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5:2 Thread No. 60: If you tried to lose your holiday weight by eating naked in front of a mirror – but the restaurant threw you out - it's time for a science-based approach.

(987 Posts)
BigChocFrenzy Wed 06-Jan-16 22:30:58

Welcome to the continuing thread for those following 5:2 or other forms of IF (Intermittent Fasting) such as 4:3, ADF, or daily 16:8
The 5:2 diet was introduced by Michael Mosely on BBC Horizon on August 2012:

Basically it is 2 very low cal days ("fasts") per week - which need not be consecutive - and eat "normally" the other 5 days.

For those who have dieted or maybe overeaten for years, eating "normally" means roughly the number of calories your body needs to maintain - NOT reduce - its weight (see TDEE calculator below).

If you have had Eating Disorders you should NOT do 5:2 or any other kind of fasting


16:8 is a different type of fasting, which can be combined with 5:2.
Daily zero-cal fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8 hour window. To lose weight, this needs a weekly calorie deficit as well

4:3 = fast on 3 non-consecutive days per week

ADF (Alternate-Day Fasting) = fast every other day

BMI (Body Mass Index) healthy range is 18.5 - 24.9 for Caucasians. Upper limit may be 22 for some of Asian origin.

FD = Fast Day: aim for 500 calories (600 for men or 25% TDEE if higher) or 1000 cals for BF
Even if you exercise strenuously, do NOT increase FD cals

MFP = My Fitness Pal, a useful App or website to track food & drink calories

NFD = Non-Fast Day, averages around TDEE

NSV / LSV = Non Scale Victory / LifeStyle (change) Victory, e.g. compliment, smaller waist, new skinny jeans

SV = Scale Victory

TDEE = Total Daily Energy Expenditure, the average number of calories you burn in a day, is calculated (see calculators below) from your current weight, height, age, activity level.
Aim to average about this for NFDs.

WOE / WOL = Way Of Eating / Way Of Life. We say this instead of "diet", to emphasise that we must make a permanent change in how we eat, to maintain our new healthy weight longterm.


. Take initial measurements: weight, waist, hips
. Use TDEE calculator below as a rough guide to how much to eat on NFDs
. Choose any 2 days for FDs, non-consecutive is easier.
. Before each FD: plan, shop & calorie count ALL food & drink for the day

Useful Resources & Calculators
Calorie Counter: mfp , mfp
Calories for NFD: TDEE Calc
FD Recipes: BBC Good Food 52 , Good2Know , NHS 10 Recipes under 100 cals , Mirror 5:2 50 snacks under 50 cals
FD Ready Meals, Takeaways, Restaurant: Mirror , Indie
Safe Alcohol: Calc Daily UnitsCalories , Calc Weekly Units
BMI: Calc
Body Frame Size: Calc
Calc Ideal Weight Range
Body Fat: Calc
Choose / Visualise Goal Weight: 3D BMI ripped / normal , Bod Vis 3D rotate

FAQs / Tips

- WATER: Start each day with a glass of water; and drink plenty during the day.
- HOT DRINKS: No limits on tea or coffee, just count any milk / sugar calories on FDs.
- FDs: If possible, choose days when you are busy, but not preparing meals for others.Concentrate on protein & veg; avoid / reduce starchy carbs & sugar, including juice.
Soups & stews are good; ready meals are fine.
Most prefer either to skip breakfast & save most cals for supper, or have 2 meals.
- BFers: start with 1000-cal FDs; optionally, reduce to 700 cals gradually. You can return to 1000 if growth spurts or sleep-deprivation require more fuel.
- NFDs: No rules, but to improve health, try to cut down on added sugar & junk food, keep alcohol within safe limits. A few treats per week are good though!
Aim for TDEE, but you may under-eat by say 20% on 3 NFDs to save calories for weekend.
- CLENCH for health: Men & women should exercise pelvic floor daily
- SLEEP: Try to get enough sleep, or it may slow weight loss.
- EXERCISE: is healthy & can help weight loss - BUT only if you do NOT eat back exercise calories. Fasted training can burn more fat.
HIIT and resistance training both work well with 5:2/IF.
If you exercise, do NOT increase FD cals
- To speed up weight loss and to train yourself how to eat on maintenance,
optionally calculate the lower TDEE for goal weight, but eat to current weight TDEE at least 1 day per week.
- Do NOT fast: if you've ever had EDs, or if pregnant, under 21, over-stressed, fever, stomach bug, even a bad cold.
When ill, your body usually needs more nutrients and less stress. So don't force yourself to eat, but if hungry then eat nutritious food to TDEE & cut out junk, added sugar, fizzy drinks, alcohol.
- CHECK with your Doctor: if you have diabetes, any other endocrine condition, any serious past or present medical condition, or if taking ANY prescribed medication (fasting may affect absorption rate)

