Fasting, Weight Loss and Menopause?

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Fasting, Weight Loss and Menopause?

This topic contains 87 replies, has 47 voices, and was last updated by  nickynackynoo 2 years, 11 months ago.

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  • Does anyone know of research on how weight loss is affected by menopause? I remember Dr. Christiane Northrup (a well known women’s health expert in the U.S.) asking the founder of the Atkins diet why she wasn’t losing weight on his plan and she reports that he said something like, “Well, you’re a menopausal woman. The rules go out the window for women in menopause.” My weight loss is frustratingly slow (3 lbs in 6 weeks on 5:2 fasting) although I do feel better. Do hormone changes influence the effectiveness of intermittent fasting?

    I am in the same situation but today is my first day of 5:2 diet. I hope it will work for me.

    I am also in menopause and have found it very difficult to lose weight until I started the fast diet two and a half weeks ago, I am on my fifth fast day today. I lost 3lbs in the first ten days. I have not weighed myself since as I am a bit nervous to. I am waiting until the end of next week but I do feel a lot thinner and my clothes feel much better. I think it works but maybe more slowly during monopause.

    As a menopausal, 50+ year old I’d love to know more about this – it’s a shame no one with any medical knowledge has responded. I don’t mind losing weight slowly, as long as I’m losing it. I lost weight/fat for the first four weeks, but put it on weeks 5 and 6, static on 7. I’m fit, exercise regularly, eat healthily generally, but cannot shift the weight.

    As a postmenopausal nurse I am not an expert on this but have a few thoughts…

    As far as I know there is no reason, physiologically, why women should not lose weight in and around the menopause. However,there are a lot of things going on in the body during this time which I think slows things up.

    I can recommend books/website s by Dr Marilyn Glenville for coping with menopause and good advice.

    Women of 50ish often have a lot going on in their lives-children leaving home/or accepting maybe that never going to have children… parents becoming elderly..and the physical symptoms of menopause.

    I think its really important to stay physically active and with 5:2 eating weight loss should happen. It seems that a lot of contributors are expecting very quick weight loss..a steady one -two pounds a week over time really adds up and stays off.

    Also would say once through the menopause life is much easier!
    best wishes.

    I am a nurse too Sara-gee and I remember reading a study once about how if a woman’s eating habits stayed the same throughout her lifetime she would gain weight as she aged (even if she had been a healthy weight all her life). Mainly due to the metabolism slowing significantly as we age. Essentially the gist of it was we need less calories as we age. We women either have to eat less or move more.

    Also we can stay the same size all our lives but our muscle mass decreases greatly with age which also decreases our metabolism. Strength based exercises are equally as beneficial to an older woman as cardiovascular exercise. The more muscle mass we have the better our metabolism will be. I hope this helps a little.

    I started dieting 6 weeks ago and am in the midst of menopause. I am definitely finder it harder to lose weight than in my younger days, but have increased my exercise levels which has given me at 1.00 – 1.6kg loss each week. Maye it is a metabolism problem, but the extra exercise has definitely helped.

    I am not sure what the evidence is about slowing metabolism with the menopause but many women do describe weight gain during/following the menopause. Good advice sara-gee and helpful suggestion Re Dr Marilyn Glenville’s book. And as Ferna wisely says, women often need fewer calories around this time – possibly related to doing less exercise. Even a small mismatch between TDEE and calorie intake will lead to gradual weight gain. Good to hear from Karen6 that the increased exercise has helped, as you would expect to redress the balance. One relatively painless way to increase exercise is to get a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day.
    Good luck Lulu0,really frustrating to hit a plateau. I wonder if it would it be worth adding an extra fast day for a few weeks and see if that helps? Clare, (Michael’s wife and a doctor)

    I’m on Day 22 today and have lost around 4 kilos though I had just completed a 6 week 10,000 steps a day challenge the week before. I find the 5:2 diet easier to achieve than the steps as on bad days I was jogging up to 4000 steps at night either in front of the TV or next to the bed before I could get in!
    I am just through the menopause and am determined to reach my goal of 63 kilos which will be a 10% weight loss but I seem to have stuck at just under 66kgs.
    I found drinks without milk were what I missed most so I use 1% fat milk 2 or 3 times a day in drinks and then have a 150 calorie lunch and save the rest of the calories for tea. I’m also trying to spend 1 or 2 days a week fasting overnight between 6pm and 10am to see if that helps.
    We ladies of a certain age can lose weight so don’t give up, you will get there.

    Want to encourage you all, I am on week 4 of 5:2, fasting is certainly helping my menopause symptoms I have had less hot flushes, I am less tired & tearful. I have lost inches in the right places & have lost 5 1/2lb in 3 wks,- 1 lb of this was the week of woman business!- so I was shocked as I normally put on loads of weight plus I was in less pain and didnt need my pain control or hot water bottles, I also felt less sluggish & vacant! I do exercise and have started to do gentle exercise on my fast days, Wish I knew about 5:2 years ago but am hopeful this will change my body and health so no matter how long it may take i’m sticking to this plan.

    Today is my first day and I’m post menopausal and have found it really difficult to lose weight the conventional way (I’ve always been able to in the past). However, I’ve recently started taking tablets for underactive thyroid and wondered if this has anything to do with it – If anyone can offer advice I’d very much welcome it!

    I am over the menopause hill. 10th week on Fast Diet starts today. Lost about 2 lbs by the 5th or 6th week but seem to have gained it back.

    I’m overweight and sedentary. I love to walk for exercise but have been discouraged from doing so by my arthritis. I need to find an activity to do at home (cheaper than a gym), so I will try a Pilates CD.

    I will continue the Fast Diet because I can feel the benefits on fasting days (less acid reflux, better sleep) even though my body is stubbornly refusing to relinquish its mass.

