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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.

Talkinpeace Fri 08-Mar-13 18:42:16

Just transferring a couple of points from the big thread ....

500 calories v. 25% of TDEE
I always go with 500 calories even though my TDEE in a work week is now 1500.
Because its easier, its still a significant calorie deficit over the week
and I can always up my TDEE by going to the gym or digging the garden.

Breakfast for children
DH and I have been doing 5:2 since September. Our kids are 12 and 14. They have seen the programme.
And they "get" the fact that there is a big difference between growing children and middle aged adults.
DD does not eat breakfast, but I do insist that she has milk or fruit juice to drink.
DS is at the hollow legs stage and gets through industrial quantities of cereal in the week and bacon at the weekend.

Overindulging at the weekend
Too right, that's the bit I love about this WOE. I eat and drink too much on the weekend and then detox and restrain myself in the week.
Plan to carry on doing so for the next 40 years.

Maintaining Healthy Weight
I think the thing to do is to stay with 5:2 - to get the health benefits of the fasts
but to relax a bit about the 500 calories
that way the weight loss slows down as you have less to lose.

What weight should I stop at?
Probably a LOT less than you originally thought.
You need to look at your frame,
but if you can pinch an inch on neck or shoulders or arms, chances are you can safely lose more
so long as you tone up the butterfly that is coming out of its shell ...

Does your weight fluctuate during the week?
Of course it will. Your digestive tract will be full after a food day and empty after a fast day. If I can be bothered to go to the scales I know that I weight two pounds more on a Monday than I do on a Friday.

How often should I weigh myself?
Ideally very rarely.
You need to start listening to your clothes and your knee joints to tell you how much you weigh.
For those who have a set of scales at home, put them in the boot of the car.
Then pick a specific time each week, and a specific outfit and weigh yourself.
Then your bowels and clothes will be in the same level so any weight loss will be real.
All the other days, try to listen to your body.

Should I use bodyfat scales?
Because they are up to 20% inaccurate.
Pinch an inch instead.
Over time the number of places where you can will diminish.

But I need constant feedback ....
Diana Rigg once said in an interview that she kept a thin piece of ribbon tied around her waist - always. If it dug in she was too fat, if it slid around she was too thin.
Try that.

I'm not losing weight, why not?
5:2 and all other forms of intermittent fasting are not primarily about weight loss. That is a happy side effect for most of those who are over weight to begin with.
THe true reason for doing any form of intermittent fasting is to kick your body into repair mode, reset your insulin system and possibly reduce your chances of alzheimers and dementia. Fasting will definitely reduce your chances of diabetes, heart disease and bowel disorders.
Therefore do not give up. Think of the good you are doing and the weight might just sneak away when you stop watching it.

I'm ravenous on non fast days
You need to alter the mix of what you are eating.
Michael Mosely's first programme for Horizon covered the fact that different foods affect hunger in different ways.
Low (not no) carb, high protein diets slow down hunger
as do thick soups and stews (like this
that way your meals will keep you sated for longer.
Also, 90% of what people think is hunger is actually thirst. Have a pint of water or a mug of tea or a pink of skimmed milk.

I'm new to all this - can I ask a question?
You are more than welcome, but first of all read the tips and hints thread - which I'm just about to bump.
There is more in these threads than all the books put together.
Join in and add your ideas and data.

Breadandwine Sun 10-Mar-13 03:06:25

Here's a graph from the 52FastDiet forum, showing weightloss over the past 2 months. The average weekly weightloss is 1lb a week - with no difference between 5:2 and 4:3. Also check out the Tracker on that site.

Well worth a visit!

Breadandwine Tue 12-Mar-13 01:46:46

Here's a TEDx talk on Fast 5, which has been mentioned several times on the main thread:

Breadandwine Wed 13-Mar-13 10:15:33

This was posted on the main thread by swallowedafly. Thought it belonged here as well:

"to those wondering over 'proper ways to do it':

basically there is a principle that a 24hr fast is really good for the body but an awareness that that is difficult for some. even a day of drastically reduced calories is good for you re: 500 as in the 5:2.

the 'ideal' would be to have a full 24hrs of nothing then eat your 500 at the end of the day (so fasting from tea one night to tea the next then having 500cals so you get to go to bed satiated). it's one to work towards.

any extended fast for example 16hrs (from teatime to lunch) or 20hrs (maybe tea time to late afternoon) is good for you and allows better access to fat burning whilst also giving your digestive system a good rest amongst other things.

