Terrified of fasting

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  • I exercise for a living and often hear polite people say things like, “gee, I thought all yoga teachers were svelte.” While I am not overweight (much) I certainly don’t have a Yoga Journal Cover model body…and that’s ok. I really am fine with that. I don’t NEED to lose the last ten pounds, but on the other hand it would be nice not to have to hike up my pants repeatedly in class, lol. My trouble has always been self control. I love food and I often just eat too much. I can rationalize this by saying, “oh, I need the energy or I won’t be able to get through my next class.” (I also teach Dance Fitness which is super high energy). I would love to lose the last ten pounds but if there ever was proof that exercise alone can’t do it-I’m it!!! It IS all about what you eat (or don’t) and so I think that when I start the programme tomorrow and for the next little while I’m going to need some serious moral support. I’m terrified of being hungry, lethargic, cranky and distracted. I need to be in a happy place to work and to parent and to generally exist in society. Looking for all the SUPPORT I can get… Thanks in advance.

    Fasting is NOT starving. You will not starve going without food for 36 hours on the 5:2 diet. you may be uncomfortable at times but it does pass.

    Change in eating habits takes time to adjust to. So you can take time and adjust if you want. Don’t just jump in and go on 5:2

    You fast every night when you sleep. So just extend the fast by skipping breakfast, and eat normal for the rest of the day. Just cut out the one meal.

    Do that twice a week for 2 weeks. Not so difficult right? Then go to a light soup at lunch maybe 150 calories and a lighter than normal supper.

    Two weeks twice a week. Now change it up. 5;2 way. Twice a week fast for 36 hours eating only 1/4 of your TDEE during your fast day. Not so bad in fact incredibly easy right? It’s not mind bending or pushing the body anywhere. Humans evolved over time to fast and eat.

    Sleep. Eat 25% of your TDEE during the day anytime or anything you choose as often as you want as long as the total is not greater than 1/4 of your TDEE. You are doing 5:2 ..

    No fear no problems you can ease into or jump in with both feet. I strongly recommend adhering to 5:2 as written for 2 months before trying to adjust it or tweak it.

    5:2 is not a diet so you won’t fail at a diet. 5:2 is a pattern of eating and we all are great at eating. Most of us too great.

    Follow 5:2 and you will lose weight. As you lose weight recalculate your TDEE. Even 1 lb makes a difference. I believe it’s better for those doing 5:2 for weight loss to calculate your TDEE for your goal weight and use that in all calculations.

    Exercise can make you fit, it won’t make you thin. To lose weight you must consume less than you burn (TDEE) stay under you TDEE and you will lose weight.

    You will find a ton of support on the forums. Read. Post and exchange ideas.

    I do 5:2 plus extended fasting for 4plus – 5 days once a month for health reasons. I started 5:2 for the health benefits alone. Not weight loss. I’ve got the health benefits in spades. The weight loss has bee a pure free bonus that I get doing what I do.

    Some think what I do (not true 5:2) is a bit off the wall. That some of what I think is a little to “far”. I’m in 5:2 for 13 months. I have been tweaking 5:2 to me for 11 months. What works for me might not be for you. Everyone is different.

    If you adhere to 5:2 as written you will lose weight. Iron clad guarantee.
    Good luck in your 5:2 journey

    Hi KHS,
    The best thing about 5:2 is that it makes fasting as easy as possible, and still work.
    The fasting days are light fasts, you can still eat a quarter of a normal days calories, and you can do it on isolated days so you know you can eat normally again tomorrow.

    I was scared when I began. I decided to have a small bowl of porridge to start the day off, and a good bowl of hearty soup with a slice of toast to end the day. But I found I couldn’t cope without my cups of tea and coffee, that I have with milk added. The milk would have taken me over the 500 calories. It still worked!

    On that first day, I did get hungry in the afternoon, but I had my soup to look forward to, and tomorrow’s breakfast. In the evening I felt great I had extra energy! I knew 5:2 would work for me, and I haven’t been scared since. After 6 months of 5:2 I now only have about 300 calories on a fast day. You really do get used to it.

