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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  • thanks everyone for your input. I weighed myself yesterday and appear to have lost 1kg. this is after 4 weeks!
    I agree with some of the things you said Suthers, re- the menopause, I think my body is changing too.
    I also feel incredibly fatigued at this point, as I have reduced my calories so much. So yesterday I went over the 1500 to about 2000 ( had a friends birthday dinner) I didn’t feel guilty at all, enjoyed it actually !!

    Back to 1500 for a few days and then 500 on Monday..Don’t know how people do the 4:3 at 500 calories!!

    perhaps this has been asked before, but I am starting today and wondered if it was ok for the fast days to literally fast and only drink water for the day?

    Hi Helga and welcome:

    Many people eat nothing on their diet days. It is often called ‘water fasting’.

    Good Luck!

    Hi fellow 5:2ers, my question is in regards to TDEE and fasting day calories. I am female, 48yo, 160cm and started out at 82.3kg. Weigh in day today (end of Week 4) and I have lost 3.7kg thus far. My fast days have always been 500 calories however I have just realised that I should (possibly) be changing my fast day calorie count based on my TDEE which would put me back to 415 calories on fast day this week which equals one quarter of my TDEE. Is it necessary to change your fast day calories based on your TDEE? I confess that sticking to my 500 can be challenging enough on some days and a breeze on others. Will staying with 500 calories and not changing based on my TDEE impede my progress eventually as it hasn’t impacted so far given that I am happy to lose small amounts of weight each week and don’t need to see huge numbers to keep up the motivation. Reflecting on that, I think my motivation would probably decrease trying to plan for less than my 500. I recently read the Fast Beach Diet plans and they still account for 500 calories/fast day and surely they would be based on having lost weight each week. Any advice? Thanks, Tania

    thank you.

    I’m not the expert, but 500 cal fast day is still a calorie restriction day. So its what your comfortable with.

    Another way to look at it is if you struggle with less 500. Say the 415. That’s 85 calorie difference. That’s 1lb = 3500
    3500 divided by 85 is approx 41. So the extra 85 calories will only make a pound of difference after 41 fasts.

    Not a significant amount. So the important thing is become successful at getting through the fasts days . Wether using all 500 or just 1. It’s just important that you do it.

    My personal experience is that when I go zero calorie fast days . I tend to have a big appetite on the feed day., but when I use all 600 allotted to me Im very comfortable sticking to three meals under TDEE on feed days.
    Best wishes!

    Hi Tanny and welcome:

    As you lose weight your TDEE goes down and if you keep eating to your old TDEE your weight loss will slow, but not stop.

    But if you are not worried about losing weight as fast as possible, I think you should continue eating to 500 and not worry about doing 1/4 of your TDEE on your diet days. 5:2 is a long term way of eating and a few extra calories out of your diet today really means very little.

    Good Luck!

    I read that you do the diet as follows.
    Go to bed, get up and have only 500/600 calories for the day/night then go to bed and start normal eating at breakfast.
    In the book it says you can try doing 2pm -2pm or supper time to supper time(is that dinner time, we don’t have ‘supper’ here). It’s two different things and I’m confused.
    I have done both now and find the second option easier for me (6.30pm to 6.30pm). I felt really sick, dizzy, unable to concentrate on more than one thing and had a terrible headache with the first option.
    Can you please clarify this, I’ve re-read the parts in the book that mention this a number of times, then read something different on here.

    Hi Florence and welcome:

    I understand your confusion.

    5:2 is as you stated. The 24 hour diet (2 pm to 2 pm, etc.) is an alternative for those that can’t or don’t want to, for whatever reason, do 5:2.

    The 24 hour diet is a simple reduced calorie diet. By that I mean you have to count calories each day to make sure you eat at or below your TDEE each day. Many people eat to their TDEE before 2 pm (because they will not be eating for 24 hours) and then eat to their TDEE after 2 pm the next day (because they have not eaten for 24 hours and are hungry), and as a result do not lose any weight. So for the 24 hour diet to work, you have to make sure you don’t eat to your TDEE on the four days each week you are ‘dieting’. So you have to count your calories on the four days, and then, of course, not eat over your TDEE on the other three days in the week.

    On 5:2, your diet days are restricted to 500/600 calories and you are assured if you follow the ‘diet’ that you are reducing your caloric intake at least two days a week.

    I have no idea why the ‘book’ gave the 24 hour diet as an alternative, but it is there and has caused a lot of confusion. If you can control your caloric intake for the four days when you are ‘dieting’ it will work.

