MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Thu 05-Jun-14 12:45:08

Guest post: Mimi Spencer - 'Why 5:2 is the only thing that's worked for me'

Weight is a complicated business - pressure to be slim can make women uncomfortable with their bodies, but many of us are also conscious that slimmer can mean healthier.

Here, co-author of The Fast Beach Diet Mimi Spencer writes on why, after years of trying fad diets, she's evangelical about 5:2 as a sustainable way to maintain a healthy, happy weight.

Mimi Spencer

Co-author of The Fast Beach Diet

Posted on: Thu 05-Jun-14 12:45:07


Lead photo

"When it comes to dieting and body shape, of course, we all know it's complicated"

It's hard to remember a time B5:2… Before the Fast Diet, before 5:2 emerged as the diet that changed the way we think about eating and weight loss, and parked itself firmly in the national conversation.

I'd always been one of those serial dieters who attempted any newfangled fad that came along, often in the interests of research. I've written about body shape and diet in the national press for twenty years or more - dieting was my schtick.

When it comes to dieting and body shape, of course, we all know it's complicated. We know that the (largely media-driven) cult of ageless thin has made many of us needlessly uncomfortable with our size, unhappy with our bodies, unhealthy in our approach to food.

But most of us would recognise, too, that being slimmer is generally healthier – not only as a guard against diabetes, heart disease and stroke, but also for the more subtle changes that occur: a renewed energy, a greater interest in exercise, a body confidence that can really make a difference to a day. These things, far beyond any desperate desire for weight loss per se, are what kept me searching.

I'd undertake new diets in the interests of womankind, ever hopeful, never satisfied as I bounced from regime to regime. I'd waded through the Cabbage Soup diet (remember that? Thermos flasks of gently rotting brassicas on your desk at work?). Through Atkins, with its foul breath and death knell for your social life. And Dukan. And that weird chilli/lemon drink that Jennifer Aniston or someone equally minuscule absolutely swore by.

None of it worked of course, not in the long run. Weight off, weight on, up, down, smaller jeans, ‘fat’ jeans. My life was precisely the life of many women in their forties - looking for the magic bullet that would make the roll top go away in time for the summer holidays.

I'd undertake new diets in the interests of womankind, ever hopeful, never satisfied as I bounced from regime to regime... None of it worked of course, not in the long run. Weight off, weight on, up, down, smaller jeans, ‘fat' jeans. My life was precisely the life of many women in their forties - looking for the magic bullet.

Then in September 2012, I encountered Dr. Michael Mosley in the course of writing a feature about intermittent fasting for The Times. 5:2 was just starting to gain attention. His Horizon programme for the BBC – Eat, Fast, Live Longer - had sparked interest in the relationship between fasting and longevity, and Michael's take on it was already beginning to find fans. Having spoken to many of the leading experts in the field, he'd come to the conclusion that what you really needed to make it work was a high degree of compliance. His approach hinged on achieving sustainability over time. Fasting occasionally, calorie-cutting rather than calorie-eliminating? Well, that might just work.

It worked for Michael, of course. He lost 20 pounds, his blood sugars – which had been threatening his health – returned to normal. And it subsequently worked for me too.

On the Fast Diet, I lost 22 pounds in six months. These days, I'm in Maintenance Mode, fasting only a day a week, if that. I'm still at my happy weight – which happens to be around nine stone, down from the upper tens. I have more energy, I do more exercise, I know I'm healthier and protecting myself against age-related disease. It's not all about looking good in a clingy dress. Though that helps.

So why has Michael's plan worked for so many? There's the science stuff of course – details of which are in the original book - but, for me and for countless others, there's the huge benefit of compliance: we do the Fast Diet, we stick with the Fast Diet, because most of the time, we're not dieting at all. There's something radical here, something ‘revolutionary’, as Michael said on TV way back at the outset.

It's easy to grasp, easy to follow, easy to modify to suit individual needs. And there's no guilt. You bust a Fast Day? So what? There's always tomorrow. You've got a dinner date? Great. Enjoy it.

Some people have, however, asked us for a ‘boot camp’ version of 5:2 to propel them off cruise control – particularly in readiness for summer's great reveal. So we've written The Fast Beach Diet – a souped up, six-week programme which includes techniques to change your habits around food, tips on how to eat healthily and well on any day, and ideas about how to negotiate the temptations and cravings of our food-fixated world. It includes an exercise plan too, based on Fast Exercise, the high intensity training book written by Michael Mosley and Peta Bee.

So, as you can see, much has changed since B5:2. I hope you benefit from it too – do let us know how you get on.

By Mimi Spencer

Twitter: @mimispencer1

Joules68 Thu 05-Jun-14 14:21:37

I think the 5:2 is just another 'fad diet' that the op was so scathing about in her post!

LivinLaVidaLocal Thu 05-Jun-14 14:38:25

I'd love to know how many calories you have to restrict yourself to on the 5 days 'off' because clearly they're not 'true' off days. You end up having to restrict yourself 7 days a week of which 2 of those are thoroughly miserable and the other 5 not so much!

