The Basics for Newbies – Your Questions Answered!

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The Basics for Newbies – Your Questions Answered!

This topic contains 537 replies, has 177 voices, and was last updated by  Kay-50kg.goal 3 years, 2 months ago.

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  • @katser
    For me: coffee, keeping busy working (on computer), maximum 1 hour light activities (walking). I choose to water-fast (44 hours) only on low-stress-days.
    It helps being adapted to an IF pattern with shorter eating windows (IF 20/4 – 23/1).

    More tips from Dr. Fung here:

    Good luck!

    I do realise this is an old post but for anyone, like me, looking now I note that the BMI calculator says not for persons under 5 ft. I am 5ft, just, and on light exercise get just over 1500 cals a day.

    I’m trying to keep fast days at around a 1/4 of that, which to me is a lot of filling high fibre veg and a piece of fruit and some yoghurt.

    Thanks for the post, and others for answers; this is exactly the question I had.

    Hi, I am determined to start this week. I have done points counting for years with weight watchers so I am not used to calorie counting. Can anybody recommend an app to help with that please?

    Hi Kicki:

    I see that many use MyFitnessPal. It has a free calorie counter and nutritional information on many foods.

    Good Luck!

    Hi Friends.

    Is it really possible to eat your daily normal food for 5 days –and kind of fast for 2 days – AND LOSE WEIGHT?

    Please share with me.


    Hi want2, your question is too loose and ambiguous so my answer is YES and NO.
    First question would be, what is your “Daily normal food intake”?. If it is basically unhealthy, higher in calories than your daily requirements then the simple response is NO. Second question would be..What do you mean by “kind of fast for two days”? Again the answer would be NO.
    If your daily “normal food” intake is basically healthy and within your bodies daily calorific requirements then the response is YES (with reservations). If on your two “Fast days” you keep within the 500 or 600 cal range then again the response is YES (with reservations).
    Best advice is to read the FAQ link at the top of the page, along with the other links. Browse the forum, there are some superb posters with great advice from people such as simcoeluv.
    Finally you have to commit, no half way house. Give it a trial run for a month, see if it is for you. If not then move on. However I don’t think you will find another forum quite like this one. The support and information is fantastic.
    Good luck.
    Seasons greetings to you all out there.

    I’ve been on the diet for two months and have lost approximately 20 pounds, but I’ve only shed one inch around the middle. I would have expected more shrinkage around the middle than what I’ve seen, am I being unrealistic? Love the diet and am committed to it to reach my weight and maintain it, but hoping that the inches catch up and the “muffin top” disappears. Any insight on how long it takes for lose the inches? Thank you.

    Hi I’m Melting!
    Our bodies seem to have their own particular patterns for putting on and taking off fat. Mine kind of went from all over, but left the top of my arms, and little fat pouches under my arms, til last. I know that for others it can be the thighs, the neck, the belly.
    What can we do but look at ourselves in wonder and patiently wait until the process is finished?

    Hi I’m melting,

    For me I had a really hard time with my waistline. Two years of insane workouts and too little food only saw me lose a little over an inch. Then I cut way back on added sugars excluding fruit, in fact I eat a lot more fruit now. The results were amazing, I lost 6.5″ in about 4 months. I don’t know if that will work the same for you but a lot of people here seem to benefit from cutting added refined sugar.

    Still 1/2 and inch a month isn’t anything to turn your nose up at. It will add up. On Christmas day, I realized I didn’t have any dress pants that aren’t baggy and lose. πŸ™‚

    Happy New Year to all fasters πŸ™‚ Im a newbie and have a question. I am 57, 75kg, 1.82cm and pretty fit. But I have a fatty liver and need to lose about 5kg from around my midriff. So I’ve cut out alcohol and sugar. Now I’m starting on the 5:2 regime. But I can’t determine the best strategy. On weekends and Mondays are my heavy exercise days. I cycle, swim and run. Wednesdays i usually go for a swim and a beach run (I live in Sydney’s eastern suburbs). I do minimums exercise on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Which are the best days to fast?
    Is it best to fast on the day of strenuous exercise or is it more effective to fast the day after, or the day before?
    Cheers and thanks – all the best for 2017

    Hi Words:

    Exercise has little to do with weight loss. Just check the ‘Exercise’ link in the post that started this thread.

    To your point, calorie restriction reduces blood sugar levels and glycogen levels over time. The general answer to your question is that exercises that rapidly use blood sugar, like sprinting or aerobic exercises, make a person feel bad if they have been fasting. Exercises like walking are better.