    I suggest you choose a day that is easy for you. Plan some small light meals that will keep you going. Concentrate on just getting through the one day. Then you can reassess. It is a data gathering exercise.

    And yes, happy to give support!

    Welcome to the forum. Another relative newbie here. I started intermittent fasting 3 weeks ago. The first 2 weeks were difficult, with lots and ups and downs mood-wise, mainly because either I couldn’t stick to 500 calories on fast days or overeating on non-fast days. For me 5:2 was difficult, too many feed days between the two fast days. So halfway through the second week I decided to go 4:3 (crazy, I know! But believe me when I say that eating on less days results in less desire to overeat on feed days). I’m now on my 4th week and I allow myself to ‘feast’ one day a week and eat under my TDEE on the other non-fast days. It is still a struggle for me to control how much I eat, but with 3 days fasting and 3 ‘sensible eating’ days I’m not gaining any more weight.

    I also have about 5kg to lose to get to ‘svelte’, and I know I’m not losing weight as quickly as some other people on the forum (my activity level is extremely low), but it is ok, fasting not only gave me that continuous ‘lean’ feeling on and after the feed/feast days, but also gave me motivation to start doing light exercises. As QuietOne said, fasting is not starving, but you’ll have to experience it yourself to come to that conclusion (I already started feeling good about IF after my second fast day; the day after my first fast I was lethargic, had a headache and felt generally terrible – it felt a lot like a withdrawal symptom, shaky, moody etc).

    I had the habit of skipping breakfast even before starting the IF, so what I do now is to have my late night snack (which I cannot give up… not yet anyway) around 10pm, then if it is a fast day next day, I have coffee/tea/water during the day and have a small dinner around 7pm, followed by a mini, low calorie nibble at 10pm, then the next day have lunch around 2pm. So that’s about 40 hours of ‘fasting’ each time, three times a week (I still eat on the fast days! 500 calorie meal can be really satisfying. I try to keep it under 25% of my TDEE, which is about 390, but I’m not beating myself up about exceeding 390 calories on fast days, if I manage the daily intake under 500, I count it as a success). I don’t have fixed days of fasting, sometimes I do Mon-Wed-Fri, sometimes Tue-Thu-Sun etc. My next goal is to try having a water fast at least once a week, which is going to be tough, because I just have to have a nibble before going to bed!

    I’m doing my first skipping lunch fast day today, just drinking water – and I’m OK! I was worried, because I am a food-a-holic most of the time – but I have surprised myself ๐Ÿ™‚

    Give it a go and don’t be afraid to fail…

    Thanks everyone for the replies. I don’t consider the fasting starvation- but it certainly IS distracting! It was a noisy class this morning (tummy rumbles).

    Some students and I had a great conversation after class about how fasting is wonderful for meditation. What we concluded is that food/ digestion energetically binds you to the earth. When you can let go of that (while fasting), then you’re free to expand into wider circles of energy (which basically just means, you get to where you want to be faster when you meditate). Again, I knew this in theory but I think the next few weeks will provide ample opportunity to test this out.

    I have three questions for you:

    1. When you began your fast days, did you have headaches? If yes, do you think it was sugar withdrawal?

    2. Is there any evidence of fasting messing with your metabolism? If it’s in the book, I missed it. There’s a lot of hype out there about not fasting because once you come off the fast and go back to regular eating, your body, thinking it’s now just survived starvation, conserves the new food as fat and you end up gaining weight.

    I actually don’t think that light fasting would produce this type of response but when I tell people about this ‘diet’ that’s the usual rebuttal. Have you encountered this?

    3. How about going to bed hungry? This is a struggle for me on regular days, as I teach at night and then find I’m starving afterwards. I either eat late and feel like crap or don’t eat and toss and turn all night, distracted by my hunger. Any tips? (London 2012 I think your technique sounds pretty good)

    I loved to read that QuietOne has seen health benefits in spades! What a glowing endorsement!

