from Eleanor D

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  • from Eleanor D

    The biggest, biggest tip of all:
    It’s a diet that is the same no matter what your size or age.

    I can tell my husband that he has to be good on a Thursday but can eat chocolate on a Friday. The fact that no food is banned on five days a week makes it a way of life not a diet. He has not lost much weight since we started in September, but his waist has dropped three inches – something all men would be pleased with. He has noticed his irritable bowel problems (family history of diverticulitis) have cleared up almost completely after fasting. Probably to do with the fact that the intestines have time to actually finish dealing with everything and settle properly. The complete opposite of the “little and often” brigade. I have lost a stone and am now lighter than I was at graduation and yet currently have a glass of wine in front of me.

    Top tips

    • Reject snacking :  it started with ‘selling product in hard times’ rather than ‘people need this’
    • Hunger will pass : unless you are an athlete carrying no body fat, hunger translates into calling on reserves – ie the muffin top – be as active as you can manage when hungry and burn that visceral fat
    • Skipping meals creates starvation mode : such utter bollocks, starvation mode only kicks in after a week!

    Being 47 with a BMI of 20.8 while regularly drinking wine is NOT to be sniffed at 🙂

    I’m glad it’s working for you and your husband! I agree – the one thing I’ve really learned is that “Hunger will pass” and not to panic when it sets in.
    Thanks for the tips!

    Hi Eleanor,

    Just finished my first week on the Fast Diet – done 2 fast days. Having a HUGE appetite, it was really scared of this at first – but hey I’m still alive.

    My biggest issue , I think, at the very beginning is going to resist trying to eat the whole fridge after my fast day – but guess what folks – I struggle to eat a large meal??? Utterley confused – but glad.

    So I’m gonna stick with it as it seems to be one of the simplest forms of ‘diet’ to do – wish me luck!!


    I noticed this after another diet I tried a few years ago. Does you stomach “shrink” if you eat less? I’d been trying to lose weight for a few weeks and eat less, then went out for a big pasta meal one night and could only manage half a plateful before feeling very full and bloated. My partner has recently had an oesophagectomy and has virtually no stomach left, however he was told after the op that after a few months his stomach would stretch and now he can eat more than he did at the beginning. So if it can stretch, maybe it can shrink as well if you put less food in?

    I hadn’t fully decided to follow the plan, but i as I had to work over my lunch the other day I decided to see how I would feel just to keep going without reaching for my sandwiches (I had porridge and fruit for breakfast and nutrigrain bar at 11.30). Despite having plenty of drinks,by 3.30pm I started to feel dizzy and weird and couldn’t last any longer. I’m not worried about feeling hungry, but does this mean my blood sugar is low and I need to eat some snacks if I want to follow the plan? I can’t find any references to this in your book or this website. Please help.

    Is there any evidence as to any effect on women’s menstrual cycles or fertility? Thank you.

    To Pamela R – it may be that the fruit and Nutrigrain bar you’d eaten earlier were too high in sugar. Your blood sugar levels would spike initially, but once that sugar had been used by the body your blood sugar would plummet, leaving you feeling strange as you’ve described (and probably very hungry).

    On fast days, it’s best to stick to low GI foods that won’t cause this spike in blood sugar. Protein (eggs, a little meat) is good, as are vegetables, and some fruits – like berries – are fine too. Porridge is actually great, but be careful what fruit you put with it. The Fast Diet suggests blueberries which are yum. Good luck if you try it again!

    Pamela, I agree that having the fruit and bar in the morning probably made your sugar spike – the inevitable crash later would make it harder to last all day then with no food.

    Going against all dieting ‘rules’ but… maybe try just having a cup of tea/coffee in the morning, no breakfast and eating your calories at lunch and dinner. I’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks but have tried for a 150-200 cal lunch (if 150cal, then I can have an apple mid afternoon. (50cal). Then I have 300cal for the evening (again split between a meal and then a small snack if possible).