some of us were natural breakfast avoiders anyway so it was easy to extend that out to lunchtime or for those like me who regularly didn't eat till the afternoon it was not such a stretch to try to go through to teatime. it can be done very gradually - just extend it. if you're a breakfast eater try eating a little when you get to work instead of when you get up then stretch it out to 10, 11 etc till you're going through to lunch.

if you're just looking for weight loss and spreading your 500 over the day is working for you then stick with it - if later you want to start getting more health benefits or if your weight loss stalls you can try this way of extending gaps between eating.

this is flexible.

sorry for essay. incidentally the 24hr figure seems to be because from 12hrs up to 24hrs the benefits are all going up - growth hormone release, dropping levels of nasties, easy fat burn access, increased metabolism etc and the benefits seem to peak at 24hrs and taper off there after. so 24hrs is the 'best' effects zone - any hours over 12 and up to 24 are hours where good stuff is definitely happening."

Breadandwine Sun 17-Mar-13 16:09:51

BlackMaryJane found this link to Brad Pilon's book, Eat, Stop, Eat:

Well worth a read!

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Mar-13 16:23:26

There are lots of newcomers on the big thread (YAY) who could do with a quiet read through this thread .....

Breadandwine Sat 23-Mar-13 14:09:45

Here's an article from last Sunday's Observer with some fascinating research on ageing:

Cynthia Kenyon: 'The idea that ageing was subject to control was completely unexpected'.

The molecular biologist talks about the discovery that led to a revolution in our understanding of the ageing process.

Breadandwine Sun 24-Mar-13 01:19:27

'Why are thin people not fat?' Horizon programme from 2008:

Talkinpeace Sun 24-Mar-13 16:50:00

Thin people fidget.
Fat people do not.
Watch when you are on the train or in a traffic jam or at any social gathering ....
My oldest best friend is such an incurable fidget he breaks things.

scooterdooter Thu 28-Mar-13 10:51:29

Such an interesting thread! Rarely have time to do forums but wanted to share our positive results on 5:2. Started mid Jan 13, size 16 and 75 kg (sorry work in metric), hubby a shocking 95 kg - he couldn't believe the new scales! As of last weekend he has lost 11 kg and I have lost 8.5 kg, dropped dress size and feel much better.
BUT we drink two glasses of wine each Sat and Sun, still have our Vodka/tonic (Lite!) before our weekend meals and enjoy normal meals, puddings, ice cream etc at the weekend. We cut down our portions generally but not too much, but try to stick to the 2 fast days - usually Monday (after Sunday pig out) and Thursday (before a drink on Friday evening).
I would recommend trying it to anyone, just plan the first couple of weeks of fast days in advance and then stick to the meals you have planned. After that you will get the hang of it. We eat breakfast, lunch and tea on fast days to ensure the kids don't find it odd, and I can't cope missing out a meal. But really, it honestly does work.
Obviously you will feel hungry on fast days, it is inevitable but that is not a bad thing, just a bit inconvenient. And the next day you can eat normally again - what's not to like!
Anyway just thought I would mention it is for people who have never done diets as well - so give it a go if you haven't already.

Talkinpeace Fri 29-Mar-13 19:52:30

I have now been "maintaining" since before Christmas as a BMI much lower than 20.5 will look a bit manky.

Why am I still fasting?
Habit and health benefits.

I stop in school holidays and enjoy myself and then restart in term time -
it seems to work!

NurseEzzzaChapel Thu 04-Apr-13 19:23:11

Can I fast for a 24 hour period say from 1pm to 1pm and just stick to my 5/600 kcal allowance in that time?

I’ve been giving this one a lot of thought. I’ve always thought that if you choose to do a 24 hour fasting period then this is meant to be a zero calorie fast for 24 hours with normal eating either side. This is another form of intermittent fasting.

Personally I’d say that if you choose to do 5:2 then, as others have said, it is helpful to think of a ‘day’ as a calendar day, not as a 24 hour period. If you need to think of it as a 24 hour period to get your head around it then think of it as midnight to midnight. (You don’t get to choose what time e.g. Tuesday starts, by the same token, you don’t get to choose what time a fast day starts only which days you are going to fast on IYSWIM). Like I said though, this is if you want to do 5:2 and keep it simple. There are other forms of intermittent fasting which are perfectly valid and can work.

