Welcome to The Fast Diet › The official Fast forums › Welcome to The Fast Diet and Exercise forums › The Basics for Newbies – Your Questions Answered!
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20 Apr 16
I think that was it…thank you!
15 May 16
Hi, just joined and keen to get cracking! I’ll be ordering the book asap as I want to understand this diet properly, but, I’d be grateful for some help with a question in the meantime.
A colleague at work has started 5:2 and brings a box of 100 cals worth of raw veggies to work to eat throughout the day (celery, cucumber etc) and then has a 400 cal evening meal.
Does this sound a good way to do a fast day? I like the sound of it but read a post above just now that said no to grazing.
Would be grateful for some thoughts.
Really depends what your grazing on. If you must graze then raw green veggies would have to be the best option. What you want to avoid is anything that raises your blood glucose too much. Bread, rice, sugar, fruit juice, potatoes, sweet veggies like capsicum etc. When I first started I tried 600 cal per day on fast days for about two weeks. In the end I couldn’t be bothered counting calories so I decided to do a water fast. I actually found it easier than eating 600 cals. So my fast days have been water for about a year now. Reached my goal weight, 44 pounds lost so I do 6:1 maintenance but still do my water fast every Monday. Its my big reset button.
Thanks for the reply – there’s lots of info I’m trying to take in at the moment and reading through all the forums is blowing my mind a bit!!
I was thinking I might do something similar to the colleague I’ve seen do at work, so some celery, cucumber, carrots etc. I’ve been looking up the caloric value of each, so should be able to do a little tub of some specific amounts.
I’ve read some people suggesting that having any kind of snack or grazing during the day can spur you to just keep going and eat too much, but I don’t think I’m really in danger of that. If I had a tupperware tub with some veg in, then I’d have the willpower to just eat that and avoid the biscuits 😉
Just concerned that spreading the eating of them out might mean I wasn’t really fasting?
Seriously impressed with your water-only approach, not sure I’d manage to be as hardcore, but your weight loss sounds brilliant!
Thanks so much for the help, I’m keen to get off on the right foot so it’s very welcome.
5:2 is not really “fasting”. Its a reduced caloric intake two days per week. It works and people do it all sorts of different ways. Experiment and find a combo that works for you. Some graze, some have breakfast, some dinner, some lunch etc. Some do consecutive days, some spread them out. Once you’ve worked it out stick to it. The one thing I recommend is to avoid any sort of carbs on your fast days. Eating carbs will make it real hard. Stick to fats and protein with lots of veggies.
Pollwoll dont get too confused with everyone else’s methods. The beauty of 5:2 is that it can fit into your lifestyle. Just stick to the basic principles of fasting twice a week at one quarter of your TDEE and keep under TDEE on other days. It takes some people a while to get used to fasting, but as your body adapts and gets smarter at burning fats for energy, you can evolve your style to suit yourself. I have followed 5:2 since September ’14 and lost 23 kgs. Fasting has gradually gotten easier and easier, but it was tough at first. So if you think having those veggies at work will help, then do it. Your overall calories for the fast day is the main thing. You just need to be patient and you will see results. Many people on this forum have been fasting for ages and have gotten to a point where they can go all day on water and hot drinks only, but I am certain they didn’t start off like this. Remember to drink lots of water etc and have some salt if you develop a headache. Miso soup is very low cal and salty. If you feel light headed, have a big drink of water.
Hi Poll and welcome:
All of the advice above is solid. But one of the hardest things about 5:2 is that is has almost no rules. This bothers many people so they try to make some up to help them as they go along. When a newbie comes along, they are faced with an almost unlimited amount of ‘advice’ on how to do 5:2 based on the ‘rules’ people have come up with. And then they are told to do it ‘the way that works for you’ – not really helpful because they have no idea what that way is. It is hard.
So I recommend following the one rule of 5:2 – on your two diet days each week, regardless of when you decide they will be or what you decide to eat on those days or when you decide to eat within the diet day, make sure you eat 5/600 calories or less. Your initial primary goal on 5:2 should not be the total amount of weight you want to lose, but simply to do two correct diet days each week. I have found that by doing the diet days correctly, you will learn ‘what works best for you’ and all will be well in your 5:2 diet world.