ThaneOfScunthorpe Thu 05-Jun-14 14:51:49

Yep, total fad diet. Why do you even need a 'boot camp' to propel you into the 5:2? Why not just start the 5:2? It's much easier to do than the boot camp being touted here and results are sustainable as it's a slower, steadier weight loss.

The reason I like 5:2 is that it's easy to do, you don't have to restrict yourself, which is what has caused relapses for me on every other diet.

I don't see why it would not be classed as another fad diet. Most diets work if you can stick to them. All diets are based on restricting your eating in some way - by cutting out certain foods or by restricting calories. 5:2 does too, just with a different method. It's very popular atm and will probably wane in popularity after a while - this probably makes it a typical fad diet.

I tried it for a while and found it just as hard to stick to as any other diet. Plus I lost far less weight than on low carb, for example.

Mintyy Thu 05-Jun-14 17:05:53

Lots of people have tried 5:2 and failed with it, including hundreds of people on Mumsnet, so all I can say is "meh". I did it for 9 months, lost about 4lbs.

My husband is 4 stone overweight and has lost 2 stone but stalled for the past 6 months.

It is not a miracle and the fast days are unpleasant.

Mintyy Thu 05-Jun-14 17:09:19

But, of course, congratulations to you if you are happy Mimi. Don't wish to sound like an utter grump! And I can't help but admire the way you have made this into a money spinner for yourself. Very enterprising.

Abra1d Thu 05-Jun-14 17:49:24

I have been doing 5:2 since September 2012 and it definitely works for me. My trick is to have one little treat that I only ever have on a fast day and look forward to that. I've only once broken the fast--when I was coming down with a cold and felt unusually hungry.

My concern now is more to try and reduce my cholesterol and I am hoping that it may help that on at least two days of the year I am eating mainly vegetables and lean protein and little else. The only concern I have is the effect (good/bad?) on my adrenal and thyroid glands as I can't find as much information on this. I tend to be a bit over-stresed and don't want to make this worse.

catsrus Thu 05-Jun-14 18:20:06

I started 5:2 the day after I watched the original documentary in 2012 - joined the 5:2 group here on MN, lost 34 lbs and am now a maintainer. Currently just 2lb over my original target but <shrug> that will go after a couple of good fast days. I am a scientist and was interested in the evidence for the positive effects of fasting on the body - even when not being done for weight loss. I was convinced, as were many of my colleagues at work. I have never found such a simple way to keep my weight under control - effectively it's what many slim people do 'naturally', they are not wedded to the notion of 3 meals a day.

For the first time since my childhood I have total confidence that my weight will not gradually creep back up again and I literally can eat whatever I like without ever "being on a diet" ever again. Fat free foods have been banished, I have butter on my bread and if I fancy a desert I have one. When I have a fast day I now find it very easy to just eat in the evening, with the bonus of knowing that the fasting itself is doing my body good.

Joules68 Thu 05-Jun-14 18:27:50

Surely that mantra 'I can eat whatever I like' isn't healthy?

catsrus Thu 05-Jun-14 18:58:29

not really Joules - By "eat whatever I like" I mean that I honestly never feel deprived. As Mimi says, if you plan a fast day and plans change - someone suggests going out for a meal, then there is not that dichotomy of either feeling deprived or feeling a failure. I can go out if I want to and feel confident that I can simply do a fast day another day.

shelllouise Thu 05-Jun-14 19:42:56

I lost 98lb in 12 months doing slimming world and didn't have to have 2 miserable days a week!
I've tried the 5:2 diet but those 2 days with limited calories were really difficult for me and I didn't lose any more than I did on SW so I'll stick with that because it's easy and it works for me smile

Southeastdweller Thu 05-Jun-14 19:47:22

Minty 'Hundreds of people on Mumsnet have failed'? You're talking rubbish.

5:2 has worked for most people here who have the discipline to do it properly.

However, a few folk like (IIRC) Minty struggle for months on every diet, but just can't lose weight. They aren't (all) Secret Eaters; some have very low TDEE, PCOS, post-meno, thyroid, stress-adrenal fatigue .....

They desperately need a specialist book with detailled and scientific advice for THEM, not for the rest of us who can generally lose weight with a bit of effort.

I'm a scientist and I found out about 5:2 while reading research on hormesis, anti-aging, HIIT.
IF / 5:2 has a good science base.

Eatriskier Thu 05-Jun-14 20:27:46

I started 5:2 in April 2013 and lost 6 stone. I'm maintaining easily and my health is vastly improved. I rarely feel deprived on either a fast or non fast day. I am not miserable on fast days either, in fact the detox feeling is wonderful though I will admit tiring easier on them. For those asking you need to restrict yourself to 'normal' eating, that changes from person to person depending on height, weight, age and activity - but in my case I average around 2500 calories on a non fast day (and I'm under 9 stone now). My appetite has completely changed. I can switch off and stop eating when I'm full. I never had to give up wine or crisps or chocolate. And those 500 calories (which I also don't stick to anymore) - well if you put some effort in you can eat a hell of a lot of not just salad for just 500 calories.

Eatriskier Thu 05-Jun-14 20:30:45

DH started in August 2013 after seeing my success too and has lost 4.5 stone himself. He agrees that fast days are enjoyable and give you a feeling of cleansing yourself. Though not so enjoyable that you'd want to do it all the time grin. He also hasn't had to give up his favourite things, just perhaps lessen them and/or have them less often.

