Warnings to Newbies

This topic contains 97 replies, has 56 voices, and was last updated by  simcoeluv 6 years, 11 months ago.

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  • As I have been ‘doing’ 5:2 for almost a year, and have been reviewing 5:2 forums for almost that long, I notice I seem to see many of the same questions and concerns expressed by newbies on every site. I have come to the conclusion that newbies need to be issued several warnings about following 5:2.

    WARNING 1: Go to the top of this page, click on “FAQ” and read. Condensed there is a huge amount of valuable information that most people want. Failure to read these FAQs can lead to unnecessary worry, confusion and general uneasiness (and dispel some misconceptions about weight loss).

    WARNING 2: 5:2 is not a quick weight loss diet (in fact, it was not designed as a weight loss diet at all). So if you are here to lose enough weight to fit into that (fill in clothing blank) by next month, or expect to lose the weight you have put on over several years as soon as possible, you are probably in the wrong place.

    Looking around, you will see that the average weight loss with 5:2 is about one pound a week. As that is an average, it means quite a few people are losing less than one pound a week. It is sad but true that if you are a short woman with only a few pounds to lose, your weight loss may be somewhat less than a pound a week. I guess it is also sad but true that if you are as fat a man as I am, you will lose weight somewhat more quickly. But the fact all of these slowly losing weight people are still here should give you a clue that 5:2 has something going for it that makes it more than your average ‘weight loss diet’.

    WARNING 3: Combining WARNING 2 with the fact the body retains water to varying degrees in various amounts at various times, your scales may give you a false reading on how 5:2 is working for you. You can do everything ‘right’, get on your scales, and see you have gained one or two pounds. On the other side, you might see you have lost three pounds (joy), but then go for two or three weeks without further weight loss (depression). If you like to weigh yourself often (more than every other week or so), get used to the weight swings (but don’t give up).

    WARNING 4: 5:2 allows you to eat the foods you love, and does not require you to eat foods you do not like. If having the freedom to decide what foods you would actually like to eat today is too difficult to do on an ongoing basis, 5:2 may not be for you.

    WARNING 5: You will get hungry on your fast days, but you will not die from that hunger. (The not dying part is a good thing.)

    Many people that want/need to lose weight rarely get hungry, and it is a new experience when they do. Be advised that learning what hunger really is has certain long term benefits. On your feast days, you will come to recognize if you are eating because you are hungry, or for some other reason. Over time, you may slow down your eating for ‘other reasons’, and lose weight a little faster than you otherwise would have.

    Lest you think only eating 600 cal. or less for a day is somehow ‘dangerous’ or ‘bad for your health’, check out this well written history of fasting:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/95722979/Star … y-to-Vigor

    This Forum does not discuss long term fasting (nor, in my opinion, should it), but it is nice to know a guy can not eat a calorie from food or drink for 54 weeks, 3 days (medically supervised, of course), and still be alive and kicking (and 276 pounds lighter). If that can be done, surely eating only a few hundred calories for only one day at a time is a piece of cake!

    If I have not scared you away with all of these warnings, please enjoy slowly losing as much weight as you want, all the while knowing that when you reach your goal, you will know how to keep it off forever.

    One of my favorite lines I’ve run into is “A year from now, you will wish you started today.”

    Enjoy the ride!

    Good post simcoelov.
    My only criticisms would be the use of ‘feast days’ – non fast days are not for feasting but for eating sensibly, and ‘eating only a few hundred calories for only one day at a time is a piece of cake!’.
    Surely you meant ‘eating only a few hundred calories is fairly easy’. Most of us do not need the encouragement to eat a piece of cake at 500+calories!
    Just joking on the second point 🙂

    thank you 🙂

    Appreciated the warning post very much. Thank you for having taken the time to write all that out.

    Thank you very much.

    An interesting read which makes me understand more.

    Get some fat friends as these will be the only ones that understand you, are prepared to listen to you ranting on about your weight and not thinking that you secretly eat the entire fridge contents every night but do not acknowledge it. Skinny people, unless they were previously fat are not from our world and will probably never join it. We however can getting to theirs and hopefully enlighten them.
    Good luck on your journey.
    P.s. It takes several months for some of us to finally accept that even sticking to all the rules you can only hope to loose one pound per week even if you started at a morbidly obese level.

    simcoe, what a great post. THANK YOU!

