Is Eating While Fasting Necessary

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  • I am curious to know if eating during a fast day is required.  Is it better to eat something or is this a personal preference.  I have eschewed eating during the my last 2 fasting days.  I felt a little hungry, but nothing extreme.

    I’m not really sure what the answer is.

    Personally, I start my fast day after breakfast, skip lunch and dinner, go to sleep and have normal breakfast the next morning making it a 24 hr fast. I drink a lot (mainly water and 1 diet soda) during my fast but don’t eat anything.

    This works best for me and I think you get the most benefits from this kind of fast.

    Cheers, Carla

    I was wondering the same thing. I started my diet Saturday, today being my first fast day. It is now nearly lunchtime and I have’nt eaten anything yet and I’m not feeling that hungry either.

    Curious here too.

    I have not eaten for 24 hours as it seems easier for. If I eat, I seem to watch the clock much more. I do seem to be ravenous post fast days, so am contemplating eating one small meal late around tea time.

    Has anyone else felt very hungry post fast days?

    Have been wondering the very same thing.

    What are the pros and cons to eating the ~500 kcal. vs. not eating them (and eating them at specific points in time and dividing them in one, two or three portions)?

    And what are the pros and cons to spreading the fasting days out vs. doing them consecutively?

    Hope someone is able to help with these questions at some point.

    Kind regards,

    Not much action on this forum it seems, unfortunately :/

    Wondering a lot about the reason for the ~5-600 kcal a day suggested. It seems it’s just a “do this” while not actually adressing the “why” at all.

    Hopefully we’ll have some of all the questions answered in time, but as for now there’s really a lot of unanswered points it seems.

    Is it possible to maintain this diet whitout losing weight at all? Is it possible keeping a constant weight with 1:1 or ADF? If it is what, when and how much to eat in that case, and what would be the “optimal” placing of fast days in that case.

    It’s possible to combine a fasting diet with type 2 diabetes, even medicated with e.g. Metformin, but would it then be “best” to divide the ~600 kcal in two or three meals or even more, and when would it be best to eat those meals?

    What about combined with a more heavy workout, such as weight training? How can that work out, if it’s possible? And what about people with a more physical job, requiring e.g. ~8 hours of physical work a day? Would it only be possible to fast in e.g. weekends/non-work days then?

    And finally, what about people with jobs requiring a lot of mental activity, e.g. studies, learning, heavy concentration and so forth?

    I hope someone can help me out with just a few of all these questions. I know there’s a lot, but every little detail helps. So in advance, thanks for all your help! 🙂

    Kind regards,

    Why eat if you are “fasting”? I have been on this since January and have lost 14kg. My fast days are from after lunch to lunch the next day (I swim 3 or 4km 5 days a week at 7am and need something by lunchtime). I tried, for the first few weeks, eating a few hundred calories but it is just too hard. I just drink water for the whole time (and I cook my husband’s dinner, eating every meal is not necessary, just habit).
    So dvrfast, I don’t think eating is necessary, it’s really easier not tempting the taste buds and exercising on the morning after not having dinner burns off even more, I think (and feels good).

    I have found that eating nothing is much easier. I go from evening to evening and I find that I am much less hungry doing that that splitting the calories between breakfast and dinner. Also I feel as if I am properly fasting!

    The actual question isn’t as much what different people find easier though. That’ll always be personal preference and very much individual.

    The question is more what’s actually the “better” thing to do.

    Furthermore, it seems like there’s a lot of difference in how people go about the whole 5:2 diet in general. Remember that it’s not a slimming diet for everyone. Some do it only for the general health reasons and not for the weight loss. So some are actually interested in the opposite or at least being able to keep a constant weight while on an otherwise fasting diet.

    On top of all this it also seems very different if people are fasting 24 or ~36 hours per go. Or even ~60 if placing the two fasting days consecutively. Pros and cons to this would be nice to know as well.

    Kind regards,

    My husband is doing this with me for the health benefits rather than weight loss. He is just compensating (slightly) by eating more calories on the five days – time will tell whether this works at keeping his weight steady.

