Timing of meals on fast days

This topic contains 21 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  Fireboxchaser 6 years ago.

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  • Just re-starting this eating plan as New Year resolution! I’m sure this topic has come up many times but would appreciate some guidance.
    The most convenient way of fasting for me is to fast between 7pm one day to 7pm the next day.
    This means, for example, that I would finish my main normal evening meal before 7pm on a Monday, eat 500 calories during Tuesday and eat another main normal evening meal after 7pm on the Tuesday.
    The big advantage of this is that it doesn’t have to affect my husband at all and I can plan without needing to do anything different for him.
    I’m so hoping this is considered to be effective!

    Hi Kat and welcome:

    You will not be doing 5:2. What you have described is an every day reduced calorie diet. It will be effective if you eat less than your TDEE each day. How much less will determine how much you lose. Here is a discussion: https://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/52-calorie-restriction-v-fasting-for-newbies/

    Good Luck!

    Hi Kat,

    Simco’s right I’m afraid, that’s not fasting! It looks pretty much like one of my normal non-fast days! I often don’t eat til lunch, then maybe have a tuna or cottage cheese salad/ hummus and veggies/ soup (coming in at less than 500 calories) and then a normal evening meal.

    If you want to do 5:2, then on the night before your fast day you’d have your evening meal and go to bed, get up the next morning and eat 500 calories during the day then go to bed, get up and eat normally.

    Have you read the book? Might be worth it to get your head round the concept.

    Thank you so much – I’ve read the article. Must admit to being disappointed! It seems to me that the 5-2 should actually be called 4-3 because you’re fasting for two periods of 36 hours which equals 72 hours or three 24 hour days. That makes it much more demanding and off-putting. Maybe I’m missing something but now feel extremely discouraged and reluctant to give this another go. I’m also confused because sometimes the advice seems to be to eat what you want on the non-fast days while in others it seems you have to control your eating and calorie count every day.
    Having said all that I do know several people who have lost a lot of weight on this eating plan so maybe I can find a way of using it to do the same.

    Thanks. I have read the book and thought that somewhere there was a report of someone successfully having her fast day from 2pm to 2pm which is why I thought 7pm to 7pm might work. Feeling a bit confused and discouraged just at the moment and not sure I want to continue.

    Surely what I’m doing is 5 – 2 i.e. Fasting for 2 periods of 24 hours (2 days)and eating normally for 5 periods of 24 hours (5 days) which equals a 7 day week. Somewhere you’re creating an 8 day week or this should actually be called the 4-3 diet to be more honest.

    Hi Kat:

    There are well over 100 24 hour periods in a week, but only 7 days. (And I’m told the second edition of the book deleted the 24 hour option. Thank god if that is true!)


    Perhaps think of a day as midnight to midnight rather than a random 24 hour period that fits in with your eating?

    Your maths is off, it’s not 3 days.

    And also when you think you “can eat what you want” on non-fast days, that’s correct. No food groups are prohibited. But “what you want” isn’t the same as “however much you want”.

    5:2 is incredibly simple and effective. Don’t be discouraged. You just need to understand it.

    Hi…so I’m doing this 5:2 thing in a sort of 4:3 way and having somewhat of a good go at it. I fast, eating 500 calories, on those 3 days and feel fine as I don’t have to count on the other 4 – leaving my right brain to wonder in all directions wonderful.

    The weight isn’t falling off but as I have read it is a slow but steady process. That said, the guy who turned me on to this and who looks great tells me he only fasted 2 days a week from 7 am to 7 pm. Then if he felt like it he would imbibe in cocktails and other sorted un-diet foods. He is now on 6:1 and and a true believer for life.

    I, on the other hand understand the book and all the information I have read to say “no, your fast days are 24 hours and in that time you can only eat 500/600 calories of whatever the bleep you want, whenever the bleep you want and however the bleep you want.” That is correct, isn’t it? As I could really use a cold, crisp sip of Pinot Grigio right about now!