    Thank you! I decided to start today so this was a very useful read.

    I agree with everything Simcoeluv has posted here as true to my experience of losing 30lbs since I started 3:4 2013 A year later I’ve lost 30lbs from 275 down to 245 when I weighed in St. Patricks 2014. I’m very pleased to be keeping off 30lbs even though it took me year to get here. I am so grateful for the time and effort put into the 5:2 recommendations as they are. In my opinion it is real life lesson from the story of the tortoise and the hare compared to crash diets. At the finish line this diet may continue to prove there is more to good health than a slim waist. If I can do it anyone else can too.


    As a newbie that is really helpful. Definitely not in it for a “quick fix”. If I can lose a pound a week I would be delighted. Slow and steady wins the race 🙂

    Great suggestions. I have been on since 8/1/13, and have lost over 20 pounds. I also think using the word “feast” may not be descriptive of non-fast days, but I knew what you meant 🙂 There is a Facebook site (not official) where I thought there would be suggestions for 5:2 recipes, but the ladies on there were so obsessed with “feasting” that they posted high-calorie desserts and meals! When I commented that maybe there should be less emphasis on “feasting,” I was told that since I was American, and most Americans eat McDonald’s all day long,who was I to comment? I “disliked” that site immediately! Stay on this official site and read the books! The support and suggestions are tremendous! Off to eat a fatty burger now.. lol.

    Belated thanks for an excellent post, simcoeluv.

    BLP, it sounds like you are well shot of the feasting Facebookers. How dare they make remarks about Americans based on a sweeping generalisation. It amounts to racism. Congratulations on your progress so far. Enjoy your fatty burger – only kidding! I’m pretty sure that someone, somewhere, maybe even you or me, will be able to design a healthy, home-made burger that falls well within the 5:2 guidelines.

    Turnip, turmeric, ginger, garlic, onion, cumin, Serrano and 90/10 sirlion beef burger. With Swiss cheese, and mushroom. Eat on lettuce leaves instead of bread.

    Mmm Mmm good.
    Not in the mood for a burger try this.

    Great post! It is always best to lose weight s l o w l y!

    The burger sounds great, SAMM. I assume 90/10 is extra-lean ground beef. The pumpkin and its contents make a beautiful autumnal still-life – but no instructions. Maybe it’s just me. It probably not important, just use what is healthy and in season.

    Well yes extra lean is just fine. I used to be a hamburger maker in a meat plant for a year when I was 20 and cut meat for a year at a small grocery the job after that. I don’t have any real terrible stories about it. However I choose to buy sirloin because it’s natually 90/10 and from only one animal. I grind it myself if we want burgers. Looking for when it goes on sale. Tip: It doesn’t pack very well so I add a tad of tomato paste to help it stick together. I simply like the taste of sirloin better than chuck. Lettuce instead of bread if I’m lowing to carb content.
    I try to get my daughter to eat pumpkin in many ways. That picture isn’t mine, but will be great for thanksgiving. I also have a recipe for pumpkin chili that I want to serve before the kids go trick or treating.
    It’s a fasting meal for me – and compromise for them. I tend to need practice getting recipes just right. So as autumn pumpkins show up at the grocery i start experimenting. Especially if I have stuff remaing in my garden.

    As far as being off topic. There seems to be the issue of having a true fast. Followed by intermittent semi fasting. My understanding is that foods are better than others after a true fast. Yet other variations for food choices for exercising and semi fasting. Pumpkin in my opinion is very healthy to follow a fast and to use for both active and sedentary semi fasters. Pumpkin is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. It’s low calories leave room to get the other nutients from other foods without feeling to overeating because. It also has high fullness factor when eating it. Lol I’ve tried to experiment with pumpkin hamburger, but never created a winner.

    I try to pick vegetables on 600 calorie days that have a high fullness factor and also rate high in nutrition.
    I use this link as my guide.