RoLoh Thu 05-Jun-14 20:40:13

I think the principal of it is sound, though they made it gimmicky to sell books. Basically to lose weight consistently you work out how many calories you need to restrict yourself to each week in order to lose your target no of pounds and then keep track if it throughout the week. If you've eaten some real crap on a couple of days you just spread your remaining calories out over the remaining days. It kind of helps to change the way we think about food and diets for an overall healthier lifestyle

SpringItOn Thu 05-Jun-14 20:41:39

I've been on 5:2 since January 2012 after reading an article written by Mimi in a Sunday magazine. I knew from the start that it would work for me. I actually look forward to the fast days even though I've been maintaining now for several months. I've lost 2.5 stone and like catsrus, am two pounds up on my target but I'll be rid of that in a couple of fasts.

It works. It's easy. I'll be on it for life, there's no need for a 'beach' version IMO. The thing about 5:2 is it doesn't cost you anything therefore there's no money to be made, no shakes, pills, weigh-ins or membership.
I guess journalists have to try and make their living smile

Mintyy Thu 05-Jun-14 21:24:31

How many Mumsnetters do you think have started 5:2 on the 49 x 1000 post threads about it? I'd be really surprised if there are not hundreds among those who have given up.

For me to lose a pound a week on 5:2 I need to have no more than 1700 calories on nfds - its hardly eat whatever you like.

I am happy for the people who have had success with it - one of my best friends has lost 2 stone - but, you know, it really is just another diet.

Southeastdweller Thu 05-Jun-14 21:49:33

I'd say hundreds have started it mintyy but I have no idea of how many have 'failed' and neither do you.

I agree "Eat what you want" on NFDs is misleading. Stupid PR slogan.

However, eating to your TDEE is what is required on any scheme to maintain current weight, never mind losing.
So, anyone who can't do that has problems on any WOE

Everyone who is overweight got that way by eating their "normal".
So they can't lose, or maintain a lower weight, while eating & exercising the same as before.

Joules68 Thu 05-Jun-14 22:42:53

So it's not 'radical' or 'revolutionary' .... It's a fad diet, like the others?

I see!

Mintyy Thu 05-Jun-14 22:57:14

How many calories do you need to over eat to gain 1lb?

Why do you keep going on about 'fad' diets ?
IF (intermittent fasting) uses the principles of hormesis and is backed up by a large number of science papers and human trials. Have you studied them ?
Some of the world experts on anti-aging, like Dr Mike Mattson, do IF purely for health benefits.

On 5:2 you don't cut out food groups. You have a calorie deficit from 2 fast days of 500 cals, which causes weight loss.
If you prefer your 3000 deficit as 430 cals each day, fine. That's not faddy either.
Faddy is thinking its ok to stay fat and unhealthy.

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Thu 05-Jun-14 23:37:37

There was an American woman on Woman's Hour earlier this year; she was the author of yet another book about IF.
JM was trying to get to the bottom of why or how this woe produced the results it seemingly does (reductions in chesterol, steadying blood sugar etc). The reply from the horse's mouth as it were, was that it was merely the fact of losing the weight that gave the health benefits; she said herself that the fasting in itself didn't cause these.
I'm old enough to remembercthe F-Plan diet; that one ran and ran (pardon the pun), and was arounmd for years with one book after another coming out, each with a 'new' take on it. Don't hear about it at all any more, but I'm sure its proponents praised it to the hilt as yhe ultimate successful weight loss method.
I don't see this as any different, and when the very 'inventor' states there's no health benefits to the method per se, I think, no thanks.

WilsonFrickett Thu 05-Jun-14 23:48:25

I think one of the reasons it doesn't 'feel' faddy is because it's so simple. And yes, Mimi Spencer and Michael Mosley have no doubt got rich off the back of it, but actually, one of the really revolutionary things about 5:2 is its free. You don't have to go to meetings, you don't have to buy branded food, you don't have to buy scales, you don't have to buy anything really. I have one of the recipe books but honestly, all you need is an internet connection to set yourself up for 5:2.

Voter101 Fri 06-Jun-14 06:58:01

I'm a 5:2 failure, but actually when I was doing it, it wasn't that hard. I hated the fasting days (which is why I failed) but loved the feeling of freedom once they are done. I also loved the fact that every day wasn't dominated by food and weighing stuff and counting up points etc like it was when I was on weightwatchers. I'm going to go back to it when I can pull myself together.

violetina Fri 06-Jun-14 07:22:14

I've found 5:2 is the only thing that works for me now I am in my 50s and only want to shift 7lbs of middle aged spread.

It's very easy to follow, I feel well on it, and it's the cheapest diet you can follow. I am eating less and more heathily now on non fast days - as someone else said, it's what naturally slim people do anyway.

The big problem in our society in my opinion is the stranglehold of big food companies and processed food everywhere. Add to that large portions (I think many of us have become used to over-eating even healthy foods) and that's why so many of the population are over weight
I am heartened to see the scientists here saying 5:2 has a solid basis as it's a woe I plan to follow for the rest of my life.