    Hi LivBetr

    How about an exercise bike ? I love to cycle outdoors but as this winter has been so awful i bought myself a cheap exercise bike to keep up the cycling. I also have a friend that has quite severe arthritis and what helps her is to keep to quite alkaline foods and she certainly noticed the difference. Forgive me if you have tried that and it wasn’t for you.

    Thanks, Clare. I was trying to avoid the alternate day fasting – it felt too restrictive. I did start losing again, albeit very slowly, but that doesn’t bother me. Strange though, none of my clothes fit differently 😮

    I’ve read quite a bit about menopause, weight gain etc and have cut back a huge amount on food over the years and have to exercise regularly due to a back problem. I used to be one of these really annoying thin people who could eat chips, cakes, chocolate etc and not gain a pound … not any more! I did a food diary for 2 months for a nutritionist a while back and found I only eat 1200-1500 calories per week, plus I exercises religiously and still I can’t shift the fat I’ve gained since I hit 50.

    We’ve just got back from holiday where we ate what we wanted, and have just started back on the Fast diet this week. I’ve lost a bit this week so have everything crossed going forward!

    I do hope everyone else continues to benefit from the diet. Good luck!!

    I am fifty and I want to lose at least 60 lbs (although I could stand to lose ~90 lbs) because…
    …I am menopausal with hot flashes (5-10 a day) that wake me up at night and cause me to avoid going outside during steamy weather.
    …I am losing flexibility and strength in my back/hips/knees. I get terribly stiff when I sit for a period of time.
    …I have been rather sedentary for a few years, because it is uncomfortable to move.

    It seems like most people here aren’t trying to lose this much weight. Any thoughts or recommendations? I’m starting tomorrow and will add exercise (walking) as well.

    To FiftyPlus, I’m not quite in your shoes yet because I’m only 45 and haven’t started menopause yet, but I was very sedentary and have 90+ lbs to lose. I’ve been on the 5:2 a little over 2 months and have lost 14lbs that I know of, without exercising. I did just join a fitness club and it’s a good thing I’m doing it for the muscle toning and strength because the calories I’m burning are pitifully low! I’m starting slowly and working up gradually.
    As for dieting tips, get yourself a kitchen scale and low-calorie munchies like carrot sticks or celery sticks. I don’t weigh myself too often. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon, just hop back on the next fast day. I find great comfort in the fact that I can have dessert tomorrow. Good luck! 🙂

    Hi fifty plus, I’m 51 and noticing the aches/pains and stiffness too. I really need to lose around 50lb. My work doesn’t help, I sit a lot during the day working in the family business, and evenings I make wedding cakes! Fatal!

    Just started so I’ll keep progress posted.

    Good luck,
    Lisa x

    Hi all
    I just started yesterday with a fast, went a little over – 610 cals, but from what I have read this should get easier. I am 53 and in menopause. I used to get regular hot flashes but then a couple years ago after a severe back injury I started a rehab program to build back strength. I lost 20 or so pounds and was even starting to run a bit. My hot flashes nearly stopped altogether and I was feeling fabulous. But then life got in the way as it always seems to, work got more stressful, my only child (and best buddy) went off to college and I got depressed. Everything fell apart and I started gaining back the weight. My hot flashes returned with a vengance and my back is starting to bother me quite a bit lately.

    This time its critical – I tasted what it was like to feel stong, healthy, fit and fabulous and its worth every hunger pang to do so again. This plan seems like a winner to me, especially at my age. Menopause may make it slower but it can be done and it is so worth it. I’ve adjusted to my life changes, now I just have to start paying more attention to me and what is best for the rest of my life.


    I just want to give some hope to menopausal ladies reading this thread. I’m 53 and currently going through the menopause myself. I started 5:2 in February and by mid June I had lost 2 stones. I started out on 5:2 and then switched to 4:3 and had consistent weight loss (and I didn’t do any extra exercise). By mid June I hit a plateau and even though I switched to ADF I didn’t see any further weight loss. I have just come back from holiday where I managed to maintain my weight and am now back on 5:2 though it’s too soon to tell if it’s working again.

    Judging by the amount of people hitting plateaus it would seem that after a while the body adjusts to the different way of eating so I’m hoping that following my going back to 7:0 eating on holiday and now back home restarting 5:2, I will give my metabolism the kick-start It needs.
    But to menopausal ladies – I had no problems whatsoever in losing weight and my fast days got easier and easier. Even if I don’t lose any more weight, I’m thrilled with my loss to date and my new body. What else have we got to lose?

    Hi folks.
    Good to know this is working for the majority. Sadly not for me. I am 62 year old female and followed the 2 day fast – Tuesday & Thursday plus not eat anything after 6.00pm until 8.00 am every day and after 5 weeks… I gained 2 pounds. Very disappointed. Get so fed up with people saying you are what you eat. I know I need to loose this horrible fat in my middle – but how? I was sure this was going to work and followed it truthfully. I will continue with it because it is not difficult to do and after reading the book I hope I am helping my organs with the fast – but I am still fat – and if I think about it too much I would also say a bit miserable.

    Hi Misty, not sure if this will help you, but I found I didn’t lose anything if I did the fast diet with only one day in between; however, if I did it with a couple of day in between like on a Monday and Thursday then I lost a little bit of weight.

    I do keep plateauing, and my weight sticks for a while so I tend to mix it up with a week or two off and then go back to the fast diet, and it seems to kick start a small weight loss again. It isn’t ideal, but at least my weight is going in the right direction!

    Good luck!