    I’ve found a variety size box of cornflakes with 100ml semi milk for lunch fills me up enough to last till early evening and that’s only about 130 calories! Also if you must have something sweet tasting then the little pots of sugar free jelly are only around 35cal and diet coke is nil calories (but I only allow myself one each fast day).

    The second week has been easier but just hope I have the willpower to stick to this till the weight loss starts!!!

    I have been doing the 5:2 with my sister and brother in law since the programme went out in early August 2012. I am 56 years old have gone down 3 dresses now, from size 24 to 18. I feel so much better. My legs no longer rub together, my toxic belly is shrinking, I have more energy and best of all the constant hearburn I had before I started this life change has gone completely!
    My brother in law has now lost two stone and looks and feels really well. My sister has lost about a stone and feels well.
    I usually fast on a Tuesday and Thursday from lunch time to lunch time. This has meant that I haven’t had to tell anyone in work that I am on a ‘diet’ . I prefer to quietly get on with it. Of course, people
    are starting to notice that I have lost weight. I am now telling any one who asks about the 5:2 way of life because I want them to enjoy the benefits of it.
    I prefer to eat nothing during the my two days fast. I find that it is so much easier not to think about food at all during the 24 hours. If I really want something , I tell myself, fine I will have it tomorrow. I have always forgotten about it by the time the fast has ended.
    I am currenly reading the Fast Diet book. The information on ‘fasting and the brain’ and ‘fasting and the heart’ reminds me of why I am making this life change. Its not just for the weight loss (which is great) but also for the protection it will give me.

    Thanks for the advice. I followed the plan for 2 days this week: porridge & an egg for breakfast, miso soup and carrot sticks for lunch, then 1 oatcake mid-afternoon. This seemed better as I had no dizzy spells. I have lost 2 pounds, so I will keep going!

    Hi Moisey

    Well done on your weight loss.
    I like you, fast lunch to lunch and have found this works really well for me. I have read though that this is not as effective as you are not fasting for as long. I do not have any calories within this time and feel fine. I am reluctant to fast from after dinner and then not eat again for another 36 ish hours. If you follow the book that is the suggested method, would you recommend I carry on the way I am?

    Hi Sarah, I think lunch time to lunch time is fine . Sometimes I don’t make the full 24 hours, I may have to go on an earlier lunch break in work. I don’t worry about it though. Check out page 76 where Michael Mosley talks about one of the key researchers in the field. He says she ‘often starts her day with a late breakfast at around 11am and finishes with supper at 7pm. That way she is fasting for 16 hours a day, twice a week’. I think the beauty of the fast diet is that you can experiment and see what works for you.

    to gmum:
    a woman friend didn’t get on with 5:2 and sent me this link so it seems the evidence for its effectiveness in women is less clear than for men.

    I’ve been doing the 5:2 and sometimes a 4:3 diet after days of indulgence since the Horizon episode aired in August. I’ve lost around four and a half stone and am a couple of days and 2lbs away from my target weight. I tend to consume all of my calories at breakfast on a fast day and with one or two exceptions have found fasting and weight loss to be quite easy and exhilarating. Understanding what calories are in various foods has helped me to be sensible on none fast days too. Although I haven’t cut anything out of my diet I have found my eating habits have completely changed. I’m eating much less bread, cheese and orange juice and eating much more lean meat, raw vegetables, eggs and MERINGUES!
    Thanks Dr Mike for inspiring me to do something about my weight and hopefully my long term health, by providing a solution that is simple, easy to understand and easy to follow.
    I intend to keep up the diet – is there any advice for fasters who have reached an ideal weight and want to maintain that weight but still fast for health benefits?