TroyMcClure Fri 06-Jun-14 07:33:20

is this just a glorified advert for her book then mumsnet?

an informercial?

Joules68 Fri 06-Jun-14 08:17:04

Yes it is I think!

Just another book about yet another fad diet, dressed up as being 'scientific' lol

Southeastdweller Fri 06-Jun-14 08:30:49

How very boring and lazy to bang on about 5:2 bring a fad diet. Would there be so much research into it if it was? Would so many people have been successful on such a 'short-lived' diet, for so long, like myself and Mimi??

Mintyy Fri 06-Jun-14 08:33:59

So, anyway, how many calories does the average person need to not eat in order to lose 1lb?

WilsonFrickett Fri 06-Jun-14 08:35:35

Having thought more on this last night, I do agree that presenting 5:2 as a six week beach 'fix' is disingenuous to say the least. Those of us who have had success with 5:2 see it as a long term way of eating - something you do for life. Yes, if you fast for six weeks you will see results - but if you go back to your normal way of eating after six weeks then weight will go back on, just like any 'diet'. So actually, I'm disappointed in the premise of this book.

Eatriskier Fri 06-Jun-14 09:03:42

From what I'm reading here, people go on diets and lose weight but unless they change their lifestyle they won't maintain it which makes the diet a fad. Which means diet = fad.

But there's nothing new in any method of weight loss, ultimately you need to eat less and move more regardless of which rules you follow. And to maintain the loss you need to eat at an acceptable level for your body, not your want.

What I liked most about 5:2 and the GI diet (no doubt a fad despite being the plan a type 2 diabetic has to live by...) was that from the outset they start to educate you about keeping yourself healthy long term. Not just about losing weight with a small bit of maintenance tagged on because there's no money if you keep it off.

Not sure how OK I am with this beach diet version but in fairness it's not necessary to buy into it. My personal view is that whilst people will try to make money out of anything, a diet that requires fees or purchases are faddy. Those that you can do off your own back are simply a case of personal choice.

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Fri 06-Jun-14 09:10:13

Mintyy, since I don't like seeing your pleas unanswered,
here's one version of an answer to your question.
Seems to make sense to me.

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Fri 06-Jun-14 09:11:58

Sorry meant Mintyy.

Eatriskier Fri 06-Jun-14 09:17:56

mintyy most people need to under or overeat by 3000-3500 calories per week to lose or gain a lb. Most people can plug their details into an online calculator or use a fancy pedometer to get their 'normal' calories. But not everyone is most people, myself included in that.

Mintyy Fri 06-Jun-14 09:38:46

In theory, in order for me to lose one pound per week, I need to restrict my calories to 8050 per week. If I eat 1000 on 2 fasting days I then have 7050 for my 5 non-fasting days. 7050 divided by 5 = 1410 per day. Hardly "eat what you like" territory.

I don't think 1lb per week is over-ambitious, either, given that I am 35lb overweight.

Mintyy Fri 06-Jun-14 09:42:11

I am short, small-framed, sedentary and over 50. This is why my tdee is so low, but it will only get lower if I lose weight.

What gets my goat about all this is that is sold as easy, simple and suitable for everyone when, ime, that is not the case.

I did not find it easy being very hungry for 2 days per week and I know dh still does not and it certainly affects our family life.

BUT as I keep saying, I am genuinely happy for everyone for whom it has worked.

Mintyy Fri 06-Jun-14 09:43:28

And, sorry, I will stop hijacking the thread.

Apologies blush.

Eatriskier Fri 06-Jun-14 10:40:19

I honestly have to question where this eat what you like thing has come from. I've never seen it in the 5:2 books or websites - I've only ever seen 'eat normally' which is completely different. The only place I've ever seen unlimited eating mentioned is with alternate day fasting. But burying your head in the sand about what's normal for you will make any plan fail, 5:2 or otherwise.

Not saying that's your issue mintyy. I remember you from the threads and know you struggled whilst doing it as prescribed. But rallying against it because it's not a free for all when it's not prescribed as that seems odd to me.

MollyBdenum Fri 06-Jun-14 11:15:01

I think that when people say "eat what you like" they really mean "eat the way you would eat if you were a person with non disordered eating who was maintaining a healthy weight". So on non fast days, If I go to the beach and want an ice cream, I can have one. I might even choose to have fish and chips on the beach, too. I wouldn't see that as cheating, just as having a one-off day off less healthy eating, which is unimportant in the overall scheme of things. But eating a whole cake every time I have a bad day would obviously not leaf to weight loss or good health.

I see it more a way of relearning to eat for pleasure and nutrition and lose the obsessive love/hate relationship with food that many dieters have while also getting back to a healthy level of fat.

Mintyy Fri 06-Jun-14 11:16:16

Sorry, I should have been clearer. I don't literally mean "eat what you like", of course not, I have 40 years of careful eating behind me and I have never just blown caution to the wind and eaten whatever I like (except perhaps on Christmas day!).

I mean, the mantra that you can relax and eat what you fancy (obviously not a stuff your face blow-out) and not weigh, measure or count calories. If you are restricted to 1450 calories on nfds then you probably do need to do a bit of measuring and counting, don't you think?