    I just want to give everyone here a positive boost. I am 50 but I think post menopausal my flushes have stopped thank goodness. I have been doing the fast diet 5:2 for 4 months and I have a long journey of weight loss ahead of me I want to lose 30+ kgs. I have found that my weight loss has certainly gone up and down over this period, but even with a short holiday and gallstone op during the last 4 months overall I have lost 8.5kgs!I am absolutely thrilled with this result as I have hardly been exercising at all only walking my old dog. I am very happy as this slow loss about 2kgs a month gives my body and skin chance to shrink as I get lighter. I can now fit into clothes I wore 6 years ago! If you think about it when putting weight on it creeps up on you so why not take it slow taking it off, I know there will be plateaus along the way but at last I have found a diet that I believe I can sustain for ever! Keep up the persistence everyone and slowly slowly results happen!

    To all the women reading this thread I send warm wishes. Embrace those hot flushes, girls.

    I’m celebrating 10kg lost today – a big landmark for me as 15kg overall is my goal. However, I’m a terrible dieter and have terrible willpower and terrible habits. The trick for me has been to concentrate not on the food itself but on consumption – by that I mean I decided to buy minimal amounts of food and run down the stores in the cupboard and stop baking. I go out for coffee with chums instead of all-you-can-eat buffets. I try and plan my life around things other than meals (that is a big change for me!). I don’t beat myself up for the slip ups, just get back on the horse the next day.

    I have an underactive thyroid and have started menopauze. 5:2 works for me though. 8-9 weeks and 7 kilo’s lighter no problem.

    My experience with osteo-arthritis increasing around menopause was that it really discouraged me from the exercise I’d previously enjoyed. Riding a bike, even a stationary one, got hard on my hips, and bushwalking even harder on my knees, so I stopped. Between ages 50 and 56 my weight went up about 10kg.

    However, I had a real revelation earlier this year when I went for a five hour hike. I was well dosed up in advance on ibuprofen, and it was an easy gradient. I was buggered in the evening, utterly exhausted, and expected to really suffer the next day – but in fact I felt wonderful. Losing weight and exercising make my arthritis much less painful and easier to live with.

    For me 5:2 works, slowly but significantly, and I’ve managed to get back to my age 50 weight. It makes sense. There are 10kg less of me to lug around. Now I’m trying to lose another 5 or 6 kg to get to a good ‘fighting weight’ for my long and fit future.

    Wow, thank you so much, ladies, for all your posts. I gobbled them all up!!!

    I am also post menopausal (53yrs) and just haven’t been able to shift my belly fat, and muffin tops, even though I am fit, and exercise regularly, and have been on a mostly 1,200 calorie intake a day, of healthy foods all year. My weight did shift earlier last year from 69kg to 62/ 63kg, when I did the HCG diet, but just hasn’t shifted since, apart form the normal oscillations. It has been very frustrating.
    I saw the ‘Eat, Fast, and Live Longer documentary on SBS last night, and the science behind it really got me in. I had heard of the diet, and looked it up on the net, but didn’t take it any further….but I now have just completed my first restricted day!! Yay!!!
    Morning of carrot, beet root, apple, celery and lime juice (100cals) then a friend came in at lunch time with a super healthy bar called ‘GO Raw’, a 100% Organic Spirrulina Energy Bar which I was very ready fro eat (230cals. Oh dear) so I just had a whole young coconut (water and flesh) for dinner (232cals) and some Miso soup for afters (28 cals) so tipped over a tad by 90 calories.

    Big Question: Can we count the exercise calorie expenditure negatively against the calorie intake? So today, for instance, I burned 413 calories on a bike ride, ate 590 calories, , so am I actually under my 500calorie spend by 323 calories? That is, can the 413 calories I burned exercising be added to my 500 calorie spend for the day….hence it could then potentially eat 913 calories ??

    I hope I haven’t confused you. :-/

    Anyway, I’m hoping to loose a further 5-6 kilos….or at least loose my belly fat! And muffin top You guys have inspired me, and spurred me on.

    From Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.

    Btw, I use an Ap called MyFitnessPal, to calorie count…so easy.

    I want to get off weight in one week without fasting

    please helps

    or somebody recommends me for where to look for


    I didn’t understand this last post. What are you asking, Dear? I am 57 and started in January and have lost 12.5 lbs. I am a chef and pride myself on the fact that even though I’m surrounded by food, I don’t eat. I taste when I cook, but that’s all it is; a spoon dipped into a sauce.

    My husband and I are quite happy with the results and surprisingly, don’t go overboard on feast days.

    It’s all about moderation and patience and I’m sure I’d love the weight to “melt off”, but it’s coming off and that’s all that matters.

    I was 190 lbs. when I started and am now 177 lbs. It works, but just in case I need extra help, I’m going back to my workouts and today, I’ve added Dexitrim Max to ensure I don’t get stupid.

    Peace out!

    Sadly you can’t offset the exercise against your fasting cals.

    I am now, thank goodness! – post menopausal. My hot flushes could have heated a city! There is no doubt life is better after it’s all over.

    After retiring in 2010, I got lazy, I ate too much and I got fat!!! 60lbs of extra BLUBBER!

    Nearly a year ago my blood pressure and cholesterol were high, I had Impaired Glucose Tolerance (sometimes called pre-diabetes) and had been diagnosed with fairly severe osteoarthritis in both hips and my lower spine.

    I had to give myself a hard kick and a good talking to an since then I lost 35lbs calorie counting then reached a 2 month plateau.

    I started 5:2 four weeks ago and have lost another 7lbs. I still have 20lbs to go but at my last annual check up my blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugars were all normal, I haven’t had to take my OA pain killers for about 3 months and I’m walking at least 5-6 km every day. I’m healthier and fitter than I have been for years!

    There is no doubt though that the older we are, the fewer calories we need. At my current weigh/height/age/activity levels my BMR is 1150 cals and my TDEE is 1620. I aim for around 1200 – 1300 calories on my normal days and 400-500 on fast days. This seems to be the optimum levels for me.

    It can definitely be done and it’s well worth persevering but the weight didn’t all go on in a month so it isn’t going to come off that quick.

