No calorie fast days vs. 500 (or so) calories?

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No calorie fast days vs. 500 (or so) calories?

This topic contains 19 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by  Gabeshelena 3 years, 9 months ago.

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  • So I’m interested – have any of you tried both zero (or close) calories on your fast days and your 500 (or so) calories on your fast days? If so, what do you think were your pros and cons?

    I’m finding that for me, zero calories (water, coffee, sugar-free gum, etc.) is actually easier mentally because there’s no choices, no thought, etc. I think I personally would have more obsessive food thoughts if I was trying to budget 500 calories. I am finding that I get a lot done on my fasting days and I am kind of looking forward to them.

    I’m a relative newbie though and I never say never. If this type of fasting doesn’t work for me, then I’m fine with doing the 500 or so calories, but for now, I’m pretty happy.

    On the con side though, I’m a widowed mom with two boys, 11 and 14. I’m trying not to make a big deal of fasting, so not eating the dinner or lunch I’m making them is a little weird. But then again, they’re at that age where they don’t much notice anything except whether there’s food on the table – for them. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi Chris – I’m only starting my first Fast day tomorrow but had wondered if I might be better with nothing at all. I really can’t be bothered with calorie counting so I’m probably going to have a small breakfast and a small supper – but I won’t be doing any maths. I’ll try to keep them low GI, but I’m not going to be too strict.

    It’s very interesting to hear that zero calories is working for you, I think I will give that a try at some point to see how I get on. We’re all different so I guess it’s all about finding out what works for us personally.

    I have done both….zero cal fasts and 500 cal fasts. On 500 cal days, I don’t get too hung up on cal counting…I simply make a vegetable soup (pumpkin, celery, broccoli and miso) and have a cup in the evening. It never amounts to more then 200 cals at best. I don’t eat lunch or breakfast on fast days and stick to tea and water.

    I’ve been doing 5:2 for 6 months and I know it gets easier. Also, hunger passes so it’s no biggie. I find this WOL great and have really dropped some serious weight. In fact, a few friends flew up for a visit and they didn’t recognise me at first. I also feel better…mentally as well and physically.

    So, if you find zero cals easier…stick to it. But if you have a day where you need a lift, try a simple soup (easy to freeze in portions). Most of all, don’t get too caught up in the complexities. One of the nice things about this WOL is that it is simple.


    Hi Chris
    I have been on various Intermittent fast plans and to me it makes sense to have a zero calorie day. It may be a pleasant surprise how easy it is. Think about this…What wakes you up in the morning after not eating for 10 hours? Chances are it isn’t hunger. 10 hours later you feel a “rumbly in the tumbly” (Pooh)This is more habit than hunger. We have programmed that we should start the day with a big breakfast (probably from General Foods).Truth is from about 4-5 hours after your last meal(including snacks), your blood sugar and insulin level have been low and steady, You are in fasting mode. When you eat to break the fast, you insulin level spikes and lets you know It is time to begin the eating for the day. If you never take that first calorie, your body is still in the steady state without the trigger to eat more.
    When feel “Hungry” ask yourself “is this hunger or habit” with the understanding that true hunger will not show up for several day.
    Fasting is easy, simple, the only decision you need to make is when {or if You break the fast. I like simple.
    Be strong and simple.
    “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein

    What Boogieman said. If eating 0 calories on a fast day is easier stick to it.

    I was on several Facebook 5:2 groups (have since left Facebook due to my concern with privacy issues/hacking), and there were quite a number of people who felt more comfortable just not eating on their fast days. I personally couldn’t do it, but it does make sense to me. These folks repeatedly said that once they started eating anything, they couldn’t stop, and just drinking fluids (particularly hot coffee/tea) really worked for them.

    That’s the great thing about 5:2. We can all find our own way!


    I’ve started IF last year in November. Have tried 5:2 and 4:3 with 500 kcal. Now I have been doing alternate day fasting with zero kcal for 40 days. It is working very well for me. I am always looking forward to my (about) 36 hours off time after a feed day. On feast days I am eating anything I feel like. No counting at all.

    I had reached my goal weight in August yet am still doing it for the great benefit of energy and wellbeing.

    And I agree, followtheroad, the great thing about intermittent fasting is that you can find your own way to “travel” along happily.


    Exactly Mahalo

    Mahalo well said!

    Especially this “And I agree, followtheroad, the great thing about intermittent fasting is that you can find your own way to โ€œtravelโ€ along happily.”


    What I like best is that our body and mind can change over time. In the beginning I thought I could never go with 0 calories. But then doing the 5:2 for almost a year I got used to the “ebb and flow” of hunger in the course of a day. A way of feeling alive and aware so to speak.