When my dh fasts he earns extra calories to have on his nfds (over and above his tdee) because he has high calorie requirements as he is 6'4 and 17 stone.

When I fast on 500 calories for 2 days I do not even earn enough to have a little over my tdee (which is 1650) on non-fast days. I still need to be quite restrictive and go below that.

Do you see what I mean?

Eatriskier Fri 06-Jun-14 11:47:30

molly I think you have that spot on.

mintyy I do get what you mean however it still boils down, as all diets, to eat less move more. If one can't happen then the other needs to regardless of diet plan.

The thing with the magic 3000 figure doesn't mean you won't lose if you have less that that as a deficit, just maybe you won't lose 1lb. Maybe you will, maybe you'll lose 1/4lb. Weight loss isn't linear either regardless of that touted figure. You could attain it and seemingly gain 2lb because other crap is going on in your body or life.

Personally I think anyone overweight should count their calories for a while. Not restrict them, just count them even. Keep a food diary for a week and tot it up at the end. It can be pretty darn illuminating. As a former obese person with nothing to blame than my own poor eating I can tell you how much that alone has educated me.

I think Mimi and Michael Moseley's biggest mistake was labelling it the fast diet. Its anything but quick but people think it will do it quickly, because they see the word fast and don't equate it with fasting. I can't see this bikini fast diet not causing a similar effect.

Mintyy Fri 06-Jun-14 11:59:10

"mintyy I do get what you mean however it still boils down, as all diets, to eat less move more. If one can't happen then the other needs to regardless of diet plan."

Yes, as with all diets. But I thought this wasn't a diet?

Aaargh, I really am going now! Sorry.

Eatriskier Fri 06-Jun-14 12:28:24

A diet is just a way of eating. A weight loss diet is a diet intended to see you lose weight. If you use this plan to lose weight then yes, it's a weight loss diet. It was a weight loss diet for me but now it's just my how I live diet.

Though not how it was originally intended it is being touted as a weight loss diet and I think it's short sighted to claim it's not. However it is upfront in that to remain successful with it you will probably have to adopt it as a how I live diet.

Itsfab Fri 06-Jun-14 12:38:18

5:2 worked for me in that I lost a stone but as with everything else I have tried in the past I lose a stone and then stick. Currently tried 3 plans, lost 2 stone and want to lose another.

This just popped up on Active Threads.

Over on twitter, MN Blog network is promoting their blog of the day, which is about the pressure women are under to diet even when pregnant.

I know some people genuinely need to lose weight to be healthy (though this diet sounds like a gimmick to me). And I know the OP isn't suggesting doing it while pregnant, ok.

But isn't this a bit contradictory? Surely, if MN want to promote good health they shouldn't be promoting fad diets at the exact same time as they're promoting someone speaking out against the pressure to diet?

emsiewill Fri 06-Jun-14 13:01:30

I started 5:2 in March 2013, and have lost (I think, but can't be sure as I never used to weigh myself) around 2.5-3 stone. I have been maintaining at my "after" weight now for at least 6 months if not more. I now do one or two fast days per week, depending on what's going on in my life.

In the interests of openness, I should also say that I took up walking (did a walking marathon last year) and then running (doing a half marathon in August - gulp) so of course that will have had an effect on my weight as well.

On non-fast days I do eat pretty much whatever I fancy and don't do any calorie counting on those days. I really love the guilt free way I can eat, and as many people have said, I don't feel the need to stuff my face to "make up" for the fast days.

I've also stopped drinking as much as I used to, which I guess must make a difference. I didn't stop as a weight loss aid, just because as I've got older I've started to feel worse and worse if I drink too much, and have just as good a time when I'm out and not drinking. Again, though, I don't tell myself "you can't drink" just don't bother.

I've gone down from a size 16-18 to a size 12-14. I honestly can't remember when I've ever been less than a 14 as an adult.

I don't find fast days particularly difficult, so see this as my way of life now, rather than a "diet". To get my BMI to "normal" rather than at the bottom of the "overweight" band that it now is, I really need to lose another stone, but I'd rather maintain as I am than "force" my body to lose a stone that I think would just come back on again over time. I feel like I've reached equilibrium.

My mum died of heart disease when she was 52, as did her dad. I am looking at this as my way to ensure I have more than another 8 years left...

Abra1d Fri 06-Jun-14 13:24:04

Mimi and Michael Moseley's biggest mistake was labelling it the fast diet.

I thought it was 'fast' for 'not eating' rather than 'quick'?

Shotgun The evidence about health benefits of IF (intermittent fasting) is based on a huge number of scientific papers and experiments by reputable scientists in the fields of health, fitness and anti-aging.

They aren't specifically interested in weight loss, just health.
Hormesis is one of the most exciting fields of science imo.

Various (minor) celebrities have jumped on the 5:2 bandwagon to cash in.
They are mainly interested in weight loss, because that is what sells.
However, their shallowness does NOT invalidate peer-reviewed science research.

Joules68 Fri 06-Jun-14 14:36:37

So in a nutshell, what are these 'peer' scientists saying about 5:2?

LRD I'm horrified to hear of pregnant women being pressed to diet.