    Good Luck!

    Hi Simcoeluv and SAMM, thanks for the feedback. I alter my TDEE each way as it goes down and generally do not reach my allocated TDEE, unless I have a bit of a treat day, and then I will reach it. Given that, I will most likely stick to my 500 on fast days rather than stressing out and overindulging the next day. I think I will keep in mind though that if I don’t reach my 500 and I am not hungry I won’t bother trying to make sure I eat up the 500 cals. Slow weight loss I feel is better for me. I did Weight Watchers last year and lost ten kilos in 3.5 months but I always felt so deprived and if I did indulge I was always disappointed by the lack of weight loss. In the end I put the weight back on. I find the 5:2 approach much more friendly and I’m happy to have two fast low calorie day if it means I can have the latte or some dessert on the other days. In fact, I find because I’m not “restricted” all the time that I crave indulgence foods less. So, hopefully this just becomes a lifestyle change for me and I can manage to keep the weight off once I lose what I need to.

    Have a lovely week and thanks again for the feedback 🙂 Take care, Tania

    would you agree that if 3,500 calories were restricted per week over the seven days a person may lose appoximately 1 lb wether they were on 5:2 or the 24?


    I agree, cutting 3500 calories out of your diet each week (assuming you cut it from your seven day TDEE level, not some higher level) will cause about a one pound loss regardless of how you cut the 3500.

    Keep in mind that weight loss is far from a mathematical equation and the old “calories in/calories out” paradigm has been shown to be very faulty for a lot of people.

    Not everyone who limits their calories will lose weight.

    If you experiment with calorie restriction whether 5:2 or any other calorie-controlled plan, and you do not lose weight, it’s time for a visit to the doc for further investigation.


    Your comment is accurate for about .1% of the population. Very few people can stop eating any food and not lose weight.

    Question on Fast Day protocol calorie distribution. I am a bit of a night owl and tend to stay up until around 2-3am on some nights (not every night), go to bed, sleep for 3-4 hours and then get up to start getting ready for work. During the time I stay up I would have a couple of cups of tea or coffee with milk and 1/8 teaspoon of sugar in each. If my fast day is going to be Monday would I include the calories of the beverages consumed into my fast day or consider them to still belong to Sunday’s calorie intake. Basing it on the premise that fasting starts after eating dinner on Sunday night and finishes Tuesday morning when I wake up should I be allocating the beverage calories to the Monday fast day? I know it’s not a lot of calories however I was curious as to whether I was following the correct protocol given I actually do log them as Sunday’s calories rather than Monday. Thanks, Tania 🙂

    Hi Suthers, I noticed your profile says you restrict your calories to 1000 per day and still don’t lose weight. Have you had your thyroid checked? My sister has an under-active thyroid and always found it so difficult to lose any weight she was putting on until she was diagnosed. I know how terribly demotivating it can be to try so hard to do something and not see the results so I hope the 5:2 works for you. Take care, Tania

    Hi Tanny:

    It is an interesting question. I believe if you are losing weight at an acceptable rate, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    Health benefits of dried vs. fresh blueberries – related questions
    Originally Published: January 26, 2007

    Dear Alice,
    Do dried blueberries have the same health benefits as fresh blueberries?


    Dear Maria,

    Blueberries are often referred to as a “superfruit,” and for good reason! Whether fresh, frozen, or dried, blueberries have a ton of nutrients that make them a healthy addition to a balanced diet. While both dried and fresh blueberries have health benefits, you correctly guessed that there are important differences between them as well, including:

