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Tips and links for those practicing Intermittent Fasting (IF). 5:2 or Alternate Day Fasting (ADF)

(275 Posts)
Breadandwine Sun 07-Oct-12 00:27:12

This is where those posters who have been IFing for a while can pass on any tips they may have on how to get the best out of this new WOE (way of eating).

It's also where you should post any new links on the subject that you come across - and would just get buried in a very long thread.

I just wanted to get this thread underway, so that GreenEggs can link to it in the new 5:2 thread (the 5th in just 2 months!) that's she is currently planning.

literarygeek Wed 21-Nov-12 13:25:35

Hi all. For free fun workout videos, I like

literarygeek Wed 21-Nov-12 13:25:48

For those struggling with black tea or coffee, try pukka teas. All good but vanilla chai, three ginger and detox are my favourites.

SchroSawMummyRidingSantaClaus Wed 21-Nov-12 13:34:00

For the past few weeks until yesterday I have been on max 500 calories a day every day.

No white carbs, they're calorific and wont keep you full.

Green tea is your friend, Twinnings do a selection box of different flavours and they are lovely.

Salad is great to fill you up and to bulk out meals, remember to still check the calories though.

Hellmans do a "lighter than light" mayonaise, 10 cals per tbsp and actually tastes great.

Weight watchers oat and wheat crackers if you need a snack or something bready to bulk a meal out, they are 55 calories a pack of 4 and are lovely.

Laughing cow cheese triangles, the light ones are 25 calories a triangle if you are craving cheese.

No breakfast or lunch. Save it all for a big meal later on, before that just drink loads of water or tea.

Go out and do something or be active to help take your mind off food.

skippyscuffleton Wed 21-Nov-12 19:57:39

I appreciate that the following is not really about 5:2 or weightloss specifically, but those of you who are interested in the health benefits of IF and specifically IGF-1 reduction may be interested.

I read the article in this week's New Scientist today in a newsagent (link on the main thread). In addition to the main article is a subsection (not included on the link on the main thread) on one of our friends from the Horizon prog, Luigi Fontana. His view is that IGF-1 levels are reduced in line with reductions in protein as opposed to calorie reduction, quote from the conclusion in the link to the below study (from 2008): "In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that, unlike in rodents, long-term severe CR (calorie restriction) does not reduce total and free IGF-1 levels in healthy humans if protein intake is high." The paper in full can be read here:

Googling "low protein diet" I came across the following article in the Daily Telegraph from 2009:

Other then the horizon prog the only other sound advice on this whole area of 5:2 IF for me comes from the following blog, which being a blog admittedly could be erroneous but I don't think so. I've posted the link before but I think it's worth reposting:
On this blog it's also interesting to note that Volter Longo (when not cruising in his ferrari) advocates "The evidence indicates that it is better to do 4 days of (consecutive) fasting every few months and then skip meals during the week to maintain weight and try to adopt a plant based low protein diet. " with regards to IGF-1 reduction.

All interesting stuff. As ever, over to you to draw your own conclusions...

literarygeek Thu 22-Nov-12 07:50:56

That's great, skippy. Really helpful stuff.

Breadandwine Sat 24-Nov-12 07:56:33

Just for interest, here's an article in the Irish Independent on the subject:

Nothing in it that's new, but I like her final sentence:

"Right now, the jury's out. But smaller jeans? Who's going to argue with that?

TheCyclistist Sat 24-Nov-12 22:28:28

Been following this WOE/WOL now since August 8th and got a hell of a lot out of it. But over time I think like many, I have tweaked and changed things a little. The more I looked into ADF/5:2 the more interested I've become in the insulin cycle and diet and how it related to this WOE (Way of eating).

On fast days now I leave at least 16 hours between meals, but I;ve also started to try and do the same on non-fast days so in effet eating within a 8 hour window. The following link is a short report about a study that was done (again on mice sad ) and it's conclusions.

It's not ADF but something I personally am starting to do more and more as part of this WOL

Breadandwine Sun 25-Nov-12 01:14:24

Interesting, Cyclist!

I'm currently on 5:2, but trying to eat more on my feeding days because I'm happy with my weight. But if I overeat on one day, I'll happily add another 'mini-fast' the next day - that is, not eating until the evening, and then eating a normal dinner.