    Thanks Everyone for sharing your experience – I am happy for those who could lose weight by this diet, but unfortunately so far not so much luck in my case.

    The most annoying thing about Menopause is the way it sneaks upon you.
    One day you lose lots of weight by simply reducing your normal calory-intake
    to a still tolerable level meanwhile increasing your exercise a bit, but the next day you notice that the reduced calories will make you gain massive amounts of weight even at increased levels of exercise.
    (Note, I do eat very healthily, as also confirmed by my doctor, and I went through profound medical tests and everything looks fine, so no extra reasons for this misery other than menopause itself.)

    Then I was thrilled to find out about this 5:2 regime, and I decided to follow it, as a last resort, in the hopes that it will deliver the change I have been hoping for. Since all my med results are perfect, hoping nothing else than “only” losing weight. I did so mostly because I hate the idea to exchange my entire wardrobe.

    Yet, after one month now doing 5:2 I can see no noticeable results. The only time I experience any “change” is after 18 hours strict fasting, ie during the time when I get into the cell-repair mode, and I suppose my temporary relief is due to the loss of water during this time.

    In addition to doing 5:2 I exercise at least 1/2 hour each day (average 3/4 hrs on an exercise bike) plus do the HIT three times a week, as suggested. But no avail. In fact only while I am fasting I feel a little lighter and look somewhat thinner, but my weight remains constant. As soon as I put some food into my mouth, my usual weight restores itself. After the fasting days I often feel even heavier than before.

    Frustrating doesn’t even start to describe the way I feel. I can only sympathise with those women who experience the same.

    I am arriving at a new stage when I start to think: fact is, no matter if I do the impossible or not, my body will NEVER be the same as it was when young. So why do I even try. The way we look no longer matters anyway. So what’s the big deal. In this Hollywood-worshipping Narcissistic world only the youth matters, that is the glamorous-looking ones among them, meanwhile women of our age are pretty much considered the scrap of society.

    Imho, the only reasonable thing to do is to eat and drink in a healthy way, exercise as feels right, stay relaxed, laugh at the vanities others subscribe to and enjoy whatever is left of one’s life. And yeah, to surrender and buy those bigger size clothes. That’s the way it is 🙂

    Hi goldmoon

    I am sorry you feel that 5:2 isn’t working for you. There are many menopausal and post menopausal women on these forums (including me) for whom it’s working just fine but it can be frustrating when you think you’re the one it doesn’t work for. People have varying degrees of success. You say you lose on fast days and then gain – perhaps you are taking ‘eat freely’ too literally and consuming too many calories thus cancelling out your fast days. Perhaps checking your calorie intake on normal days would help.

    An overall reduction in calories to less than your daily output will not make you gain weight – just the opposite BUT…..

    The menopause does strange things to our bodies and sometimes we just have to accept that we will be frustrated and annoyed at our lack of successful weight loss until we ‘come out the other side’.

    You are right – your body will probably never be the same as when you were young – that’s the case for all of us.

    But I have to take exception to “The way we look no longer matters anyway”. It certainly matters to me! Not for what anyone else thinks but for the way I feel about myself. For MY self-esteem and there’s nothing narcissistic about that. I’m not trying to compete with 20 year olds, in fact I’m not trying to compete with anyone. I’m doing it for ME!

    Whether certain areas – you mention Hollywood – think that “women of our age are pretty much considered the scrap of society”, well let them. I know a large number of women of my age who feel, and who are a very long way from there.

    I understand that you are depressed that you are not having the results you hoped for, I have been on that plateau and it’s soul destroying but I persevered and am 43lbs lighter than I was at this time last year.

    It makes me feel sad that you think trying to look your best is vanity and that you should just “surrender and buy those bigger size clothes”. It’s not just “the way it is” but we have to accept that the older you are the longer it can take to get the result we want.

    Hang on in there!!! x

    “the only reasonable thing to do is to eat and drink in a healthy way, exercise as feels right, stay relaxed, laugh at the vanities others subscribe to and enjoy whatever is left of one’s life. And yeah, to surrender and buy those bigger size clothes. ”

    That’s the way it is for you now.

    Fundamentally, you’re in the right direction.

    Share your success a year from now?

    Goldmoon, I am menopausal and I have lost 5kg in 4 weeks.

    Admittedly though, as I am inpatient I did not settle into a 5:2 routine, but am doing 4:3 and I am watching my calorie intake on nonfasting days. I also use an app to check my calories.

    There are so many hidden calories in foods that I was not aware off that keeping a list for me is very helpful. I make sure that on nonfasting days I stay under my TDE.

    I really hope that you continue with the 5:2 way off life as it should work. It might just take a little bit longer in your case. You say that you are eating very healthy but are you staying within your TDE? Do you check on the calories that you eat on nonfasting days?

    I wish you the very best,

    Hi I have been on the 5:2 way of life since the end of July. This was my second go at it, I lost weight the first time but allowed any reason to stop and then just carried on over eating. This time after returning from a holiday I started again. I bought the recipe book, used an app to find out exactly what I was eating and chucked out the old bathroom scales – these were bought as a wedding present over 30 years ago! My initial goal was to get to 13 stone by Christmas, I got there yesterday having lost 35 lbs very pleased with myself.

    The next stage is is in half stones with an ultimate aim of being down 2 more stone by next July.

    I am post menopausal, do little exercise except to use the stairs at work – all six floors – and have a very stressful job.

    BUT I am winning my fight with food. I saw my side view yesterday and could not believe it. I have lost over 6 inches from my waist. I am so excited about it all. My husband and children are really pleased not only in the loss of weight but the health benefits.

    Hang in there it does work.


    Bravo, Sylvestra, I totally agree and believe being consistent is the key. I, too am menopausal, but I refuse to go out like that. If caring how I look and my health makes me seem vain, then I am vain as I want to be.