    Anyone read the link posted by jsrees on 23 Jan? Reading Dr Mosley’s book and numerous articles online I’ve been struck by how male-centric all the research and findings are. The above article confirms this and points out the paucity of research (on men and women, but particulary on women) and that IF (5:2 etc) may not be recommended for women, indeed could be harmful for younger women in particular. I know that when we’re on a high of losing weight (and by the high brought on when not eating) we don’t want anything to damper our enthusiasm but I think it’s important women realise that IF may not be for them.

    Actually, Dr Michelle Harvie is a research dietitian from the Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Centre University Hospital South Manchester Trust. Her study was based on a 5:2 protocol, of 5 days normal eating and 2 days calorie restricted. All subjects were female and she tried half on the 5:2 and half on a mediterranean diet. Those on the 5:2 fared better and a higher percentage stuck with the regime. Dr Varady who’s work was featured on Eat, Fast and live longer was predominantly trialling adf with female subjects too.

    They were overweight subjects. You will find women young and old can fast and it won’t affect their menstrual cycle if they are overweight. If you are underweight and fast you could stop menstruating as top female athletes often do as a consequence of having their body fat percentage falls below a certain level.

    If you are someone wih very low body fat you should take thi into consideration, if you are looking to conceive. Female athletes can have interruptions to their cycle it is not permanent or dangerous in the long-term but it can happen.

    For the rest of the women using IF, ADF, 5:2 or whatever regime works for you as sustainable and health enhancing – there is absolutely zero reason to think this doesn’t have benefits for women.

    Go for it!

    It is very pertinent to remember with regards to the link posted that it was the findings of someone who had adoped a paleo diet aka a caveman diet. Your two days fasting or Calorie-restricting don’t exist in isolation what you do on the other 5 days will impact how you feel and your results.

    Fasting or CR might not be for everyone, but there is no reason to rule out an entire gender. It could be a very good option for some women as Dr Harvie and Varady have found.

    I am really keen to start the diet but am confused as to when you start the 24 hours.i have been starting after my tea finish at 5.30 – then fast until 5.30 the next day – does this count or do i have to do night fast day night – so confused – cant pin it down

    Hi me too. The book says go from supper to supper or 2pm until 2pm but what classes as the start and endow the fast?

    I have just started this way of eating and wondered whether there are any other vegans following it too.If so would like to swop ideas for “fasting” supper time meals.

    @susan & @24 hours – the 24 hour window method you’re describing is Mimi’s suggested version in the book which is an ‘easier’ version for folks who struggle with Dr Mosley’ original method. You’ll still lose weight on it, but probably not as quickly as with Dr M’s way.

    Those of us who have been following this way of life since the Horizon documentary aired have been doing it the same way as Dr M, which is quite simple. Go to bed at the end of your feed day, wake up on a fast day, consume no more than 500cals (600 for men) – including drinks and go to bed at the end of the day… wake up and eat as usual. You can spread your calories however you like on a fasting day although grazing isn’t recommended as the longer you go without food it seems the more effective the fasting is. Some people like to have 3 small meals, some have just 2 and more and more of us are finding it easier to go a full 24 hours without food (from the evening of our meal the night before) until dinnertime on our fasting day, when we consume the 500 cals as a single meal and eat nothing more until the next day.

    This actually equates to 500 cals over a period of around 36 hours in total.

    The problem with going from (for example) 2pm-2pm is that if you consume 500 cals in that time, having had a breakfast & lunch on the first day, then a lunch & dinner on the second day (though ideally just a dinner) your calorie deficit won’t actually be that great. Better probably to go without any cals at all during that 24 hours if you’re going to eat normally before and after.

    However the great thing about 5:2 is its flexibility and how you can fit it in around your life and in a way that works for you. If you find you’re getting the benefits you want (be they health and/or weight loss) through the 24 hour method then that’s brilliant and you should stick with it 🙂 There isn’t really a right and wrong, just different ways.

    Thanks shiningmoogie. With 2 small children one of whom is still breast feeding at night (and a little in the day) i’m finding 36 hours too long. I’m going to adjust the plan to see if i can find a way that works for me.