    And then I was suddenly able to do a 36 hours period of non-eating and even enjoying it.

    What I still love most is the great joy of having breakfast. A joy I have not exprienced before fasting. I was thankful for my food, yes, but more theoretically. NOW I feel it with every fibre of my body. That I really love and appreciate.

    I am on day two of zero or near zero calorie diet. I have tried 500 calories before. I am finding no calories at all easier. Hope it will workout. Does anyone take fibre supplements during fast days?

    Ok. I am 3 weeks into this life change. I forgot to weigh myself when I started so only weighed myself at week 2 and have not gotten around to the measurement side of the business. My clothes tell me that I have lost some weight around my waist.

    For the first 2 weeks I had a 500 calorie intake on fast days, however for the last two fast days I decided not to bother with calories at all and drink only black tea and water. I prefer it.

    The book suggests that the longer the period between food- the better the metabolic outcomes are. With high bad cholesterol and borderline diabetes, this appealed to me. I eat dinner the night before a fast(Sunday)and don’t eat til breakfast Tues(i.e 2 nights sleep on each fast).I do this twice per week.

    I am however confused. The book suggests 500 calories for women i.e a 1/4 of a 2000 calorie allowance. I used the tool and discovered that my TDEE is much less than 2000cal (just under 1700cal). Does this then mean that on a non fast day I should only consume just under the 1700cal and if I were to eat on a fast day then it would also be 1/4 of the 1700cal?

    I have done 5:2, 4:3, Every Other Day. And I have done 5-600 cals and 0 cals (on 3 occasions). I have been doing this for a few years and have reached a healthy BMI twice. In fact my BMI is 24.5 now but I want to get to BMI 22 or slightly less, so I have a little room for the occasional splurge. I think it’s unrealistic to think you will never fall of the wagon, so make that part of your plan. After a day of sin, try 0 cals.
    I try to be strict about my diet but if this gets too hard, then I change from O cals to 600 and from 3 days to 2. It’s more important to stick to the diet than which version of it you’re doing.

    Hi Dreamit (and everyone else)

    Yes you should use your tdee. The 500 cals in the book was a general guide but the latest advice for 5/2 is to eat up to your tdee on non fast days and up to a quarter of that on fast days. For some small, light and sedentary women that can be very little. My tdee is around 1700 too. I started on 500 but soon, after encouragement through some threads went to very low calorie fasts ie a dash of milk in a couple of cups of tea. I am no more hungry on those days than when I was doing 500 cals and I have been doing this since last September so I guess my body is used to it now,

    I have varied a bit as well and did 3 fast days last week. But it didn’t really help me lose any extra. Cause and effect hard to judge but I think I will stick to two days. Found the three pretty tough.

    All the best.

    I find 0 calorie fast days result in a headache for me

    If you were to do zero calorie days can you still have bone broth?

    I don’t do 0 calorie days as such very often, but I do just liquid, a few cups of tea or coffee, but definitely find it easier than thinking about what I was going to eat later! I did alternate day fasting (ADF) for quite a few months to get the weiight shifted as well. Now trying to maintain, I mix things up to keep my body guessing!

    Hedgehogs: I like to mix it up, too, to confuse my body. The last thing I want to have happen is to have my body adapt to fewer calories and cause my metabolism to slow down!

    I’ve been on ADF(And some weeks 4:3) with zero calories on fasting days for 6 weeks. Before this I was on 4:3 with under 500 calories on fasting days for over 8 months.

    I find the water fasting very similar to 500 calories fasting. Some days are great, some days I feel pecking, some days I feel hungry and unsettled. On average, water fasting is not more difficult than 500 calories.

    I’m doing this for both weight loss and health reasons and the idea of water fasting is very appealing to me.

    I have no scale so I don’t know the weight I lost, but my clothes fit better and I lost around 15 cm around my waist.

    Hi, I have found this site when I was trying to find more details on 2 week fasts, where you have zero calories for 2 weeks, but after reading on the pros and cons of full fasting I decided I need to eat something at least every other day but was thinking only 500 calories on the eating days. So I would have day 1 zero calories then day 2 500 calories and then repeat for 2 weeks. Iโ€™m on day 3 now and feel fine but does anyone have any advice or has anyone here done this before?

    I can see here some of you do 5:2 with 0 cal on fasting days some eat little calories. I have been doing IF 16:8 for over 2 years and since few months I added 2 days with 0 calories and 5 Mediterranean healthy diet in 16:8 system. For me it is much more easier and managable and I believe more I fast more I stop the cancer to return.
    But my question is: is it ok 0 calories version or suggested 500 cal is better and somehow more beneficial? Or it doesn’t matter at all.
    I know what I prefer but I would rather adopt what is best for my health.
    Thanks for any advise.

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