    I’m confused about the 600 cal too (I posted elsewhere about this but have not had a response yet). Michael also says 1/4 of your normal daily amount, however 1/4 of my normal daily amount is slightly over 700 cal! (and I was already on maintenance with another diet, so I was eating more than 2800 cal/day and not putting on weight, nor was I overweight – BMI 21.2, waist 83cm). I’ve not seen discussion of these figures (600 cal/25%), so not sure which (since in my case 1/4 does NOT equal 600) is correct and why.

    As for the hours, it says in the FAQ on here that the fast day is 36 hours from your last meal of your last non-fast day to first meal on your next non-fast day.

    Thanks, Donald, for your comment in another thread, reminding me of the Faq section (see it at the top right of every page, under the headline ‘Welcome to 5:2 Intermittent Fasting’) where Michael M. gives good, brief replies to most of the main queries people have.
    The recommended fast day allowance of ‘25% of 2400cals: 600cals’ is based on Mr Average. By the sound of it, you are above-average in height and, therefore, 25% of 2800: 700cals is the appropriate, more accurate calculation for you personally.
    As I understand it, the adoption of 25% of a normal, healthy daily intake for each fast day is seen as a sufficient enough stress on the body to provoke the desired health benefits and weight-loss but still allowing a limited quantity of food so as to be not be too daunting a regime for the majority of people to undertake.

    Wynn, hopefully, if you take a look at the Faq at the top right of the page, you’ll find responses to many of your various queries. At the current stage of research, I think ‘the better thing to do’ IS whatever best suits each individual’s temperament/ preferences, as long-term compliance is very important on any diet regime. The very flexibility of the 5:2 approach is one of its big plus points.
    I notice your Profile details describe you as an ‘EDE student’ – I’d be interested to know more from you what that means, as I haven’t found a clear answer by searching online. If you intend to try the 5:2 approach for yourself, I hope you will happily settle into a programme that best suits you and will gain many benefits as a result.

    Ive been doing this for about a month now and struggled with 500 cals on a fast day reason being as soon as I put anything into my belly my brain wakes up and seems to want more which leads to more hunger pangs.
    This week I decided to eat nothing on my fast days (plenty of fluids of course) and it’s worked a treat only a couple hunger pangs and the days have flown by.
    Also knowing that I can eat 500 cals should I want to means I don’t want to!
    Similar to feed days, when I can have what I want I don’t want it….

    Thanks a lot, Jeanius, much appreciated.

    Both pointing me in the direction of the FAQ and all your answers in general! 😀 I see your point.

    As for EDE it’s just an acronym for Electronic Design Engineer, but I’m originally a med. student 😉

    One of my remaining main concerns would be harder physical work. I have a friend working nights (9pm-5am), and I feel mostly like recommending him only fasting the 24h, e.g. from ~7pm to 7pm the next evening – on work days at least.

    The same goes a bit for friends and family of mine who wants to try the diet as well, but who are surgeons and dentists. I’m not sure I’d want a surgeon in ketosis operating on me, so something like a 24h fast from ~7am (after breakfast) to ~7am the next morning sounds more recommendable, to me at least.

    The main reason I asked about the ~600 kcal. vs. none is partly ketosis as well. It shouldn’t take much carbohydrate to throw you out of ketosis again, so if that’s the primary desire of the fast it doesn’t make that much sense not restricting carbohydrates to zero. I’m probably missing something very obvious though, but at the moment I’m mostly just filled with questions, hehe.

    Looking forward to more information on the matter though, and even more so to the future results of all the trials and studies which has no doubt been set even more in motion as of last summer, due to Micheal’s documentary and later book.

    So kudos and thanks for all the help and answers so far!

    Kind regards,

    Hi hayburner
    I’ve done total fast rather than the 500 calories from January and I think it’s much easier. Why wake up your taste buds? On fast days I cook dinner for my husband and watch him eat it with his wine – I just drink water and feel great. The good thing is you know that tomorrow you can have ‘normal’ food.

    Hello again, wynn – Big subject, ketosis, if my brief sortie into the www just now is anything to go by. One (long) article I liked the look of was ‘Your Brain On Ketones’ from Emily Deans, M.D., a psychiatrist in Massachusetts:

    Her closing words: “Ketosis for the body means fat-burning (hip hip hooray!). For the brain, it means a lower seizure risk and a better environment for neuronal recovery and repair.”
    I need to get my brain further round your interesting comments about heavy labour, night-shifts, surgeons, etc, and will get back to you if I manage it. My only thought right now is that many people do report feeling more alert and mentally bright whilst fasting – I wonder if their hands shake more though?! Best wishes.