    SAMM, Thanks for posting the ND link, which I’ve now bookmarked. I suppose it depends on which part of the UK one lives in, but pumpkins aren’t so ubiquitous here, and I’m in a fairly cosmopolitan part of London. I do as many pumpkin recipes suggest and use butternut squash instead. There are usually plenty of those around. Not as pretty as pumpkins when it comes to presentation, though.

    Thanks a great help. I’m not expecting quick weight loss! The many health benifits of the fast diet really appeal. My first day has gone well, tomorrow I will not feast but still count calories and be sensible!


    I’m very newbie in this fasting thing, and I got a few questions.
    I started three weeks ago, and I’m considering easy to follow with the plan. Of course I have periods of terrible hunger, but it is bearable. Other than hunger, I don’t have any other side effects.

    But looking at the forum, what I see are people willing to lose weight. I’m not doing for weight loss specifically. I would like to know what are really the benefits other than weight loss to justify following it. After one year following the diet, did you notice anything other than weight loss?

    I’m asking all that because I saw another topic (http://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/giving-up-after-these-results/) from a guy saying that he was giving up because his collesterol went up. Is there any study stating that this diet improves life quality and overall health?

    Hi Rodrigo:

    The study results of caloric restriction are dramatically good – in clinical studies on animals in laboratories. However, proving caloric restriction will reduce cancer, etc., in humans will require long term studies that are just starting. Usually you hear of laboratory results that are spectacular but cannot gain access to the drug (or whatever) for many years until the studies are complete and safety is confirmed. Calorie restriction is showing great promise in the lab, but is openly available today to anyone for free. So a lot of people are trying it out. It is up to you whether the cost involved (hunger, not eating all of what you want a couple of days a week) is worth the potential long term benefits.

    The television program that started 5:2 was not about weight loss, it was about life extension. However, when people started doing 5:2 for the ‘health benefits’ they lost weight, and found it relatively easy when compared to other diets on the market. Thus 5:2 morphed into a weight loss diet from a life extension diet

    As an aside, when a person loses a lot of weight, their cholesterol rises – sometimes quite a bit. It goes down again when weight loss levels off.

    That’s really interesting information didn’t know. Thankyou.

    Hi All,

    My wife and I had started this eating plan about 9 weeks ago. It started well with early weight loss in the first 3 weeks but afterwards….it has kind of petered out. I am a big guy- 6 ft 2 and weighing in currently at 253 pounds, my BMI is 32 but doesn’t account for muscle that I’be built up over the years playing rugby, etc.
    I fast 2 days a week and count calories religiously when I’m on not fasting- restricting myself to 1850 calories per day.

    I have also started the “fast fitness” regime using HIIT training and being doing this for 3 weeks- I do this 5 days a week. To be honest I was hoping for more weight loss than I’ve shown already. When I got on the scales this morning and found out I had put on weight I was FURIOUS! I felt like throwing the scales through the window and giving up- I mean a total of 4lbs weight loss over 9 weeks?! You’ve got to be kidding me, especially with all the effort I’ve put in!

    I know that people are going to say “this isn’t a weight loss diet” but I’m sorry but that’s the way the book was advertised and I’d reckon 90% as here to lose weight. And it’s not as if I’ve only got a couple of pounds to lose- I reckon I need to lose about 30-40 lbs……..Oh I don’t know ….I’ve now gone from angry to depressed.


    Hi Paul. Ive just started the 5.2 – I would hope to lose more than that in 9 weeks! Have you kept a record of your measurements, often we lose inches then have a weight loss. Don’t lose heart, give it some more time. How is your wife doing? Good luck!

    Hi Paulyg78 – Paul?
    Don’t be angry or worse, depressed.
    The book was certainly originally focussed on the weight loss, but the longer term health benefits were pushed as well, but got lost in the media hype for the “perfect” weight loss plan.

    I agree that 4lb over 9 weeks is depressing, it seems to average out at about a pound a week. BUT, muscle weighs heavier than fat and if you are doing serious exercise that will inhibit weight loss initially.

    I lost 9kg in the first 12 weeks (sorry it’s too hard to convert to lbs all the time) but now after 60 weeks have stabilised on a loss of 21kg (46lbs). After my initial loss I stabilised for a few months (I was then swimming 4km 5 mornings a week, now cardio at the gym for an hour 5 days) and really put on muscle and firmed up.

