More on what to do if you’re not losing weight – five things to consider

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More on what to do if you’re not losing weight – five things to consider

This topic contains 184 replies, has 92 voices, and was last updated by  annette52 8 years, 6 months ago.

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  • More on what to do if you’re not losing weight – five things to consider

    While many people have found that they easily adapt to the 5:2 Fast Diet, others find it more challenging. If you persist it will work. If you are sticking to your normal diet on the other 5 days, then what you are doing is reducing your total calorie intake for the week by around 3000 calories. This translates to the loss of around 1lb of fat a week.

    1. If you want to lose weight faster, or have hit a plateau, then you might want to consider doing Alternate Day Fasting, which I have written about in the book. As the name implies, with ADF you cut your calories to ¼ of their normal level (ie 500 for women, 600 for men), every other day. On your non-fast days you should eat normally, though in some of the trials that have been done on ADF the volunteers were actually allowed to eat pretty much what they wanted and still lose weight. Studies on people doing ADF have shown that, on average, they tend to lose around 2lbs a week, most of it fat. Some more, some less. You don’t want to obsess about weight. What you really want to do is lose fat, preferably around the gut. I always encourage people, before they start, to measure their girth (around the belly button), and monitor the change over a period of time.
    2. Look at the calories you are getting from drinks on your non fast days. Juices, lattes, alcohol, fizzy drinks, smoothies all contain a lot of calories. If you can move to drinking more water and sugar free tea/coffee that will help. Calories you drink do not satiate. If you eat three apples they will fill you up. Drink 3 apples in form of a small fruit juice and it will not fill you up.
    3. Simply moving more will help. I always take the stairs, even up 7 flights. Get a pedometer. Aim to do 10,000 steps a day. Most people do less than 5000. A long term study on people who lost weight and kept it off found that those who were successful all increased the amounts they walked.
    4. Keep a diary of everything you eat or drink for a week.  Then look at the calorie content. Some foods may leap out. I was horrified to discover a muffin can be anywhere between 300-600 calories. Lots of evidence that people who keep an honest diary lose more weight
    5. If you cut your calories 2 days a week, don’t overcompensate on the other days and keep reasonably active then you will lose fat. Unfortunately fat is incredibly energy dense, which is why for some people the process can be frustratingly slow.

    I wish you all the best and let us know how you get on.

    I am having trouble losing. I have only about 10 lbs to lose, and have been doing the fast for about 3 weeks. Is it because I don’t have a lot to lose, that it moves more slowly?

    Great advice on getting past a plateau. I found 1 and 2 helped me a lot when I hit a sticking point. I found I’d slipped into drinking a few too many pints on feed days, a lot of empty calories there!

    I totally agree with Jeanius, this website urgently needs a forum!! There have been some excellent discussions here containing lots of useful information to 5:2 fasters, unfortunately those discussions seem to slip off the website when they are displaced with new discussions.

    It would be a shame if people were drawn to another site to carry on their discussions as Michael and Mimi have such a wealth of knowledge to offer, and a great skill in presenting the facts.

    Just came here today 4-21-13. I agree with you guys, it needs work here, hope it gets attention.. I enjoy reading about how we’re all doing ! and if there’s new information about the 5:2 way of life..

    I am struggling to find anything about improved lipid results as there seems to be no thread for this; I need to know if this is working for others.
    I too find it all hard to follow, please update the site with substantial news from Michael & Mimi about their progress or otherwise but in the meantime I shall persevere as it is definitely working. My problem lies in the fact that my GP hasn’t called me back for a retest or offered any advice so I need all the outside help I can get.

    I have tried Therapeutic Hunger. It is about eating just enough food so there is still space in stomach, breath well, and keep good posture that doesn’t compress body organs. I have written blogs on wordpress on this and also published book on Amazon and Kind
    E to explain the concepts and helpful suggestions. I am running free workshops to help people practice Therapeutic Hunger. I think it is a better habit of sensible eating, breathing and good posture. Holistic approach for health and wellbeing. Best Wishes !