    Sounds wise given your circumstances 🙂

    what do people think about David Lau,…. an obesity researcher, professor and chair of the diabetes and endocrine research group at the University of Calgary. When glycogen stores in the liver are depleted, the body doesn’t burn fat: It breaks down protein. Lau said starvation will only burn fat as fuel after about a week of starvation.

    “Muscle protein breakdown occurs in the first 24 hours of starvation,” he said. “Muscle protein breakdown [is] not healthy.”

    His concern is that many people are fasting without realizing they may be losing crucial muscle mass. The danger is that as protein in the body breaks down, it could lead to other unwanted side effects, such as altered immunity. In order to fight infections, the body needs to produce antibodies, a type of protein. But when the body is breaking down protein for fuel, it may not send the right signal to make antibodies, Lau said…. Any views?


    great tips.keep them coming x

    Has anyone got an exit strategy yet? I am doing well and losing weght, finding it quite easy. However,what is the maintenance plan to keep healthy and not put weight on? If I continue on fasting 2 days a week I will lose too much – is it probably best to go to one day a week or eat more on the fast days?

    At 51, and having shrunk from a size 14 to a size 10 on the 5:2 diet since last August (by eating only a porridge and banana for breakfast on fast days, and just water to drink) I now don’t want to lose any more weight (I’ll have nothing left to fill out the wrinkles!!!). Since xmas I have started eating a very small portion of (healthy) dinner – minus the pasta/rice/potatoes. Just a spoonful of meat and veg really, on the fast day evenings. So far it seems to be working, but if I find myself shrinking further I’ll increase the size of my fast day evening meal until I find the right balance.

    Hi everyone , first day of fasting today, on nightshirt tonight so don’t know if this is the best day to start, however if I am going to continue long term I need to cope with shifts. Great comments,

    I’m on my third week.Can any help. I’ve had a headache since i started, even on my “feast” days. I so want this to work. HELP.

    Hello everyone! Just finished reading the book and feeling very inspired! Whilst I don’t feel I am over weight I am short and curvy so it is something I have to watch. It is very, very easy for me to go up a dress size without even realising it. One thing that did come up for me though whilst reading the book was this: how do people that do shift work make the Fast Diet work? I work in the hospitality industry and often don’t finish work til 1am so my ‘breakfast’ the following day is more like lunch. Should I be putting all my calories into an evening meal in this case? Any help would be appreciated!

    I’m in my 4th week and suddenly today I felt very giddy and unsteady on my feet. Yesterday was my fast day but I didnt each much today. I have been drinking but maybe not enough. When I got home and told my wife she said she had met her friend today who told her that she had stopped her husband from doing the diet because it made him dizzy.

    Does anyone else have this?

    Hi, Just a quick the fast day only a 24hr period? My wife and I started our first fast day from Sun 1900 (after our evening meal), today I have had no breakfast, a couple of carrots and cucumber for Lunch and an evening meal of stir fry with fat free yoghurt and raspberries for afters…under my 600 cals.. not so bad. My question is when does the 24hr period finish? Is it from the initial 1900 on Sunday – if so – I have already done the 24hrs by 1900 tonight (Mon)???? This seems very easy? OR Should I continue until 1900 tomorrow (i.e. Tuesday)??? Sorry for such a basic question? Also, how do you start your own threads on this forum – looking silly again but hey if you don’t ask…thanks in advance.

    Hi – Have just finished my 1st fast day and thought I would ask if anyone knows if bananas are acceptable. I read an article recently that said if you are trying to get rid of belly fat steer well clear of bananas. Shame as I usually have half of one with some cranberries in my muesli. Has anyone else heard about this? I’m keeping them off the menu until I find out. Day 2 tomorrow. I am doing consecutive days as that works better for me.