    Calories and sugar. One cup of fresh blueberries contains about 84 calories and 15 grams of sugar, while one cup of dried blueberries has over 500 calories and 100 grams of sugar. So, while you might be able to eat raw blueberries in larger quantities without worry, paying attention to portion size may be important when eating them dried (especially for diabetics!). But because they’re so calorie dense, dried fruits may be a healthy choice for athletes looking for a quick energy boost.
    Antioxidant content. Up to 40 or 50 percent of the antioxidants in blueberries are lost in the drying process, meaning fresh and frozen blueberries have more antioxidants than dried ones. Certain drying processes may remove more antioxidants than others — specifically blueberries that are heat dried and processed with an osmotic treatment (soaking the blueberries in a solution that helps them dry faster) lose more than those that don’t get an osmotic treatment. Also, freeze-dried blueberries tend to lose fewer antioxidants than those that are heat dried. Dried or not, blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, with one cup of fresh berries containing up to ten times your daily serving of antioxidants (Go Ask Alice! has more information on Antioxidants and why these compounds are important).
    Fiber. Dried blueberries come out on top in this category, containing up to twelve grams of fiber per cup versus the three to four grams per cup in fresh blueberries. Twelve grams of fiber satisfies almost half of your daily fiber requirement, making dried blueberries a bowel movement-friendly snack. 
    Sulfites. Sometimes sulfur dioxide is used to process dried blueberries, which can induce asthma symptoms in sulfite-sensitive or allergic people. You may want to make sure to read the package carefully if this is a concern for you.
    To sum things up, both dried and fresh blueberries have nutritional benefits, with studies showing that blueberries may lower cholesterol, promote cardiovascular health, prevent breast cancer, and provide all the benefits of antioxidants. However, all blueberries are not made equal: while dried blueberries can be a fiber-rich tasty treat, they’re also packed with sugar and calories that could be unhealthy when eaten in large quantities. Fresh blueberries don’t have as much fiber, but they’re low in sugar and calories and are bursting with health-promoting antioxidants. You might think about incorporating both into your diet, with dried fruit in moderation. If you are a Columbia student and you want some additional help or advice, you can make an appointment with a registered dietitian by contacting Medical Services (Morningside) or Student Health (CUMC). You can also check out the Get Balanced! Guide to Healthier Eating for more information on how to make healthier nutrition decisions.

    Here’s hoping you enjoy some blueberries berry soon!

    It’s my understanding that eating blueberries also helps as a hypertension prevention food.

    Hello ! Have been following 5:2 for almost 4 weeks (am a 51 year old male), and although not weighing myself I can feel weight is shifting.
    One thing that interested me today when reading this forum was that people are doing the 500/600 calorie intake between say 8.00 am and 8.00 am (exactly 24 hours).
    Up until now I’ve been starting the count with an approx. 200 calorie breakfast followed by a 400 calorie evening meal, then nothing until the following morning when I revert to a normal diet again. That equates nearer to consuming no more than 600 calories in more than 36 hours. Yesterday was the toughest and I slept poorly last night.
    I might give the 24 hour method a try 🙂

    I should clarify from the above post that the last food I ate was on Sunday evening around 18:00 followed by 200 cal breakfast on Monday, 400 cal evening meal, then breakfast at 07:00 Tuesday, so 600 calories in 36 hours in case anyone thought my maths was bad.

    Just joined the forum and having a nice conversation to myself already :). Thinking about the above I’m not sure I would feel I was fasting at all if I were to start the day with a full English at say 06:00, then follow that with a 200 calorie lunch and a 400 calorie evening meal, then nothing until 07:00 the following day. Technically it’s 600 calories in 24 hours but would the weight fall off ?
    I’ll shut up now. Honest 🙂

    Thanks Simcoeluv 🙂

    welcome PeelyWally! You are correct. A full fast would be 600 cal (500 for women) in 36 hours not 24. So you have a normal dinner on say, Sunday, then nothing til dinner Monday, which is 600 cal, then nothing more til breakfast Tuesday. You could also split your 600 cal into 2-3 meals during the day Monday, some people prefer to do that.

    Hi PeelyWally, I am relatively new to this too however my understanding from the book is you can have your 600 calories based on, as you said, in total a 36 hour fasting period. That is your fasting starts when you go to bed Sunday night, consume only 600 calories during Monday and then eat normally again upon waking on a Tuesday.

    Those who do the 24 hour fast, and please someone more experienced please correct me if I am wrong, say from 8am Monday to 8am Tuesday are not usually eating any calories during that period. I am sure the book mentioned you could do it either way however I find it easier to have my 500 (for a girl) calories over the longer fasting period than to go without food completely for 24 hours.

    Hope that helps. Take care, Tania

    Thanks so much kilda & TannyBear that makes sense to me now. I will continue the way I’ve been doing so far.

    Take care


    I just started the 52 fast yesterday. Unfortunately it did not go well. I followed one of the diet sheets in the original 52 book eating porridge and blueberries for breakfast and a chicken stir fry for dinner. I drank lots of water but no coffee (which I usually do) as I do not like it black. I could deal with the hunger my problem was extreme nausea, dizziness and I was very lightheaded so much so that I found it extremely difficult to get anything done. I went for a walk and found it difficult to walk in a straight line. I was awake all night with nausea and this morning was sick. I am just wondering if anyone else has experienced this. Are there any solutions or am I not suitable for the 52 diet? I am a huge fan and would love to do it but as I have a job, a house to run (my husband works away for part of the week) and an active 2 year old, I could not really continue with days like yesterday. Today it will be an easy day as I do not really feel like eating.