Thank you all for the thoughtful and helpful replies – all much appreciated!
I’m going to have a bash at taking some veg to work with me to have as way to help me through the fast days – I feel much more able to tackle these days, which feel a bit daunting as a newbie, knowing I’ve got some ‘safe’ and counted things to turn to.
Miso soup sounds a top tip too – thanks! And likewise avoiding carbs, I can see how they’d be tempting but ultimately make it all harder.
It’s interesting to think of 5:2 as a way of eating that has one very specific rule, but one that you can deliver in a variety of ways – that actually puts an awful lot of the different posts I’ve been reading into context.
Thanks again all, really appreciate your help! First fasting day will be Tuesday, Mondays are cruel enough 😉
17 May 16
First fast day and I think it’s been a success! (insert smug face here…..)
So… I don’t usually eat breakfast anyway so skipping that was easy. I took 80 cals worth of raw veggies to work with me (celery, cucumber, cherry toms and a few mushrooms) and mostly ate them at lunch, although did save a few for the afternoon munchies.
Dinner this evening – New Covent Garden Skinny Soup (Peri Peri chicken) 183 calories and a 50 calorie yoghurt.
And I’m done! So that’s less than 500 calories! Currently sipping sparkling water instead of my usual G&T.
Does anyone know how many calories you’d count for a splash of milk in a cup of tea? I have strong tea and literally a splash of semi-skimmed, thinking I should count that too.
Hope everyone has had a good day?
Hurrah for day one! 🙂
18 May 16
You’ve done well, Pollwol. Better than I did last fast day. I measure the milk into a small jug and use it from there through the day. Usually 30-50 grams, around 30 cals.
Onwards and upwards to the next one 😊 Here’s hoping the second one is ok too and that you have a better time of it on your next day.
Thanks for the milk tip!
14 Jun 16
Do people find it easier to fast with or without food? And easier to fast two days in a row?
Is there anyone doing a low carb diet in between fast days?
Any ideas would be appreciated!
Hi cello and welcome:
Some prefer to fast (that means eating no food) and some prefer to eat their 5/600 cal. or less. Some prefer to ‘fast’ two days in a row, some just can’t do it. You actually get more ‘fasting’ time with two non-consecutive days.
Some do a low carb diet (old Atkins) when not fasting, some can’t stand it.
5:2 is based on calories, not type of food eaten so if you stay within the calorie guidelines of 5/600 cal. or less on diet days and TDEE or less on non diet days you will do just fine.
The basic rule is the less you eat, the more you lose.
15 Jun 16
Thanks for all the info! I’m trialling my first fast day today and going well so far. I am a teacher and have some reports to write tonight, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m going to get miso packets on the way home (going down the Michael Mosely road).
I will most likely do fasts separately after your advice. Would anyone advise doing a 4 day fast to kickstart the process, with only miso and fluids?
If you think you can do it go for it. Contrary to popular belief fasting for 4 days is not “starvation”. Just make sure you have lots of water. You might struggle as it takes quite some time to for your liver to become efficient at processing fats into glucose and ketone bodies. If you are overweight and have been living on a high carb diet your liver has not had to access fat very often so its unlikely it will magically be able to do that just because you’ve started a new 5:2 diet.
It will probably take about 1-2 months before your liver is really working well. You may suffer from slight headaches to begin with. This is your brain screaming for glucose which it now isn’t getting lots of because your fasting. In time as your liver cranks up it will be producing glucose and ketones. Your brain can also utilise ketones as an energy substrate so there is no fear associated with fasting in that regards. Your brain will happily process ketones for energy.
If youre going well that’s great. You may start to struggle towards the end of the day, that’s normal to begin with. It gets better and easier the longer you do this for.
Since I’ve been low carb for over a year now I think it should be an easy (ish) transition!
I’ll keep you posted. I’ll probably start on Friday and go over the weekend and Monday! I have ketostix at home to monitor when I go into ketosis so that’s good!
I do not recommend that newbies start with a four day fast. Experience and observation have shown that people that try to start with a longer fast are unsuccessful and then quit 5:2 altogether. I suggest that you concentrate on doing two successful diet days each week for a month or so to let your body get used to this drastically new way of eating. After you have convinced yourself you can do that, you can move on to additional fasting days.
