Severe Concentration and Mood Problems

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Severe Concentration and Mood Problems

This topic contains 6 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Gecko 2 years, 12 months ago.

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  • Hi,
    I’m having serious concentration problems whilst on the 5:2, and this is a big problem as I’m an academic and this impacts negatively on my work – I’ve had to stop the 5:2 for 12 days to prepare for a conference, and the weight has just got back to what it was 12 days ago.
    I would like to continue with this diet, but if this continues to have such a negative impact on my work and mood, I’ll have to stop it for good.

    Anyone else with similar problems? If so, what do you do to fight it?
    Has anyone tried to do the 2 fast days consecutively on weekends?


    Hi BookishCat, I’m sorry I can’t help you myself (my mood & concentration has probably only ever improved on 5:2) but I do know of one blogger who started right after the documentary aired in 2012 and always fasted consecutively on weekends. Here’s the link:

    There are lots of posts about the diet and the science behind it on there and there are lots of other individuals’ comments in those entries, which might also be useful to you.

    Best of luck 😉

    I actually thought that consecutive day fasting was the method until recently. So i’ve been doing it. I find it easy but yes fasting does make you mentally slower and yes i think fasting should be done on non-work days.

    It happens because your brain is not getting fed enough. Low carb diet books explain this pretty well.

    You probably need the rest anyway.

    Fasting shouldn’t really affect your mood i think and if you are getting mood issues, its probably a bit of stress about the fasting perhaps.

    A lot of weight lost on a fast day is water so what you regained was mainly water anyway. Don’t worry about it. Put it down to a learning experience. But on non-fast days, i find i eat a little below my TDEE anyway. That said, the last two days have rather gone a bit over the top. Yesterday by design and today by accident.

    Counting calories is quite time consuming so there are other ways. Learn about hunger and satiety ratings from Dr Amanda Sainsbury-Salis’s book The Don’t Go Hungry Diet. Her second book goes into it at great length but the first book introduces it, gives you the basics and focuses mainly on another important weightloss concept – set point. Its actually the most important diet book i’ve ever read. And whatever else you may have heard about set-point this is much better.It was her subject in research.

    Anyway i do count calories but use the rating as well. Also i can just manage weightloss simply by food logging (which i did for most of the year) but i rather like calorie counting so now i’m doing it.

    But i think for weightloss, its better to reduce your calories a bit below TDEE on non-fast days. Not much, just a bit say 50 or 100.

    Also when you fast on the weekend, try to go without breakfast, beyond a coffee milk say. Then have a big lunch when you are hungry. Choose lots of vegetables cooked in a delicious way. I like them steamed, then sautéed in olive oil and garlic. Its simple but yummy and filling and sustaining. It takes about 300 calories.

    In the evening a vegie soup is good. Or if your want protein, make your other 200 calories from protein.

    Last week was my third week of fasting and i experienced lack of concentration and i was a little ratty.I had a mild headache as well.I cant drink black tea or coffee so these are restricted to a cup with my breakfast calories and 12 hour later with my dinner calories.It occurred to me later that i was experiencing caffeine withdrawal. You might be in the same position depending on whether you have decreased your consumption during your fast days. I’m trying a small dose of caffeine in the form of a tablet this week.If your symptoms are severe please speak to your pharmacist or doctor first.

    Hi BookishCat! Just wondering if your mood and concentration problems have stabilised, or whether you’d decided to go for the weekend fasts.

    I am in a similar position — not an academic, but a graduate student, and working in research at the university. I know the problems with academics — it’s totally brain work, so you have to be sharp, and it’s often self-directed, so you have to stay motivated to get things done!

    I’m only on week four or so and am still finding the fast days pretty tough — feel like I’m swimming through glue sometimes — and try to get through work days with heaps of herbal tea and my head down. I’ve been finding I have heaps and heaps of energy the day after a fast though — maybe you could try planning out your week to take advantage of your highs and lows?