Here’s an illustration (not intended to tell anyone what they should be doing, just an illustration) of why it might not be helpful to think of a ‘fast day’ as a 24 hour period which spreads over two calendar days:

Lady with a TDEE of 1750 kcal per day does 5:2 the simple calendar day way:
Monday fast day eats 500 kcal
Tuesday normal day eats 1750 kcal
Wednesday normal day eats 1750 kcal
Thursday fast day eats 500 kcal
Friday normal day eats 1750 kcal
Saturday normal day eats 1750 kcal
Sunday normal day eats 1750 kcal
Total calories consumed: 9750 kcal
Total calorie deficit for the week: 2500 kcal

Lady achieves this by having on normal days: 400 kcal breakfast, 500 kcal lunch, 600 kcal dinner and 250 kcal for drinks and treats; and on fast days by either having a 16 hour fast until lunch and then having 200 kcal for lunch and 300 kcal for dinner or by having a 24 hour fast and having a 500 kcal dinner.

Lady’s friend, who also has a 1750 kcal TDEE decides to give it a go, but decides to do a 24 hour fast from 1pm to 1pm:
Monday until 1pm 400 kcal breakfast plus 500 kcal lunch plus 100 kcal drinks total: 1000 kcal
Monday 1pm to Tuesday 1pm 24 hour modified fast 300 kcal dinner plus 200 kcal breakfast total: 500 kcal
Tuesday after 1pm lunch 500 kcal plus dinner 600kcal plus drinks and treats 150 kcal total: 1250 kcal
Wednesday normal day eats 1750 kcal
Thursday until 1pm 400 kcal breakfast plus 500 kcal lunch plus 100 kcal drinks total: 1000 kcal
Thursday 1pm to Friday 1pm 24 hour modified fast 300 kcal dinner plus 200 kcal breakfast total: 500 kcal
Friday after 1pm lunch 500 kcal plus dinner 600kcal plus drinks and treats 150 kcal total: 1250 kcal
Saturday normal day eats 1750 kcal
Sunday normal day eats 1750 kcal
Total calories consumed: 10750 kcal
Total calorie deficit for the week: 1500 kcal
(This also assumes that Lady’s friend is not tempted to eat a bigger lunch on the two days either side of her fast and is also not tempted to have more calories in treats either side of the fast)

Each week Lady gets in two 16+ hour periods of zero calorie fasting and reaps the health benefits and has a calorie deficit of 2500 kcal per week which sees her slowly but surely losing some weight.

Lady’s friend doesn’t get in any periods of zero calorie fasting except what every human being gets overnight while asleep and her calorie deficit is only 1500 kcal per week so she may not be getting the health benefits and she begins to get frustrated because it seems like she’s not losing weight very quickly.

I’ve been thinking about how the 24 hour modified fast could still work. If Lady’s friend did, say, 3pm to 3pm instead and so skipped lunch on Tuesday and Friday she could increase her calorie deficit to 2500 kcal, which is the same as Lady’s. If she also had her 200 kcal meal on Tuesday and Friday closer to lunch time instead of at breakfast then she could also get in two 16+ hour zero calorie fasts per week for the health benefits that come along with that.

So I think it is possible to do it.

The downsides though are: a) it’s more complicated that going from sleep to sleep and b) the fasting affects 4 calendar days per week to get in just two fasts whereas a sleep to sleep approach only affects 2 calendar days per week. It also may be true that for anyone who doesn’t want to calorie count at all outside of their modified fasts this approach may not work as these people (me included) may be inclined to eat too much on the morning and afternoon either side of the fasting period for it to work.

But I’m not by any means an expert and I’m just typing out my musings on this so if it works for you, please let us know!

…and if everything I’ve typed above seems way to complicated then ignore it completely and stick to this simple principle:

On a fast day eat no more than 500 kcal (600 for men) from waking up until going to sleep. On a non-fast day eat normally.

That’s it, it really is that simple.

Breadandwine Tue 09-Apr-13 14:46:33

For anyone who finds themselves putting on weight on this WOL, you are not alone!

Have a look at this thread on the subject, on the Fast Diet Forum:

Well worth looking around this forum if you haven't already seen it. It's very like these threads, lots of support, but with much more research.

Lmason Thu 18-Apr-13 04:10:36

I have just started doing ADF- week 2. I'm doing the 4:3 approach, keeping kcals below 400 on fasting days. Is there a big difference in results with 5:2 as opposed to the 4:3 approach?

Breadandwine Tue 23-Apr-13 20:28:03

Still trying to find the research that says feeling cold whilst fasting is a sign of things working.

In the meantime, anyone interested should simply google 'feeling cold whilst fasting' and check out the results. Just remember that the blogs that come up are just someone's own experiences.

But here's what I take to be authentic research on autophagy and Vitamin D. Another good reason for IFing.