Id agree with simco. Im not advocating 4 days as well, but then Im not stopping you either. I only ever did 2 consecutive days per week and now happily do 1 water fast day per week as Im in maintenance mode.
Drink lots for the obvious reasons. One of the side effects of going into ketosis is that you urinate more often, its your body’s way of keeping the acid levels low. Ketosis has the effect of raising acid levels. So make sure you drink lots. I usually drink mineral water as it has salts in it. Take a good multivitamin tablet that has lots of vitamin B. B helps liver function.
Keto sticks give you a ball park guide and I initially used them. There are glucose/keto meters on the market and they are pretty cheap to buy. Shop around. I use a freestyle optium neo meter but there are others on the market. Also shop around for the glucose and keto sticks that the meter uses, you can get good prices for them if you shop around.
Is there a resource of grab-and-go type snacks/food to get you through a fast day?
I’ve done Slimming World (lost 4st, put 6st back on) and they always had a section on stuff you can just grab to get you through without having to work out details like calories. I’m generally a 3-meals-a-day person, exercise/walk a bit during the week (Pilates once a week, walk a couple of miles a couple of days p.w. when I leave my car outside town), and I’m a lazy cook and like my meals quick and easy. My lunch at work according to My Fitness Pal comes in at 250 calories. I’m gutted to learn bananas are upwards of 100 calories as these are a staple and one of the only fruits I can eat during summer when my hay fever/allergies mean I can’t eat certain fruit.
We’re about to go on a camping holiday so now probably isn’t the best time to start this as we do self-cater but will also be eating out and supermarket sandwich meal deals.
kazvye…a hard boiled egg, a packet of instant miso soup (just add hot water)…
That’s about it for me. I try not to snack at all.
Hi. I’m feeling a bit disheartened. Have been doing 5:2 for about 3 weeks, did very very well first two. Weighed myself on Friday, 10st8.2. Had 1650 Saturday, then fasted on Sunday (432). Weighed myself on Monday, 10st9. Had 1606 calories on Monday, fasted Tuesday (495), weighed myself this morning, 10st10. I know it hasn’t been too long and fingers crossed it’s just a blip, but am wondering if I’m doing anything wrong!
Hi kazvye and welcome:
As a newbie this isn’t going to help much because you won’t really understand, but what 5:2 teaches if you do it long enough is that you don’t have to eat – anything – on diet or non-diet days and you will get along just fine. But it takes awhile to come to that understanding.
In the meantime, you can eat any foods you want on your diet days. Many choose foods high in fats and protein because they do not get as hungry as when they eat carbs. Then they find they don’t get hungry at all if they don’t eat anything.
Hi Katie and welcome:
If you read the ‘Warnings’ link in the post that started this thread you will know that you can easily gain two or more pounds on any given day or week ‘for no reason’ (it is water weight and food in transit). You are not doing anything wrong. Just keep on going and you will do just fine. Sort of need to trust a bit here.
simcoeluv, thank you very much, and i very much hope so! used to do slimming world where you would have ‘star weeks’ (i.e. weeks where you wouldn’t lose any weight or even gain because of what was going on with your womb that week) so am hoping i’m just having one of those! thank you.
Thanks simcoeluv. Yeah not sure about eating ‘nothing’ at all; although I can go through a whole Saturday or Sunday, gardening for hours and eat nothing between breakfast and tea – not sure about an 8-hour work day though (especially surrounded by food/food outlets as I am)! I’m sure I’ll come to understand it if I can last the course!
Weirdly, I’m the other way with the carbs/protein thing!
16 Jun 16
I do the same as KLo, and it is easy to take to work – a hard boiled egg, a small piece of cheese, some carrot and celery sticks, raw, maybe some lettuce, and you’re still only at about 150 cals. Add a cup of bouillon to sip from a cup or drink with a spoon and you feel you’ve had a meal.
Thanks everyone, particularly simcoeluv and bigbooty!!
Your words are wise. I tend to jump into extremes easily, so I’m glad someone has give me a wake up message of take it slow.
I have done the 5:2 before, albeit not long, and I found I had weight gain. I am going to try something different this time and not weigh myself for a month. I think that will give me a better picture of the 5:2 over a longer period. I’d say three months but that’s a bit ambitious for me. I’m going to try to gauge how I’m going with my clothes.