    So you will feel better if you exercise after eating, unless you do mild exercise.

    Good Luck!

    Hi Words and welcome to a new way of life and probably the best forum in the world to get support for the 5:2 way of life. Most posters are not medical people but the advice they give is based on personal experience and research.
    In terms of exercise while fasting I have to say that I found no adverse effects. How ever I am a man in my late 60s and my exercise regime was and is low impact cardio and light weights and flexibility exercises coupled with my 5:2 fast days.
    Please check out the links at the top of the page, you will find the answers to many of your concerns about Fasting and exercise there. Also check out the research done by Michael Mosley on YouTube. Search using his name and the word “exercise”. You will find many programmes and research he has carried out that should interest you.
    Just remember, we are all different. What works for me may not work for you. If you find that the research Michael has done on exercise and fasting helps then you may decide to adjust your work outs on fast days or simply carry on doing what you do.
    Good Luck.


    In my annual update, the leading nutritional experts in the U.S. have once again determined the best diets for us. As with last year, the DASH diet came out number one. The Fast Diet stayed the same at 32 out of 38. Of interest, the best diet for Type 2 diabetics to follow was also the DASH diet – the prototypical low fat, high carb diet. Guess Dr. Fung just does not know what he is talking about – according to the experts, anyway.

    simcoeluv, nor does the Australian Medical Association which threatened to take Dr. Gary Fettke’s medical license away because he was advising his patients not to refined eat sugar and to cut it way down of sugar in any form, including fruit. The AMA has told him that he is no longer allowed to speak about nutrition to his orthopedic patients or to the public! Dr. Fettke decided he was tired of being the one to arrive ‘after the crash’ so to speak, after inflammation had eaten away at joint tissue, which required his skills in replacing the joint. He thought he could not only make a difference in helping his patients feel better, but help prevent Australians from requiring joint replacements in the first place! Well, he’s been told he can’t!

    Yes Ive been following this of late. Gary’s message is too eat less sugar more fats and to eat fruit in moderation and only when in season and to avoid grains. Not really crack pot out there advice is it? More about saving face and covering ones arse and maintaining the financial support of vested interests.

    As the famous physicist Max Planck once said: Science advances one funeral at a time. Meaning that the current guard will need to all be pushing up daisies before we are allowed to know the truth about diet and how the authorities have got it so wrong for the last 40 years.

    This post for Prodimed seems to me to be an advert promoting the product as a weight loss programme. The 5:2 way of life does not advocate suppliments or expensive weight loss programmes so I see no need to use any thing like prodimed in the 5:2 way of life.

    Here here

    I am sorry, I am truly a newbie πŸ˜‰
    My post was certainly not an advertisement for expensive products, but a sincere question. I understand now that I should have left out the brand name.
    But my question remains the same: would it work to fast and to spend the 500 cal allowance on (any) protein product, like a shake?
    It could turn out to be efficient: low cal, high protein and no (or less) hunger pangs.
    It is ovious, even to me πŸ˜‰ that not eating supplements while doing 5:2 would be much better. But if someone feels he needs a bit of ‘help’, could it be a good idea or not?

    Don’t know the product but I expect that most “supplements” contain a “healthy” dose of some form of sweetener to make them palatable & consumption of same will elevate insulin levels. Since the 5/2 diet is all about controlling insulin, that course of action wouldn’t be recommended.

    Hi bcj:

    “Since the 5/2 diet is all about controlling insulin, that course of action wouldn’t be recommended.”

    I think you are imposing your own belief about 5:2 on the real thing.

    The real 5:2 simply says that you eat 5/600 cal. two days a week, and eat normally the other 5. From a weight loss standpoint, since many overweight people eat way to much when they eat normally, the consensus is that you should eat to your TDEE or less on the 5 non diet days.

    But 5:2 is a calorie based diet, not a food based diet. Nowhere in 5:2 is there a requirement that you eat foods that ‘control insulin’.

    People are free to eat whatever they want on 5:2. That means they can choose to eat foods that ‘control insulin’, or not. As long as they eat fewer calories overall than their TDEEs, they will lose weight.

    The less you eat, the more you lose.

    PS “…consumption of same (some form of sweetener) will elevate insulin levels.”

    From the study you cited:

    “Specifically, postprandial insulin levels were significantly reduced at 30 and 60 minutes after the test lunch meal in the stevia condition compared to the aspartame condition (all ps < .05). Postprandial insulin levels were also significantly lower at 20 minutes following consumption of the preload, as well as 30 and 60 minutes after the test lunch meal, in the stevia condition compared to the sucrose condition (all ps < .05). Postprandial insulin levels at 20 minutes after consumption of the preload were significantly lower in the aspartame condition compared to the sucrose condition (p < .01).”