    Been on the diet for one week now and am on my 3rd fast day. I have already lost 2lb so far which is amazing because I’ve tried so many diets over the past few years, which work while you’re on them but as soon as you stop the weight just piles back on. Looking forward to adopting this as a total lifestyle change!

    PS when you go into the ‘meal plans’ on the drop down menus there aren’t any, just chat comments rather than meal ideas….

    Hi. I have been doing to 2.5 diet since January, but I don’t seem to have lost any weight at all. My weight just seems to go up and down by the same unshiftable few pounds over and over again. I currently weigh 12st 8lbs and I am 5’7″. I don’t feel I eat excessively on non fast days, so where am I going wrong? It is very depressing – I seem to have recommended the diet to lots of people who immediately lose weight and start celebrating. Any suggestions please?

    Ive done one day, which i found quire easy on Tuesday, and just weighed out fruit for tomorrows fast day!

    Looking forward to it!

    Did you just have fruit for your last fast, Ken? If so, just wondering what sort of fruit you’re having, I would think the sugar in it would just make you more hungry, but I guess it depends on the type. You could certainly have a lot of berries for your calorie budget! 🙂

    Hi, Ive been on the fasting diet for over 8 weeks now – my first week was brilliant, I lost about 4lbs. But since then I havnt lost any! Im at a loss as to why this is. My husband, however, has lost 22lb. If you have any advice, I would welcome it. Thank you

    Hi shiningmoogie, Ive about two stone to lose. Im 5’3 and weigh 12 stone. My clothes are hanging off me since starting the diet but ive not shifted much weight. Im assuming I overeat on my non fast days. I dont drink fizzy drinks or eat sweets, just “eat normally” Ive read your comments to sarahbuz and am going to track my food on non fast days 🙁 I was hoping to achieve the kind of weight loss that my husband is enjoying – not fair!!

    If your clothes are hanging off you it sounds to me as though it’s working 🙂 At the end of the day, isn’t what we’re aiming for a better body shape & composition? If you’re losing inches (try measuring, it can be really encouraging!) but not pounds you may be converting fat to muscle (do you move around/exercise much?) which weighs more but makes you more trim! Are you also drinking more water on your fasts than on normal days? If you drink more in general, your body will retain less fluids. If you drink more on a fast but then go back to less water intake on your feed days your body may hold on to the extra water. It may be worth investing in some scales which are able to measure body fat and water %, this can give you a bit of an idea as to whether you’re gaining muscle mass, losing fat or retaining water 🙂

    Another thing to bear in mind is female hormones – things like time of the month can affect our loss as can menopause. Then there’s the possibility of underlying medical conditions which can have an effect such as diabetes, thyroid problems and others.

    Certainly the first thing to do though is to keep an eye on your TDEE & calorie intake for a week or two to see if you are indeed overeating. If not, try adjusting your fasts (eg, just one meal on your fast days to maximise on fasting time) or consult your doctor if you think there may be another reason for the lack of loss.

    Hope that helps!

    Apologies to all, been up to ears in filming, this website does need attention. Forum coming soon and I will be posting regularily

    Hi Sarahbuz, sorry to hear the weight is proving hard to shift. I suggest, as i have written above, trying ADF. I also think it is worth, for a week, keeping a food diary which includes everything you eat and drink that week. Be ruthlessly honest. Then use a calorie counter to get some idea of where the calories are coming from. I was shocked to discover how many calories there are in, say, a muffin (anywhere between 300 and 500)

    Good to hear there’s going to be an official forum, it’s a shame your good self & Mimi never participated in the community I set up, it’s grown considerably over the months and is well maintained & looked after.

    If you need any tips or hints, just shout 😉

    Thanks, will do

    Dr M, I do think you should really combine with Mariska, it would be a ‘marriage’ made in heaven!