    Don’t give up! Just start keeping a food journal. You’d be surprised at how hidden calories can sneak up on you.

    I am starting to fit into clothes that’s been hanging in my closet for years (some with tags still on them. I am taking better pics, people are noticing, and I feel great.

    Believe and you’ll do what you need to, to see the scale move to the left.

    Thank you All so very much for your encouraging replies.

    Reading your insights and your own experience with this method helped me a lot to re-evaluate my stance on this subject. You have raised several great points and I needed to take my time to collect my thoughts on how to respond. I feel I am a bit stuck in a contradiction: I am not ready yet to give it all up, yet I am not sure if I am motivated enough to keep going with it. The reasons for this is a little complicated and I hope it’s okay if I share them here.

    This is actually the very first diet I ever tried to follow, as until recently I could keep my normal weight without any restricted meal plan. When I watched Dr. Mosley’s BBC program I was, and still am, truly impressed with the reported results, especially with the unique health improvements this regime offers.

    Firstly I would like to answer the question if I eat ‘too much’ on non-fasting (NF) days. At this point I feel a little confused, because
    1) I don’t count calories on NF days, so I can’t tell
    2) In my understanding one of the unique benefits of the 5:2 diet is that on NF days it allows us to eat as much as we desire for. This is the main reason why I considered to get into it.
    But if I am not allowed to exceed my regular calorie limit on NF days, and am not supposed to allow myself the occasional extra treat, I don’t see the point in the plan. The F days are already challenging enough, and if I can’t compensate the pain with some pleasure by my favourite snacks, including cake, chocolate etc, on the NF days, I just don’t see why bother at all.

    Another question is how to go on with counting calories all the time. Since I eat my own home-made meals that I prepare from scratch, to know exactly the amount of calories seems not only cumbersome and time-consuming but downright impossible.
    On the F days it’s a no-issue, since I have put together my low-calory menus in advance, so on F days I don’t need to count calories to stay within the limit. But as for the NF days I just follow my usual healthy eating habits, with the occasional extra treats added.

    Yet, I don’t think I regularly exceed the allowed amount of calories on NF days.
    My point is exactly that I eat less in general – significantly less – than I used to eat in the past. Now I am over 50, post-menopausal, but even 5 years ago when I ate as little as I do at present, I used to be reduced to a skeleton, so to speak. So I am aware my system is essentially different now. As we all know, in our case the hormones play a significant role in the change, which in my experience overrules the calory-count factor. In my case the stress hormones and their effect only add to the default hormonal imbalance.

    Since eating significantly less – combined with doing regular exercise – wasn’t enough to restore my normal low weight, I hoped that if I start this program and add two fasting days to my normal days, that would make a difference. But by now I am certain, only a reversed version, a 2:5 diet would deliver some results, or better yet, if I would stop eating altogether, and live only on water and vitamins. And since this is unsustainable in the long run – hence my shattered motivation going with it.

    Regarding my off-topic rant on the associated vanities behind one’s motivation in getting into this, or any other diet-plan, I am glad you realised I didn’t mean to offend anyone. I am also affected by the peer pressure associated with the “look great” demand and deep down I was laughing at my own vanity. I was nurtured that way like many of us. I have a mother and two sister in laws in the pathological narcissistic category who never fail to crucify anyone who adds an inch to her waist and who would swear, echoing this narcissistic society’s expectations, that it is our “obligation” to look good. I have been vastly unlucky in this department. In my whole life I have been surrounded with women who are busy with these vanities 24/7. When I was young and thin I used to be the object of their envy, in fact I was fiercely hated for my looks, and now I am being criticized when I am no longer a “spectacle”. I find both ways utterly revolting. I am sick and tired of being always measured by my looks -either in a positive or negative way. I always wanted to be loved instead and appreciated for my real values, while I found mere appearance a no-value at all. Superficial cliché, empty agenda for those who have nothing else to say.

    My critical approach to the question why exactly should I keep trying to look great, especially now when it’s time to calm down and relax, may seem somewhat overkill but I don’t think it is.

    What the society communicates to us from all channels and in all ways, is that we women are obliged to look young and beautiful (whatever beauty should mean) – even when fulfilling such requirement is clearly insane or impossible. This is why a massive number of teens subject themselves to plastic surgery, in order to feel more apt in society. This is an alarming sign of a profoundly pathological society. Meanwhile astronomic funds are invested into scientific research to discover the “cure” for ageing, as if it was a disease. No, for Pete’s sake, ageing is just normal and natural.

    Another thing that triggers me beyond measure: the only “talent” that women are really respected and wanted for – beside mothering children – is our looks. Never mind my many years of studies, ambitions and diligence, my bosses were only interested in something else. The continuing sexual harassment I was subjected to both in Europe and the US, was so extreme that it has eventually made me give up my carrier and to stay at home as a house wife. In consequence all my time, energy and efforts invested to offering real value to society was flushed down.

    At the time when I studied in the US, my professors who otherwise were impressed with my academic results, kept explaining to me that the only way that I will make it in society is not by getting a job but by catching a wealthy sugar-daddy. Then I thought it was just weird way of being funny – only much later I understood they meant this as a serious advice.

    I apologise for adding my personal story to this topic – I just wanted to show my perspective on the reasons why I feel so unmotivated to follow such a demanding route, especially at my age. We women are abused and taken for granted in so many ways that we no longer notice it, so don’t even question when yet another impossible demand is imposed onto us for no justifiable reason.

