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to think this 'diet' is an eating disorder

(301 Posts)
BlackMaryJanes Fri 25-Jan-13 10:52:08

I'm dieting the old fashioned way - exercise and reducing calories to about 1800.

My friend recently told me about a diet she's thinking about doing called "The Alternative Day Diet". In this diet, you eat 400 cals one day, then you're allowed to eat whatever you like the next day, then back to 400 cals the next day, then eat whatever you like for a day, etc.

I've done some research on this seemingly popular diet. Apparently it switches on a 'skinny gene' which keeps your metabolism in top condition, burning calories. It also has other claimed health benefits such as - making you live longer (there was a Horizon documentary on the BBC backing this up). The internet is full of gleeming reviews.

But surely this pattern of eating is unsustainable and encourages disordered thinking? I feel a bit concerned for my friend. When she latches onto an idea she tends to go hardcore.

literarygeek Fri 25-Jan-13 23:54:55

BMJ I think I was among those who replied to you on the 5:2 thread pretty much straight away, actually. So we didn't ignore you!

I am BF an almost 6 month old, who is very bonny and fat and happy. I have enough milk to feed the whole street. I have to express on order to sleep comfortably/ exercise comfortably.

There's also been a lot of research on women who have fasted for religious reasons - Ramadan and Yom Kippur- and there were no ill effects to either bubbas or mamas. And near in mind- those fasts involve no food or water so a much more restrictive scenario. I have posted the links to that research on the most recent 5:2 thread - yesterday I think. If you are interested, I will dig it out.

If you want to give this a go, eat proper food where you can. If you like ready meals, go for it, but do try and include as much veg as possible- it will fill you up. Try innocent veg pots or glorious soups for not many calories/ lots of goodness.

Don't do your 2 days in a row.

Fluids are your friend- particularly water and try herbal teas ( the pukka brand is good). Diet drinks are not your friend and kill your brain cells.

Check out the tips and links thread for 5:2.

Relax.

smile

fascicle Sat 26-Jan-13 16:52:14

Interesting NHS article on 5:2/intermittent fasting here:

www.nhs.uk/news/2013/01January/Pages/Does-the-5-2-intermittent-fasting-diet-work.aspx

I can understand the attractiveness of the concept of the diet (and the feeling of relative freedom it might give), but it seems wrong to promote it as a diet for life, which I believe Michael Moseley has done. Surely the ultimate goal (physiologically, psychologically etc) should be to return to a healthy, normalish pattern of eating every day, i.e. eating a reasonably balanced diet and enjoying food without having to focus on food/calories all the time?

Kendodd Sat 26-Jan-13 17:07:50

I'm giving the 5:2 diet a go as well, I had my fast day yesterday.

Does it work just because you consume fewer calories over the week? Should be counting weekly calories not daily?

Normal female low calorie diet of 1,000- 1,200 = about 7,700 calories per week

5:2 diet with 2,000 calories and 500 calories = about 11,000 calories per week

More than the other diet but this is still about 3,000 fewer than normal intake. Is that just how it works?

I have for the last week been on a normal diet and I've just been hungry all the time, even straight after I've finished a meal, my hunger has never been satisfied. So, two days a week of hunger sounds a much better option.

As I want to loose weight can I do 4:3 until the weight is reduced a bit, then more to 5:2 until I'm target weight? After that will 6:1 just maintain it and stop me gaining again?

GreenEggsAndNichts Sat 26-Jan-13 17:21:25

ooh fascicle thank you for bringing that article up again! The last time it was posted, they had a ridiculous "example" menu of a fast day (One sausage for lunch, one slice of pizza for dinner hmm as if no one knew what a vegetable was). The majority of us on the 5:2 thread make veg the biggest portion of our food on fast days, as trying to fit in calorific things like pizza just results in being hungry.

I guess I disagree with you in that I do think it's a long-term way of eating. Obviously if you don't need to lose weight anymore, you'd reduce to one fast a week or so (for the health benefits). At the moment, I'm a whole lot less focused on food/calories than I would be on another weight loss diet. This way of eating has also changed my desire for food dramatically, and I can now just eat a normal amount of food at the Chinese buffet (for example) rather than feeling as if I need to make multiple trips.