    That seems like quite a strong reaction. I’ve only been on the 5:2 for a couple of weeks so hopefully you’ll get some feedback from some more experienced people. However, the only time I’ve heard about this type of reaction is as withdrawal symptoms. So, if you’ve suddenly cut out sugar, coffee etc it can be quite a shock to the body. Do you normally drink a lot of coffee? It might be worth you adding a coffee with milk into your calories on your fast day to see if that helps and gradually cutting down your caffeine intake on normal days.

    I hope it works out for you though and good luck on your 5:2 journey 🙂


    Thanks for your reply Anna. I really want to do the 52 diet. I lost 7-8lbs through illness this time last year and was delighted but unfortunately have regained those lost pounds since June (being away with my husband while he was working abroad for a few months combined with careless eating while looking after my son who was very ill at the time). Could I eat more than 500 calories per fast day and still lose weight? I am more of a grazer than a large meal eater and find it difficult to sleep if I eat late. Where possible I eat my main meal at lunch time. Could I start on 800 – 1000 calories or as little as I can cope with, even if it were for 3 days and work downwards? I do not mind a slow weight loss as long as I lose it. I would also like to gain the health benefits from IF but perhaps that will come in time. Vomiting the morning after a fast is not ideal. I am fine now but it took until lunch time for me to “come around”. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks

    Hi 52 and welcome:

    Your reaction was unusual as I’ve not heard of any similar. It actually almost sounds like food poisoning.

    Remember, there is no need for ‘special’ foods, or foods your body may not be used to. You can eat what you always eat, just 500 calories or less on your diet days.

    If you want to ‘work down to it’, go ahead. But it is the two diet days each week that cause the weight loss, so if you overeat on your diet days your weight loss will be much slower than it otherwise would be.

    Good Luck!

    Just guessing , but would start on probiotics . And drink water drinks like teas instead of diet sodas?

    Perhaps a conversationtion with you general practitioner for referral for a dietitian . Safe than sorry please!
    You may find the semi fasting more favorable to detox foods.

    Good luck and keep us posted!

    Sounds like food poisoning to me too.

    I do the 4:3 @ 600
    2 meals 300cal each and go to bed early.

    Snacks are tea with stevia . A zero calorie sweet .

    My preference is dandelion tea , but green tea with lemon also good.


    Word is getting out that a low fat diet is dangerous. However, for some that means they should eat a high protein diet (because fat is still dangerous).

    However, science has long known that human get sick if they eat too much protein. So if eating a low fat high carb diet is dangerous, and eating too much protein gets you sick, what’s a person to do?

    The obvious answer is to eat more fat. Here is some more research that supports the theory that a high fat diet slows aging and, perhaps, the onset of Alzheimer’s disease:

    It is amazing how real research can change popular opinion.

    Hello, I am a newbie. I plan to start in the morning. I have 30 lbs to lose. However, I have one question. In the opening statement by simcoeluv it said you fasted at 5/600 and 2 days of your normal TDEE. However, when I read the home page it indicated you did 2 days of fasting and 5 days of normal TDEE or below calorie intake. Which is it?

    Hi zrs:

    The answer is – you do 500/600 two days a week and your TDEE or less 5 days a week.

    Good Luck!


    Many years ago I read an article about European settlers in the Americas, and the detrimental effect on their health when they necessarily started eating as (they thought) the natives did. However, their mistake was to eat the lean but not the fat, whereas the indigenous peoples were eating it all…

    Seems we’ve always been fussy eaters, and slow learners!

    is there a fast diet app for ipad or iphone just as there is a fast exercise one?

    Hi – Just starting out, first fast day – I feel its gone well:

    Boiled egg for breakfast after gym, slow roasted tomato soup for lunch and then for dinner steamed Courgettes, broccoli, fine beans, spinach and asparagus with a piece of lemon infused cod for dinner. One cup of tea with skimmed milk. 406 Cals in total, I may have a low fat alpro yoghurt to fill the gap. Or some more tea.

    My question is this – on non fast days – we are asked to eat about 2000 cals, however, I use MyFitnessPal and can say that I average around 1500 cals per day, do I have to increase my cal intake on non fast days or am i allowed to keep it around these mark?