    But returning to this topic, yes, it would be lovely to have my usual slim self back, to lose that extra 10-15 kg, to feel light in my skin and not hear the cracks in my knee joints when I stand up, but my inner response is a rebellion against sacrificing so much for so little benefits. I have had a very difficult life, filled with trauma and stress since my childhood, and now when I finally can have a break, take a breath, calm down and enjoy life a little, I can’t picture myself stressing over food, freaking out while standing on the scale, counting calories, reaching for a carrot when I would murder a chocolate bar, and breaking my bones via demanding workouts.

    To me any diet is drastic in the sense that it requires severe calorie restriction and that is a huge challenge for me. At any meal, stopping after eating a small portion is excruciating, in a way it is far worse than not eating at all.
    I am above 180 cm, my body yells for food as it needs energy to go through the day. During high-school and college years I was into intensive sport, during the summers often 4-6 hours training each day. My system is used to large portions of food to replenish the needed energy, so whenever it is not getting the usual amount of food it thinks something is the matter and holds on to whatever it gets.

    This is why I came to realise that my body simply does not allow me to lose weight, unless I literally starve myself to death. I can see and feel my body changing in profound ways, and I am aware I can’t reverse the time, not even by a drastic method like 5:2. Sooner or later, especially above 60, I will have to give up the agenda of slimming down anyway. I know that my body will outsmart me and I won’t be able to maintain the weight I would feel comfortable with.

    On a final note, this is of course just me, not this diet. I do believe that we all have our own stories, and in each case to be over fifty is different, albeit a challenging situation, and out motivation to get into it also vary. And my frustration is not per se related to this program. Deep inside I am aware I won’t be motivated enough or capable to keep ANY severe diet plan until the end of my life, so all my sacrifice would eventually be for nothing: I would just spoil the time that I could otherwise enjoy a little.

    I am sorry for the length of this post and for the off-topic details – I share them only in the hopes to offer some support to those who might need it.

    Thanks so much for reading – will look forward to your thoughts.


    Goldmoon, you are raising quite a few very interesting points, but I think some clarification is needed re the 5:2 way of life.

    If you do the 5:2 way of life then this means that on non-fasting days you are allowed to eat what you want but not how much you want! You have to stay within your TDE, something you have to recalculate each time you lose weight. If you were to do alternate fasting, in other words every second day then you can eat what you want and how much you like.

    It sounds worse than it is. Over time you get a feeling for how many calories are in what kind of foods and how much you can eat to stay within your TDE. You can have your treats just not over-indulge.

    To respond to some of your points: I am 48 years old and fortunately I do not have to lose a lot of weight. One of the reasons why I am doing this way of life is for health benefits and not so much for beauty reasons. I am not overtly concerned with my looks but I do care about my health. My mother who is not overweight developed age related diabetes and that is something I really would like to avoid.

    I wrote a PhD about feminist art and therefore I sympathize with some of your points. I am very sorry to hear about some of the stupid remarks you got at University and during your career. I have to say though that I was in a male-dominated world when I was working as an investment banker and I never came across people judging me for my looks. I would consider myself reasonably good-looking and fortunately throughout my life I was always encouraged to use my brain.

    Nevertheless because of the research I’ve done for many years in feminism, politics, women’s issues and feminist art I came across quite a few people who mentioned experiences such as yours. This is very sad, but I would like to not give in to it.

    At the end of the day the 5:2 way of life is, at least for me, not so much about what others think of me and my looks, but for my own health and my own benefit.

    I am not afraid of getting old or dying one day, but I am very afraid of doing this in pain!

    If you can and if you feel ready for it just give it a try and see how it goes. YOU might be the one who likes your looks and your health will most certainly benefit.

    All the very best

    Hi Goldmoon

    I totally relate to what you say about the insane and cruel demands placed on women as regards “beauty”. Unlike you I have always regarded myself as plain and never put much effort into clothes, makeup etc. Did I miss out in the work and romance stakes as a result? Maybe but on the other hand I have done many things I enjoyed and have good friends and a good partner.

    I do fasting mostly for health reasons, if a bit of weight goes then great. I have no fixed idea about what my weight should be other than that the large bellied shape I was in my late fifties was not right. I am about ten pounds lighter than when I began about three months ago. I do not know if I will lose much more, I will carry on and see.

    I fast, but I do not count calories. On my feed days I do the old-fashioned thing of cutting out sugars as much as possible and cutting down on starches – bread, rice, baked goods, pasta, potatoes – but that does not mean I never eat them. On fast days I eat nothing because I find it easier for me not to open the flood gates of eating.

    I hope you give fasting a bit longer and adapt the regime to best suit you

    Goldmoon – first of all can I say this is NOT a ‘severe diet’ – it is way of eating that is perfectly possible to follow indefinitely.

    Nowhere does it say that you cannot eat the things you like on your ‘normal’ days. what Stef and i are saying that it isn’t about WHAT you are eating on those days, it’s about the AMOUNT.

    You say you are 180cm (by my reckoning that’s about 6 feet) so your TDEE in calories is going to be much higher than mine at 152cm.
    On the right hand side of the home page here, there is a facility to calculate your personal TDEE. If you use that you may be pleasantly surprised to find just how high it is.
    You also say ‘My system is used to large portions of food to replenish the needed energy’ – and talk about the exercise you ‘used’ to do. If you are not doing that exercise then you do not need the same amount of energy nor the same amount of food.

    There is also a website call My Fitness Pal which is excellent for finding the calorific values of foodstuffs. It has a huge database of foods. I make all my meals from scratch and use this to calculate the calorific value of a dish.

    On a more personal note – and being human we love little insights into others’ lives –

    I have had to use my brains and compete in a male dominated world all my working life where my looks had no bearing on my abilities or chances of promotion. It didn’t stop me trying to look as good as I could though.

    It is sad that your perception is that women MUST look slim/beautiful etc because ‘society’ says so – why can’t you just want to look as good as you can for YOU? Also that at ‘over 50’ you give the impression that ‘it’s not worth bothering’

    I am 67 years old. I do not consider that ‘ above 60, I will have to give up the agenda of slimming down anyway’. If you consider that vanity then that is your perception but is not mine or that of most of the over 60s in my life. We are certainly NOT ready for the scrapyard yet.