    Cinque I love the idea of soup for supper. I made a 500 cal smoothie today and divided it into three. So I’ve just got a boring smoothie to look forward to. I much prefer your soup suggestion and will definitely go for that on Thursday.

    Way to go Luiz! Aren’t those surprises fantastic? Can’t wait to discover my own.

    Hi KHS and welcome:

    Headaches are common at the start. They usually result from dehydration. Up to 40% of your water comes from the food you eat. If you cut down your food by 75% then you are short on water. So drink more on your diet days. If that does not work completely, take some salt, too. Especially if you exercise.

    Fasting does not mess with your metabolism. You are talking about the starvation mode myth. Here is Dr. M’s response to the myth: https://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/food-thought-fast-day-starvation-mode/

    Your body will get used to the hunger, and after awhile you will find the less you eat, the less hungry you are. In the meantime, eat high fat moderate protein meals, which cut hunger significantly.

    Here are some tips that will help you be successful on 5:2: https://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/the-basics-for-newbies-your-questions-answered/

    Good Luck!

    I also got headaches for about the first 4 weeks. Its partially dehydration but I put it down to a lack of blood glucose and the fact that your liver is very very lazy to start off with. It is unable to turn fats back into glucose and ketones fast enough. And the brain is a hog when it comes to energy consumption. That is no longer the case now and I suspect that my liver is working big time. I couldn’t go bike riding on my fast days, now I can do it with ease. Being lazy I didn’t want to worry about counting calories so my fast (two consecutive) days are essentially zero cal days. I’ll have two cups of coffee with slim milk, so maybe 50-100 cals/day. You do not go into starvation mode. From an evolutionary viewpoint it would make no sense at all for the body to go into starvation mode after 2 days. Maybe if you had less then 5-6% fat? But that’s probably not the case for most of us.

    Do a stock take of what you eat during your non fast days. Try and reduce the sugar content. Its an absolutely lazy food source and it makes your liver and pancreas work really hard for all the wrong reasons. Rather than the body going to its fat stores for a top up once you’ve gotten used to sugar, it just screams for more as that’s easier than having to work to convert the stored fats to energy.

    Give the diet a good 4-6 weeks, you’ll be over the hump then and it will become easier. Very do-able in fact.

    Hey big:

    Do you have any studies or research to let me read up on a ‘lazy liver’? I’ve not seen that one in the literature before.

    Hi KHS, cheers for your first fast day.
    It is such light fasting, I am not sure it would effect meditation, although I bet the fact that you are not feeling overfull might help.
    I find the soup in the evening means I don’t feel hungry going to sleep. However I have heard people on the forum talk about being too hungry to sleep. Others say they sleep really well on fast nights, and quite a few say they go to bed early on fast nights to end the day more quickly!

    Soups are so good on fast days! You’ll love them.


    Day one complete. For fear of headaches, I drank a tonne of water and luckily no headaches materialized so likely dehydration is the culprit.
    I was spacey for sure by suppertime and had trouble focusing in my class. I had very little energy. Rather than drink the other half of my shake for supper I had a (tiny) meal of scrambled egg, quinoa and sautรฉed tomato. It didn’t fill me up but I was satisfied. I am really looking forward to tomorrow (no-fast day), lol. Thank you everyone for your information and support. Now off to bed to hopefully sleep (Cinque- I’ll let you know how this goes, lol).

    Big- I’m really looking forward to exercising more on fast days. I’ll keep the faith that soon that’ll be possible. I’ll try to be more vigilant about sugar on non-fast days as well. I’m pretty good but sometimes I have to have some crack/cookie.

    simcoeluv- Thanks for the links. I’ll check them out.

    p.s. I was REALLY cold today

    I get really cold on fast days, so try and put a few more layers on ๐Ÿ™‚ Headaches are a problem, but I know the more I fast it will get easier. This diet really does work, i’m starting out again really and this time am trying to make it a lifetime thing. One thing I notice on fast days is the calmness, I actually look forward to that. I dont have to worry about food and what I’m going to eat, so its like a pressure is lifted somewhat.

    Good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

    Soup is good for when you are feeling cold too!