Check out the info on this site (you'll love this, skippy):

There's a fantastic mine of information on here - research on all aspects (it seems to me) of IF, stretching back to 2006:

Give me a shout when you've read and digested it all! grin

Breadandwine Sun 25-Nov-12 22:52:42

Here's another positive look at IF, with some known, and some new, research - by someone new to fasting:

skippyscuffleton Mon 26-Nov-12 12:31:09

You are right, the mind and muscle link is a great one. Unfortunately it has helped to highlight just how little research has been done on humans with regards to IF.
So far the paper that has interested me most is one looking at:
* “The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: a randomized trial in young women.” *

Brief summary:
Subjects doing caloric restriction (CR) diets and subjects doing 5:2 IF regimes over a 6 mth period had equally effective results for:
Weight loss
Reductions in leptin, free androgen index, high sensitivity C-reactive protein, total and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and increases in sex hormone binding globulin, IGF binding proteins 1 and 2.
Both groups experienced modest declines in fasting serum insulin and improvements in insulin sensitivity which were greater amongst the IF group.

The regimes:
The CR folks were on a diet where they were prescribed a daily 25% restriction based on a Mediterranean type diet (30% fat, 15% monounsaturated, 7% saturated fat, 7% polyunsaturated fatty acids, 45% low glycaemic load carbohydrate, and 25% protein).

The 5:2ers were asked to undertake a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) (75% restriction) on 2 consecutive days and to consume estimated requirements for weight maintenance for the remaining 5 days according to the nutrient composition above. The VLCD provided 2060 to 2266 kJ (500kcal ish) of energy and 50 g protein/day and comprised 1.136 litres (2 pints) of semi skimmed milk, 4 portions of vegetables (~80 g/portion), 1 portion of fruit, a salty low calorie drink and a multivitamin and mineral supplement.

Fewer of the IF group (58%) planned to continue with the regimen beyond 6 months compared to the CR group (85%) suggesting difficulties with long term adherence to IF.

I suggest you read the paper in full before coming to any conclusions with what I’ve posted above.

Breadandwine Thu 29-Nov-12 11:20:27

Here's someone - a weightlifter - blogging about his fasting experiences and the merits of 16 hours versus 24 fasting:

Breadandwine Fri 30-Nov-12 17:27:04

Lifted from the main thread:

virginposter Fri 30-Nov-12 16:08:58

"Has anyone else seen this? Always a bit loathe to read Daily Mail stuff but this one is ok. She has an IGF-1 test before her month of 5:2 and then again at the end and it has dropped significantly. Have a look you guys."

It is well worth reading - as are some of the comments, though I've only read the first page.

TheCyclistist Sat 01-Dec-12 08:12:00

Below is the post I put on the main 5:2 thread detailing my blood test results 4 months after starting ADF with a short background paragraph about my past health. At the foot of this post I have added some other blood results not listed on main thread as there was no omparison from the July tests so no point. However they may be of interest to anyone with a medicall background (or may not smile )

Evening all.

Well as I said earlier got the blood test results back this afternoon and I'm sad enough to sit down and share them with the greater research project that is this Thread approaching the midnight hour.

A bit of background first. Up till two years ago I basically had a quite an issue with alcohol, namely a bottle and a half of Merlot in front of the Telly after work every day of the week. This had no real effect on my health until about 3 or 4 years ago when basically that and my increasing weight led to me starting to fall apart physically (no need to go into too many details). Anyway the docs start sending me for blood tests every 6 months or so to see how the 'markers' in my blood were doing.

Initially although my cholesterol was always fairly good, never really above 5.2 most of the other markers weren't great. My liver enzyme test coming out at about 130 when the upper limit should be 40.

I stopped drinking 2 years ago but put on a little more weight till a year ago I was 18 stone (but naturally big boned ). Although I hadn't drunk for a year the Liver enzyme test was still in the 60's this January. I lost a few stone between last November and early July when I had my last test and the Liver enyme test had dropped to 46, nearly the upper range of healthy.

So below are the results from July a couple of weeks before I started this WOE, initially 4:3 then more recently 5:2. As it said in the programme I have had 600 cals on Fasting days and eaten anything on none fasting days including chocolate, pizza, curry, crisps and anything up to 3,500 cals although my TDEE is around 3,300 because of my build,sex and activity levels. I keep my protein levels down, I'm not a great meat eater but do eat meat, I have no concerns at all whether something has carbohydrates in it but avoid most of the time very high GI foods but not all of the time. I eat a diet high in oats, fibre and veg as well as other 'less wholesome' foods and the only supplements I take are ALIMAX garlic tablets and Boots own label Omega 3 supplement.

The first column was the score in the July blood test the second the score now and the 3rd the recommended normal range. The results on the whole are pretty amazing.......