    Hi She and welcome:

    Your confusion is common and understandable.

    Check the FAQ at the top of the page “Is a “fast day” 24 or 36 hours?” for Dr. M’s answer to the question how long a fast day is.

    The book also states that for the other 5 days, you can eat normally. Unfortunately, that does not work for many overweight people, so the ‘common knowledge’ has morphed to eating to your TDEE or less the other five.

    Anybody can lose weight following any eating program or pattern as long as they eat less than their TDEE over time. 5:2 is simply a way to cut calories by drastically limiting them two days a week rather than the more common every day reduced calorie process which often cuts about 500 cal. a day from the diet.

    As many on this site will tell you, do whatever you want and it will be fine as long as it works for you!

    I like Pinot, but as it is below freezing where I am right now, I’ll settle for an Irish coffee or something else that is warm!

    However the timing is calculated, eating only a quarter of the TDEE on two days means that, even if you eat 100% of TDEE on the other 5 days, you have consumed considerably less than TDEEx7 during the week. Ergo, you will lose weight. One upside, according to Dr M, is that most if not all of the loss is fat rather than muscle which evidently is the case with some other ‘diet plans’.
    If 5:2 works for you (and it is not for everyone, admittedly) it removes the need to calorie count EVERY day, the unrelenting concentration on which puts some people off, especially if they see little benefit on the scales some days.
    Personally, I found it a little bit difficult at first but now, in my third month and after losing a stone in weight (and feeling much more energetic and “well”), it’s not a major problem and the slight discomfort of restricting food on only two days a week is well worth the results.

    I can see a value in 24 hour fasting and would definitely consider it when travelling overseas. The scenario would be where a breakfast buffet was included with a hotel stay. I’d go from breakfast to breakfast and happily skip lunch and dinner. Finding suitable food while on the move is particularly challenging and time-consuming for me because, all over the world, restauranteurs seem to think that all travellers want is ‘something’ placed between two pieces of bread and served with chips. So going without would suit me just fine. And how delicious that second buffet would taste!

    I’ve only done one 24 hour + fast which was the period prior to an 11 hour flight. I fasted from 10 pm one evening and boarded a flight at midnight the following night having had one cup of coffee with milk that morning. My airline dinner was to be my meal estimated at around 1am. Unfortunately at 2am, we were still on the tarmac with ‘technical issues’ so, when it finally arrived, that was the best ever airline meal.

    Kat56, if you want to do a 24 hour fast between 7pm and 7pm, I think it would be fine if that’s how it best fits in with your lifestyle and that of your husband. The only thing is, that you can’t have that 500 calories you’re taking about in the hours in between. Alternatively, you could make sure that your second 7pm dinner is 500 calories or less and not eat again until the following morning. That would also be a fast.

    EGB, I think that’s where the confusion lies – Kat56’s plan isn’t a fast because she’s planning on consuming a quarter of her TDEE PLUS whatever is the calorie count of her evening meal. Well done with your loss so far.

    All the best to you with whatever works. It’s definitely worth the sacrifice. Nothing tastes as good as being slim feels. Hi Happy, how are you?

    Hi Thin, I’m good thanks! I’ve got rid of the last of my Xmas weight, 0.9kg under trigger weight this morning 😀

    I know you’re busy in the Southern Hemisphere, but you’re being missed on the MC maintainers thread!

    The comment in the fast diet book regarding fasting from 2pm to 2pm has caused a fair amount of confusion and it should be ignored by anyone who wants to lose weight as it won’t work.

    5:2 is quite simple really, on two days per week you only consume 500 calories during your waking hours and on the other 5 days you can eat any type of food you choose but you need to stay within your TDEE which is the upper limit of calories you should have in a day for someone of your age, sex, height and lifestyle. You can calculate TDEE by clicking the how it works link at the top of the page. As you lose weight you need to re-calculate as the less you weigh the less calories your body needs which is often confusingly and inaccurately labelled as a slowing down of metabolism.
    As a weight loss method it is no different to any other diet, you need to create a calorie deficit. There is no magic bullet, in order to weigh less you have to eat less and in order to lose 1lb of fat you need to create a calorie deficit of around 3,700 calories which isn’t going to happen if you eat 500 calories plus your dinner.