    Hey, I have the same story and many people do also. We all love food and it makes us feel good. However, I found not to eat when I watch TV or my laptop. I really can it 10 times more when my brain is busy with something else. Try not to do these things together and you will understand that you need less to satisfy your body.

    Ok so this morning, before I officially broke my fast, I got up early to practice yoga and meditate…and WOW! Dragon Fly, that calmness was there! It was amazing and I definitely got to that happy place faster. When the energy in your body isn’t diverted by digestion, it’s easier to go within. What a wonderful start to the morning. Also Cinque, from now on, I’ll be having soup for supper until it warms up around here (February in Canada…a few more months at least, lol).

    That’s a lovely start to your day KHS!
    I love the morning after fast day!

    Ate a bit too much today but enjoyed every morsel. Back on track tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚

    Fast Day #2:
    So far today has been tough. Seven more hours until bed…..rumbly tummy, achy head….trouble concentrating…low energy…good meditation (gotta find those golden nuggets where you can, right?)


    Hang in there, KHS. It is only your second fast day. Look at the larger picture. In 3-4 months you will have lost 6-7 lbs, which will make difference. I’m on my 4th week of fasting, so far 9 fasts done. Not all of the fast days were success because of my late-night munching habit. However, I try not to blame myself too much, count the ‘failed’ day as a fast day and maybe add an extra day of fasting or reduce my calorie intake in the next 1 or 2 ‘feed’ days. It is emotionally tough in the first 2 weeks, but 5:2 works, invariably, a few slip-ups here and there does not affect the end result. Also, I feel that it is a good training for me not to be ‘perfectionist’ in everything, and once I started letting go of my failures regarding fast days, the other perceived failures are beginning to look not that much of a deal, a mindset that is actually helping me do my work better. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you London….I’ll keep trying.

    Keep in mind that humans have always needed to be able to think when they were hungry in order to find food. When we have eaten, we go to sleep.
    On fast days your brain WILL be more alert…we evolved that way. Initially we both used to lie awake talking for hours with our brains whizzing on fast nights. We solved this by saving all our meagre fast day calories to one evening “meal”.
    The day after peace is a phenomena many of us enjoy. One of the magic spin offs of twice weekly fasting.
    All the best. PVE ๐Ÿ˜Š

    KHS, O No did the soup let you down????? ๐Ÿ™
    Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. What is a fail day but a gift for learning. (Zen!)
    Best wishes for the next one!

    5:2 each day is a new slate. Keep on keeping on 5:2 soon it will be as easy as putting on a pair of pants. Don’t get down on yourself when you miss a fast day by a little or a lot or blow over your TDEE on a feed day. Wipe the slate and start again tomorrow.

    Each day is a new chance. You can do this.

    Hi guys starting 5:2 today. To be more precise restarting as I did it a few years ago, lost a stone and than life got in the way and all that weight crept up again. I have been thinking about starting for a while now but as said before I feel a bit scared. My lifestyle/work and family balance are so different now. I am a midwife working shifts/nights without routine and on my days off love to do bikram yoga or jogging. I am unsure when to fit fasting days in and worried I will run out of steam looking after my mums to be or collapse in the hot room if I don’t eat before the yoga class. One thing I have noticed is that it is better for me not to eat at all on fast till the evening. Seems that insulin levels remain stable/as if pancreas is having a time out and so don’t feel hungry just very sleepy and cold. Do u guys have any experience with shift work and vigorous exercise on fast days?

    Hello moturam and welcome! I’m afraid I have no advice for you. My work is behind desk and I don’t do much exercise (occasional stretching doesn’t really count), and while I know it is a bad combination, I cannot yet make myself to commit to an exercise regime/active living. You on the other hand is an inspiration for people like me, so keep up the healthy lifestyle, I’m sure with IF you will see results far quicker than I will. I hope some other people on the forum will have a useful advice with regards to how to fit in fast days in your situation.
    I’m on my 4th week of fasting and it is going really well. I didn’t lose much weight yet, but I can feel my body is getting lighter, leaner and more energetic. I fudged the fast days a bit in the past 2 weeks, feeling a wee bit cocky over the success I had with fasting in the first week and a half. Today I decided I will do it properly, but it is still quite tough, right now I’m so hungry, but I keep telling myself I can do it. I haven’t eaten anything today, just drank a lot of water/green tea. I did have an early morning coffee with milk and that’s all I’m allowing myself calorie-wise. As if it’s not enough that I’m bone idle, I have to be able to do something right! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m writing this post to take my mind off food and I think it did the trick. Sorry for rambling and thank you for being here when my willpower was at its lowest.

