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Topic # 139529 12-Feb-2014 08:07 One person supports this post Send private message

Like a lot of people who have sedentary jobs I pack on some extra weight from time to time. I've done all sorts of diets, Atkins (before I went vegetarian, very succesful), low GI (didn't help), raw food (vegan diet, worked great felt awesome but got sick of cold food especially in winter), calorie controlled (worked but slow), muscle building (increases metabolism, really helps), but I've finally found one that I think I can stick with.

There's a BBC Horizons documentary called "Eat, Fast, Live Longer", which is relatively easy to find online, eg on Vimeo. Michael Mosley (a doctor) tried a few fasting options, and in the end recommended one he calls "The Fast Diet" or "The 5:2" diet. The basic premise is by restricting calories to 1/4 of normal twice a week (500 calories for women, 600 for men) your body goes into "repair mode", fixes things (DNA, cancers, etc, in theory), grows new brain cells (because if you're hungry you clearly need to be smarter to find food), and you lose weight. There's more about it here, though there are better forums around. You can get the book he wrote too, it's here on Amazon (with GZ referrer tag), but honestly watching the documentary is enough and the book has nothing really that important in it.

The way I find easiest is to skip both breakfast and lunch on Mondays and Thursdays - busy days at work so you don't really notice, plus I get to work earlier and leave earlier :) While you can eat during the day I find it best to just have dinner - otherwise you're not really fasting, you're just eating small meals. You obviously have to eat good foods, ideally lower in sugar or carbohydrates, meat, veges, legumes, not so much fruit, grains, etc. A great way to track calories you eat and what you burn through exercise is My Fitness Pal.

Because of an upcoming event I'm doing alternate day fasting at the moment, and I'm having no problems with it. The first time you do it you get a bit hungry, and you do get an occasional pang, but all in all I was surprised how easy it was. Gentle exercise on fast days seems important, yesterday I did around 500 calories of exercise and ate 600 calories, so the net energy balance result is I effectively didn't eat yesterday. Since I wasn't eating all the energy has to be taken from fat - muscle doesn't seem to be burned. Your metabolic rate actually goes up slightly when you don't eat, the opposite of what people who say "eat six meals a day" think.  You obviously eat less calories, which I think is the main way it works, but I think there's some other effect going on to. If you eat to excess on the eating days you won't lose any weight, obviously.

I was put onto it by a guy at work, who lost quite a bit of weight over six months. My Mum's doing it, and has lost about 4kg in a month. I've lost about 6kg in six weeks, and I wasn't huge to start with - the bigger you are the faster you lose weight. I mentioned it to my doctor, who seemed happy with it, and said most people eat far too much and it's not a bad thing to be a bit hungry sometimes.

Interesting articles. Web MD. Nerd Fitness.

This is meant to be an informational post for people who might need a bit of help in this area. I'm not particularly interested in debates around whether or not it's a good idea, since it was recommended by a doctor and supported by my own doctor. Fasting is done by many cultures.




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  Reply # 984718 12-Feb-2014 08:10 Send private message

Bunch of people in my office are doing it, most lost so far is 19KG by someone who started at 105.

They say it isn't easy on diet days, buy they love that they can still enjoy normal food on the other 5 days



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  Reply # 984719 12-Feb-2014 08:12 Send private message

I've found eating what most people call "normal food", cereal for breakfast, food court for lunch, burger and chips for dinner, you won't lose much weight. You do have to be sensible on your off days, but you don't have to eat just green salads.

I find the fast days pretty easy. I just drink more water, stay busy, and no problem. I usually try for dinner around 6pm on a fast day, but yesterday I was delayed until 7.30pm and I was fine. I fasted yesterday, I could've skipped breakfast this morning if I'd felt like it, but given I'm doing alternate day fasting at the moment I think it's important to eat three meals a day on my eating days.




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  Reply # 984728 12-Feb-2014 08:36 Send private message

Makes a lot of sense. The muscle won't come off unless you are practically fat free.

On fast days, when you only have dinner, could you have say porridge or cereal for lunch, so as to feel a bit satisfied, or some other low calorie meal such as veges?



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  Reply # 984729 12-Feb-2014 08:39 Send private message

tdgeek: On fast days, when you only have dinner, could you have say porridge or cereal for lunch, so as to feel a bit satisfied, or some other low calorie meal?


Yes, you can eat whatever and whenever you want so long as you stay below 600 calories (guys) on the fast day. However my opinion and experience is once you eat a little you want to eat a lot, so you're better off not eating anything then eating a decent evening meal. I occasionally have miso soup (30 calories) at midday, as when I fast I get quite cold sometimes.




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  Reply # 984741 12-Feb-2014 09:01 2 people support this post Send private message

The big question being - is this something you can do for the rest of your life?

If not - enjoy the loss now, but be ready to pack it all back on when you can't be arsed doing it any more.

Weight Loss is not rocket science. Exercise More, eat an appropriate amount of the right type of food. That means protein, veges and fruits.