Useful MN Threads

Browse previous 5:2 threads in the fasting section

Exercise: BigChocFrenzy's thread gives advice & support on combining 5:2 with exercise. The OP explains the science behind fasting, exercise & health and has many calculators.

Tips and Links : BreadandWine collects practical tips & info gained over all the 5:2 threads.

Inspirational EatRiskier has reports from Mumsnet 5:2ers who have lost weight.

Recipes: FrenchFancy has many FD recipes. Post your own here too.

Maintaining: talkinpeace's thread is for those who have successfully lost weight on 5:2/IF and are now maintaining (some for 2 years +)

Scientific Evidence for Fasting & Health

BBC article on the Horizon program

Telegraph comments on 5:2 and gives a brief overview by Dr Mosley, useful for newbies.

This InterviewPart1 and InterviewPart2 with leading ADF researcher Dr Varady explains why fasting helps you to lose weight AND improves some health markers.

A science Study specifically addressed the effect of this diet on obese men & women, wrt health and weight loss:

"... After 8 weeks of treatment, participants had an average 12.5 lbs reduction in body weight and a 4cm decrease in waist circumference. Total fat mass declined by about 12 lbs while lean body mass remained relatively constant."
i.e. almost all the weight lost was FAT, not muscle or water, - in most diets, 25% of lost weight is muscle, up to 50% for sleb crash diets.

It also describes improved blood values:
"Plasma adiponectin, a protein hormone that is elevated in obesity and associated with heart disease, dropped by 30%. As did LDL cholesterol (25%) and triglycerides (32%)."

Dr Michelle Harvie (funded by cancer charities) showed possible benefits of intermittent fasting compared to standard daily calorie reduction in her trials (consecutive FDs) with women at high risk of breast cancer: ComparingDiets , EarlierResearch52

Dr Johnson showed intermittent fasting helped Asthma

Why Intermittent Fasting Works: Mattson , BlackSwan and Hormesis

Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications: J CellMetabolism
Recent research into the health benefits of fasting: e.g. by world-respected neuroscientist Dr MarkMattson showed:
. Improved glucose regulation
. Loss of abdominal fat with maintenance of muscle mass
. Reduced blood pressure and heart rate
. Improved learning and memory and motor function
. Protection of neurons in the brain against dysfunction and degeneration in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and Huntington’s disease.

Some of his research is in HealthyAging , Health , AvoidParkinsonsDisease

His recent article in J Aging Mech Disease 2015 explains the health benefits of intermittent fasting in great scientific detail.

Also this interview with a leading researcher into fasting in combination with standard cancer treatment: ScientificDiscussion MoselyMattsonLongo and a LongoInterview

Research by other US and European scientists in this DailyTelegraph Article about the medicinal uses of fasting, for many serious conditions & diseases.

Recent trials with Type 2 diabetics and those at risk of having it used a form of daily fasting - skipping supper.
Their conclusions: eating 1-2 meals per day is better than several small meals for losing weight and controlling insulin levels, see Type2Paper


A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed their experience and tips over all these threads.
This has created a wealth of very valuable practical knowledge to help us all.
Any lurkers and newbies, come join us and share your experiences too. These are lovely supportive threads and everyone is welcome !

BigChocFrenzy Wed 06-Jan-16 22:31:28


Welcome to 5:2 thread number 60, everyone !
smile smile

"HOW TO START" in the OP has
FD recipes & Cool Bod Calculators & 3D Visualisers
also how to calculate TDEE, Body Fat, Frame Size, Ideal Weight Range
& Daily alcohol units & cals

Or check out the OP section on
Scientific Evidence for Fasting & Health


Breadandwine Wed 06-Jan-16 23:08:13

Well done, BC!

Knew you'd be on the ball! smile

diggerdigsdogs Wed 06-Jan-16 23:30:34

Just marking my place and saying hi smile
Today is a FD but I'm out to lunch with Dhs clients wife. I'm planning to just eat lunch and then nothing for breakfast and dinner or a small dinner. I keep checking the menu but can't figure out what will be the lowest cal option. Any thoughts?