    Hi Moturam,
    I’m only on my second week and if you scroll up you’ll see how week one went. I was really worried about energy levels as well. Fasting on Monday is great because my classes (I teach yoga/fitness) are in the morning and afternoon but on Thursday there’s an intermediate class in the evening. Turns out I’ve gotta fast all day and eat before the class. Either that or go to 600 calories and eat twice and there’s no WAY I could fast on a Dancing day…so if you know your schedule you’ll be able to plan around it. Unfortunately babies don’t come on schedule so maybe you might consider keeping a ‘just incase’ snack with you for those fast days when you didn’t see it coming and you need a boost. It may not be as good as 500 calories but it’ll keep you going.

    London: Fasting is so much easier when you’ve got something to do, right? Better to be busy.

    KHS, I’m happy that you found a routine that works for you. For myself I can’t say I worked out a foolproof method of fasting, because I’m an emotional eater, I’ve always been one, and on the days when I’m feeling unsettled either because of work or things happening at home (child being sick or sth) I feel the strong urge to go back to my comfort eating. I suppose I’m not alone in this. I’m doing intermittent fasting not for losing weight per ce, but for gaining control over my eating habits. That’s why I try not to blame myself for the days when I went slightly over 400 calories (1/4 of my TDEE), or even over 500 calories. Instead I count the days when I went to bed feeling ‘hungry’ (i.e. I didn’t stuff myself from dinner on until bedtime) as a success. I admire people who can stop eating at 7 or 8pm, I have to re-learn that. My parents never allowed us to munch on after dinner, but in my adult life I acquired this stupid habit of snacking after dinner. It’s like an addiction, and I only just realised how much I gave into it. Oh well, I started my second month of IF, tomorrow is my first fast day this week and I have a good feeling about it. I wish you all success with your 5:2’s, 4:3’s and ADF’s.

    KHS well done for going for it despite your busy fitness schedule. It does give me curage to also go for it.

    London2012 I completely understand the evening treats/eating. I have a similar habit and feel that i sabotage myself by eating so late and finding such a comfort in it. But it has been with me since childhood so will take time to eliminate. Green tea in the evenings seems to help me to fight the cravings.

    It’s been interesting first week. On Sunday I fasted with relative ease and wasn’t too bother about the headache and rumbling tummy. And today I ended it up having a ‘forced fast’ by extremely busy labour ward….didn’t get to have any food till 18pm. Adrenalin kept me going and as KHS said better to be busy. Kept being hydrated and no headache. I did eat more than 500kcal if I add the teas/coffees but will not be too harsh on myself even if it’s not complete IF. Any reduction in calories is helpful and I will tweak it around my schedule.
    I don’t know how much you guys are planning to loose but I have at least 2stones to shed if not more. Starting at shocking 91kg. Good luck and determination!

    KHS…I’ve been doing 5:2 for almost a year…I have only lost ten kilos BUT I have not once regretted doing it! My aim is another ten Kilos down to 90 KGs.
    One of the things I like is that the reality of 5:2 is that it allows you to flex inside limits that are self designed inside the general parameters.
    You slip a little on some days and you try to make up for it when you are ready. The beautiful thing is that it is no so much a FAD diet as a diet that is suited to anyone that feels disinclined to count calories and weigh food. You can happily follow it for the rest of your life…It’s truly easy if YOU don’t make it hard.
    I normally ate VERY well on “normal days” as I have a truly superb cook as a wife. NOW..On Diet days I just follow the pattern …(on “normal days” she puts the brakes on a tiny bit sometimes) BUT for no-eat days I am happy to drink plenty of water and latte fresh bean coffee any time i want it, and a simple diet shake for tea… and water etc… I go to bed feeling satisfied but not replete!
    My way is slow and steady and I’ll win the race… at 84 I am happier with my future weight prospects than ever before and hopefully have many happy years ahead with my lovely wife..
    Stay with it…5:2 is the best alternative to stomach banding around!
    Ian J