Had my first fast day yesterday and it was really good, I went over by 100 calories and had 500. I know for me, because I don’t have a lot to lose, I’ll need to be strict with it, so tomorrow is the next fast day and I’m just going to have water and an egg and miso for dinner. Dinner is when I’m the most hungry (isn’t that the case for everyone) sigh.
Cheers and good luck all.
Have a look at what you are eating. Calories are not all created equal. When you eat 1600 calories what are you eating? Sugar and simple carbs like bread will cause a large spike in blood glucose which will spike insulin which means the carbs will be stored as fat. I had a big bowl of veggie salad and my BG went from 4.5mmol/L to 6.5mmol/L. Once slice of pizza and it went from 4.5 to 8.5!! Both about the same amount of calories. Do try and avoid starchy foods like bread, rice, pasta, pizza, potatoes.
Your BG levels affects insulin levels. Insulin levels act as your body’s set weight point. To lower this you need to fast and eat less carbs. Ideally carbs that are locked up in fibre. Eat veggies. No Im not a vegan/veggie person I like my cheese and meat as well.
Avoid breakfast cereals they are pure crap!! Avoid fruit juice, pure crap. Whole fruits, no problems. Juice and dried fruits avoid at all costs.
17 Jun 16
Thank you for the advice 🙂
I wouldn’t say I’m carb-free atm, but have cut down tonsssss. Did Slimming World until about March this year, which just meant carbs carbs carbs every single meal practically.
To give an example, today so far I’ve had blackberries and yoghurt for breakfast, I had a salad with chicken, egg and avocado for lunch, but will have avocado on brown bread later 🙂
Don’t eat any breakfast cereal and no juice.
30 Jun 16
Excuse my ignorance please. I thought the idea was to cut out sugar and sweetners? ??? My struggle will be diet drinks coke Fanta etc. Thought idea was to cut them out ????help. I understand everything else too . Molly
KatI brown bread brown rice ok??
What youre doing sounds good to me. All those diet “experts” make me laugh. Don’t get me started. You’d think I could convince my wife to do what I did. She’s seen the results, has been a yo-yo dieter relying on all those diet worlds and largely been unsuccessful. Argg. Its all about the products they can sell you. I read the nutritional info on the “diet supplements” she takes. The “protein” bars she has been eating, the sugar + chocolate amounted to 55% of the bar. Argggggg. And adding insult to injury the protein is based on whey. Argggg. And this is being pedalled by “diet experts”. Its all about the money. The beauty with 5:2 is it costs nothing, in fact it saves you money. No wonder the diet industry wont embrace 5:2.
26 Aug 16
Hi Vicki, where do I find the LOACA thread?
I’m not vicki but here: https://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/help-all-ladies-of-a-certain-age-please-respond/
6 Sep 16
Simcoeluv…thankyou for the link to the newbie site. It is has answered a lot of my questions. Even though I read Dr. M’s the Fast Diet book there were still some things I had trouble understanding. So far the first day of fasting was a breeze. I will keep you posted on how things are going.
You are welcome!
Like many things in life, you will have a better chance to be successful if you are persistent and keep going. You will not lose weight quickly on 5:2, but you will lose all you want to lose if you just give it enough time! If you have any more questions, just ask.
11 Sep 16
Hi there, quick question, my TDEE is 1772 and BMR 1443.
On nfd’s, soneone said I have to eat above my BMR (but below my TDEE) or my body starts storing the food I eat instead of burning it for energy. I’m not eating up to my BMR on nfd’s – just because I don’t need that much food.
Can you please clarify? Thanks
Short answer is no. So if youre eating below your TDEE and supposedly your storing it as fat, what is your body using as its fuel source?
Longer answer, if you are eating foods that produce large insulin spikes this will cause the simple (excess) carbs to be stored as fat. If you don’t eat up to your TDEE then the body will try and compensate a little by reducing all metabolic functions. You may feel colder than usual (thermogenesis) or you may feel sluggish. This may cause the weight loss to slow. So if you had the option of eating 200 cal less each day or fasting for one day (1400 cal), chose the one day fast.