    The difference between 5:2 and other diets IMO are the perceived health benefits of fasting and the fact that it helps us change our eating habits for the better while eating normal food which enables us to keep the weight off once we’ve reached our goal.
    Oh yes, and it’s free and doesn’t involve going to a weekly class and being given inaccurate and outdated information regarding what is healthy and what isn’t and being offered a range of usually very expensive “diet foods”

    Balancing the diet with the rest of the family can be tricky, can’t it?

    I have a question about the timing of fasting as well! I’m trying to do 3 days of fasting at the moment to jump start the program. I’m eating 250 calories for breakfast and 250 calories for dinner that same evening. My question is how long should i wait between meals. I know that regarding a calorie deficit and losing weight, as long as I’m eating less I’ll lose weight, but I am also curious about the health benefits of fasting and when those kick in. etc. Like after how many hours does my body start to eat the fat stores and not the glycogen from my food. What is the prime amount of hours for fasting to begin to receive the dementia and cancer prevention benefits? I’ve been going about 11.5-12 hours, is that OK? The book does recommend 2 small meals on fast days so I think I’m doing it right, but I’m reading a lot of conflicting information on forums etc. Looking forward to hearing back!!

    Hi Adrianne,

    You are always burning a combination of glucose, glycogen and fat. The ratio varies depending on the activity and the state you’re in. If you want fat burning to dominate (i.e. ketogenic state) then you can eat a keto diet which Im not a big fan of or you can fast. By fasting I mean youre just having water. When I first started fasting it would take me 48 hours to get into a ketogenic state. I now get there in about 24 hours. Its a combination of less glycogen stores and my liver being able to access stored fats and converting them into ketone bodies a lot faster. I measure my ketones using a meter.

    If you have your last meal at 6pm, go to bed and then have breakfast at 8am your already fasting for 14 hours. If you skip breakfast and have lunch you can extend that to 18 hours pretty easy. It is unlikely that having small meals on your fast day will allow you to get into a keto state, unless your diet is a keto diet with very little carbs in the first place.

    Hi Adrianne,

    Put simply, if you’re doing 500 calories on fast days, and eating pretty normally on the other days then initially trust that you’re doing the program. Keep it simple, don’t worry and see what happens.

    Keep doing what works and adjust when you’re not getting results.

    As for my experience, eventually it became far easier to not eat at all on fast days. 36 hours without any food does seriously kick into fat burning. Combining that with eating real, unprocessed foods on the other days made a huge difference, and so there is no need to count calories at all now. Whatever you choose, just remember to up the water intake.

    A distraction like a cup of coffee, or a walk, may help when the pangs get stronger, and soon enough the pangs are gone. After the body adjusted, there are less hunger pangs on fast days than eating days.

    It’s quite freeing to no longer feel the need to eat, and a real sense of achievement with every fast. Fasting may need more mindfulness. But strangely, fast days now seem more enjoyable, and energy filled, and natural, than eating days.

    Its my first day today. I haven’t eaten since 11pm last night and had nothing today (its now 13.30) apart from a cup of tea with a small dash of milk. Should I be having something now within the 500 calorie limit and then a meal at teatime?

    Hi Fire and welcome:

    The way 5:2 works is it reduces your calorie intake two days a week. If you eat to your TDEE or less the other five, you will lose weight.

    It does not matter when you eat your calories on either your diet days or your non-diet days. You can eat whenever you want.

    Here are some tips: https://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/the-basics-for-newbies-your-questions-answered/

    Good Luck!

    Thanks simcoeluv for your welcome,

    First day now complete. I saved some calories for a banana this evening as I knew I would be feeling hungry but its included in the 500 cals so all good. Thanks for your input!

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