Unfortunately that method takes time and commitment, which most people lack. 

If you guys are getting results I am really happy for you and not trying to rain on your parade. I wish you all the best. I probably unintentionally fast a couple of times a week when I forget to eat due to work.

And sorry - the whole "eat what you want below this calorie level" it a big warning sign too. 600 calories of sugar is not the same as 600 calories of kumara. Glycemic Index and Glycemic load have a significant impact on your body.

Fasting is probably not harmful and the fact that it is intermittent makes it less likely to cause long term damage. As you said people with more weight to lose will see better results - more than likely because their intake is too high to begin with and output too low.

I have seen reports of bodybuilders and athletes using fasting during training too - but I believe those stories are cherry picked.



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  Reply # 984759 12-Feb-2014 09:12 Send private message

wasabi2k: The big question being - is this something you can do for the rest of your life? If not - enjoy the loss now, but be ready to pack it all back on when you can't be arsed doing it any more.


In my case, yes, I think it is. It's not for everyone, it takes willpower. I do think people just plain eat too much. One of the benefits of this is it helps you realise that you don't need as much food as you thought, it helps calibrate your hunger.

wasabi2k: And sorry - the whole "eat what you want below this calorie level" it a big warning sign too. 600 calories of sugar is not the same as 600 calories of kumara. Glycemic Index and Glycemic load have a significant impact on your body.


Totally true, I think I misspoke above. Obviously on both fasting and normal days you want to eat good food. Typical foods for me are eggs, beans, some cheese (but not too much), a little bit of toast, tofu (or meat for most people), vegetables, salads, and low fat high protein curries - no rice or bread. Eating too much bad foods like cake, muffins, chips is obviously going to sabotage any weight loss.




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  Reply # 984786 12-Feb-2014 09:29 Send private message

I think a useful side effect is that most people have no clue over calorie counts in food. Limiting to 600 twice a week, will make people have to upskill on calorie counts. Plus they also need to keep within the other 5 days accepted intake. So, the other 5 days will benefit as well due to education. Throw in a little extra exercise as you will be motivated as you are embarking on a calculated energy intake diet, every little will help.

Re wasabi2k, I agree, there is no easy long term fix, but I think education over having to learn calorie counts will help most think twice, and probably allow them to trim calories due to being more aware, without feeling a need to go on a life long diet.



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  Reply # 984787 12-Feb-2014 09:32 Send private message

I'm updating my first post based on feedback... for example My Fitness Pal is a great food and exercise tracker. It has a huge range of foods including NZ based ones, some NZ restaurant dishes, etc. You can also integrate different apps and devices with it reasonably easily.




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  Reply # 984803 12-Feb-2014 09:55 Send private message

Well done on the weight loss,

I've lost 15 KG thus far by giving up beer, cutting carbs (but not protein) until lunch, avoiding 'stupid eating' like snacks and going on a walk each day, I also do weights to keep lean muscle mass up. BBQ season really helps as it's all lean meats, plenty of cooked vegetables and a salad.

The idea about cutting carbs during the morning is that it keeps my insulin hormones low, but only for a proportion of the day. Because it's important to me that I keep muscle mass (I don't have any interest in being 'skinny-fat'), I find my daily routine (rather than a weekly routine) better for my needs.

What I have learned from my experience is that not all calories are equal and not all KGs lost are equal. I decided I didn't want to lose more than half a KG a week, and accepted that it would be a long term project.

I don't bother measuring calories as it's just a little routine I have going on and once I've lost my desired weight it's not hard to modify my behaviour in order to have a more relaxed lifestyle. In fact I occasionally relax the diet and while I it slows down my weight loss, my waist line continues to shrink at a similar rate, which I put down to continuing to lose fat but gaining more lean muscle.

The only real 'challenge' has been modifying my reaction to 'feeling a little peckish', which was have a snack, but is now hang on until the next meal.

I figure the only thing that really matters though is if it works for you and is a sensible diet.

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  Reply # 984807 12-Feb-2014 09:57 Send private message

I'm doing this, started at the start of February. 

At first I thought 'Oh, good. I don't have to think too much because on non-fasting days I can do whatever I want'.

What I didn't realise was that fasting two days a week would actually change my relationship with food. I don't eat distractedly any more, I think about the extras such as butter on toast or dressing on salad and I know what hungry feels like for the first time in probably years (amazingly it hasn't killed me).

I've found my food intake on non-fasting days is down a lot because I'm thinking about what I eat more.

Possibly the craziest thing is that I'm enjoying food a lot more, probably because I'm thinking about what I eat more in a positive way.

I'd never tell anybody else to do it, do your own research and figure out what is best for you. But for me this is probably something I'll do for a long time yet. It isn't a diet which I'm looking forward to coming off eventually.  