BB, simsoeluv said yes I do have to eat above my BMR or I’ll down regulate my metabolism
Please read my answer again. What is the concern regarding BMR? Do you feel sluggish or cold? If not then no problems and keep doing what youre doing. My preferred option is not to run at a deficit each day but to severely fast once per week (water only fast). But that’s me and most cant do that.
Once again I’ll say, given the option of eating below your TDEE each day for the week or eating up to your TDEE for 6 days and then water fasting for one day, chose the one day water fast.
Hi Beth and welcome:
There is no reason for you to eat between your BMR and TDEE. The quickest way to lose weight is to eat nothing at all.
Some people believe your body will go into ‘starvation mode’ if you don’t eat enough food. Many of those people advise that you eat at least your BMR in calories to prevent this from happening. However, the ‘starvation mode’ is a myth. It is addressed by Dr. M in the FAQs (above) and in a separate post.
The main reason your ‘metabolism’ slows down (aside from impact of drugs, thyroid issues, the cessation of smoking – a serious drug – or a serious illness) is because you lose weight. When you lose weight, you don’t have to work as hard to carry it around so you use fewer calories. So the best way to keep a ‘high’ metabolism is not to lose weight! Most on this site would rather have a lower weight and slower metabolism, however.
If your blood sugar spikes, the excess sugar is not all automatically converted to fat. It is not that simple. It can be converted to triglycerides in the blood. It can be forced into fat cells. But most likely it will be converted to glycogen and stored in the muscles and the liver. The glycogen is why people who have been on diets note quick weight gains when they go off the diet and eat processed carbs (like chips or bread) or drink alcohol. Glycogen requires up to 4 times its weight in water to be stored so the body retains water to facilitate the storage of the glycogen and weight is gained. The weight comes off just as fast after the diet is restarted and the body loses its excess ‘water weight’. That also explains the quick and significant weight losses experienced by people just starting their diets. They are not losing pounds of fat the first couple of weeks, they are losing pounds of water. Also, to gain fat weight you have to be eating over your TDEE in calories. Otherwise, an ‘equal’ amount of glycogen/fat is burned to provide the energy the body needs to function.
So, to sum up, the less you eat, the more you lose and you do not have to worry about slowing your metabolism by eating too little or spiking your blood sugar occasionally by eating processed carbs every once in awhile. Just do 5:2 properly and you will lose weight and feel better!
12 Sep 16
I am confused, getting a few different answers. Andi Sutherland (from the 5:2 facebook page) says:
If you consistently restrict calories you will down-regulate your metabolism. Over time you’ll find you have to eat less and less just to maintain, let alone lose any further weight.
I’m fine with fast day calorie amounts. I just need to know how many calories I should be eating on non-fast days.
My TDEE is 1772 and BMR 1443. I’m 79kg and my goal is 65kg. On fast days I’m currently sticking to 500cals.
How many calories should I eat on non-fast days?
I’m sure I have never advised you to eat above your BMR or risk ‘down regulating’ your metabolism. There is no such thing as ‘starvation mode’! So on your non diet days you can eat to your TDEE or less – and as much less as you want!
I think you are over analysing it. If you are restricting your calories every day then its really not 5:2 is it? My personal preference, eat normally for 5 days (up to your TDEE) and water fast for two day.
I think I know what your fear is. The scenario you paint is not a permanent situation. You will not as a consequence of daily calorie restriction, for ever more, lower your metabolic rate. Of course as a consequence of losing weight you will naturally need to have less caloric intake but that is a separate issue from the concerns you are talking about.
Lets use your TDEE as an example. Daily calorie restriction, 1772 – 506 = 1266 for 7 days = 8862 for the week. You are calorie restricting every day. Or do 5:2, eat 1772 x 5 = 8860 and water fast for 2 days. At the end of the week you will have eaten 8860 calories using both methods. Over the long term I believe that the 5:2 routine will yield better results rather than restricting every day. This is both from a physical aspect as well as a mental/psychological aspect.
Thanks Simcoeluv, I was sure I had read where you’d advised that before writing my post but will double check when I have more time.
Bigbooty – I’m not trying to overanalyse, just wanted to clarify how many cals on nfd’s (not interested in doing water only fasts) as I’m reading conflicting answers in different forums and fb pages, hence confusion.