    Hi annu:

    If there is an app, I am not aware of it.

    Hi Jammy:

    5:2 says you eat to your TDEE or less on your non diet days. The 2000 is just an example using an ‘average’ woman’s TDEE and is not intended as a blanket recommendation.

    I don’t know what your fitness pal is telling you. There is a TDEE calculator on the top of the page under ‘How’ that you can use to estimate your TDEE. Make sure to enter a lower physical activity level than you think you should (see TDEE post). Once you get going, you will find out whether or not your TDEE estimate is accurate and can adjust accordingly.

    Good Luck!

    Brilliant thank you! The first day went really well and now if I can get out of the silly habit of tracking everything else I can eat except for fast days I think this could be a real life style changer! will update progress in a few weeks 🙂

    Hi I’m a Newbie and a LOACA. Have read your run of comments from this post. I find that on the “fast” days I tend to gravitate to vegetables and fruits. I make lots of vegetable soup combinations with bouillon and jazz up the taste with ginger and cilantro and other fresh herbs and spices. My husband is not on 5:2 but he’s started to ask me to make enough for him! Secondly, on my “normal” day, I tend to carry on being conscious of calories. It puts me in that mind-set yet I know that I can nosh on anything I want. Have I lost any weight? I bounce back and forth within a 2 pound spread. I don’t have much to lose — just 7 lbs or so but those are the hardest to lose! Just the same, I love this plan. It is flexible and makes me aware of what I put in my mouth!

    Hi there. I was wondering, if I work out on a fast day, do I eat back those calories or just stick with the 500?

    No extra calories once you’re established in the 5:2 lifestyle Kgml27. Don’t worry, you CAN do pretty much anything on an empty stomach once you’re used to this WOE.

    However, if you’re a newbie and/or just starting to introduce exercise on a fastday, then give yourself a little leeway while you’re finding your feet. Fastdays shouldn’t be so horrendous that you dread them (quite the contrary), so give yourself a little extra allowance to start with IF you REALLY need it.

    I recommend exercising on an empty stomach and eating your full allowance after your workout if it’s in the evening, or if it’s in the middle of the day, try a protein shake/glass of milk, soup or fruit after the exercise and save as many calories as you can for the evening meal.

    Thank you Tracy!

    Hi. I’m now in my 9th week of the 5:2 diet. According to my scales sometimes I’ve lost 4lbs and sometimes I’ve lost 7 lbs. I’m a 32 Year old female and at the start of the diet I hoped (and still hope) to lose a stone and a half…so 21 lbs. I know people lose at different rates but I’m starting to lose faith and I don’t want to! I never ever go past the ‘lost 7 lb mark’ I used to really enjoy my fasting days but as my weight loss seems to be slow I’m getting disheartened now. Please help!

    Hi I’m now an avid 5:2 diet follower!! I’ve been on it now for about 7 weeks and have lost 7 kg!! More importantly I’ve lost a LOT of girth! About 11 cm around my middle.
    I’d be a LOT happier though if my calories screamed when I burnt them!! 😀

    Hi. I’m now in my 9th week of the 5:2 diet. According to my scales sometimes I’ve lost 4lbs and sometimes I’ve lost 7 lbs. I’m a 32 Year old female and at the start of the diet I hoped (and still hope) to lose a stone and a half…so 21 lbs. I know people lose at different rates but I’m starting to lose faith and I don’t want to! I never ever go past the ‘lost 7 lb mark’ I used to really enjoy my fasting days but as my weight loss seems to be slow I’m getting disheartened now. Please help!

    I am excited to start this in a couple of days. All of these stories are inspiring and give me hope that I can do this! I am trying to lose about 50 pounds. Going to try and eat around 1600 calories or so on my days off. I work out about 40 minutes 5-6 days a week so hopefully this combo will work!

    Hi Lollie82, I know what you mean about feeling down hearted. I did 2 weeks of fasting, lost 3 lbs, then went away for 4 days (eat and drank more than I was used to) and gained 6lbs!!!!! I think my problem is that I probably eat more than I THINK I do, on non fast days. Maybe keeping a record of exactly what you eat on non fast days may help? Don’t give up, for some people, it does take longer to see results. How much have you got to lose? I want/aim to lose 10 -12lbs but don’t think that’s possible in 4 weeks (not judging by my past record!!) but will keep on trying. Please let me know how you get on and just remember, we are all in the same boat and are all trying to reach our goals.

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