Cholesterol overall 4.1 / 3.4 / 3.0-5.0
HDL good Cholesterol 1.35 / 1.5 / 1.0-3.5
LDL bad cholesterol 2.3 / 1.6 / 1.0-3.00
A very good cholesterol reading and a huge improvement in the good to bad cholesterol ratio, espeially considering my unrestricted diet on feed days

Trig levels .88 / .71 / 0.5-2.3
Although Triglyceride levels were good in July they were over 15% better a few months later, this is also a sgn of a liver working healthily

Liver Function Tests
ALT/SGPT Serum 46 / 30 / 0.00-40.00
Serum Protein level 71 / 69 / 60-80
Serum albumin 44 / 45 / 35-50
Serum globulin 27 / 24 / 18-36
All markers basically going in the right direction with the main marker being within the healthy range for the first time in a decade

Kidney Function
Serum urea level 5.4 / 3.9 / 2.5-7.8
Serum creatine level 93 / 87 / 74-110
Serum Potasium 4.3 / 4.1 / 3.5-5.3
All fairly healthy with slight improvements. The drop in the urea marker probably down to my low protein diet showing up

Fasting Blood Glucose Level
4.5 / 4.7 / 3.5-6.0
Up slightly and I think it was in July from the previous one so will watch this.

Serum TSH Thyroid function / 1.67 / .35-5.5
This wasn't done last time

I post these results because people have asked to see whether this WOE has health benefits as well as weight loss benefits so I hope they don't look like I'm saying 'look at me aren't I great'. So overall in a matter of 4 months this WOE has has marked positive effects on some major body functions. Of course there may be other areas not tested that are going in the wrong direction only time and more evidnece from others will tell.
However all I can say is I feel better than I did 4 months ago, my Liver and Kidneys are working better and my cholesterol levels are markedly improved despite me eating basically anything I it every other day .

It made the curry tonight taste all the sweeter....washed down by a cool pepsi with loads of ice of course

Additional bloods:

Full blood count:
Haemoglobin concentration 14 g/dl (13.3-17.3)
Total white count 5.5 10*9/L (3.8 -11.0)
Red blood cell count 4.92 10*12/L (4.5-6.0)
Haematocrit 0.42 ( 0.4-.05)
Mean cell volume 13.7% (9.0-15.0)
Mean cell Heamo concent 33.7 g/dl (32.0 -36.0)
Platelet count observation 192 10*9/L (150 - 400)
Mean platelet volume 10.3 fL

Diferential white count:
Neutrophil count 3.1 10*9/L (2.0-7.5)
Lymphocyte count 1.7 10*9/L (1.5-4.0)
Monocyte count 0.5 (0.2-0.8)
Eosiinophil count 0.1 (0.0-0.4)
Basophil and Promyelocyte counts both 0.0

Blood Haematinic levels:
Serum vitamin B12 406 ng/L (246.0-911.0)
Serum Folate 8.4 ug/L (5.4-20.0)
Serum Ferritin level 76.8 ug/L (20 - 300)

I have no idea whether these last figures are any use but put them there on the off chance.

pip895 Sun 02-Dec-12 13:11:47

Been on 5:2 diet for 11 weeks - lost weight very steadily ~1.5lb/week for first 8 weeks then a bit of a blip - still going down but more slowy. Have lost just over a stone so far, 2 more stone before I reach my ideal weight.

I have found it gets easier as you go on - I started having 3 small meals a day but am now down to two and may go to one later. However many meals I have, I like to save at least 250kcal for an evening meal as I don’t like going to bed hungry (don’t sleep so well if I do)

Other benefits apart from weight loss include -Sleeping better, More energy, better mood & feeling in control of my diet/weight.

Apart from mumsnet I have noticed a 5:2 diet entry on Wikipedia which has a reasonable summary & some useful links

Breadandwine Mon 03-Dec-12 20:57:36

In their paper these researchers discuss a 1957 paper from the Spanish medical literature.

…the subjects were eating, on alternate days, either 900 calories or 2300 calories, averaging 1600, and that body weight was maintained. Thus they consumed either 56% or 144% of daily caloric requirement. The subjects were in a residence for old people, and all were in perfect health and over 65. Over three years, there were 6 deaths among 60 study subjects and 13 deaths among 60 ad lib-fed controls, non-significant difference. Study subjects were in hospital 123 days, controls 219, highly significant difference. We believe widespread use of this pattern of eating could impact influenza epidemics and other communicable diseases by improving resistance to infection. In addition to the health effects, this pattern of eating has proven to be a good method of weight control, and we are continuing to study the process in conjunction with the NIH."

I came across it in this very interesting blog:

Mind you, he does have a couple of books to sell!

Still, I do like what he says about IF activating new brain cells!

NatashaMousse Sat 08-Dec-12 00:48:31

Thanks a lot for that latest link, B&W.

In addition to books, Dr. Mike is selling a low-carb - or maybe it's no-carb - eating regimen that's at the opposite end of the spectrum from low-fat, plants-only Fuhrman. (Hard to know what to believe. Research just isn't there yet. And the problem is further complicated by all the variations from one person to the next.) As a vegetarian of long standing, I find the meat+fat diet a bit hard to swallow, but I'm keeping an open mind.