    You will lose that 30 or 40 lbs in a year (and I still drink wine and have a piece of Lindt every non fast day) but although for some it is a miracle drop, for others it is a slow start and then steady.

    Don’t lose heart, the other health benefits are worth it (my cholesterol has gone from 7.2 to 5.4 and tryglicerides from 3.2 to 0.6 – doctor threatened me with diabetes, now in the lower range of normal.

    Don’t know if this helps, but it really does work, just at different paces

    best wishes

    Paul, do not get dishearted. I understand your frustration.

    I have lost a lot to begin with, but next to nothing over the last four weeks! I have recalculated my TDEE and I do not overeat. Nevertheless, for the last couple of weeks nothing.

    I will go on 4:3 next week to get things moving again, hopefully! In the long term though I believe it works.

    I have lost over 15 pounds since the beginning of Feb. and am totally expecting to reach this plateau soon.

    It is so good that folks report how they hang in there to continue to lose weight.

    I am a newbie been doing this for 2 weeks up to now i have lost around 5lbs so I am extremely pleased …..I do however get very tired on fasting days and sleep like a top!!

    How do you do it, Amy? I, too, have lost just over 15 lbs since the beginning of Feb – last year! I guess we’re all different and one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to weight loss. But at least I’ve lost and it’s stayed off – a first in itself. Then there are all the other great health spin-offs – BP, cholesterol etc. Well done, anyway. Keep up the good work.

    Tray, 5 lbs in 2 weeks is an excellent start. It does get easier. And if you’re too sleepy to get the munchies, that’s got to be good news.


    It is not uncommon for someone starting a diet and also doing more exercise to not lose much weight. Exercise does not use as many calories as people think, and also can build water weight: http://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/exercise-is-dangerous-for-your-diet/

    Just be patient – it really works over time.

    Paul wish you well in your efforts , because that’s the important thing. That you’re trying something.
    Im going to use someone else’s words. Sometimes when a dieter has already experienced some fat loss, they don’t quite lose as much compared to someone else whom has started for the very first time.

    The 5:2 claim about some of us losing 20lbs I believe is aimed at those losing their first 20 lbs.
    I’m not trying to defend 5:2, but i lost more than thirty after being on 4:3 for 6 months However I had been sedentary for 1 year prior and an additional year while on it. I’m trying very hard to be active 2014, being sedentary at 46 felt very depressing, and overwhelming to exercise on with pain. My goal is a four year goal. To loose 100 lbs. I live with uncooperative people’s that see me struggling on fast days. Feel sorry for me beg me to give up. They buy junk knowing they won’t eat it. ~sigh~
    Armed with BMR, TDEE, 5:2 science. I make lemon water, create time and space, Tell myself if it is 2B it’s up to me. I make it work for me.
    Now that I’m active and exercising this year, I’m not at the point of HIIT yet with jump rope, but I will be by the end of 2014. I’m making sure I have what I need to not only to metabolize fat ,but the hydration and fiber to carry it out. Im doing the 7 compound lifts wiki on weekends when I have more food energy. I won’t be looking at the scale this year, because the muscle strengthening throws the 5:2 results out the window.

    Hi Samm
    Thankyou for the inspiring post. You are doing amazingly well considering unhelpful and inconsiderate people around you. Not sure I could be as determined as you are in that situation.

    Did anyone else get cold on fast days?


    It is very common for people to get cold on fast days. Very helpful in the hot summer! But not in the cold winter. Oh, well.

    Good Luck!

    Hi all Newbies:

    Seem to be quite a few of you, but in many different threads.

    Hope these tips help.

    Good Luck!

    I’d like to lose some weight but am also doing the fasting for the health benefits. My approach is this is for life, not just for Christmas. (A bit too late for that comment?). So I’m sticking to my fasting no matter what as dieting doesn’t work for me anyway (I am very active, eat well but healthy at the same time and nothing is really shifting this extra 14 pounds..) and this seems like the best way forward. It must be so frustrating to not see huge results if that is what people expect. I think this is a great post for that very purpose though…don’t expect huge losses but stick to it and look back at the overall loss in a year. That’s my plan. 🙂 Sais the newbie on day 2!!! 😉

    Samm, it must be difficult without support but it sounds like you have such a great attitude. You may find a yoga class would help too, especially if you are now weight training as yoga lengthens the muscles whilst the lifting bulks it. It’s also very good for the mind. 🙂

    Thank you for your excellent advice! Have just joined today and will get the Fast book tomorrow and will properly start after reading it, as I was surprised that after my big bowl of fruit this morning (which I thought was all calorie free) actually used up half of the 500 calorie allowance!
    Oh, the ignorance of an overweight person thinking that fruit had no calories!!!!