Naturally thin people often already make these subconscious decisions to skip breakfast or eat a small amount the day following a big meal. It's a bit ironic that it's those of us struggling with our weight constantly who are being told that we need to constantly eat.

GreenEggsAndNichts Sat 26-Jan-13 17:26:24

Ken the current 5:2 thread is here.

Short version: you can count your calories weekly. We don't know why it works, some people theorise it's just from being a low-calorie diet, some think it's due to the fasting period itself. I don't think anyone is qualified to say for sure at the moment. Your short calculations are about right, though. We aren't eating any fewer calories than someone else on a low-calorie diet, it's just a different distribution.

Figure out your TDEE (calculator in the OP of that thread) and that should give you an idea of what a normal eating day would be like.

The first couple of fasts are tough but I'd say it's half psychological- you don't have the option to snack, and you'll be amazed at how often you find yourself staring at the snack cupboard out of old habit.

Come join us on the thread. smile

Me23 Sat 26-Jan-13 17:53:49

Think some people get 5:2 diet confused with the brian butterfield diet, good treat dy on that one!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWgwJfbeCeU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

BMJ, if it bothers you weighing stuff all the time, how about weighing out two weeks worth of portions of, say, bran flakes and bagging them. Can do the same with pasta or other stuff. That way you can just grab a bag and go.

fascicle Sat 26-Jan-13 18:57:53

GreenEggs: ooh fascicle thank you for bringing that article up again! The last time it was posted, they had a ridiculous "example" menu of a fast day (One sausage for lunch, one stice of pizza for dinner hmm as if no one knew what a vegetable was).

That's not the example it gives now, and not a good reason to dismiss the rest of the article, suggesting a lack of appropriate research to back up some of the health claims. Anecdotally, clearly one benefit of the diet seems to be that many people say they find it easier to stick to than other diets.

GreenEggs: This way of eating has also changed my desire for food dramatically, and I can now just eat a normal amount of food at the Chinese buffet (for example) rather than feeling as if I need to make multiple trips.

That sounds brilliant. What I don't understand is why you wouldn't extend that approach to the whole week, cutting out/down days spent fasting. I'm not against fasting per se, and appreciate there are all sorts of reasons for doing it (religious, spiritual etc) but I wonder if a diet-based motivation would have a different effect psychologically. One of my reservations about the diet is combining two quite different types of eating each and every week. To me, 'normal' eating includes being comfortable long-term with variations in daily consumption, rather than choosing the more extreme variations required by IF type diets. Another reservation is whether the claimed health benefits turn out to be any better than those of other reputable diets.

GreenEggs: It's a bit ironic that it's those of us struggling with our weight constantly who are being told that we need to constantly eat.

Who is telling you to constantly eat?! I think the best end point is to get back to eating well, eating what you enjoy, but not having to overly focus on/analyse what you eat. And exercising.

GreenEggsAndNichts Sat 26-Jan-13 22:00:15

um. I meant thanks for bringing it up again, as I'm glad to see they've changed the example menu box.

"Constantly eat" = the typical advice of eating 3x meals a day + snacks, which is what WW and other diets tend to advise. As opposed to this.

Nothing I'm going to say is going to be new to this thread, as several people have already come out and listed the benefits of eating this way. It doesn't appeal to you. I get it.

sarajaynevz Sat 26-Jan-13 22:34:05

I've been following an ADF plan since last November (as laid out in the Alternate-Day Diet by Dr. James Johnson). I've lost a little over 20lbs on the woe and I'm now 7.5lbs away from my goal weight and then I'll be transitioning either to 5:2 or 6:1 for maintenance. I feel great and made it through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons without gaining, which used to be the norm. I've also lost my belly fat, which had put me at higher risk of diseases. My bmi went from the overweight category, to the normal category.

With all the research coming out about IF, and seeing first hand how it works/makes me feel, I really can't understand why others would think it's some kind of disorder? To each his own I guess smile

fascicle Sun 27-Jan-13 11:12:12

GreenEggs: um. I meant thanks for bringing it up again, as I'm glad to see they've changed the example menu box.