    Real shame Dr M that you’ve not joined forces with the 5:2 fast diet forum. They’ve been up and running for some months now and membership has grown to 6000 in about 3 months. An incredible amount of knowledge, support and friendship there already and willing to welcome you. Real shame not to participate and join forces.

    I am really looking forward to an official Fastdiet forum. When will it be up and running?

    Thank you for your support and comments. Im going to carry on with this diet, as I cant think of a good reason to stop. Thank you.

    There are 2 things I suggest when not losing enough weight that have worked for me:
    1. cutting out alcohol (or, not more than a couple of drinks a week). It’s not just about the calories, it’s about breaking a habit (a habit which does add a lot of empty calories)and not losing resolve which slips away a bit for me after a drink!
    2. weighing every thing for a few weeks and keeping a log. You can clock up far more calories than you think. My daughter was shocked when she realised just how many calories she was consuming in her muesli or granola.

    good point enaj, i’ve also cut back on alcohol. I realised i had a drink most evenings, not because it gave me great pleasure but because of habit. I still drink, but only when i think i am actually going to enjoy it. Lots of calories in alcohol, and temptation to eat nuts at same time. The “safe” levels of alcohol are surprisingly low, around 1/2 a unit (that is 1/4 glass of wine) a night. After that risks of cancer rise, while cardiac benefits drop off.

    Just talking to website designer about forum, also recruiting some doctors and dieticians to help out. If there is anyone out there who wants to take part, do let me know. I’ve been tied up with other projects but now a bit more time. Been speaking to loads of researchers about on going research

    Michael, the potential redesign all sounds like good news. Many thanks.
    I really would recommend that you study Kate Harrison’s website for its clean looks, clarity and wealth of technical features.
    Good to hear news of you again. All best wishes.

    Dr. Mosley, thank you for posting information about the new website. It is very exciting! I have found lots of wonderful information on this website that helps me on 5:2, and I’m here (in America) waiting for the new cookbook in July.

    What really impressed me about this website is that I feel confident knowing I can go here for professional information/feedback. That’s how I felt when I was a Weight Watchers member. There were many forums to join, but ultimately I participated most in the official one.

    I love this way of eating. I lost 7.5 lbs. PAINLESSLY my first month, but gained it back when I stopped doing it. This way of eating definitely works…but only if you follow it..ha ha! Now I’m back for good.

    Please continue to keep us posted on updates with the new forum/website. If you need any forum moderators give a shout-out. I’d love to be part of the new community.

    I was just looking through The Alternate Day Diet book and was thinking that perhaps you’d like to invite Dr. Johnson (the author) to be part of your community.
    Your plans are so similar and complimentary. Oh, and might I add, if nobody already has, that your generosity in acknowledging other authors in this field is very refreshing. Banish competition, be it websites, forums or books. We’re all in this together in this new, emerging field! So exciting!

    Thankyou for sharing your diet with the world.
    I have been participating for just over three weeks and have lost 2kg. My clothes are starting to get a little roomier. Its a great feeling.Looking forward to the recipe book out in May, I already have my name down in our local bookstore. I live in NZ

    Hi Michael and Mimi, I’ve just started the 5:2 lifestyle after buying the book. As I train 3 times a wk at the gym im wanting to shift that last 10 pounds round my middle that is difficult to shift. After speaking to a friend who is a fitness instructor he worried me by saying that i will loose muscle mass before i start to burn any fat ergo undoing alot of the hard work i have just done over past months.
    Is this strictly true or a false perception of 5:2 diet ?

    Good to hear from you all and yes, @coffeeheaven, i’ve read the Alternate Day Diet book. May well follow up your suggestion and contact Dr Johnson. @tim4564, there is no truth that you will lose muscle mass before you lose fat. It would make no sense, from an evolutionary perspective. What the studies show is that with conventional diets you lose 75% fat, 25% muscle. With intermittent fasting the loss is almost all fat

    Hi been on 5.2 for 6wks now , lost almost a stone but not lost for a couple of weeks, myfitnesspal gives my daily calorie count as 1200 does this mean my fast day calories should be 300

    When fasting, is it gross calories or net calories?
    I walk every day approximately 8 kms, should I consider the calories burned during the walk on a fast day?