More power to you Timmmay




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  Reply # 984855 12-Feb-2014 10:29 One person supports this post Send private message

timmmay: There's a BBC Horizons documentary called "Eat, Fast, Live Longer", which is relatively easy to find online, eg on Vimeo. Michael Mosley (a doctor) tried a few fasting options, and in the end recommended one he calls "The Fast Diet" or "The 5:2" diet. The basic premise is by restricting calories to 1/4 of normal twice a week (500 calories for women, 600 for men) your body goes into "repair mode", fixes things (DNA, cancers, etc, in theory), grows new brain cells (because if you're hungry you clearly need to be smarter to find food), and you lose weight. There's more about it here, though there are better forums around. You can get the book he wrote too, it's here on Amazon (with GZ referrer tag), but honestly watching the documentary is enough and the book has nothing really that important in it.

 
Interesting premise, and I suspect a lot of the success of the diet is attributable to the diet "changing your relationship with food in general".

I will say this "repair mode" talk smacks of pseudoscience and sets off my BS-ometer. On the fasting days the body will be in a catabolic state in which it consumes its own tissues to meet metabolic demands, and unfortunately the predominant tissue consumed in this state is protein as the body does not have stores of protein in the way it does fat and glucose (protein is contained primarily in muscle, which is not a storage tissue in the sense that the others I mentioned are). It may be this "repair mode" is a dumbed-down way of attempting to make some actual science accessible to laypeople, so I will look into it further (if for no other reason that I will need to discuss the diet with patients who enquire). None of this is to say that the diet doesn't work or is a bad idea per se, only to note that this rationale seems weak (the diet in essence looks to condense the usual daily hypocaloric intake recommended for weight loss into two days, achieving on average the same kind of calorie intake on over the course of a week, certainly I can see how this has adherence benefits). If I were to do this I would be taking care to ensure I was eating adequate high-quality protein amongst those 5-600 calories.

In general attention to maintaining and increasing lean mass is an under appreciated aspect of healthy and sustainable weight loss I think.

In terms of a doctor recommending this, please people, do put your critical thinking hats on. Doctors with vested financial interests have recommended all sorts of quackery, you need to view that recommendation with a suitable level of scepticism. If you look at the "Why Fast" page on the website that is linked to for example you will see a few things that should trigger your suspicion - they cite a quote from a "medical expert" but do not name them, they cite a number of health benefits that are due to weight loss but misattribute these directly to intermittent fasting, they cite "scientific studies" however I cannot find any references to these studies on their site.

FWIW I lost 28kg through a healthy diet with adequate protein intake in the context of a mildly hypocaloric diet alongside strength and fitness training. Diet-wise I gave myself weekends off so that I could enjoy cafe breakfasts and dinners out without having to scrutinise the make-up of those foods too much. I suppose in essence I took the opposite approach to this diet in terms of encouraging a diet that could be adhered to by not being "always on" - mine was the 2:5 diet so to speak.




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  Reply # 984858 12-Feb-2014 10:31 One person supports this post Send private message

Diets are unsustainable, most result in yoyo weight, the only real way to control weight or to reduce weight for the long term is by lifestyle change.




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  Reply # 984889 12-Feb-2014 10:58 Send private message

I really need to get my a into g and get into something like this, and this thread helps a lot. Of course saying I am verses actually doing are two different things. My new sitting all day job is taking its toll on me - put on at least 10 (probably 15kg) in two years and my lower back is in crisis.


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  Reply # 984890 12-Feb-2014 11:00 Send private message

KiwiNZ: Diets are unsustainable, most result in yoyo weight, the only real way to control weight or to reduce weight for the long term is by lifestyle change.


of which diet is a part.

with diet = what you eat

not diet = latest crazy fad you do for 3 weeks (I am looking at you lemon detox bollocks).

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  Reply # 984899 12-Feb-2014 11:06 One person supports this post Send private message

I've enjoyed watching Michael Mosley / BBC Horizon documentaries - I don't watch or take notice of much broadcast TV, so apologise to local broadcasters if I'm wrong about this - but they should be flayed alive for not buying/broadcasting this material here.
Another Mosley/Horizon documentary which may have potential to be life changing (but even if not - is very interesting) is "The Truth About Personality" - which is also on Youtube, probably Vimeo etc. In this documentary you are presented with the possibility that having a positive mental attitude (which may be possible to improve through some simple mind exercises) may extend longevity (and surely - quality of life) on average by more than would be achieved if there was a cure found for all forms of cancer.

As for the 5:2 diet, I tend to believe it might work. Some fad diets - which some people report great success with (Atkins and "Paleo") probably accidentally achieve this - but I don't think either are particularly "healthy", Atkins because you're probably loading up with high levels of trans fats, nitrosamines, PAH, and and HCAs, Paleo similar (though probably not nitrosamines - as processed/cured meat is supposed to be "out"), but I'm not comfortable with the concept that very large quantities of fruit are a good idea (moderation in everything probably isn't a bad idea). The "Paleo" diet avoids grains, some people also avoid starches (ie from tubers). Our bodies produce amylase - it's clearly evident that the ability to digest starches is part of our evolution, even if getting a significant quantity of starch from grains is relatively recent.

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