    “In conclusion, participants did not compensate by eating more at either their lunch or dinner meal and reported similar levels of satiety when they consumed lower calorie preloads containing stevia or aspartame than when they consumed higher calorie preloads containing sucrose. Additionally, stevia preloads reduced postprandial blood glucose and insulin levels, suggesting stevia may assist with glucose regulation. These effects appear to be independent of reductions in caloric intake, as participants consumed similar calorie amounts in both the stevia and aspartame conditions.”

    Controlling insulin is indeed my take, but it is based upon what Moseley says in his books & TV shows. Dr Moseley promotes the 5/2 as reducing insulin sensitivity and improving other blood #s, in addition to the weight loss benefits. Don’t have either book available, but am pretty sure he advises against consuming sodas, or sugary drinks, sweets, etc, on FD. This allows the body to burn off accumulated sugars, reduce insulin levels & enable the body to burn stored fat. In effect – the 5/2 reduces insulin sensitivity by controlling insulin levels- at least on FDs. It is not simply a caloric reduction strategy.

    Probably shouldn’t have put the link in without an interpretation. Dr Fung, in the Obesity Code, came up with this interpretation based upon the reference.
    “The important question is this: Do artificial sweeteners increase insulin levels? Sucralose raises insulin by 20 percent, despite the fact that it contains no calories and no sugar. This insulin-raising effect has also been shown for other artificial sweeteners, including the β€œnatural” sweetener stevia. Despite having a minimal effect on blood sugars, both aspartame and stevia raised insulin levels higher even than table sugar (ref 14). Artificial sweeteners that raise insulin should be expected to be harmful, not beneficial. Artificial sweeteners may decrease calories and sugar, but not insulin. Yet it is insulin that drives weight gain and diabetes.”

    I feel I need to reply to the posts made by Marre about Prodimed. I am not a medical person and do not take suppliments unless advised to do so by a medical practitioner. Prodimed seems to be a heavily processed high protein food replacement product marketed to reduce weight quickly and at a cost. It also claims to give gastrointestinal support in some of its products.
    It seems to be similar in nature to slimming products that can be bought in supermarkets. There is also medical support via the internet and by phone if needed.
    From my point of view and my experience of this forum most people would not need to use such a highly processed product. 5:2 and indeed most other forms of fasting do not advocate any such product and support natural foods as we know them to be.
    The only medically research programme I know of that uses a highly processed meal supplement as part of a medical approach to weight loss is The Newcastle Diet” which is specifically aimed at reversing Type 2 Diabetes.
    We are all different with different needs and aspirations. We can get most of the requirements our bodies need such as protein, carbohydrates, fibre etc from “naturally produced and grown foods”. The 5:2 way of life as developed does not openly promote such products as Prodimed.
    Marre, if you feel you as an individual would benefit from such a processed food supplement for any reason including medical and serious health issues then that is fine, please use them and I wish you well. Most posters, personal health issues aside would be unlikely to use such products.
    Good luck with your 5:2 way of life.

    Hi, I am starting my second week of a fasting routine and doing 5:2 schedule. I know you can eat up to 500 calories per on FD’s and was wondering if beef bone broth is something I would count the calories in or is it considered a free food like water or tea? I read that it could be consumed as one of the free liquids but when I look up the calories it does have calories, so wondered if i count it in the 500 calories for the day?
    Thank you!

    Hi Niquita and welcome:

    All calories count. The challenge is determining how many calories you are eating!

    Good Luck!

    Thank you!!!

    Hi Marre,

    I personally prefer to eat real foods on my FDs, but if you want a shake option, you might consider those developed specifically for diabetics. I believe the CSIRO in Australia has been involved in the developed a product specifically for diabetics, but you need to go though a dietitian for access. There are also other brands that some pharmacies carry. I think most have less than 1g sugar per serve, but I’m not sure what other sweeteners they contain.

    I don’t know what’s available in other countries – usually each country has quite different brand names.

    You could also make your own low cal shake with unsweetened almond milk + egg (fresh or powdered) + some berries or other fruit + essences and spices you like.
    For a vegan alternative, replace the egg with besan flour (ground chick peas).

    Hello from Australia! Today will be my day 4 it’s also a FD. Lost probably 900 grams so far, have been drinking plenty of water and green tea. I had a cold so the fasting hasn’t been a problem! But I am finding I have no energy hopefully that’s the cold and not the diet.