    @joychaston: I believe the official line on this is that you should stick to 500 cals regardless, although most of us actually go with 25% of our daily ‘maintenance’ needs. Is the 1200 given by MFP for loss or maintenance? Don’t go with their figures provided for weight loss as your weekly calorie deficit comes from your 2 fasting days. So, eat to your ‘maintenance’ calorie amount and cut back to quarter of that on your fasting days.

    @imhungry: You don’t get extra calories on a fast day regardless of what you burn 🙂 So, stick to your 500/600 calories whether you do exercise or not.

    When I lost my first 7.5 lbs (before I lost my mind and went off the plan), I just kept it simple, eating 500 calories two days a week, and just eating normally (no counting calories) the other 5 days. If I had to count calories every day, there is no way I could follow this plan, as I hate counting them. It worked for me then, and that’s what I’m doing now. As time goes on, I may throw in an extra fasting day if my weight loss slows down, but the beauty of this plan is that you just eat normally on your feed days. I actually found my appetite decreased as time went on. Also, I think the simpler you keep it, the more sustainable this plan is.

    When doing the 5:2, what you are actually doing over a week is for a man reducing your overall average daily calories to about 1900. This is the level that cronies work to and I assume was Dr M’s calculation figure after he met Joe. This assumes that you are doing about 2500 on non fast days. You cannot get around the laws of thermodynamics. Does the body, however, become more efficient as you do more fasting? That would also make sense evolutionary speaking. Plateaus are common with lots of diets. Even people who did low carb found this out, including me. You will always find that diets work faster (sorry for the pun) at the beginning because your body gets more efficient with famine over time. It is also why a lot of people give up. What would be a good discovery is something that makes your body a lot less efficient at processing calories then you could eat what you like whenever!!

    @coffeeheaven – very wise to keep it simple sticking to your 500 calories. That is the joy of this approach, that you don’t have to continually count calories – and it sounds like it has worked for you so far. As you say there is always the option of adding in another fast day if needed. Seems like you are finding effective ways to make it sustainable

    Michael, if we accept that the body can “adapt” to long term fasting by reducing its needs (better energy management) will we need to keep increasing the number of fasting days? I think we are battling against millions of years of severe famines that we as humans have conquered – that’s why we are still here and breeding ever more. The sad part is that this increase in efficiency when we stop dieting means we pile on the fat very quickly, an empirical result we who diet have all noticed. Having said that I agree fasting will have good effects on the essential hormones IGF1, insulin, SIRT1 etc. and hey even maintaining a stable if slightly higher weight than normal is better than letting go all together…

    @mike Hall: Absolutely. And many, if not most fasters find that the healthy eating generalises naturally to their non fasting days, which has to be a good thing!

    Michael, you are so right about healthy eating generalising to non fast days. What I would have not thought twice about, e.g. my favourite vanilla slice cream cake, becomes an occasional treat to savour! I joined Slimming World some years ago and whilst I lost the desired weight, such treats were a no-no and it was harder to sustain the ‘lifestyle’ and the weight crept back on, whereas cutting calories twice a week is no problem. I do not count calories on ‘normal’ days but am definitely eating more healthily. I have ‘gone off’ bread and potatoes and eat many more veg than previously when I believed I ate quite healthily.My husband has been inspired to lose weight, too. He doesn’t follow the fast diet but does his own thing, however that is better than nothing at all. So good health being achieved all round. The weight is dropping slowly but surely but my body shape is so different, 3″ off my waist plus my thighs no longer rub together! It feels like it is working from the inside out. I am so much happier and more confident, too. Nothing bad to say at all. I am eating out tonight and really looking forward to it because I know I can easily compensate if I over-indulge. Good luck, everyone. It is worth sticking to.