    You say ‘ Deep inside I am aware I won’t be motivated enough or capable to keep ANY severe diet plan until the end of my life, so all my sacrifice would eventually be for nothing: I would just spoil the time that I could otherwise enjoy a little’.

    To be honest with you I think you have to change your mindset about why losing weight is good for you, not just for health which it is, but also for how you feel about yourself. Yes, it takes effort but anything worth doing always does take effort.

    It’s about how you want to feel and what you need NOW, not what happened in the past. Until you can change this mindset, change the negative thoughts for positive ones than perhaps you are right – no diet will work for you because you are telling yourself that YOU are not worth the effort.

    Sorry for the length of this post – much longer than I had intended but I HATE hearing negatives about people over 50/60/70!

    Hello Stef,

    Thank you too for your reply. I wholeheartedly agree that the main reason for considering following this regime is the health-reason, before all else.

    As for the rule of thumb for the NF days, I think this is what I referred to as my regular calorie limits. My main issue is NOT how to determine that limit for the NF days, even though that itself sounds challenging, but how to keep counting those calories. Unless I go with the guesstimate method, which I do, I don’t see any other way.

    My other main point has been that in our case the hormones play a large part in maintaining our weight, which persists regardless of other factors. It would be another interesting research question if this method can reduce stress hormones.

    As for my personal story, thank you for your support and adding your research findings. I think this might be relevant to this topic in the sense that for many of us losing weight is impossible due to reasons that are beyond our control. These are psychological reasons pertaining to our past, present and our prospects for the future. Most of the memory of the past traumas hit us over 50. What I could somehow work myself through the past now manifests in anxiety attacks, and every time I feel such attack my body extends a bit, so to speak.

    In such regard we can detect an ongoing victim-blaming scenario: those who were abused by their environment show a tendency to gain weight beyond control, yet there is a tendency to look down on to overweight women. Unfair.

    As for another major trauma that I luckily don’t, but many of us share is signified by the staggering divorce rates. It is objective fact that women of our age are indeed exposed to a continuing competition, and many of us even at younger age, lose in that race. Not because we want to compete or because we don’t see ourselves as good enough, but because the society around us pushes us into an endless “competition”. This pathology masked as liberal values has reached the point that it is considered sort of “natural” or “normal” for a man to discard his wife if she fails to stand the comparison with a “better” one (younger, more entertaining, more beautiful, etc)

    So in many regards, including the above, “beauty” and the associated “thin” body are seen as “must” imposed onto us by society.


    Thank you again for your compassionate replies, for all your great advice and for sharing your results. Based on your replies I decided to keep pressing on with this diet. Later on I will let you know how it goes 🙂


    My heartfelt thanks for your replies as well. Since there are so many intriguing points all of you have raised I will try to respond to each at a later time.

    For now, I would like to reply to this part:

    “I have had to use my brains and compete in a male dominated world all my working life where my looks had no bearing on my abilities or chances of promotion. It didn’t stop me trying to look as good as I could though.”

    The above is exactly what I did. But the better results I delivered at my job, the more intense abuses I was subjected to by my bosses and colleagues. It was a nightmare. When as a novice I solved a major technical issue within a day that my male colleagues failed to crack within a year, I was already doomed. Eventually I needed to give it all up and walk out of my job at the point when my stress manifested in a total physical breakdown and I ended up in a hospital.


    I am very glad to read your response as well. To be precise, I never considered myself any special, it was merely my environment that made a fuss about it. Especially my narcissistic mother.

    I absolutely agree that the so called physical “beauty” should not be a measure and demand in our lives. This demand creates issues for many, boosts the plastic surgery industry, fills up the schedule of the therapists, and creates a total social vacuum for those who do not want to or can’t jump onto the narcissistic wagon.

    If we think about it, to either dislike or admire someone’s looks makes no sense whatsoever. We aren’t in the circus, we are not to entertain, especially not by the way we look – and to measure anyone by such “value” is totally unfair towards those who are not born with so called “admirable” features. This is why I always freaked out when anyone treated me as a “spectacle” or when they kindly advised me to go into the model profession. I felt this funny cramp in my stomach.

    So you have lost nothing by not sharing this experience. 🙂 It is also a sort of abuse, the reverse side of the medal, and it is downright against the real values we humans can offer. Including in romance!

    Your work issue should have been handled in court and you should be a very prevailing person. Instead you wind up in the hospital, a nervous wreak. You may not see it, but your self-worth has taken a beating and it’s showing up here.

    TAKE CHARGE!!! You allowed those “men” to take you down, now it’s leached into your personal life and now you’re making excuses why something that has been proven to work, isn’t working for you. Menopause has nothing to do with fasting (so far). If you need a check-up, then get your blood work done. Aren’t you the one that allowed the doctor to “blame” you in your last visit? Ef that! He/she would have been royally cussed out, reported to their superior, and I would have got a new doctor. If the work situation is still bothering you, then seek a mental health professional and stop with the excuses of why an obviously working eating/health plan IS working. I found it on the CBS News and watched the documentary several times.

    The bottom line is that you’re miscalculating your meals on feast days. Period. A good number of us are menopausal, some have had traumatic personal experiences in the past and are not allowing those past transgressions to deplete us. Eff that!

    I have a friend that makes excuse after excuse about why the men in her life are crap, it’s because she dates crappy men. She wanted me to approve of a lying married one she me online, but I wouldn’t. She barely speaks to me now, and she is still quite obese. She makes excuses why she won’t work out with me, or by herself. She’s still alone, catering to her son’s every selfish whim, whom, by the way, disrespects her tremendously in public, despite her catering to him.