Apologies - I misread your tone.

GreenEggs: "Constantly eat" = the typical advice of eating 3x meals a day + snacks, which is what WW and other diets tend to advise. As opposed to this.

Isn't it more a case of diets building in options for snacking if desired? It would be highly counterproductive to advise people to eat more than they need to if a diet is going to be successful.

GreenEggs: Nothing I'm going to say is going to be new to this thread, as several people have already come out and listed the benefits of eating this way. It doesn't appeal to you. I get it.

It's not about the diet appealing to me. The diet is rightly being examined because it's in its infancy (or at least the current variations are) and the claimed benefits are fairly hypothetical at this stage, requiring more human based research and evidence. Equally, it would be wrong to connect the diet with eating disorders at this stage for the same reason - lack of research and evidence. But I think it is valid to question some of the psychological/physiological aspects of the diet, interspersing very low calorie days with relatively normal eating. On the other hand, the diet could be a stroke of genius if it provides the opportunity to rediscover 'normal' eating, including sometimes going a few hours without eating/thinking about food, and, as you said in your previous post, not going overboard in a buffet situation. Clearly in terms of weight loss the diet is working for some people, but it will be interesting to find out if its benefits are superior to those of other diets, and if there are any downsides to the process.

Breadandwine Sun 27-Jan-13 13:23:21

fascicle if you think back to how we developed over the past millenia, this WOE makes perfect sense.

When did we ever, except in the very recent past, have cupboards and fridges full of food? We never ate three meals a day - and neither did we snack.

People concentrate on the weight loss aspect, which is understandable - but this is merely a side effect. The health benefits of fasting are indisputable:

It causes the body's cells to repair themselves, instead of producing new ones;
More BDNF is produced, which grows new brain cells;
Every health marker you can think of improves.

I could go on, but have a browse through the links on this thread - the evidence is compelling:

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/big_slim_whatever_weight_loss_club/a1581821-Tips-and-links-for-those-practicing-Intermittent-Fasting-IF-5-2-or-Alternate-Day-Fasting-ADF

See you over on the main 5:2 threads! wink

fascicle Sun 27-Jan-13 21:14:13

Breadandwine When did we ever, except in the very recent past, have cupboards and fridges full of food? We never ate three meals a day - and neither did we snack.

Maybe, but fasting through necessity in times of scarce food and choosing to fast when food is more plentiful are rather different concepts, especially from a psychological point of view. Exercise levels (presumably much higher than today) and life expectancy (much lower) that accompany the enforced fasting of which you mention would also have been very different. Besides, is there any evidence to suggest there's anything intrinsically wrong with the practice of eating three meals a day and/or snacking (assuming subjects eat an overall healthy diet and are not overweight)?

Breadandwine The health benefits of fasting are indisputable:

It causes the body's cells to repair themselves, instead of producing new ones;
More BDNF is produced, which grows new brain cells;
Every health marker you can think of improves.

Is this based on short term human studies/studies on rats? From what I gather (and glancing at your thread didn't change my perception), the (ambitious) claimed health benefits for humans are thus far pretty hypothetical (e.g. greater longevity), based mainly on the aforementioned rodents (whose life expectancy is obviously very different to humans). Without further research, it remains to be seen whether this diet really is superior to other diets in terms of improved biomarkers; whether there are any adverse implications and whether it's sustainable in the longterm.

Breadandwine See you over on the main 5:2 threads! wink

I can't fault your enthusiasm, but I'm not looking to lose weight (or change the way I eat) wink.

curryeater Mon 28-Jan-13 10:05:55

fascicle:

"I'm not looking to lose weight (or change the way I eat)"

Why do you care then? Some people have a problem, (or problems) and they are looking to this WOE to solve them. If you don't have a problem then you are one of the people who manages fine on conventional eating patterns: so lucky you. It is unkind to hector people who need a change and are trying to make one, when all you have to offer is the stuff that doesn't work for them.