    Hoped on scales and gone down to 89.3 from 91 in two days! Some of it must be water but it got me excited. ๐Ÿ˜œ

    moturam… Please remember that almost all diets begin with a larger than normal weight loss as you get rid of more than you put in! Once your digestion adjusts to the lower intake the loss appears to slow. It will be about a month before you can see and appreciate a steady weekly loss. Even then it will flex. The real indication only truly is apprciated if you keep a simple graph of the results…then a line will show that is your rate of loss , long term…
    But… of course, you must stay relatively steady in your eating habits.. Binges and radical abstinence will throw the line out!
    Just stay with it… The fasting days are not “close your mouth days” they can be merely eating only a little days OR enough of a fast to mean you know you are doing it!!! Drink plenty of water, you can utilise the odd “meal” of “diet shake” so you feel fuller at night… but be consistent! It’s you that are setting the rules.. the diet is fully flexible so long as you eat healthy on your “eat ” days… try to eliminate sweets and sugars because this is a sensible part of all diets..
    And keep going… I’ve been slowly doing it (to my planned modifications) for 12 months and I’m slowly winning and happy… No other diet goes close to the rightness of 5:2!!

    Hi Ian! 84, wow! You’re one of the truly inspirational people on this forum. Congratulations on your weight-loss, I’m also intending to do slowly but surely.
    Moturam, the initial weight loss can be impressive, and it definitely boosts the morale. But the weight-loss will slow down and the spirit will dwindle every now and then, the important thing to remember is that it is a lifestyle, not another diet. I lost 6cm from my waist in the first week (I don’t weigh myself), but not a single mm since. However, I take consolation in that I’ve kept that 6cm loss, I’m not getting any thicker around the middle. My body shape doesn’t accomodate a 60cm waist, but if I can get down to 70, I’ll be happy. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s still the early days for me, only one month into the IF, I’m sure by next Xmas I will get down to my ideal weight (I’m eyeing about 5kg total weight-loss). I gave myself 3 months challenge initially, because I was terrified of fasting, but now one month in, I can feel that it can become part of my life.

    Hi Ian/london2012

    Exactly my thoughts, steady but surely I will go. I can see how this can be lifestyle and adaptable around to what’s going on. Graph makes absolute sense. And staying off sugar too. Diet shake/meal may work for me whilst on the go at work if there is no time to eat. And I have been completely avoiding the cakes and chocolates people bring. So putting all your lovely ideas and advice and flexing it to my needs. It’s only been a week but I can see this as being achievable. Just must keep myself motivated and strong. 6cm around waist is massive so don’t despair London if it’s taking time now to see more results. I am sure it’s lovely to feel different.

    How much weight have you lost Ian over the last year? And great inspiration of never giving up!!!!

    Hello, it was great to read your post. I was a full time athlete in my 20’s (I’m now knocking on the door of being 40). I ate and trained and remained the same, pretty much. Only through dieting hard for my weigh-in days, did the weight drop off. I agree with you, what we eat makes all the difference. As a throwback from my athletic days, I just haven’t been able to diet. I haven’t wanted to and resisted everything about it. Now, I’m 80 kilos instead of wanting to be a healthy 66 or so. This is my second day of Fasting – (Monday was the first) and while I too am petrified of ‘dieting’, I’m still here. The sky hasn’t fallen down. The world hasn’t stopped turning. I feel hungry but that’s ok. As long as you, me and the rest of the community keep going, and posting, and going, we’ll all no longer need to hike our training shorts up when we bend down! Long may they stay firmly in place. Good luck!

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