BigChocFrenzy Wed 06-Jan-16 23:46:00

Maybe the "Small Plate" oysters plus a garden salad , Digger
Tell them salad without dressing, because the oysters have vinaigrette

Brokenbiscuit Wed 06-Jan-16 23:47:36

Hello, I'm new. smile

Thanks for directing me here, Breadandwine. I am mightily impressed by the vast array of information and advice - I will start working my way through it all!

I did my first ever FD on Monday, and the second one will be tomorrow. I kept looking for 5:2 threads on the weight loss chat topic, I hadn't realised that this area even existed until I saw something pop up on active threads.

My willpower is limited and I have a lot of weight to lose. I can see that 5:2 is likely to suit me, because I can fast for a day more easily than I can deny myself over a longer period. It seems that there are other health benefits too.

I struggled a bit to sleep after the first FD, and am hoping that won't happen again tomorrow.

BigChocFrenzy Wed 06-Jan-16 23:57:13

Welcome, Broken and well done on your 1st FD
I recommend you read the OP "How to Start" section.
Good luck on FD2 tomorrow

Brokenbiscuit Thu 07-Jan-16 00:06:39

Have just read it, Big. It's very informative - Bread suggested watching the Horizon programme, so think I'll do that, and start working my way through some of the links. smile

Breadandwine Thu 07-Jan-16 00:36:06

Welcome, Bb! Good start.

working my way through some of the links.

ATB with that - it'll probably take you until half term, there is so much info there! grin

I struggled to sleep occasionally, when I first started, as have others. But it's only a phase! As is feeling cold whilst fasting - now I no longer need to have thick walking socks next to the bed in case my feet feel cold in the night! grin

Good luck!

ednabuckett Thu 07-Jan-16 07:17:46

Morning all. Another thread! Amazing. Thanks bigchoc xx

FD for me. Good luck all Thursday fasters!

GrimmauldPlace Thu 07-Jan-16 07:35:17

Morning everyone,

2nd FD for me today. I wasn't planning on weighing myself again until next Monday but I couldn't resist. I've lost 4lbs since Monday, which I know is probably all water but it's given me such a boost to see that!

I'm planning on doing an all day and using up my cals for dinner but have a back up plan in case I get too hungry by lunch!

Good luck everyone smile

Brokenbiscuit Thu 07-Jan-16 07:51:13

That's amazing MrsFizzy smile Good luck on your 2nd FD, my second one today as well.

GrimmauldPlace Thu 07-Jan-16 07:56:22

Thanks Brokenbiscuit Good luck to you too. We can help each other through our 2nd FD. How has your appetite been since your first one? It's so strange, for some reason I haven't been ravenous like I thought I would be. After more diets than I can count, I really feel like this one might be the right one.

soupey1 Thu 07-Jan-16 08:05:23

Morning everybody. NFD today as it is DH's birthday, the main celebration meal is Saturday with the family but I suspect he may want to celebrate a little today, I just have to make sure I stick with one glass of wine and don't. Get carried away.

BigChocFrenzy Thu 07-Jan-16 08:22:32

Congrats on your SV, MrsFuzzy That would mostly be retained water no released, but you've probably started fat-burning too.
Most reliable is to monitor the trend over weeks. Also monitor how waist and clothes size change.
That's good you don't feel ravenous; probably because your body has burned some fat for energy.

Good luck on FD2, Brokenbiscuit, MrsFuzzy and to all other fasters today.

BigChocFrenzy Thu 07-Jan-16 08:23:17

retained water now released

annielostit Thu 07-Jan-16 08:33:03

Wow fizzy 4 big ones!!! Well done.
FD here too, hungry already. But will battle till lunch at least. I've nothing doing today so I'll go to sleep if the fridge callsgrin.
Lovely new thread too.

Greengardenpixie Thu 07-Jan-16 09:11:23

Just marking this thread so i don't lose it. NFD for me todaygrin
Yesterday was fine. Going to go for a fast tomorrow [or at least a mini one] Noone at home except for my and my youngest so less temptationsmile

OohMrDarcy Thu 07-Jan-16 09:35:17

Morning all,

Another day another thread grin

FD here today and second pint of water on the go.