    I thought the point of this diet was that you could eat what you want on the non-fast days – and it specifically says this in the advertising for this diet. Now they tell us we do actually have to watch what we eat on the non-fast days – so how is this diet better than any other reduced calorie diet? I’ve tried it and found that I can quite easily overcompensate on the non-fast days. Maybe this diet is simply not for everyone.

    I am so grateful for this methodological 5:2, which differs very much from all the previous information .. During the first month my weight dropped to 2 kg. Forum is a very welcome too. Dieting is a very difficult and stressful, but I believe that by continuing to press forward in this to succeed.

    Macbeth – That’s a common misunderstanding. You can eat whatever you like, but this doesn’t mean ‘however much you like’. It means no foods are forbidden. It doesn’t mean this is a ticket to binge 5 days a week.

    The diet is certainly very different than most reduced calorie diets because it’s a major reduction on 2 days of the week, while eating as you normally would (assuming you weren’t gaining weight constantly – which would suggest you were overeating, ie eating more than ‘normal’ for your needs) the rest of the week. Because there isn’t a sense of restriction every day, it’s a lot easier to stick to than other more traditional methods.

    I don’t think any diet is for ‘everyone’, we’re all unique and have different needs. However, this ‘diet’ (I prefer to call it a way of eating ;)) is possibly more sustainable for the majority of people who love food and don’t want to cut their favourite things out of their lives completely 🙂

    I definitely found I was using my non-fast days as absolute feast days, and overcompensating. I have decided, just for a week, to count calories on non fast days, just to give me a head start. I am really enjoying the programme, and feel really good after a fast day. I even find I have the energy to do a strenuous Zumba class on a fast day! Never would have thought!
    Despite not having lost a great deal of weight, I will carry on and I will get there.

    Michael, as I remember from your Documentary, the main thrust of this diet was to modify blood chemistry and the weight loss was a bonus side effect.
    What has been the effect of your switching to the 6:1 on IGF1, cholesterol, insulin, etc. Are you getting the same benefit you did from the 5:2?

    I have been fasting now for 3 weeks and i actually really enjoy it, my only problem is i am not loosing any weigt or inches. Can i really eat what i like on non fast days or is it possible to over eat?

    Innerskinny – its quite common to go through a ‘feasting’ phase of overeating, but the novelty soon wears off as you realise you don’t need to – you can enjoy your favourite foods most of the time, so there’s no need to binge 🙂

    evilone – you can eat whatever you like but this is not the same as ‘however much you like’! No foods are forbidden, but it is certainly possible to overeat, and in doing so you would most likely negate the weight loss effect. You eat a normal amount of calories on a feed day. If you weren’t gaining or losing weight before you stated fasting then the chances are you were eating a normal amount and this is what you should continue to do on your feed days. Unfortunately some of us have lost touch with what a normal intake is, those of us who’ve been piling it on or serial dieting. In these cases it may be necessary to monitor your feed day intake for a while until you’ve a better idea of what a normal intake is – and perhaps Google for a TDEE calculator to work out your body’s daily energy needs.

    In my experience if just eat a normal amount of food every day, then I’ll lose weight without the need to fast 2 days a week, and honestly find this easier than doing the 5:2 method. Having read the book and seen the programme, it seems that alternate day fasting was the only scientifically tested method, and I can certainly believe that it’s near impossible to compensate on the non-fast days as your stomach ‘feels’ smaller. I think for most people struggling on the 5:2 method, it is the day after the day after the fast that they really load up on the calories – especially when they know that they’ll have to deny themselves the next day.

    I am delighted with this lifestyle change. Since January, i have lost approx 20lbs and feel fantastic. I have also noticed that I eat less naturally and enjoy my food so much more. I look forward to my fasting days and hope to reach my target weight very soon! I have noticed a change in my body shape but wish I could reduce my spare tyre, it’s deflated a bit but not that much! This suits me so well as I love food and love to cook but this means I don’t feel guilty about eating the “naughty” foods now and then! Thank you!

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