    It’s hard to find ways to ‘treat yourself’ at work on fast days, in the way you need to to keep going. If you come up with any good tricks, let me know!

    Hi. Did anyone find a solution to this problem? I’ve not been doing this long, but had switch to weekend fasting as the improved mental clarity experienced by others just doesn’t happen for me. I’m just useless today. Even small tasks seem overwhelming.

    I’m not experiencing mood problems – except possibly some guilt for not getting anything done – but just a fogginess I can’t seem to shake.


    Hello Gecko, I’ve been practicing 5:2 since July 2016. I have to be very careful in planning my fasting days for the reasons you specify above. Like you, I am often dogged with brain fog, feel fatigued or tired on fasting days. I don’t have mood problems either, just issues with initiating anything and remaining focused. Many feel more focused and energized. In contrast, I feel as if my ‘get up and go’ already got up and went.

    Because of this, I plan my fasting days on days that I have no commitments or responsibilities and regard them as ‘retreat’ days. I take time out and am gentle with myself as best I can be.

    I’ll note here that I’m aware of why I respond to fasting days in this way and it is because I have related thyroid and adrenal weakness. I take thyroid replacement for Hashimotos Thyroiditis, which is an auto-immune condition. I also have a related issue with chronically low cortisol, which is an adrenal hormone. The body is prompted to produce more cortisol hormone in response to fasting and since my adrenals are weak, they are not able to produce optimal amounts. When others can easily exercise and work on fasting days because they have a plentiful supply of cortisol, my body struggles a bit to produce that hormone. Prior to 5:2 I took bio-identical replacement cortisol, so I’m aware of the symptoms of low cortisol and how they arise as my fasting day progresses.

    I’m aware that many health experts caution against anyone with adrenal weakness to even consider fasting. So, what I did was to start out with only 1 fasting day a week to see if I could even handle this. I did okay, so progressed to 2 fasting days a week. I reached goal weight and have continued with the 2 fasting days though am looking to dropping back down to 1 a week in the near future. I’m finding that the heat and humidity of the summer weather where I live is also a stress and my fasting days have been somewhat more tiring than when I was fasting in more moderate temperatures (I’m talking temperatures in the mid to high 80’s in our house since we have no air/con and humidity at 80% since we live in a subtropical climate).

    So, sounds like you are doing the best you can by fasting on the weekends. However, personally, I’d find back to back fasting two days in a row, too overwhelming for my adrenals, so given that you are able to complete both fasting days in a row, you’re doing better than I!

    I’m wondering if the timing of calories on your fast day might help.
    I save most of my calories for dinner as this works for me.

    If you need to be functioning well through the day at work then perhaps have all of your 500/600 calories at breakfast and lunch so that your body has an easy source of energy when at work. Dinner would either have to be skipped, or perhaps leave enough calories for a cup of miso broth or a few raw veggie snacks.

    Another thing to consider is what you eat on a fast day. The recommendation that I’ve seen discussed most often in this forum, is for mainly fats & proteins, but carbohydrates are actually easier for the body to use as a quick source of energy for body and brain function. So some experimentation with what you eat may be useful. I personally find that a little protein and some complex carbohydrates are the best choices for me (I avoid most fats and simple carbohydrates on fast days), but I know many others follow a very different macro-nutrient balance.

    Not sure if these are viable solutions, but if the weekend fasts don’t work out for you it might be worth trying.

    Thanks both for your comments 🙂 I had a thyroid test a year or so ago, Lael, as I was getting very fatigued, but the Dr said the results were fine so it was put down to just being overstressed generally. But it is still a problem.

    I also eat mainly in the evening. I find that if I eat early I can’t stop! It sets my appetite up to expect food, I think! Whereas if I don’t eat until teatime, its much more manageable. I try to combine some kind of vegetarian protein (tofu or quorn for example) and vegs. Generally in the form of a stir-fry or something. But maybe I’ll try to switch it about and see if that makes a difference … Nothing to lose by giving it a go 🙂

    Have a great day G x

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