    I am really sorry that you interpret my perspective as negative about people over 50/60/70. My meaning is actually the opposite. I do believe that to become overweight beyond 50 is to be considered normal in our abnormal society.

    I don’t see ageing as negative at all, so I am more willing to go with whatever it takes, rather than putting all the efforts into trying to reverse the process. In my view the fret about ageing is over-rated, and I am aware that the health reasons are only part of the attempts to stop and reverse the process.

    If people were so uninterested in the “beauty” aspect of ageing, then plastic surgery would not be a leading industry. The only difference is that some of us admit the peer pressure, others don’t.

    Maybe you are above this social standard, which I wholeheartedly appreciate, but I am strongly affected by it, mostly because of my narcissistic mother. One can’t erase the effects of an entire upbringing upon a single command, and I grew up under the constant requirement to look great and be thin, otherwise my mother made ugly remarks about my too fat cheeks.

    So on a conscious level I loathe the idea that I am affected by this demand, on a subconscious level I do want to comply, which creates a tremendous stress for me and manifests in putting on more weight.

    The same is true about other kind of past traumas, which I haven’t mentioned here, only a small part of it: one can’t just erase these, at least the physical body will keep manifesting their effects. As I mentioned in another comment my lack of motivation comes from my EXPERIENCE that I am one of those who can’t control my weight, and I am certain it is because of the stress-effects. I was so shocked to see how unresponsive my system is to reduced calories and exercise that I seriously suspected a thyroid issue, but, to my surprise and relief, the respective tests came out normal.

    But as I noted earlier, I will still keep trying this diet. It seems to me now if this method can significantly lower cortisol-levels, then I do have a chance.

    Goldmoon – I’m sorry you had such bad experiences in the work environment but please don’t let those colour the rest of your life.

    As I said I had to compete in a male dominated area too and I knew I had to be TWICE the standard of my colleagues to even be considered HALF as good. I suffered a lot of, what they deemed, ‘good natured banter’ but was actually sexism and bullying. I could have used this as an excuse to give up but I didn’t, it just made me all the more determined to succeed – just because they said I couldn’t! Making myself look as good as possible was a part – but certainly not all – of that. It just gave me the self confidence to carry on.

    Maybe it’s this ‘can do’ attitude that has seen me lose 43lbs in the last 10 months. I’ve been told ‘oh you’re fine as you are’, and even ‘why bother at your age?’ – as etherial says ‘Ef that!!!’

    I’m sure you had exactly the same determination at work and it’s worth digging it out of wherever it’s gone.

    To be really cheesey and quote a well known advert ‘ Because you’re worth it!’

    Why not give us a days worth of your menus on fast and non-fast days. That way, we can all pull together and help you. No one wants you to fail.

    What’s for breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner?

    Let’s solve this together.


    You wrote:
    “Your work issue should have been handled in court and you should be a very prevailing person.”

    Me alone, a single foreigner woman against a giant American corporation? I was an alien in the US, working with a temporary visa granted as a post-degree extra year for foreign students. After I walked out of that job, I left the US behind as well, and since I was over 40 in IT, I walked out of my profession. You have no idea what you are talking about. Even if I had money for a lawyer, I had no status there, and no one would have cared to protect my case, since my word stood against theirs.

    Regardless of above detail, your pre-judgemental, victim-blaming response to my story is quite similar to my mother’s and my brother’s, and they are both diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. You may want to look into it.

    FYI: I didn’t offer my story for a debate or for the sake of receiving further abuses like your response, but as a support for those who had similar experience.

    Quote: “You have no idea what you are talking about. Are you kidding me? I’ve worked in law for over 21 years and have taken on foreign and domestic companies, single-handedly. I am very much informed about legal rights. After 21 years, I think I should know a little something about the law, but you construe my opinion as a personal attack on you and you couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve read the other comments and they were pretty blunt, yet you “thanked” them. I find YOU pretty judgmental yourself. and think you should have used this energy at that company who mistreated you and not at me. In America, if you’re mistreated, you will find someone (more times than not) to assist you. But, you will probably tell me I don’t know that, either.

    If you don’t want anyone’s help, then stop complaining. If the plan isn’t working for you, then stop the plan. I’m not your enemy. Please maintain the focus on the 5:2 plan and not bring a family dysfunction in as a topic. That is a subject for a mental health professional; not a weight-loss forum.

    Why subject your family to judgment? No one wants to see you fail, but you.

    Etherial, I would like to politely disagree, as I strongly believe that personal stories have a place on this forum and in fact they should be discussed here if the poster wants to.

    It is up to you whether you want to join in or not. Nevertheless I have to admit that you have some points. Goldmoon, I really hope that you can put your past behind somehow and move on. I fully understand that this is not easy for you but I strongly believe that in the long run it is necessary for your health that you concentrate on the future and not the past.

    As I have said before you are doing this for yourself and not for anybody else. In my humble opinion growing old is fine but growing old in pain is a disaster. My mother is 82 years old and if I look at her friends I can see two groups: one group is in reasonably good health and can enjoy their life; The other is spending their time at doctors, eating pain killers and basically suffering for a long time. This is something that I personally really want to avoid.

    If I may I would like to suggest that you do a little bit of calorie counting on your non fast days. If you have a mobile phone or iPad or tablet or computer then you can download apps that tell you how many calories you are taking in. I use LoseIt! others use myfitnesspal to track the calorie intake. My app lets me even scan food items, so all the guessing is taken out of the equation. It is amazing to see how a single cookie can contain a huge amount of calories. Over time you develop a feeling for how much calories certain food contains.

    Nevertheless as you rightly say this should not become another calorie counting exercise, but calorie counting at the beginning helps to get a grip on food.

    I wish you the very best and I really hope that you can stick around.

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