    This is a great post for us newbies. I had a lot of unanswered questions and this helped to solidify things for me. Thank you. Just joined today and looking forward to this adventure.

    Hi everyone…
    I started the fast diet at 8pm last night… Ive been really hungry all day but Im trying not to think about my stomach rumbling… All the posts on the forums have cheered me up. HOWEVER!! I thought I a ‘fast’ was only for 24hrs each time and since Ive read the FAQ’s, Ive seen that its really for 36hrs??! Does everyone else fast for this length of time?

    I separate the days. During the 24 hours of a fast day, I eat 500 calories. On the 24 hours of the other days, I eat more.

    Usually, I eat dinner on the day before the fast day and on the next day eat the 500 calories mostly at dinner.

    The day following a fast has me eating normally beginning with breakfast.

    I don’t go 36 hours without eating.

    I eat last meal at 7pm, following day eat 500 calories, going to bed and waking up to non fast day, which makes in total 36 hours ( from last non fast meal to next non fast meal???) I imagine that 24 hours would mean that I eat @7pm than again 7pm next day?

    That’s right. Wait 24 before eating your 500 calories. This is an option.

    You can divide up the 500 as you would like.

    Hi and welcome:

    5:2 has to do with calorie restriction, not fasting. Most people who are not on a diet ‘fast’, in the sense of not eating, over 20 hours a day. But they still gain weight because in the four hours they are eating, they eat a lot.

    Doing 5:2 means going to bed, getting up, eating 500/600 calories while you are awake, going to bed, getting up and eating normally – twice a week. ‘Normally’ means eating your TDEE or less. Here is what you need to know about TDEE: http://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/tdee-for-the-curious-or-why-dont-i-lose-weight-faster/.

    Here are thoughts on doing an option or alternative to 5:2 when you are a newbie: http://thefastdiet.co.uk/forums/topic/52-calorie-restriction-v-fasting-for-newbies/

    Good Luck!

    Hi simcoeluv – thanks…I had been through your thread….have been a silent lurker for a few weeks before I started

    as I said, I am a new starter on this diet. Started 5:2 2-3 weeks and have already seen reduction from 72 to 68.5 (3.5 kg in 2 weeks)

    42 yr old male
    BMI – reduced from 24.9 to 23.4 Target BMI – 20 (60 kg)
    BMR – 1552 kcal
    TDEE – 2000 kcal (between sedentary and lightly active)

    I find it easy not to eat any thing during the day on the fast day …so almost have a 24 hrs water / green tea fast before eating my 550 kcal fast day diet…

    This week in fact I did 4:3.

    Few questions
    a) will this eating style slow down my metabolism permanently?
    b) I find it hard to eat on the feed day…and almost get a feeling of tired after eating.
    c) ironically I almost look forward to fast day though i have only started recently. Especially if I am at work I dont even notice that it is a fast day. I suspect this is the initial exuberance. I am thinking of doing Mon & Thur fast(so far have been flexible on which days but probably would settle for those 2 days). If I decide to go for 4:3 then probably Mon, Thur and Sat

    d) only problem I feel a bit tired and slightly heavy headed on the day after the diet but it goes away and not really bothersome. I try to drink lots of water on fast days.

    e) Have a long way to go to my target weight of 60 which I have not been at for almost 15 years. I have not been too high either …always around 67-70 range and whenever I reach 72 I start reduction programme and then stop around 66…this time I want to take it all the way to 60 and then maintain there. Any advise for this long journey.

    interesting article this http://aeon.co/magazine/being-human/s-abbas-raza-fasting/