Ps. Melody Gruber on the 5:2 diet Australia fb page just replied to someone asking a similar question to mine – saying if you don’t eat up to or over BMR then your body goes into starvation mode….
Andi Sutherland (also on fb 5:2 diet page) is saying If you consistently restrict calories you will down-regulate your metabolism. Over time you’ll find you have to eat less and less just to maintain, let alone lose any further weight.
You can see my confusion. Many people offering advice but how do you know who is an expert and qualified to provide the advice?? 🙁
Are you absolutely sure Melody said your body would go into “starvation mode”? What are Melody’s qualifications? People often bandy around that term when in fact what they mean in most cases is that they are “hungry”. Im starving is not the same as Im hungry. The two concepts are a world apart but people interchange the terms rather carelessly. Picture those poor souls in concentration camps during WW2. That is starvation mode.
Starvation mode is when you do not have any caloric intake for an extremely extended period of time (months!! not hours, or days or even weeks) and have exhausted all usable body fat (below probably 2-3%). At that point your body is left with no option other that to start catabolising all non essential protein (muscles, skin, organs etc.) in order to survive. It also shuts down all non essential activity in order to preserve energy. That is starvation mode. I seriously doubt anyone on this forum is even close to that.
Most trained doctors receive VERY little training in diet/nutrition during their medical degree. If you want sound advice then ask people that specialise in this field and are ALSO successful. Jason Fung comes to mind or Alan Goldhamer from True North medical. They both have you tube lectures. Watch a few of them.
I doubt anyone on this forum is “qualified” to give medical advice. Most medical doctors would be hard pressed to give sound advice let alone forum members. Most of us are just passing along tips that have worked for us. Ask the vast majority of doctors how the fat disappears while dieting and they wouldn’t be able to tell you how it is metabolised and what the end products are. By the way its water and CO2. You eventually breath and urinate your fat out.
With regards to the concept of reducing your metabolic rate as a consequence of having a daily caloric deficit, yes that may happen but it is not a permanent outcome. If its such a huge concern for you then eat your TDEE for 5 days and fast for 2. Simple. When I stared this 5:2 diet I would water fast for 2 days and eat normally for the other 5. Ive reached my goal weight in March (took me a year to lose 45 pounds (21 kg). I now do 6:1 and my fast day is still a water only fast. Im fasting right now, just went for my 1 hour walk. No impairment, no lack of energy , no reduced metabolic rate.
Hi bigbooty, thank you for your reply regarding ‘starvation’ issues. It’s very true what you say. I just wanted to ask you about your water fast? It’s taken me 7 months to lose a stone with fasting, some weeks have been easier than others. I want to lose another 7 pounds and feel my body has come to a stop!! How do you get your head around just drinking water for a day? Some tips would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance.
I understand your dilemma. My option is this: eat function of my real hunger. My TDEE is around 1.700, but some days I’m sedentary and not so hungry, then I eat a single meal around 1.000 calories; other days I am very hungry (sometimes also more active) and I eat 2.000 – 2.500 (2 meals in a 4 hours eating window). (I’m not on 5:2 diet, but on other IF pattern, but you get the point.)
Listen to your body and let him say “how much”. This means also less stress and no danger of lowering your metabolism. Don’t be mind-fixed on daily maximum (TDEE), but on weekly / monthly average. And as long this average on a longer period of time is lower than your TDEE, you will lose fat.
I struggled for the first month. It was will power that got me there. Would get headaches and feel very sluggish. It does get better/easier after about a month. Your liver needs to get efficient at accessing and converting stored fats at a fast enough rate. This took about a month for me and after about 6 months I noticed it had become very easy to do.
Ok what do I do? I drink lots of water at regular intervals during the day. (I prefer carbonated water, Santa Vittoria). I chew gum like my life depends on it. All day. I incorporate a gentle lunch time walk. Perhaps don’t do this until you are used to water fasting. You may get light headed. Some people have salty bone broth. Ive never done this but can see how it would help. The salt concentration means that after drinking the broth your stomach needs to draw in water to help equalise the salt concentration in your stomach. This gives you the sensation of being full and temporarily stops producing the hormone ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hormone that sends the signal to your brain telling you that youre hungry.
It does get easier with time. Sorry I cant give you any more hints.
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