    Thanks, Jeanius.

    Aye, it’s quite a huge subject. But at least it’s a much discussed one since all the way back to the positive effects of Atkin’s on epileptic seizures.

    I know I’m asking a lot of questions and some rather hard ones as well, but at least I am looking for the answers myself as well, if that’s any comfort at all, hehe 😉

    But yea, it’s quite interesting especially in regard to hard labour, heavy concentration labour, night shifts and so forth. In that aspect in particular there must be a “better” way of doing it, as both our brain and our muscles do seem to thrive better on carbohydrates.

    I’ll get back to you as well if I manage to find some answers myself the coming weeks.

    Cheers 🙂

    Thanks Jeanius. I’m 183cm/6’1.5″ tall, so above average, yes. 🙂 I figured 25% of my normal amount would be okay, but am still interested in any studies relating to the 25% figure. i.e. have they tried 30% for example and seen if it still works or not? I don’t recall seeing any discussion of how the figure was arrived at, and therefore how hard-and-fast it is. I don’t need the weight-loss aspect of the diet, so just wanna know how much I can get away with eating on a fast day and still get the other health benefits. 🙂 As it is, I fasted for 20 hours straight on my first day, thus more-or-less having normal meals that night, only having to slightly cut-back on normal amounts, and I figure I’ve probably already gained the health benefits with a 20-hour absolute fast (only water in that time) and can probably just have normal meals that night, so interested in if they’ve studied this approach/aspect. It makes sense to limit the amount of food eaten if you’re interrupting your fast with it, but given I had an un-interrupted 20-hour fast, I figure I’ve probably gained the benefit by then and can resume normal size meals (rather than having to cut them back in size slightly). 🙂 I chose to do it that way because the easiest meals to skip are breakfast and lunch. With a busy day you sometimes miss lunch anyway, and as has been noted, sometimes when you eat breakfast you sometimes feel hungrier later than if you hadn’t eaten at all (I’ve noticed this especially with high GI breakfasts), so it made sense to skip breakfast and lunch (and doing so meant it wasn’t all that difficult to do the fast).

    I’ve been following 5:2 since late January. I knew my starting weight but haven’t weighed myself since. I’m down a dress size and my gold chain is loose around my neck – best result is that o/h reports I’ve stopped snoring. I don’t eat at all on fast days from early evening all the next day and up to late breakfast on the day after. I drink all the cups of tea I am made (so that’s food as milk) and drink water, but I don’t go in the kitchen or think about food. Reading about the diet or watching foodie programs doesn’t help, otherwise I’m fine and can see me following this for a long time.

    How many cups of tea with milk would you say you drink, leevee?

    I was doing the 200 cal breakfast and 300 cal dinner for a few months as i thought i’d never cope without breakfast but then after reading the book i wanted to make the most of the fast at night. I went without breakfast and planned to eat a small lunch but at lunchtime i still was feeling fine so kept bust and carried on til about 6pm when i had a meal of approx 400 cals and felt full. I had gone 24hrs without food and only tea or water to drink. Was MUCH easier than i thought and as i had given my body a longer break i feel that the benefits would be greater. I am a true convert, having spent 42 years believing that you CANNOT leave the house without breakfast lol!

    I find it easier to go all day with nothing but drinks and then eat in the evening. I tend to eat a shirataki noodle & veg stirfry then so I probably only eat 2-300 cals .. and then nothing apart from a bouillon drink (12 cals) before bed. If I eat in the morning or at lunchtime it seems to make me hungrier.