    Hi Nica, welcome here. I’m Australian too (check out the Southern Hemispherites thread for other locals if you like!).
    The lovely thing about 5:2 is that the fast days do include light eating and so shouldn’t be too exhausting.
    Your lack of energy is probably because of your cold. Fingers crossed you get better quickly.


    Thanks cinque I’ll check it out. I did know about the 500cals on the fasting days stuck well under it lol.

    Personally I don’t think 5:2 is about calorie restriction. 5:2 is about using fasting to help with one’s health. The start of 5:2 was about improving health and hopefully living a longer healthier life with a very flexible type of Way Of Eating. The fact that it also causes fat loss is a bonus. You don’t have to count calories to be successful on 5:2 provided that diet used on non-fast days is reasonably healthy. Some people are more comfortable with counting calories and for those people that is fine and beneficial. The warning given is the “WHY FAST?” sections is simply not to overeat on your non-fasting days. For some people that means counting calories, for others it means just listening too their bodies and it probably can mean different things to others.

    I think @bjcmmac is actually close to the spirit in which 5:2 was started, that is if you go back and watch the original documentary. Fasting was explored to help ways to avoid diabetes from developing. It was actually a compromise in how to fast easily but still get the hormonal benefits.

    All that being said 5:2 does result in two periods a week where the body will likely be burning off stored fat. All of the calorie stuff around that is just tuning. Some of us don’t need that or even do well with calorie counting. There are other forms of tuning too. For example for me a key was removing added refined sugar from my diet. Another tunings were changing my exercise patterns and also not eating anything on fast days because that works better for me. However, for me calories were never a real consideration and on a weekly basis I consume more than I did with a calorie restrictive approach where I was gaining fat, suffering extensive hunger and feeling sickly all the time.

    There are people that respond well to calorie restriction. They probably don’t have problems with insulin sensitivity or maybe simply have genetics that are better tuned to calorie restriction. That is good for them, but that doesn’t mean 5:2 doesn’t work for people that do poorly with calorie restriction such as myself. For myself, compared to calorie restrictions:

    * 5:2 is burning fat!
    * 5:2 is positive for building muscles for me!
    * 5:2 is boosting my energy!
    * 5:2 is allowing me to eat as MUCH as I want! (Not whatever I want, but as much of foods that are good for my body. For me that means low sugar, high fiber with the exception of some fruits.)

    The real point is that we are all different. Fasting though is very flexible and can fit in to many different approaches for multiple reasons. The 5:2 eating pattern is simply more rewarding and effective than many other modern eating patterns, at least in my experience.

    Simcoeluv thank you so much for your help and advice x

    Hi Loopy:

    You are welcome.

    Hi. Just new to the 5:2 and really looking forward to it. I’ve lost weight before back in the day.. but over the years its crept back on. Basically I’ve looked through some of the forum to get some help, just a question that would help, on the non fast days does it matter if you don’t use all your daily calories? Thanks in advance

    Hi Choppy and welcome:

    The guidelines are to eat to your TDEE or less. So you can eat as little as you want.

    The less you eat, the more you lose.

    Good Luck!

    Bit confused do you fast for 2 days or 5?

    Hi penny and welcome:

    “To start out, the way 5:2 works is you go to bed, get up, eat 5/600 or fewer calories during your waking hours, go to bed, get up and eat to your TDEE or less – twice a week. On all 7 days of the week you can eat foods you want to eat – there are no forbidden foods, or foods you have to eat. For the first month or so focus on doing your diet days correctly (5/600 calories or less) and most everything else will fall into place.”

    So you have two diet days of 500 cal. or less per week, and 5 non diet days of TDEE or less per week.

    Good Luck!

    I just registered and will start with a FD tomorrow, Monday, April 24, 2017. The beginning! I’ve watched the videos, read the book and read through some of these posts. Thank you simcoeluv for your guidance. Is there an “official” app for our phones? It sounds like we need to keep track of calories on the regular 5 days too, correct? Thanks!

    Hi MO and welcome:

    I am not aware of an official app for phones. Many use the Tracker found in the ‘Resources’ section at the top of this page.

    While the book states a person can eat ‘normally’ on their non diet days, the fact is most overweight people coming to a weight loss diet are overeating every day. If that happens with 5:2, they do not lose much, if any, weight even if they do their two diet days correctly.

