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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 Thu 31-Mar-16 14:12:04

Please go to the new 5:2 Thread #62

Breadandwine Thu 31-Mar-16 00:25:20

Hi Rosie

I'm afraid you've posted on an old thread - we're up to thread no. 62, now!

Just cut and paste your post and join us over there.

Thought I'd found the holy grail of dieting!

After losing 24lbs and 3+ years of maintenance, I know I've found the holy grail - although I would prefer to say '...of weight control'. This WOL is so easy and flexible - plus fasting gives me such a buzz, I'm sure I'll be fasting one day a week for the rest of my life.

See you over there!

Rosieforever Wed 30-Mar-16 11:54:33

Hi eveyone.
I'm new here so thought I'd jump right in and introduce myself.
It's my first time here, but 3rd attempt at 5:2. It really worked for me 3 years ago when I first tried it and thought I'd found the holy grail of dieting!
But i drifted away from fasting and regained all the lost weight, plus a few extra pounds. I've about 30 pounds to lose and and I really hope I can do it this time.
I started back fasting last week and slipped back into it easily enough. It's really my non fast days that are the trouble for me, I've got to stop eating like a teenager, the days of burning off whatever I eat with little or no effort are sadly long gone.
I look forward to getting to know you all.
Hope I've posted in the right place x

GeordieBadger Tue 02-Feb-16 09:50:23

Successful Monday fast day. 2 scoops of protein powder. 1 cupa soup. 2 cucumbers sliced into sticks as a snack.

BigChocFrenzy Tue 02-Feb-16 08:28:29

Crikey, this thread hasn't lasted 4 weeks smile
We're near the 1000 post limit again so ......

🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴

🚴 We have a sparkly new 5:2 Thread #61 waiting 🚴

🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴 🚴

Olives106 Tue 02-Feb-16 08:02:13

I second the recommendation for Vit D3 and B complex (especially B12) to help with mood. I've had some episodes of depression and anxiety myself and I find that taking these two regularly does help give me a lift. My B 12 was v low when I was most severely depressed, about 10 years ago, probably because I've been basically veggie since the age of 12. The best B12 supplements are in the form of methylcobalamin and I buy the ones you dissolve under your tongue, in v high doses. I take them for a few days a few times a year now and I notice a definite benefit in energy and mood.

BUT - I am NOT a doctor, so do check with yours before taking anything new.

BigChocFrenzy Tue 02-Feb-16 07:43:18

Morning everyone. Good luck, Tuesday fasters !

This thread is zooming along, nearly finished so I'll create a new one shortly and post a link here.

Brokenbiscuit Tue 02-Feb-16 07:31:23

Re ready meals - I'm enjoying the M&S "balanced for you" range. They're quite high in protein so seem like a good choice.

Brokenbiscuit Tue 02-Feb-16 07:30:15

Morning everyone!

2nd FD of the week for me. I'm a little hungry this morning but not unbearably so. Have a busy day with lots of distractions, so I'm feeling quite positive.

Good luck to all the other Tuesday fasters!

annielostit Tue 02-Feb-16 07:13:36

Looks like Monday FD went OK for most. Stick in there people. X
FD today for me, I did miss it yesterday but was oh birthday so had cake - still under tdee.
IRT ready meals, I found the count on us better than balanced for you at m&s. The curry for one was quite tasty. The chicken in sauces were nice but small in protein portion. The jars of curry are nice to throw in some veg etc for a quick & lazy.
Have a good one all.

sparkle789 Mon 01-Feb-16 23:57:08

Thanks for the advice bigchoc. I didn't realise that fruit can make it more difficult. Will choose more wisely on my next FD.

fusspot66 Mon 01-Feb-16 23:56:07

Good night and thank you Big Choc

BigChocFrenzy Mon 01-Feb-16 23:49:14

Well done, Monday fasters smile Night, night

BigChocFrenzy Mon 01-Feb-16 23:31:24

Elsa If you are finding FDs v tough, you can try 800-cal FDs, provided you go Low Carb Mediteranean, including on the NFDs.
It's basically low carb with lots of fish, plus beans, lentils, peas, yoghurt.

GeordieBadger Mon 01-Feb-16 23:24:58

Vibrantella ADF works just like regular fasting, only I don't feel guilty if I eat less-than-healthy foods on non-fast days. Like tomorrow, when I'm having a chicken a bacon melt with chips smile

PurpleAlerts Mon 01-Feb-16 23:24:29

FD for me today and was much easier than last week as I took advice on filling up on salad and veg having a nice salad with tinned sardines including some green beans and a few uncooked peas . Then nice Waitrose ready meal of beef in red wine sauce ( only 233calories!)
Already made a nice lunch for tomorrow and plan to do 16:8 for my NFD! Well done to all Monday faster a!