    “So what about the medical benefits? In the end, both throughout and after the fast, my blood pressure remained at exactly the same, slightly elevated level it had been before I started. So much for controlling it by fasting, at least for me. I lost 11lbs (5kg) over the week and gained 7lbs (3kg) back within three days. The other significant thing I noticed, as many others have too, was the reduction of libido to absolutely nothing. I had no sexual thoughts all week, which was not an entirely unwelcome (though thankfully temporary) break from the usual. I experienced a phenomenal increase in physical energy but at the expense of a lack of mental concentration. So if you need to lose some weight and also need to dig some ditches this week, fasting might be just the thing. On the other hand, if you are trying to solve problems in the theory of quantum gravity, it’s probably best to get some food down. These effects lasted only while I was actually fasting: one day after breaking the fast, I felt completely normal, with the same appetite and level of physical energy as usual. At this point, I should remind my gentle reader that my weeklong experiment had the grand sample size of one (two, if you count my wife) and so should be taken for what it is: just my personal experience of fasting, not a scientific study.

    Did I feel any different from normal in the days immediately after the end of the fast or since? No, not really. Would I do it again? I doubt it.

    Thankyou so much for your warnings !
    I`m new here this is my second day of fasting. I´m very exited and hope this will help me in loosing weight and feeling better!
    🙂 Danielaevi

    This was really helpful to me. I just started 5:2 diet and today, I am fasting and I am really hungry. I am staying busy, but I can hardly wait for my bowl of soup tonight. It really is going to help to be able to get support from others who are doing it also. I fasted one day last week, so this is just my second day fasting. I have already chosen my two days a week that I will fast. It should work out well for me. I am really looking forward to the positive change it will make in my insulin levels and weight.

    Best wishes to you.

    Because of the intermittent nature of this lifestyle . Try to stick with it for at least 6 weeks. What I discovered was it had gotten easier the more experience I gained. Somedays a failed completely, but try tried again.
    By the 6 week or so there weren’t any surprises , and I knew from then on I get on 5:2 at. Any point in my life. I did take a break at the 8month mark and restarted again at 1year mark.

    Though on fast days I feel like I’m on diet. Over all I’ve not missed any events or special gathers where the food is tempting enough to spoil my diet over all. However I will say it has helped me great deal on my feed days to count my carbs, and I might add going with calorie free drinks and using a phone app for calorie counting made that as simple as pie.

    For now as simcoeluv points to you may choose to focus on successful fast days only. For those weeks then after mastering the 500calorie fast days start looking Into meeting TDEEon feed days to focus on the weight loss. Basically cutting 2400 calories a week for 12 weeks is only 8 lbs . So if you’re over TDEE by 2400 on feed days per week it can be frustrating to see all those fast days all for not.

    What I can say is it does work. Its proven to work at least in my case wether I’ve exercised or not. It also been shown that when we stop fasting and return to same calories we were overeating we gained it back.
    My opinion is this is doable even for obese people’s like me. But it’s the long term approach. So far I’ve went from a size 46 waist to 36. And I walk only as much as I can everyday and no more. As I started my second year. The fasting days have become – are simplier than feed days. I’ve choose to have 3 fast days and 3 feed days where I count very closely. But I’ve choose to open and unrestricted 1 daya week to go out with family and friends and do whatever.

    I hope I haven’t over complicated it. The server at buffet can’t figure out how I lose weight eating there every two weeks. I just laugh, cause I see the buffet as the way to getting a lot of vitamins and minerals from the fruits and veggies, Skip the breads and starches. But eat soup the rest of the day with zero calorie drinks. Ok I’m rambling about 51lbs so far. Good luck everyone.

    I just wanted to say: this thread is so helpful! I’m a newbie here and this was a good reality check for me to read today, day 7 of my 5:2 journey. I’ve had two really amazing fast days and 4 frustrating non-fast days, 3 of which were over my TDEE by varying degrees.
    It’s good to hear from others who have been at this for a long time and are really implementing it as a lifestyle and seeing whole-life improvements (not just weight loss).
    Thank you all for sharing your stories!

    It was helpful to read about ‘feeling cold’
    Normally I’m too hot, the last couple of days have felt cold when hubbie didn’t. Not usually in a long sleeve jumper til much later.

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