That said, I found the comments (over 400 of them), dating back to 2006, to be worth reading. Plenty of people have been experimenting for years with all sorts of variations on intermittent fasting. Their posts, along with Eades' replies, offer a lot of interesting anecdotes and touch on some of the questions raised in the 5:2 threads here (feeling cold, bf, fertility, etc.). The links that some posters provided are also thought provoking.

Breadandwine Sat 08-Dec-12 01:06:42

Thanks, Natasha, there's a lot there, isn't there? I haven't gone though all the comments yet, I must admit.

There's also a lot to take in in these links posted by fretfree on the main thread:


I found the research on male and female fertility a bit frightening, TBH!

NatashaMousse Sat 08-Dec-12 08:25:39

As you say, B&W, there's a lot to digest. Unfortunately, none of it is conclusive. Maybe it never will be.

I take reassurance in the fact that fasting, particularly in the form of water fasts, has been a part of many of cultures and traditions for thousands of years. There is plenty of fairly current documentation of the healing benefits of extended fasting (under the appropriate conditions). And the 5:2 plan that Mosley adopted is hardly radical, even if it may appear a bit extreme from the perspective of "three squares a day". It simply comes down to eating less two days a week, which just doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me.

What's more worrisome to me is the question of what's best for us to eat, which does not appear to have a one-size-fits-all answer. Even if it did, the research keeps contradicting itself, with cholesterol and salt now coming back into fashion, at least in some circles. confused

Breadandwine Tue 11-Dec-12 16:12:05

"Alzheimer's risk less for hungry kids" said a headline in today's Mirror.

After a lot of searching around, finally found the report here:

It's from the American Academy of Neurology, Dec 2012.

Breadandwine Thu 13-Dec-12 11:51:32

Although you can no longer see the original Horizon programme, Eat, Fast and Live Longer, the webpage is still on iPlayer.

Clicking on 'See all the buzz about this programme' takes you to a number of different blogs and forums about IF.

Haven't had a chance to look at them yet, but I can see there's a wealth of info on there - well worth a browse.

Breadandwine Fri 14-Dec-12 14:30:41

ManOnBoard posted this back in November. Apologies for not repeating it here earlier:

"Finally I have had the results of my annual medical and the only lifestyle change from last year has been this WOE so, rightly or wrongly, I am attributing the changes to it. My first fast day was 10/8/12 and I have so far completed 34 in toal, 5:2, 4:3 and some days consecutive and my weight has reduced by 29lbs. I have weighed and recorded the weights daily and it is very apparent that there are fluctuations that could distort the results were I to weigh weekly or monthly. The results from last year are in brackets:-

Resting heart rate: 48 bpm (52)
Blood pressure: 112/71 (118/79)
Cholesterol: 4.2 (4.6)
BMI 29.0 (33.1)

Once I reach a BMI of 27 I intend to switch to 6:1 but having nothing but water, which I have tried already except for tea with milk which doing without will be the true test. The thought of a BMI below 25 does not appeal to me but as a wise-ish woman once said "You can never be too rich or too thin" so I might chane my mind, which is not just a woman's prerogative.

Although I have more energy overall I do still struggle with anaerobic exercise when fasting but intend to stick to moderate fitness methods, such as walking or cycling on certain days. My main exercise is resistance training (weights) and the day/s off will be useful in muscle recovery.

Yesterday I made up a backpack weighing the same as my weight loss (13kgs) and walked with it on and it was an eye opener I think you should try."

This was posted on 19-11-12.

Breadandwine Sun 16-Dec-12 19:10:44

Initial link posted today on main thread:

Breadandwine Tue 18-Dec-12 21:07:13

Here are some thoughts about fasting and weight loss that are of interest - especially the bit about the harmful effects of fizzy drinks:

Couple of useful links on the thread as well.

Breadandwine Tue 18-Dec-12 23:46:18

Thought we should mention these scales on this thread, recommended by several posters on the main threads:

"Omron BF511 Body Composition Monitor which you can see on Amazon. I too heard that these type of scales can be inaccurate but DrMM himself answered a question (on twitter) about his scales used at the end of the Horizon prog (they look similar to mine). He said that they may be inaccurate in the first measurement but they will at least tell you how much fat you are losing (or gaining)."

Breadandwine Wed 19-Dec-12 00:09:26

Sorry, posted too soon. Meant to add this:

Souper Mon 17-Dec-12 06:57:56
"I have some Salter Ultimate Accuracy scales which I got for around £40 from Argos. Unfortunately they do not have an eye level display thing but the digital display is a reasonable size. I literally love them. I would save them from the house in the event of a fire!"

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