    Hi, i have just started on this 5:2 plan. I had dinner sunday at around 5pm and then nothing else until 6pm monday evening (my 500 calories). Is this correct? I think it is, but want to make sure. Today I couldnt eat any breakfast, ate a healthy lunch, but ate cake this evening (which i usually would have done!)and feel really sick and bloated now. I shouldnt have eaten it, but I’m hoping this horrible feeling will put me off next time!

    Hi, I have just started on the 5:2 plan. Can I do 2 days in a row or is it better to do 2 non consecutive days?

    There seems to be lots of confusion (some of which could be addressed if people read the book!!). Don’t get too hung up about ’24/32/36 hours’ timelines. There are 2 main options:
    1. Wake up, eat 500 (600 for a man) calories in the day; go to bed, get up the next morning and eat a normal 2000 calories over the day.
    I.e. you have 2500 calories from waking on Day 1 to going to bed on Day 2.

    2. Do a 2pm to 2pm (or 1pm to 1pm or however you choose) – for women, get up on Day 1 and eat no more than 1000 calories for breakfast and lunch up to 2pm; then have 500 calories over the next 24 hours (say 250 for dinner and 250 for breakfast). For lunch at 2pm on Day 2 until the end of the day, you can have 1000 calories.
    I.e. you have 2500 calories from waking on Day 1 to going to bed on Day 2.

    I am wondering if this will work for me? I have always been dieting and really not over weight. Although I’m about 8 pounds more from a year ago!! I’m 52 years old but I have really always fasted. I have very poor muscle tone I’m sure it is from from eating habits. I’m tired of doing things this way.I’m 5feet 5inches and about 130 pounds. I do have to say though I feel very well, but the hormonal changes are here. Have I distroyed my body from trying to lose the extra 5 pounds or will this still work for me?
    Thank you so much.

    Can you do 4:3? New to this but excited to see results

    I’ve been following the 5:2 for seven weeks now after trying and failing at every diet known to man. I have to date lost 17.5lbs and over 4 inches off my waist. I’m a 43 year old mum of 3 and a nail Tech so spend most of my time sat on my backside. To me this is a way of life. Mon and Wed are my fast days, I enjoy wine and pleNty of it at the weekend Nd good grub. I wish I’d heard Bout this diet months ago. It’s not a diet really just a way of life. Thank you Michael and Mimi

    wellyb – you and many others are an inspiration to me. I am a 39 year old mum of 2, suffering from chronic rheumathoid arthritis. I have been overweight now for 8 years (since pregnant with Child 1) and I am ready to lose those kilos. I am on my second week and find the fast days to be a breeze, as long as I keep off facebook (my friends are foodies who like to post photos of their meals! Arghh!) and avoid the malls. I have so far lost 1 kg and am inspired to go on, to regain my figure and mobility and most importantly, my HEALTH!

    Two observations:
    1. Road trips are rough on fast days. I was feeling drained and tired.
    2. Driving past a lot of restaurants was rough on my resolve!

    A lot of people, including Dr M, seem to ramp up the coffee and tea on their fast days, yet nobody is really discussing the effects of caffeine. I wonder if that is where the headaches many seem to get are coming from?

    I work shifts from time to time including nights and I can tell you that the fast diet is challenging for shift work-I don’t have access to cooking facilities so reliant on M&S or waitrose calorie controlled ready meals but they’re not bad and only 2 days a week. So, 11 weeks in now and 9kgs down plus 3 inches off waistline plus cholesterol down. About muscle and energy concerns-I have an Omron set of scales and I can tell after 11 weeks that my fat content is down and muscle mass is up-this may account for a few stages of weight plateau but overall trend is downward. Also, prior to starting this diet I was suffering from liver stress (too much drinking) so stopped drinking. Far from not having energy reserves-the opposite true-far more active-digging in very cold weather and overall fitness levels up. In fact I recommend the fast diet if you want to reduce drinking alcohol-My liver enzymes have dropped too. I think the diet is speeding recovery despite my GP saying that fasts are hard on the liver.