    I have been on the diet for 12 wks and have experimented with different eating times on fasting days. Initially I broke up my calories by eating breakfast and dinner because the book had breakfast and dinner recipes to use. But I really didn’t feel hungry for breakfast anymore after a couple of weeks so I just ate my 500 cal at dinner. Then the 500 cal made me too full so I only ate 2-300 cal. And now I experiment with fasting all day, no calories. My partner started the diet with me at the same time and he breaks up his calories for breakfast and dinner and looses 1-2lbs per week steadily. I noticed either way I lost weight and he looses weight so it’s really just a personal preference. I can not speak for our “internal numbers” because I didn’t go to a doctor to have all of that tested so I am not sure if there are different benefits for cholesterol, triglycerides and such with different fasting methods.
    I have weight trained and ran on non-fasting days. I find that exercise quells hunger and gives me energy. So my preference is to exercise on fast days so I don’t notice I’m not eating. Also, there is research about intermittent fasting for athletes that notes the benefits of exercising while fasting because it burns the fat and not muscle. The idea is that your body will not burn the muscle that is in use so it moves on to the fat.
    Cognitively speaking, on fast days I am more alert and my brain doesn’t feel sluggish. I feel less bogged down by everything when I am fasting.
    So all in all I am an advocate of this diet. Don’t be afraid to exercise or not eat or feel like you won’t be at your optimal level at work if you have a project due or something if you are on your fast day.
    My partner and I have been blogging about our experiences with the diet on if you want to share your stories that would be great!

    Hi. I am new to this diet / fast regime. I intend to do it for health benefits rather than weight loss, although losing a few kilos would also be a bonus. Does any else use shakes such as Herbalife? two shakes, breakfast and evening, are 434 calories combined. I find it easier to do this than eat. other than shakes I limit myself to water, green and peppermint tea, and coffee for breakfast(just cant give up!)

    I see everybody says do what works for you, as long as you stay under the calories, and that 36 hours seems to be better than a 24 hour fast window.

    just wondered if there were any opinions on shakes versus chewing?

    No, it isn’t necessarty

    Just as an anecdote, I managed to (slightly) surpass the 500 calorie limit on my fast day yesterday even without eating, intaking only liquids!
    It’s not easy to believe but it’s true. And there was me thinking I wouldn’t need to count the calories if not eating…

    I had one slimmer’s drink mix (that I’d got as a freebie), mainly for protein – 145 cals, but it was mainly the Tropicana Ruby Breakfast juice – 83 cals/200 ml, and I had almost the whole carton of one litre during the day… Who’d have thought fruit juice can be so calorie-dense! (I rarely drink those, so didn’t know.) Add to that a few cups of coffee with milk, and hey presto, just around 500 cals or slightly over…

    I think I’m better off sticking to eating & counting on fast days 😉

    Rosetta – Not just an anecdote but a warning to the rest of us! I used to think that tea/coffee with milk was a good thing, but its surprising how much calories are in the milk, even the semi-skimmed stuff.

    I’m just starting my second day on a 4-day fast with 25 calories daily (green pepper and celery microwaved in 2 cups of water with bouillon powder, garlic and chilli flakes). But wondering why the 25 calories was specified in the book; why not do without that and just fast …… Am enjoying good filter coffee or tea (no milk in either)and so far feeling OK, although a little hungry. If I’m going to eat the 25 cals today will have to go and shop for green peppers and celery – will I be able to resist all the other tempting stuff?

    I’ll brew another coffee while I consider the dangers.

    Decision made. Due to discovering that the calorie-counting site I was using is in disagreement with another one, so I have probably over-eaten yesterday and not achieved my goal 🙁 have now decided to finish the 4-day fast with NO FOOD, just black coffees and teas. 3 days to go – oh dear ……

    And when that is over and I start on the (life-long) 5:2 regime, will be seriously considering going without any food for the fast days (well, for 24 hours, anyway – don’t think I could do 36 hours as a permanent twice-a-week thing).

    Goldcrest – calories are just too hard. Just drink lots of water and keep exercising (see my posts of 6 & 7 July)

    Goldcrest – yeah, I’m glad if my experience helps others 🙂 Though it wasn’t really the coffee with milk that was the culprit (it only has about 16 cals per cup), but the Tropicana fruit juice…

    As to what Vicki wrote, I’m not really sure how anyone can exercise on a fast day, especially if not eating at all – on a fast day I just feel so weak that I can’t do any other exercise than a little bit of walking (and even that’s hard)…!

    I have walked 17 miles at 4 mph on a fast day morning with just a coffee for breakfast, and several times cycled over 30 miles at 16/17 mph on just a drink. When I get home, though, I make sure I get some sugar & protein (usually chocolate milk) to start replacing muscle glycogen before any lean tissue gets used. Exercising on fasting days is fine, but I would not choose to race on a fast day. I do not stick to 600 calories on hard exercise days, I do not see the need and I am now at minimum weight so do not want to lose any more…
    This logic might not suit everyone!

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