Epigeneticists have presented papers that restricting calories or complex carbs in pregnancy modifies expression of the baby's RXRA gene, increasing the risk of obesity.
This epigenetic change is hereditary, so grandchildren etc affected too.

So, no diet of any sort when pregnant, unless under medical advice
(except cutting out alcohol, junk, blue cheese etc)

Well, it's not new, is it?

You can't walk outside the house without seeing something that's talking about women needing to snap back to pre-pregnancy weight, or needing not to gain too much, or whatever.

Mintyy Fri 06-Jun-14 14:54:34

You only need to hop over to a current thread on Mumsnet where a prolific poster on here is telling people that they do not need to gain weight in pregnancy hmm.

But we live in an age where to be very slim indeed (like the op of this thread) is seen as ideal and many women are almost phobic about fat of any kind.

catsrus Fri 06-Jun-14 15:38:06

bugger the aesthetics to be honest - I won't pretend I don't enjoy going from a size 16-18 to a size 10-12, or course I do, at almost 60 I look better than I did at 16 grin but I enjoy even more the knowledge that I have massively improved my chances of living long enough to see some grandchildren.

Did anyone else watch this last night?

Mintyy Fri 06-Jun-14 16:04:22

For a 45 year old woman to drop from 10 stone 4 (bmi 22.5) to 8 stone 10 (bmi 19.1) in 13 weeks she would need to eat 500 calories on fast days and no more than 1568 calories on non fast days if she is moderately active.

Eatriskier Fri 06-Jun-14 16:42:53

abra the problem is a lot of people think it's fast as in quick. I see it on here and on other forums a lot. People complaining they've 'only' lost 1lb this week.

mintyy whilst I get what you are trying to point out, someone who wants to go from a high-normal bmi to one heading towards underweight probably has a good grip on eating normally anyway, and if they want to do it that quickly are going to have to deprive themselves or exercise their butt off. It certainly wouldn't be a sustainable plan, nor a sensible one I'd say.

Mintyy Fri 06-Jun-14 17:07:09

Actually, I'm quite amused by that confusion over the word fast grin.

Those stats I put in are the op's rl stats. I forgot to mention she is 5'7".

I think Michael Moseley probably felt he could eat "whatever he liked" within reason on his nfds because 2 days a week on only 600 calories gives him a huge deficit on his weekly calorie requirements, allowing him to eat perhaps a little more than his tdee on nfds and yet still lose weight. Because he is male, taller and heavier than the average woman, quite active and obviously eats fairly healthily anyway.

I know I am a stuck record here but for many women, including op who had quite a generous tdee of 2063 at her start weight, two days a week on 500 calories does not produce a sufficient deficit to lose even 1lb a week unless she also restricts quite severely on nfds.

That's all I'm saying.

I'm thinking of doing a diy 2:5 diet, which will involve allowing myself up to 1800 calories a day twice a week (my splurge days), and having the other 4,450 calories on the other 5 days, perhaps 1 on 500 and 4 on 1000 calories.

Eatriskier Fri 06-Jun-14 17:33:48

mintyy what's with the obsession with having to lose 1lb a week? Plenty of people have tried 5:2, lost at a slower rate and are happy. Plenty have also tried 5:2 and lost at a higher rate despite only having their 3000 deficit. Plenty have done the same with other diets too without the need for it to be a solid 1lb return week on week. In the end these figures are just theoretical.

I lost a stone a month for the first 5 months just eating to 500on fast days and whatever my tdee was on a non fast day at that time. I never had to dial down my eating on nfd to force the magical 3000 figure, and for a large part of those 5 months i wouldn't have achieved that 3000 figure through what I was doing. Turns out fasting agrees with me. Same with dh. Neither of us feel the need to overeat to compensate either. It's not going to agree with everyone but it certainly doesn't mean someone who's had success on it is lying about their methods (both authors have been vocal in that they don't count on nfd, they don't have to with neither starting overweight)

Mintyy Fri 06-Jun-14 17:39:36

Its not an obsession, not at all. I personally found the experience of fasting 2 days per week too difficult to sustain when I did not see any weight loss.

Are people really happy to lose less than 4lb a month if they are putting in a lot of effort? I'm surprised to hear that.

Mintyy Fri 06-Jun-14 17:40:53

Just goes to prove that some of us have more forgiving metabolisms than others then eh?

FrontForward Fri 06-Jun-14 17:54:32

15 out of 63 posts are Mintyy telling us it doesn't work... That's disappointing because I started today grin

I started because a nurse I work with who's role is to advise people on lifestyle changes (smoking, alcohol and obesity) has been following it and raves over the health benefits. She has also lost weight.

Eatriskier Fri 06-Jun-14 17:57:35

Yes, everyone's metabolisms are different. Which is why some things work for some people and don't get others. My metabolism didn't stop me from nearly getting morbidly obese though.

And yes, I'd have been happy with 4-5lb loss a month. Because that's 4 stone over a year. And I didn't want a quick fix, I wanted something that would make me keep it off. But then it was never about vanity for me, my health was affected and I want to live to see grandkids.

If you were so miserable on 5:2 why are you even thinking of trying to do it and depriving yourself on further days? If you want a quick fix then you're on a sure fire path to misery.

