Ten "benefits and side effects" to my mind and body

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Ten "benefits and side effects" to my mind and body

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

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  • So…

    I started 5:2 two and a half months ago with the intention to treat it as a ten week experiment. Tomorrow is my last fast day of the “experiment” and although I’m planning to do another two weeks of the regime before moving to something more like “maintenance fasting”, I felt that this was a good time to reflect on the amazing changes to my mind and body. I’ve got ten major changes to share, seven of which are benefits and a few points that reflect not quite as great results of doing 5:2.

    In reading through this post, you might wonder how I approached the last couple of months and the regime. So FYI I experimented with consecutive and non-consecutive days, managed one week of 4:3 when I was having no problem with the hunger but otherwise have stuck with 5:2, and have begun swimming regularly – at least 3 times a week. I’m swimming because it’s something I enjoy and consider it an activity I’m likely to sustain – I didn’t take up any other fitness activities as I’m not going to start something I know I’ll stop again in a few months.

    I should also say that I know not everyone’s experience with 5:2 is the same. Mine has gone very well and so some of this might seem like bragging but they really are just happy reflections on my own experience that I have noticed and think are worth sharing.

    Anyway, here are the benefits I’ve observed:

    1. Weight loss.

    That’s a pretty obvious one and oft discussed so I might as well start here! I was 90kg at the beginning of January, which means for my height of 191 cm I had a BMI of 24.9. I’ve never been overweight in my life but with a history of diabetes and heart disease in the family, the prospect of being technically overweight scared the crap out of me. All that talk of “visceral fat” around the organs was a particular motivator to get lean.

    Anyway, I’m now at 82.6kg, having lost 8.5 kg in the nine weeks I’ve fasted. If you’re doing the maths and see it doesn’t add up properly, that’s because I interrupted the 5:2 regime when travelling overseas for a week and gained a little back thanks to a breakfast and lunch buffet at an expensive hotel that I wasn’t paying for. My target weight was 82kg and I’m hoping that in just a few days – if not already – I’ll hit that mark. After my extra couple of weeks I’m hoping to get just under 80kg, which would mean my BMI is right in the middle of the healthy range.

    To be honest, just being close to 82kg is astounding to me, as I don’t think I’ve been anywhere near that mark for at least 10 years. I’m 34, by the way.

    I’ve been measuring my waist, which went from 93 cm to somewhere between 86 and 87cm now. Hopefully I can nudge 84 by the time I finish up.

    2. I’m drinking less.

    I used to drink almost every day. Not a lot, but even one or two beers or a glass of win in an evening meant I’d rarely give myself a day off. Now that I’m fasting, usually Monday and Wednesday, it forces me into a habit where Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, I generally don’t drink at all for more than half the week and am much more moderate about drinking at home.

    3. A greater appreciation for food.

    I’m enjoying my food much more when I eat, and am cooking much more of my own food than I was before. While I know not all takeaway food is unhealthy – even the healthier stuff is being bought often without knowing how its prepared and exactly what goes into it. I feel as well that the ritual of convenience lends us – or at least me – to get lazy about food. So I still grab a nice Thai or Indian curry once or twice a week, but usually I’m enjoying making and eating the food I prepare.

    4. Saving money.

    Oh, saving so much money! Basically, you combine points 2 and 3 and you get this point. Knock out a six pack of beer and a bottle of wine each week, and a few takeaway meals and I’m saving at least $50 per week (I’m in Australia), even when accounting for the money spent on food I prepare. I actually suspect in reading a lot of the criticism of 5:2 that its coming from people and groups who want us to buy their healthier choice meals. I’m not knocking that but can see why those encouraging weight loss and healthy living through their products and services will be annoyed to see 5:2 becoming so successful at no cost (sorry Michael and Mimi, I didn’t buy the book. I’m sure it’s great).

    5. More energy and alertness.

    I presume that this is somewhat to do with spending less energy on digesting food and having more available, as some of the literature indicates. I also feel that, as I’m eating less on fast days and having smaller meals overall due to a presumably smaller stomach, I’m feeling less bloated and bogged down after meals.

    I’m finding myself able to focus, concentrate and be more functional throughout the whole day. There was a time in the first few weeks where I’d find it harder to wind down of an evening as I had so much energy. This does have a potentual negative implication, which I discuss in point 10.

    It could almost be a separate point but I can really feel my body cleansing itself each week, removing more toxins from my system and I genuinely feel cleaner. Point 8 talks a bit about the downside of this, but on the whole it’s a huge positive!

    6. Being more body-aware and in control

    The notion that I can decide whether I’d like to put on or take off a pound or kilo in a given week, and then go and make that happen based on the foods I put into my body shouldn’t have been so startling. It is, after all, a numbers game when it comes to fasting and calorie counting. But it was, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many people feel their weight slowly creeping up over time and believe it’s only going to keep going the same way, of just don’t have enough faith that a diet or regime will work.

    The fact that this regime shows results within one or two weeks must be a huge key to its success. We might not hit our goals quickly for our weight and body shape but know that in a week’s time, if we do the 5:2, we’ll see ourselves another step towards it. This is so empowering, and even though I’ve never done a diet or regime like this before, can imagine how disempowering it could feel if I was relying on someone else’s products or services. With 5:2, I just decide to lose weight and then I do.

    The awareness goes more into daily life as well. I’m not one to calorie count outside of my fast days but having obsessively looked at how many calories were in certain foods in those first couple of unprepared fast days, I’m much more aware of how many calories is in a certain meal. It probably means I’m subconsciously calorie counting and being that little more aware of what I’m putting into my body.