BigChocFrenzy Mon 01-Feb-16 23:18:31

Sorry to hear that, Elsa Has the GP prescribed anything to help ?

With depression, it's natural to reach out for sugary junk, because your system is trying to increase its levels of feel-good hormones.

However, sugar and high carbs just start cravings spirals and send you on an emotional rollercoaster, because your levels of hormones like insulin, also seratonin & dopamine are fluctuating wildly.
You need to stabilise your blood sugar.

What might help:

+ Avoid sugary treats and baked goods Go low GI:
For your treats, have unsalted nuts, e.g. almonds, walnuts are good too.
Enjoy plain Greek yoghurt with berries
Fish may help mood because of its high Omega 3 content.
Eat eggs & poultry too, beans, lentils, lots of veg
Switch from white carbs to complex, e.g. brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, wholegrain bread - but no more than 2 slices at a time.
Have fruit, not fruit juice.

+ Keep within nhs alcohol limits - alcohol is a depressant.

+ Walk / jog outside in daylight, especially sunlight. This raises your seratonin levels.
Exercise indoors too, to music. Do you have a gym with e.g. nice Zumba or yoga classes ? Even dance at home to your fav tunes.

+ Cut back on caffeine. Too much can cause brain neurones to become desensitised to seratonin.
Try herbal tea, e.g. ginger or aniseed, with Stevia instead of sugar, if you like it sweet.

+ Next time you see your GP, ask if it ok to take a Vitamin D3 supplement and Vitamin B complex (you need to ask, in case it interacts with any meds he has prescribed for you)

Brokenbiscuit Mon 01-Feb-16 23:13:56

I forgot to mention that I was very proud of resisting the most delicious looking chocolate cake that my colleague brought into work today! I was tempted, but I stuck to my resolve! smile

shortaris1 Mon 01-Feb-16 23:04:56

Sounds lovely broken

I eat tons of protein Bigchoc I just like my chocolate and there's lots of it about! I'll get there.

All ready to fast tomorrow.

Brokenbiscuit Mon 01-Feb-16 22:51:25

Closed the kitchen earlier on 468 calories, after a very satisfying meal involving poached eggs, avocado and tons of spinach! smile Feel like I ate loads!

Planning to do another b2b tomorrow if I can. I tend to eat more at the weekend so like the idea of giving my body a rest afterwards, and it's also nice to know that I've got the FDs under my belt for the week. I think this WOE really suits me, feel so much healthier already!

BigChocFrenzy Mon 01-Feb-16 22:46:22

Congrats on your SV, MissJemima That's excellent progress. You are getting near the lower BMI band

BigChocFrenzy Mon 01-Feb-16 22:44:27

Sparkle Many people find FDs easier if they avoid fruit, especially high sugar fruit like banana or mango or dried fruit.
This is because fruit is high GI and can spike insulin, especially if you have it on its own

You posted you had a banana as a v small meal; much more filling to have protein, e.g. a boiled egg / small piece of cheese / handful of nuts / tin of tuna / ... with say mushrooms / tomato / cucumber / carrot

missjemima Mon 01-Feb-16 22:39:34

End of another FD here, weighed myself this morning and I've dropped a total of 3.5 kg. so happy! Started this WOE the second week of Jan, things are moving along nicely. Am now 26.5 BMI and can't wait until I hit the magic 25, that's my first big goal. Really helps to read everyone's posts daily even if I only comment myself now and then. Thanks to BigChoc too for all your fab advice! smile

BigChocFrenzy Mon 01-Feb-16 22:19:34

B&W grin At least "veggie child" sounds free range, not factory-reared.

BigChocFrenzy Mon 01-Feb-16 22:17:38

Congrats on your SV, Kitla That's very good progress this time round.
You're right, getting control of NFDs is key for most folk who are not losing.

tostaki and anyone else who doesn't count on NFDs, but is finding loss is slow
I strongly recommend you mfp for a full week, just to check NFDs wrt TDEE.
If you are eating back all the FD deficit on NFDs, you'll hardly lose at all.

short If you are eating meals with sufficient protein & veg, you should be able to go at least 4 hours until the next meal, without snacking.
Do you need to increase meal size slightly ? Especially boost protein, because that keeps you fuller. Try to make meals low GI.

If you absolutely must snack, crunch raw carrots or even a small handful of unsalted nuts.
Avoid sweet snacks, even fruit - their high GI spikes insulin, which switches you from burning fat to storing it.

That sounds a nasty tickly cough, lovemyway
Strangely enough, the remedy that has been shown in studies to be even better than over-the-counter remedies is..... ta da .... Dark chocolate !!
Needs to be at least 70% cocoa though.
Don't gulp it, suck slowly.

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