Mintyy Fri 06-Jun-14 18:08:21

Oh God! I'd have been happy with 1lb a week, ecstatic even. I have a funny feeling I'm not expressing myself terribly well grin.

And good luck FrontForward - it works extremely well for some people. I'm not sure what they do that I didn't do, but I certainly haven't been saying it doesn't work.

Minty If your TDEE is 1700, then that is what you can eat on average on NFDs. The FDs would give you a weekly 2400 deficit, so about ⅔ lb.
That is healthy and sustainable for someone of lowish TDEE.

To accelerate weight loss, we suggest using the goal weight TDEE
which also trains you how to eat for later maintenance.

A faster quicker alternative is ADF, where you could eat up to 120% TDEE, 2040 for you. I personally wouldn't like so many FDs, but Varady has human trials on hundreds of people that ADF works and is healthy.
There is much more science for ADF than 5:2 , tbh

Mintyy Fri 06-Jun-14 19:16:01

Yes. Gruelling though, isn't it. 500 calories two days a week and 1650 calories five days a week, all to lose just over 2.5lb per month. It would take me 16 months to lose my excess at that rate, assuming I could keep the weight loss up. And then I'd be down to bmi of about 24.

Whereas our op lost 21lb in 3 months when her starting point was bmi of 22. AND she was allowed more calories than me.

I bloody hate being short sometimes.

TDEE is mostly determined by height, age, activity level, only the last of which you can influence.
That totally sucks btw for the disabled who can't exercise.

Talkinpeace, ErrolTheDragon on our 5:2 threads have sub-1500 TDEE, but raised it a few hundred by exercise.

I'm 5'3", nearly 58 and my TDEE would be 1500 if I were sedentary, but I cycle everywhere - too mean to get a car - and I'm a lifelong exerciser, so it's actually 2400.

FrontForward Fri 06-Jun-14 20:35:19

What is TDEE... Please

Mintyy Fri 06-Jun-14 21:06:58

Wow, you are doing 900 calories worth of exercise every day? How do you fit that in and what do you do?

JaneParker Fri 06-Jun-14 21:58:09

TDEE - number of calories to stay the same weight.

The science is clear - we all need to eat healthier foods which are not processed and in addition if we can have longish gaps between eating and sometimes fasting that will help our health too.

I suspect moving to a healthier way of eating with lots of good fats, medium protein and low carb and lots of veg plus some intermittent fasting works for more people than eat all you like boxes of chocolates and sweets 5 days a week Billy Bunter style followed by 2 days of fasting.

Front TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) is how many calories you should be eating in a day to maintain current weight.
This is a very accurate TDEEcalculator because it uses detailed activity times for an average 24 hrs

Minty I only do 60-90 mins very intense training 5-6 days per week and I have a few days break every couple of months. The TDEE works for me, though.
I do HIIT spin, boxing, heavy lifting, CrossFit circuits.

My cycling to/from work, gym and shops (relaxed pace) keeps my system ticking over.

"Eat all the junk you want" would exceed almost anyone's TDEE.
On the 5:2 threads, we try to encourage healthy eating, because many of us are on it as a longterm healthy WOL.
Most folk there learn healthier eating and exercise habits - my username is no longer applicable.

Within that, one of the things I like about 5:2 is that it works for all sorts on our threads: balanced / mediterranean / low carb / low fat / paleo / veggie / vegan .....

Low carb or low fat each seems to suit a minority, depending on insulin sensitivity / endocrine system.
Each group can be evangelical, but most of us seem to do best on a balanced diet.

Longterm, I'm sure mainlining sweet junk would have health consequences for anyone. It is not a food group.

Eatriskier Fri 06-Jun-14 22:38:02

My tdee would be 1580 without exercise. Most of my extra is walking. OK, so as a sahm I am a bit more able to do that, but basically I just don't sit still that often. If I can't escape my house for a walk I hike around my living room whilst the kids are occupied eating/sleeping/drawing and sometimes TV watching if it's a very bad day. On the occasions I work I use my lunch break to go for a big hike. I also use a fitbit which I find quite accurate for me and is perfect as my activity isn't often focused. Wouldn't recommend unless you're a big walker though yeah, that definitely says walker, phew blush wink

catsrus Sat 07-Jun-14 02:08:05

One of the reasons I can say I eat what I want is because what I want I eat has changed. My diet was always reasonably healthy - just too much food and too many processed carbs like pasta. I now follow the mantra of "eat real food mainly plants". I still go out for meals, have Indian, Chinese, Italian food but it really is a treat to do that now and so I enjoy it even more when I do have it. We used to have Chinese takeaway once a week, it doesn't occur to me to do that now - it doesn't feel like I'm depriving myself of it, Ive developed different habits.

Discovering that 5:2 worked so well for me has been an unexpected gift really - I'm working tomorrow, attending a workshop, read my notes today and saw that they're providing tea, coffee, biscuits but we have to bring a packed lunch - my reaction to that is "oh good a fast day". It will be easy to just drink the tea / coffee ignore the biscuits and go for a walk at lunch time. I didn't plan it as a fast day but it's a good opportunity to throw one in - its the flexibility that's so great for me.