    7. Bloods.

    This is one I hope turns out to be true. I regret that I didn’t get a blood test done before I started doing 5:2 but plan to at the end of the 12 weeks of the regime. To be honest, my motivation to try 5:2 was as much about the effects of fasting on my indicators for diabetes and cancer as it was in order to lose weight through calorie reduction. This is why I’m keen, once I’ve finished 5:2 to move to a sort of prolonged 6:1, where I still get a solid period of fasting in each week while keeping my weight steady.

    I’ll post the results here in a few weeks once I’ve finished the 12 weeks of 5:2.

    OK, so what about the not so great points?

    8. Poo.

    I’m relieved to find that I’m not the only one who reliably drops their guts the day after fasting for the week has ended. Usually shortly after the first full meal following a fast day, right? Yep, like clockwork. I just wish there was more written on this from a scientific perspective. I appreciate that this is considered part of the cleansing process, whereby toxins stored in our fat are released into the body and remove once the digestive system resumes business as usual. And sure, once it’s out of me I do feel much better and more alive, but it’s a very sudden and urgent type of the runs and I wish it was better understood.

    9. 5:2 can be more like 2:5.

    I’ve found that psychology plays a huge part in the ease of doing 5:2. You’ll read other people talking about how they have to plan their days and I totally agree that the easiest fasting days are those when you’ve decided what you’re going to eat and when, and also when you’re busy with other tasks or activities, keeping you occupied and not letting your mind wander to the topic of food.

    But when it’s not going all that well, the realisation creeps in with me that 5:2, with Monday and Wednesday as my fasting days (which was most common) meant I’d start on a Sunday night, Finish on a Tuesday morning, start again on Tuesday evening and finish on Friday morning. In fact, if the fast days are going well, that can sometimes feel like it’s a hefty intrusion on my week. One of the 5:2’s best selling points if the fact that it’s only for 2 days out of five and in the main, sure. this is right. But I’m glad that I’ll soon be moving to 6:1 to be on maintenance as I just find myself thinking about the fast days, how I’m preparing for them, how I’m looking forward to breaking a fast and so on and it tends to dominate my week.

    10. Too much energy?

    I’m sure I’ll get over this but there have been so many times I’ve gone to bed and just not been able to sleep with all the energy I’ve had. I can’t 100% pin it down to doing 5:2 but it was a pretty noticeable change for me and started right after I began fasting. It’s not a big problem, and I’m sleeping a little less because, presumably, I don’t need quite as much sleep but it can be a disruption to a routine that is unwelcome. I’ll get over it.

    So there we go. 10 major changes to my life as a result of 5:2. I hope they’re useful to you and would be happy to have this list added to, both in terms of the positives and negatives. I don’t plan to be a frequent writer on these forums but will report back once more when I get to the end of the 12 weeks and when I’ve had my blood tested. If nothing else, I’m happy to just add my experience to the body of information.

    Happy fasting!

    Hi Julien,

    Thanks for your thoughts of fasting. As a matter of interest are you male or female. I know this name a be used for both.

    I wrote some thoughts on my fasting experience so far, I’m on my 6th week with 16lbs lost.

    If I was still savvy I couldn’t and paste here but I am not lol. You’ll find it in HELP all women of a certain age.

    The only thing I don’t share is your dumping syndrome the next day.

    Keep us updated, there heart disease and diabetes in my family too. My blood are perfect and went bad before but as a Apple shape it was only a matter of time before I became diabetic along with my high carb junkie dietI craved before

    Jaye 🙂

    Great post.
    I can def relate to most of it, especially the added energy. I too find i am in bed wide awake and full of energy, which as a typical lazy person, is so unlike me!
    But its a small price to pay, everything else i’ve found has been positive, def the saving money thing. I never eat lunch now on any day aside from maybe a bit of fruit, and i cook at home. I can do a big shop at the start of the month for about £50 and this lasts me till the end of the month (its just me, no kids), i make a chilli or shepherds pie that gives me about 8 portions, i make sugar free jellies for fast days and again one pack can last a few weeks. Belvita biscuits are my fast day breakfasts so again one box of these lasts 3 weeks. And as i’m just less hungry in general everything i buy lasts longer. In fact sometimes i have too much food in and have to freeze a lot of things so they don’t go off.

    I’ve been on the 5:2 for 3 months now and have lost 2 stone.

    Hi Julien,
    Have you got your blood test results?

    I am interested to know because I think my husband and I have blood sugar level gone up after we started this diet.

    We have been on this diet for 3weeks.


    Excellent and well written observations. Congrats on your success. Nicely done.

    Excellent post and results!! Congratulations!! The points you have mentioned (the good, bad & ugly) are all so, so true 🙂
    Regarding poo, I have noticed what I eat to break my fast makes the “day after” better or worse. For example – breaking the fast with a first meal (about 3 hours after rising) of small meal of 5-6 almonds or hard boiled egg and cup of tea and waiting a couple hours before next meal makes the detox process less “explosive” than say with toast / oats with eggs. Somehow carbs seem to trigger the reaction…

    Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    This may be a silly theory for the energy question – what if the excess energy is part of our survival instinct from the early human days. If you have not eaten and you have to hunt for your next meal you need energy to do it! I am sure there is a more scientific explanation for it.

    Re: the second day “dump” – I take probiotics and magnesium regularly and don’t experience that issue FWIW.

    I know this is an old post, but thank you for writing this when you did. I really needed this reading now. i was google-ing “5 2 benefits”, and this popped up. I wanted to see what else was there, besides the “side effect” of weightloss.

    I know some of the points, but the “full of energy” hasn’t reached me yet 🙂 Hopefully it will.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing 🙂

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