Hi OP, I'd just like to thank you as I was ignoring 5:2 til I read this thread, as I don't have much weight to lose. But I'm trying it from today to see if it helps with my arthritis, based on the health benefit claims smile

fascicle Mon 28-Jan-13 12:43:56

curryeater: Why do you care then? Some people have a problem, (or problems) and they are looking to this WOE to solve them. If you don't have a problem then you are one of the people who manages fine on conventional eating patterns: so lucky you. It is unkind to hector people who need a change and are trying to make one, when all you have to offer is the stuff that doesn't work for them.

I'm not 'hectoring' anybody. This is a debate thread in AIBU, not a support thread for 5:2 dieting that exists elsewhere on the site. I'm asking legitimate questions and raising a few concerns, as well as ackowledging that some people feel the diet works for them. Essentially, the health credentials of the diet haven't been fully explored, so some claims are premature. Not sure what you mean by 'all you have to offer is the stuff that doesn't work for them' - what are you referring to?

ubik Mon 28-Jan-13 12:52:58

The research into health benefits is very new, largely on animajs rather than humans, and obviously needs much more investigation and analysis before the these claims can stand up.

That said, I've lost a stone and, as a shallow sort if person, couldn't care less about pesky research grin

ubik Mon 28-Jan-13 12:55:01

And in the Horizon programme they did emphasise that this research is very new and not properly tested and reviewed.

This didn't stop mumsnetters grin

mistlethrush Mon 28-Jan-13 13:10:15

I'm also doing 5:2 - and unlike a 1200 cal per day, low GI diet, I'm actually losing weight, albeit gradually.

Fast days are getting easier. I agree that on 'normal' days I'm less food-orientated - but its nice to be able to have a treat if taking DS out etc.

I think I'm probably having roughly the same number of calories per week - so having the fast days is helping my body to actually get round to using up some of the reserves, and eating 'normally' the other days is making sure that it doesn't go into 'starvation' mode where it feels as though if I look at a slice of toast I gain a pound.

When I do eventually get to the weight I want to be I shall experiment and see if 6:1 will be the best option for long-term maintenance - but I anticipate that this will be something that I keep up, rather than a diet to be lapsed from.

IfNotNowThenWhen Mon 28-Jan-13 13:30:05

I don't do diets, but I know semi-fasting a couple of days a week does control your weight because pre ds I always skipped a couple of meals a week, due to being busy. I can't eat a meal if I have loads of things I need to do because I need to be relaxed to sit and eat, so I would often eat a small packet of nuts or a couple of oatcakes with hummous for lunch, and maybe a banana mid afternoon.
It's fine to skip meals, the key thing is to lay off sugar, e.g don't just eat a biscuit for lunch-you will feel homicidal later!
And drink lots of liquids, because a lot of our liquid intake does come from food normally.

TalkinPeace2 Mon 28-Jan-13 13:52:17

ubik
5:2 may be new and untested but ADF and other forms of fasting have been around for a VERY long time and there are lots and lots of research papers about fasting in its various forms

ubik Mon 28-Jan-13 14:25:51

Yes but there is scarce info on 5:2 when introduced to general population - thus you have mumsnetters recommending it to an insulin- dependent diabetic.

And there is no research- based guidance on the effect if 5:2 on diabetics. Nor breast feeding mothers or those with a multitude of chronic health conditions.

Also I thought the research into the prevention of dementia and cancer was in early stages and primarily carried out on rats.

As I said, I lost a stone, it works for me but I can see there is a lot of work up be done

TalkinPeace2 Mon 28-Jan-13 14:45:44

What is the scientific basis for WW or SW or Dukan or Atkins or any of the others - even less.
There is little or no scientific evidence for the "three meals a day plus snacks" advice that the Department of Health give out!

jan2013 Mon 28-Jan-13 14:47:23

people can go on crash diets, even they can eat nothing for awhile and still not have an eating disorder. you can look up the criteria for eating disorders very easily

aldiwhore Mon 28-Jan-13 14:52:02

Just because I fast one two days, doesn't mean I binge on the other days. I've been vaguely followin the 5:2 for 3 weeks, lost 5lb, feel better than ever and am free of counting/banning food.

It doesn't even feel like an extreme or 'crash' diet, it feels like eating. 500cals worth of veg is rather a lot.

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