TheCyclistist Thu 16-May-13 00:04:53

Back on the 1st December I posted some blood test results basically to illustrate the effect IF has on the body. The results were pretty good, basically the best I've ever had as an adult. The tests were taken mid November when I'd been doing 4:3 since early August. Er well since then the 4:3ing hasn't gone quite as well, there was about a 3 week break around Christmas, then a month or so of 4:3ing until mid Feb when it went a bit Pete Tong again. So the following are that of someone who had huge improvements from a period of a few months on 4:3 but then followed it on and off for a period of 5 months or so. When not fasting I eat a fair amount of junk food but plenty of veg and high fibre food. When I was following 4:3 strictly I kept my protein intake low, but haven't followed that so much since, although my diet is never overly high in protein and I do a fair amount of cardio exercise (cycling)

Cholesterol over all 4.2 mmol/L
HDL (good cholesterol) 1.69
LDL (bad cholesterol) 2.2
Triglycerides 0,72
Serum Cholesterol Ratio/HDL 2.5

*Not as good as original post on 1st Dec but pretty good especially the ratio of good to bad Cholesterol, although the bad cholesterol has risen from 1.6 last time and the overall cholesterol when tested in November was 3.4

Serum Fasting Glucose 4.5 mmol/L

*slightly better than last time which is surprising considering the amount of junk food I've been eating on nonfasting days

Liver Function Tests

Bilrubin Levels 13 umol/L
Total Protein Levels 74 g/L
Serum alanine aminotransferase 34 iu/L

All pretty good considering before following this way of eating my liver markers had been pretty poor

B12, Folate and Ferritin levels were all slightly lower but still within normal ranges

I've put these up as this Way of Eating is pretty new in so much as there's little evidence about how following IF but still eating a Westernish diet on nonfast days can effect health. And in a way we're all Guinea Pigs. If anyone with a medical background is interested in the full results as per last time then feel free to PM me.

In summary then, a lot of the positive effects have diminished somewhat since I've drifted away from strict adherence to a low protein 4:3 regime. But despite eating a hell of a lot of what could be classed unhealthy food smile all the markers are still pretty good....for now

Talkinpeace Thu 23-May-13 19:15:56

MNHQ : could this be moved across to 5:2 pretty please

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 23-May-13 21:59:34

Hi there

We've moved this for you now.

Talkinpeace Fri 24-May-13 13:01:14


Laska42 Mon 27-May-13 22:12:42

bump lots of good stuff here ..

BsshBossh Tue 11-Jun-13 12:15:18

The no snacking concept is not part of the "official" Moseley/Harrison 5:2 books but some of us who have been fasting for a while have found no snacking between meals an obvious extension of intermittent fasting. It makes sense (to some of us) that if we can fast for extended periods of time on fast days - giving our digestive system an extended break, not allowing insulin to constantly spike, allowing the body energy for cellular repair - then why not extend that to non-fast days too? Not snacking between meals is the best way to give digestion/insulin a break on non-fast days. 5 hours is the average break between meals for me. I do eat a little more for my main meals now (not too much more though) and I am still maintaining my goal weight doing this.

Here are some interesting links about snacking: (PDF link)

Talkinpeace Fri 14-Jun-13 16:02:09

The other point about snacking is that it was only invented in the 1970's (by food companies to sell more product in the West)
and the advent of snacking and the advent of obesity run a very similar course.

For most of human evolution we worked all day and stuffed ourselves at night before sleeping it off.
In fact in much of the world that is still the case
its what our digestive tract has evolved with
try it : not only might you lose weight but other diet related problems migh be helped as well

Talkinpeace Tue 18-Jun-13 21:33:57

just because this post earlier made people smile!

Too right I do not fast full time!
Not on holidays, not when I feel rough, not when I've got a better excuse
I work on the basis that if I fast strictly 24 weeks a year
fast roughly 24 weeks a year
and say 'bollocks to it' 4 weeks a year
my life will be much more enjoyable as well as being healthy

BsshBossh Mon 24-Jun-13 14:37:59

For those interested in 16/8 fasting :

Good article here by Dr Mercola:

and quoting Mark Mattson:

Mattson has also researched the protective benefits of fasting to neurons. If you don't eat for 10–16 hours, your body will go to its fat stores for energy, and fatty acids called ketones will be released into the bloodstream. This has been shown to protect memory and learning functionality, says Mattson, as well as slow disease processes in the brain.

mttum Wed 26-Jun-13 06:04:00

For more info on the No S ( no snacking/sweets/seconds) diet. Common sense really, but how uncommon common sense has become!

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