.

    Wow. Thank you so much Dykask! I’m going to check out his book. I have been fasting without food and only liquids except the coffee with cream in morning. Do you think that ruins it? I’m actually not considered overweight. I’m a US size 6 and big Pilates and workout person. However. Diabetes runs in my family and I’m told I’m borderline diabetic. I read Brad’s book and that’s what got me interested. I didn’t know about good belly bad belly. I really appreciate your tips. Do you think ESE is a good way of eating? Do you stick to the 599 when breaking the fast? No one else on here seems to be doing this…love to get feedback. Thx.

    Yep. Its very much what you eat and not just the calories. I can pretty much guarantee that if you ate 2000 calories worth of donuts for breakfast youd be “starving” by lunch time. Eat 2000 calories of broccoli (is that possible?) for breakfast youd not be starving by lunch time. Just ask the maintainers on this site what they do. I suspect the vast majority eat very little refined carbs and still practice fasting.

    Thx bigbooty! As the saying goes, if it seems to good. E true it probably is! I don’t really ever eat doughnuts but avoiding carbs is probably a must. Too bad. I. Oils survive quite well on an all carbs diet!!!! Lol! But how do we feel about low carb high fiber? Is that ok? I know so many obsessed with those high fiber GG Scandinavian thins but I think the gluten isn’t good for me. Gluten still makes insulin levels go up. 🙁

    @dbd. Im pretty extreme in my views about what is a healthy diet. It tends to put some people offside with me. To those people all I can offer is to say, if its working for you then keep doing exactly the same. If its not working for you then change it up. I limit my processed grain based carbs to an absolute minimum. Low carb high fibre is a good thing. If it comes in a processed packet though Id have alarm bells rining in my head. I try and get the vast majority of my carbs from veggies (except potatoes). Locked up in fibre the carbs in veggies are taken up slowly. I use a few very simple rules: Try and avoid the central isles in a supermarket. If your grandmother wouldn’t recognise it as food don’t eat it. Don’t eat if youre not hungry. Avoid processed grain based products.

    Ive arrived at my diet by some trial and error. I would have my bloods taken and then eat a fixed variety of foods for 6 months and then have my bloods taken again. If it worked I kept eating those foods. If it didn’t Id swap them out. Not really very astonishing but for me it was: No grain based products. No rice. Lots of veggies (except starchy veggie, I eat them very sparingly). Lots of legumes like beans peas and lentils. Some meat, fish, tuna, chicken. Some fruit, mostly berry type fruits and sour apples like granny smiths. I eat lots of nuts and seeds. Almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts. pumpkin seeds. Eat lots of different cheeses. Plain greek high fat low sugar yogurt. What’s basically missing is grain based products, sugar and alcohol. I need a real good reason to eat/drink those foods and its a very rare treat.

    Good luck with it.

    @desperate but driven – I don’t know if cream in the coffee will stop HGH production, but if you aren’t trying to build muscles, it probably doesn’t matter much. I want to stay stronger than my 16 year old as long as I can. So my focus is probably a little different.

    I agree with @bigbooty that you need to experiment and find what works for you. I eat a lot more carbs and cheese than what bigbooty does, but probably less carbs than what most people eat. In Japan if you don’t at least eat some rice or noodles, it gets hard. I typically eat 10 or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day. I avoid added refined sugar most of the time. I do use some dried fruit to sweeten things like oatmeal, something like raisins, figs or prunes. (Sometimes all three) I typically avoid sweets but sometimes I’ll eat a lot of calorie dense nuts. For some reason nuts don’t seem to drive my weight up. Cheese does tend to be fattening to me, but I like it so I live with that.

    A lot of people don’t seem to handle fruit well and it might depend on your gut bacteria populations. For me I’ve tried to fatten myself on fruit both fresh and dried and simply don’t seem to be able to eat enough to do that. I avoid added refined sugar because when I started doing that my hunger went way down and I lost a lot of fat over about 4 months. I figure with fruit though I’m getting something of value for my body with the sugar. On the other hand I typically avoid fruit juice. I typically don’t eat big greasy meals so I’m not saying Brad Pilon is wrong about fruit juice.

    I find some of Brad’s views a little hard to accept, but he always backs up his statements with research. I find his books are kind of a guide to a lot of nutritional research that has been done. Even if I don’t like what he saying I find myself respecting his views on a topic.

    Agree with dykask about fruit juice. No go zone. Might as well be drinking sugar water. Ive measured the glucose response with a glucose meter and it sky rockets within minutes of ingestion. Its THAT fast. You want the benefits of fruit, eat fruit. It really is that simple. People tend to change their food intake for one day, it doesn’t agree with them and so they conclude that it doesn’t suit them. It takes several weeks to months for your gut bacteria to grow to sufficient levels to process different foods. Give it time. That’s why the tests I did were over 6 month periods.

    Thx tons @bigbooty and @dykask I agree and can do all of those tips. The one part I find extremely difficult is to avoid drinking. Wine in particular. I work for a French brand and social drinking is ever present! Do you both think that a glass or two at night diminishes everything? I actually went 10 days with no wine on vacation last year and GAINED 2 pounds! @bigbooty, can I ask about your progress eating this way? And how long it’s taken? I truly would love to lose 7 to 10 pounds. I know that’s not a giant amount, but I’m 5″4 so makes a difference. I would also like to know your schedule and how many fasting days a week. You skip breakfast right? Thx guys. 🙂

    If you drink you have to allow for it. Alcohol is 7 calories per gram. It must be processed by the liver and stored as fat. 2 x 200mL = 400 mL. So that about 280 grams. Lets say its 10% alcohol, so that’s 28 grams. 28 x 7 = 196 calories.

    Ive been in maintenance since March 2016. Took me about a year to lose 48 lbs. 202 down to 154 lbs. I weigh what I used to weigh in my early 20s. Im 56 now. I used to water fast every Monday/Tuesday, so about 60 hours. I now water fast every Monday, so 36 hours. Took me 6 months before I found it easy. Its now ridiculously easy to fast. My liver flips over into ketosis after 24 hours. I measure this with a keto meter.

    Sometimes I skip breakfast but not that often. My breakfast is greek yogurt, some almonds, pumpkin seeds and some berries. Sometimes I’ll have an apple and some almonds.

    I have Bought This Pdf from http://www.eatstopeatnow.com/ and had Great Results Must Try

    I lost a lot of weight (30 lbs.) just going low carb, high fat. After the initial big drop (over about 4 months), I stalled a bit, but after adding intermittent fasting have lost another 23. I really like fasting actually, and as long as I keep away from carbs I don’t have a lot of hunger. I have read the ESE protocol, and I think it really is similar to 5:2. read my story thetecnic.com

    Black lab why not try it and see how it works for you

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