    I have been doing the diet for about three weeks now, lost about four pounds. Getting by the hunger does get easier. I drink water or get doing something to distract me. I have never felt weak or dizzy so I seem to be able to get by the hunger. I am still playing around with eating one big meal or breakfast and dinner. I do think the easiest is from lunchtime to lunchtime. When I eat dinner and then have to fast for 24 hours that seems to feel longer. What I find the hardest is not having my coffee with soy or light cream on my fast days. That is my wonderful morning ritual..a nice cup of coffee.

    Well, this is my first day and I have been reading and looking at the forum and getting such a lot of useful advice – thank you. This week I shall fast from 1900 on Monday through to 1900 on Tuesday and do the same again on Friday.

    I have been doing this for about a week, and I do three fast days and four normal days. If you have a smart phone, there is a wonderful app that tracks all the food you eat. It is called Calorie Count. Every time you eat something, you enter it. It will calculate the calories, and you can even scan the barcode of the food package to get instant calorie count. So at any given time, you will know exactly how many calories you have consumed. You can also enter the calories burned whilst exercising or running, and it will then even the calories that you’ve eaten, out. This is the website if you don’t have a smart phone :

    I’ve been following the diet religiously for 5 weeks now and the scales have registered at first a 5lb loss then I seem to have put on 2 lbs in the last couple of weeks. What on earth am I doing wrong? I’m not going crazy and stuffing my face on the non-fasting days. Anyone else experiencing this? My husband has been doing the diet for the same amount of time and has lost 7 lbs

    Fasting sounded like a great idea to me and I began by fasting completely for the first day, not having read anything about it. I was able to eat nothing for 36 hours before I realized the program was alternating days and eating 500 calories on the fast days. For me it was easy to just not eat. If I had eaten anything I would just want more and more. Anything wrong with not eating on fast days? My sense of smell increased tremendously, but not hungry. Drank lots of water and had black coffee in am. Felt in control of life. Couldn’t I just do it this way at least for a while?

    My first day and I’m very motivated. I had colon cancer 5 years ago and even though it was “small and early” and all my tests since have been good, I worry about a recurrence. I was very drawn to the health benefits that have been seen by people on the program and the prospect of losing 5 pounds is icing on the cake, so to speak! I’ve set my program up so that I ate dinner last night early enough to be done by 6pm. A 250 calorie breakfast today at 10am, a 250-dinner tonight at 7pm and breakfast tomorrow at 7am. That means that I have a 16 hr. complete fast, then 9 hrs. without food and another period of 12 hrs. From what I understand it’s important to have a 16 stretch with no food on a fasting day. Seems quite manageable.

    Today is the beginning of my second week of 5:2 eating and my third day of fasting. For the past 3 days I’ve eaten normally, and decided to weigh today (even though I originally planned to wait for a couple weeks). I was completely surprised to find that I’m 2.2 lbs. less than a week ago – at the beginning of my first fasting day. Actually, I should have realized I had lost because I FEEL lighter and looser, as someone aptly described the feeling they get from fasting. Yea!!

    i have loosely been following the fast diet for 5 weeks approx, but i have fasted in a block of 48hrs, eating my breakfast around 10am instead of 7am, then my evening meal at the usual time. the 3rd week we had a new kitchen installed and obviously i couldnt really fast. in that time i have lost over 7lb. i find it easier to fast in block rather than alternate days as im more focused. my clothes are looser and my mind set has completely changed. after having some mackerel & scrambled eggs for breakfast, and knowing i was going for a family meal i knew immediately i only wanted a salad, instead of picking the usual nachos’ to share with hubby as a starter and no dessert or alcohol which isnt like me!!! my stomach has definitely shrunk as i get fuller alot quicker. one thing i do need is inspiration for meals which doesnt consist of buying extras with my usual food shop. any ideas??????

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