LivinLaVidaLocal Sat 07-Jun-14 03:04:50

I totally see where Minty is coming from, and understand and agree with her! For people like Minty, and myself, the 5:2 is simply two days of utter starvation and then five days of dieting. Seems faddy and unsustainable to me.

YMMV though of course and if it does then all power to you! Doing "only 60-90 mins very intense training 5-6 days per week" isn't really an option for me (I would adore it if I had two hours' free time to myself every day!)

Eatriskier Sat 07-Jun-14 06:46:26

Living I also get mintyys and your point but if eating to your TDEE on a non fast day is being felt as dieting then there's a reason for weight gain.

Like catsrus what I want to eat now has changed, I'm a lot more aware of portion size of things like pasta and I also don't often get a takeaway anymore because the thought isn't there. I make things like pizzas and curries anyway, so it doesn't feel like we're missing. DH loves a dominos and I've just realised the last time he suggested one was Christmas. He hadn't even noticed himself.

Eatriskier Sat 07-Jun-14 06:54:59

DH has asked me to point out that the lack of takeaway though may also be to do with us being followers/practitioners of mumsnet chicken other meats are available too. Meal planning and prep is easier when there's always cooked meat to hand. He probably has a good point.

The thing I like about 5:2 is that if I do have a 'treat' on NFD is doesn't derail me. I just modify the next day.

My appetite has definitely changed. I have list 5 stone 4lbs since January 2013.

What is MN chicken?

Eatriskier Sat 07-Jun-14 07:56:07

MN chicken is a chicken that feeds the family for a week (I'm not sure why its known as mn chicken, but I've seen it referred to it as that on here a lot). We usually cook up 2 big birds/a big roasting joint of some other meat and have a roast dinner then use the rest of the meat in other meals to feed us until it runs out.

Mintyy Sat 07-Jun-14 09:15:52

I was also amused by "only 60-90 minutes intense exercise 5-6 times per week". No wonder you are a gorgeous healthy weight - it would be a travesty of justice if you weren't!

LivinLaVidaLocal Sat 07-Jun-14 09:17:16


catsrus Sat 07-Jun-14 10:15:15

Can I say at this point that I do NOT exercise - I do walk the dog most days but that's a gentle stroll with him running around like a lunatic - I do try to take the stairs not use lifts, walk to the next bus stop, go to the loo on the next floor up at work, that kind of thing, but I don't do gyms or shredding or running or weights. Maybe that's my next challenge as I know it's got health benefits, but my weight loss was not dependent on it, nor is my maintaining.

I used to have a range of sizes in my wardrobe to accommodate the weight fluctuations, when I started this I wanted to get into a pair of trousers that I had only worn once, a size 12. They are now my fat 'top of the weight wobble' trousers. Everything above a 12 has been given away, a lot of my good work stuff to a friend who has come down from a 22 to a 16-18 on 5:2. I have wobbled back up 7lbs or so over winter, in the past that would have signalled broken diet and a creep upwards. I now feel I have the tools to stop that happening and as I said, only another 2lbs to bring me back to my original target weight of 9.4

People have nothing to lose by giving this a go, you don't have to buy a book or join a club, all the information is on the 5:2 threads on MN. Clearly some people find it impossible to do - but those of us who do find it works for us it really is life changing.

mollysfolly Mon 09-Jun-14 12:22:01

As a long time lurker and occasional poster on the 5:2 threads here, I remember mintyy and her struggles, I have struggled myself at times so I sympathise.

However, I have no patience with the op turning this way of eating into a slimming diet.

Join the main thread, listen to BigChoc's excellent advice on fitness, BetsyBell's and others on food and cooking and keep going. Don't expect a quick weight loss fix but do expect to feel well and trimmer. football

Fillybuster Mon 09-Jun-14 15:27:07

I'm another long term 5:2er, and have a huge amount of sympathy for Mintyy as she put in a lot of effort for very limited results.

It doesn't work for everyone. I don't know why, but that does seem to be the case. But it does, and has, worked for an awful lot of people (check out the happy vibe on the maintainers thread smile ). I've been sitting on or around my revised (lower) target weight for about a year now: it's been a huge relief to shed the last of the weight I gained with dc3 (who is now 4), and a massive boost to my confidence. I find fasting 1 or 2 days a week fairly easy (not always, but mostly) and honestly do eat 'whatever I like' the rest of the week. Sometimes my weight creeps up as a result, but my fast days help bring it back into line. And, over time, 'what I want' has either changed substantially or reduced a lot!

But this thread does feel an awful lot like a plug for Mimi's new book. As much as I'm impressed by her weight-loss and subsequent commercial activities, I don't think pinning this thread on MN is helping anyone (apart from Mimi).

Mintyy Mon 09-Jun-14 15:30:41

I think there is nothing you can learn about 5:2 that isn't on the Mumsnet threads. And I think the first thread started very shortly after the original Horizon programme so there are probably some fasting veterans on here who are more informed on the subject than even Ms Spencer.

Having this book marketed at us is a bit like teaching your grandma to suck eggs.

Southeastdweller Mon 09-Jun-14 19:31:43

I've read the book and actually Mintyy there's stuff in there that I haven't seen on here.

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