    If they start 5:2 and do not lose much weight at the start, many end up keeping track of their non diet day calories, at least for awhile, until they understand the relationship between how much they are eating to their TDEE. This often surprises people, and is the beginning of changing how much they eat.

    Good Luck!

    Doing water only fast today. Usually eat 500 on my fast day. Experimenting with how it feels. Its not that bad so far but still have 16 hours to go. Does anyone else do water only on fast days?

    Hi Unathecat,

    I have done my fasts 2 different ways. The first is where I eat one meal – dinner after going ~22 hours since my last food. The second is where I consume only water/tea/diet soda for 36 hours. For me, waiting to eat was necessary because if I would try to eat even a small amount of food earlier in the day I would get very hungry and it was very hard to stay on track. After 3+ months doing 5:2, the one meal approach has gotten pretty easy. I lost about 2 lbs/week and then started to plateau a bit after 2 months or so of doing this. I tried stretching things to 36 hours and it really jump-started my weight loss again and I have now lost 22+ lbs. The tough parts of the 36 hour food free fasts have been I struggle a bit w/sleeping and get very thirsty overnight.

    Hope this is helpful info and best of luck to you.

    Thanks for your reply!!

    Hi una and welcome:

    Many people do water only fasts on their diet days. When you do, you don’t have to count calories. You also cut another 500 cal. out of your diet (1000 if you do two a week), which helps you lose weight a bit faster.

    Water only also ‘trains’ you in the sense you learn you don’t have to eat but can still survive. People marvel that they don’t get hungry once they get used to not eating!

    Water only fasts also provide an introduction to medium and longer term water fasting. Current research indicates that 4 day water fasts 3 or 4 times a year are very beneficial. That sounds impossible to most fasting newbies, but after doing several 36 hour water fasts it becomes clear that longer term fasting is quite possible.

    Feel free to experiment. They may or may not be for you.

    Good Luck!

    App I use is myfitnesspal. Basic app is free. Good dababase of pre-packaged/prepared foods.
    I also use cronometer, which is web based unless you purchase a subscription (app is free but doesn’t work without a subscription).
    Cronometer has more nutritional info included & you can add recipes if you cook at home. You can also scan in food/bar codes to expand your personal database.

    Thank you simelcov!

    Yes I do water only fasting. Have done it almost from the get go. Used to do 60 hours (two days) but have cut that back to 36 hours (one day) since reaching my maintenance weight in March 2016. Your body adapts to running on ketones. It takes a while for your liver to start working well.

    So I’ve been doing the diet for nearly 2 weeks now and have lost a grand total of 1/4lb. I’m slowly reading through the book (Pg 100 now) but I’m sticking to the diet on diet days eating 450-500 calories and then just eating what I like on other days. Is this right? Other people seem to be mentioning staying below a TDEE? Does this mean I need to calorie count every day? The advantage for me as a working Mum on this diet was that as long as I can find a couple of meals I can stand having twice a week then I don’t have to worry about what life/work/kids send me food wise the other days.

    I think you are being very unrealistic. There is no magic involved. If you eat whatever you want on the other days all that happens is that you compensate for your two fast days. Try and eat up to but not more than your TDEE on non fast days. TDEE = Total daily energy expenditure. Use the resources button at the top to calculate how much you should be eating on non fast days. You don’t have to calorie count but I suggest that you do it for about 1-2 weeks just to get a feel for how much over your TDEE you are eating.

    It works but you have to give it a genuine go.

    That’s frustrating because it literally states in the book ‘5 days off, 2 days on which means that majority of your time is spent gloriously free from calorie counting’ and there doesn’t seem to be any mention of the TDEE (2014 version). I travel a lot for work and have to eat what is given/eat out with clients which is why this diet seemed feasible

    Hi Sherbert and welcome:

    The only way to lose weight is to eat less. 5:2 causes you to eat less at least 2 days a week. But if you eat more the other 5 days to make-up for the calories you cut from your diet on the two diet days, you won’t lose much weight.

    You apparently were overeating in general, or you would not have gained weight and would not want to go on a weight loss diet. Now, you are not gaining. You have lost a small amount of weight, which shows you are eating slightly less.

    If you want to lose more weight, you will have to eat even less than you have been eating. No need to count calories – just eat less than you have been. Forego dessert, don’t eat the bread, skip that second glass of wine, or whatever.

    If you don’t want to eat less, fine. But don’t expect to lose weight if you keep on eating the way you were eating. You have changed how much you eat two days a week. Now you have to change how much you eat the other five.

    The less you eat, the more you lose.

    Good Luck

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