DS' birthday was good - I was sensible during meal - had a chicken caesar salad and water, I did order some rosemary roasted potatoes to go with it as they sounded yummy and had pudding, but I feel I kept it balanced, especially as I only had breakfast (late) and then the evening meal.

I bought a few low cal ready meals with my food shop this week so I might give one of them a go tonight as my meal, we'll see how I feel during the day

Cain - think it was you who LOST weight over christmas... bloody well done you - mega SV there!

MrsFizzy - again, 4lb down is ace!!

SandrasAnnoyingFriend Thu 07-Jan-16 09:56:07

Morning all,

Day 2 of my first B2B fast days and feeling a bit wobbly about it. Think it's more mental than physical though, I'm not crazy hungry but I cannot stop thinking about food. It doesn't help that I'm not that busy at work at the moment. I've brought a carrot and lentil soup for lunch and am planning a prawn noodle broth for dinner.

Anyway, good luck to anyone else fasting today.

diggerdigsdogs Thu 07-Jan-16 11:43:48

Wish I liked Oysters bigchoc!

Kitchen closed at approx 745. Bugger.

I stupidly had the ceaser salad but didn't eat the croutons or egg and no anchovies or chicken or anything like that. Dressing was heavy though and it had a couple of rashers of bacon. I'm guessing on 450 cal based on MFP but it's a total guess. Also had a glass of wine.

Apart from that I've had a miso soup, 2x tea with 25ml milk and veggie stir fry without oil or dressing.

So lesson learned. Next time I need to go in with a definite meal plan, not be embarrassed about ordering something and NOT HAVE THE WINE.

I may try another fast on Sunday.

Elsasalterego Thu 07-Jan-16 12:53:43

Hi all, i got all confused with my FD yesterday- I only ate 150 cal of carrot during the day but I reckon I had at least 800 worth of nibbles in the evening at a work function. I was feeling furious with myself that I failed again. I generally have to bake on Tuesday and attend functions on Wednesdays (where my baking plus other treats eg crisps and nibbles are present) I have been fasting again today to make it x3 mini FDs and I will learn from this week's experiences so that next week is more successful- switching the apple for carrot on day 2 made a whole load of difference and soon I will be back to being able to go all day on nothing (I used to do this last year but it took me a couple of weeks to work up to). Next week I will make sure I eat a meal before baking on my Tuesday FD- have a meal before attending the function on my Wednesday NFD and then have Thursday as my 2nd FD. Today I have not yet eaten anything but 100 cal carrots- I am feeling a bit lost as I know both of my FDs have gone awry so I am not sure whether I need to keep on plugging and try again this week- I would love to treat yesterday as a fail and then try again today but DH is taking me out to dinner tonight.

One positive note is that I have managed to get on the treadmill every day- mostly doing between 2k and 3k and I have been running the first K with the weights to tone my arms too. So yesterday I may have eaten 900-1000 k but I did burn off at least 250cal (I reckon more because the treacle doesn't account for the weights!)

Sorry- rambling post but have included as much info as poss- I work during the day Tuesday to Thursday so these are my best FDs but I wonder why I should do for the rest of this week based on these failures?

Also when do you think I should weigh myself to get a start weight?

Elsasalterego Thu 07-Jan-16 12:55:45

Treadmill not treacle! Darn phone...

SandrasAnnoyingFriend Thu 07-Jan-16 13:11:50

Hi Elsa

A start weight should be done before you start fasting, so I'd do that first thing tomorrow morning.

Don't beat yourself up too much about your slip-ups, you've learnt a lot about what will and won't work for you, which is valuable information. I'd not try to fast again this week, you've had several very low calorie days in a row, with a fair bit of exercise, which is going to make it harder. I'd concentrate on eating to TDEE for a few days and then get into your usual routine from next week.

lovemyway Thu 07-Jan-16 13:48:12

Hi all. I think this might be my 4 th thread. Have a feeling I joined on thread 57. I'm maintaining now having lost 11 lb to reach my target of 9st 3. I'm carrying on with 2 FDs for now as I would like to get to 9st to give me a bit of room to play with and if I can get there I'll switch to 6:1. Second FD today, Just had a green salad and a few cups of tea so far. Need to up my water so on first pint now. I'm also doing dry January and feel so in control at the mo, it's most unlike me! Good to give my liver a break and hopefully it will help me get to 9st. Have a good FD smile

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