on 28 January 2013
I just wanted to share my experience with anyone thinking about starting on this diet.
I consider myself a yo-yo dieter. Once committed to a diet I do stick to it. The trouble for me arises at Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions. I think to myself, for the next week I will treat myself, it's only Christmas or my birthday once a year right? Wrong.
This is a trigger for me. Once I have fallen off the wagon I am in big trouble and usually put the majority of the weight back on. Kidding myself that I will start again on Monday, but never following through. Only being jolted back into action when I approach my heaviest weight. The trouble is I have been "dieting", trying to control my daily calorie intake, essentially denying myself food. What I really needed was to establish a new relationship with my food. A relationship where there is no proverbial wagon to fall off... This is exactly what the Fast Diet is.
The principle is simple: two days a week you fast, sticking to 500 calories for women or 600 calories for men, and for the other five days you eat what you like. I eat breakfast (toast and two poached eggs) and dinner (fish/chicken with plenty vegetables) on my fast days, and pretty much what I like on feed days. Initially I thought I would be tempted to over eat on feed days - but I found the opposite is true. Once you have had the determination to fast for a day, the next day you feel satisfied with smaller portions. You also don't want to undo all the effort from your fast days and that adds another motivating factor to the mix. I found myself averaging around 1,900 calories on feed days and feeling perfectly well fed.
The first few days of fasting were really tough, but I stuck with it. For me it took about six fasting days before I began to consider it easy to do. I found sipping water throughout the day, around 4-5 litres, really helped keep the hunger at bay during this settling in phase. I cannot drink black coffee or tea, so I added a little milk and tracked that in my daily calorie intake (around 15 cals per cup). I didn't experience any headaches or tiredness and I am able to walk for 1 hour on fast days no problem at all. I don't feel like I am living on the bare minimum amount of energy to stay alive.
I don't consider this method a diet. You can look at your working week and choose what days you are going to fast. I personally always fast on Mondays, and I am flexible with my second fast day depending on what is happening during that particular week. While on the diet I have woken up on what was supposed to be a fast day only to decide that I need to eat something more that 600 calories. On previous diets I would feel terrible about it, triggering a spiral of eating that gets out of control. On this diet all I do is start the fast again the next day. There is no reason to beat yourself up if you slip up on this diet.
So now - the important part, how much have I lost? Well following this diet since the Horizon programme in September I have lost well over two stone, and feel a hell of a lot better inside as well as outside.
Best £3 you will spend this year.
The best review on here is that of Mike C from 31/12/12. So good, in fact, that I haven't bothered to buy the book! Why? Well, I saw the original Horizon, back in August, so I know the how & why of the diet; I'm a perfectly competent cook, so I don't need the recipes; the rest of it is padding to me as much as it is to Mike. Why am I here, then? Well, just in case you need any further persuasion to invest in this, I thought I'd add my two penn'orth, plus I'd like to mention a a few points that I think are particularly worth considering.
I experimented with the diet after the programme was shown, then had a very dissolute December, knowing full well that I was going to go at it full tilt in the New Year. I started on the 2nd, 19 days later, I've dropped 10 lbs with no problems, no loss of energy (I play squash vigorously, and 5-a-side when I can get a game), and no trouble sticking with the plan. So, yes it works. Absolutely.
However, the most important point to emphasise is that this not a weight loss diet. Weight loss is entirely a side effect of the real purpose of the diet, which is to prolong life. It's a milder version of Alternate Day Fasting. This is scientifically unproven as yet, but is said to reduce the chance of developing various cancers, and to help manage a variety of conditions / illnesses wide enough to include diabetes & arthritis. What tends to get the headlines is the fact that on your Fast days, you cut your calories to a quarter of the recommended. What is more significant is reducing your protein intake. This is said to force your body from "growth mode" into "repair mode" where, instead of creating new cells, the body attempts to repair damaged ones. Since cancers are essentially uncontrolled cell growth, it's obvious how this diet could help; equally, repairing damaged cells will presumably help with any number of ailments, aches & pains.
Personally, I'm no fan of calorie counting. The vast majority of people have no idea what a calorie really is or how it's measured. Therefore, my advice is don't fuss too much about the limits. For a man, you're supposed to keep the protein under 35g & the calories to no more than 600. If you stick to the protein limit & bust the calorie limit by a couple of hundred, it's not going to hurt you. It's the protein limit, I think, that is more significant in switching to repair mode. I've been varying between a 4:3 & 5:2 version of the diet, and I've probably hit 8-900 calories on half the Fast days & still shed pounds plenty quick.
Key psychological point: you don't actually feel like you're on a diet. There is no constant struggle to discipline yourself day after day after day. Five days a week, you eat normally; two days you fast. You can do two days consecutively (I was doing Sun & Mon last year), you can split them, it really doesn't matter. But it isn't difficult, on a single day, to adjust your diet, knowing full well you can eat what the heck you like the next!
As far as food goes, it's quite simple. On Fast days, cut your protein down, cut out the standard starchy staples (spuds, pasta, rice, bread). Eat plenty of non-root vegetables, along with some chicken or fish & you're pretty much there. Even if you're not much of a cook, or short on time, it doesn't take much to grab some mixed frozen veg from the freezer (beans, sprouts, casserole veg, broccoli, cauliflower, that sort of thing) & flash it in the microwave. Fresh or frozen, you can always pep things up with herbs, a sprinkling of seeds (fennel, caraway, etc), or a few splashes of soy / oyster / Worcester / Tabasco sauce. Plenty of variety there, so it doesn't get boring either.
Final trick: drink plenty; sip, sip, sip throughout the day. Now, you are allowed black coffee / tea on the diet, but I don't drink either, so I just drink water. The important thing is sip, sip, sip, though. On a fast day, I'm typically drinking 3-4 litres, which gives the system a good flush, as well! But it's not a huge glug followed by nothing for hours. Sipping throught the day keeps the hunger pangs at bay and makes it easy to stick to. And it's only for one day, remember!
For me, the diet isn't much of an adjustment. I don't east fast food or much by way of sweets / dessert, most supermarket ready meals tend to be fairly healthy anyway, and I cook a lot, freezing & re-heating a good deal of it, so there's always plenty of quick food for office days, when I'm out very early & back late. For you, it might be more of a change. If it is, though, you're likely to see even more of a benefit. Being down so many pounds already, I'm dropping the 4:3 version of the diet this week. Once I'm in the shape I want to be in, 5:2 will probably become 6:1, as Michael Mosley has done. But it's an effective diet, an easy one to follow, and one that I will probably follow for the rest of my life. Try it & see for yourself!
on 19 March 2016
Having watched the original documentary, I bought this at the time it first came out. It has been such a help to re-order my eating habits, and change the way I think about food and fitness. I lost a couple of stone, and kept it off. As they say on the book, if you are only having to be careful for one day, there's no time to feel deprived. It is really simple in concept and easy to adapt to.
The forums that have been set up for support are great too, and the companion recipe book is well worth getting. Michael Mosley sometimes comes in for flak along the lines of he's not a 'real' doctor because he's in journalism and tv, but I think it's fine - he did the training and was fully qualified, and for me it's more about education, which he does really well. And I like very much that he tries it all out on himself in response to real life problems of his own, as in this instance, of finding out that he was pre-diabetic and heading the same way as his late father.
on 6 April 2013
I am (or was) a typical 43 year old bloke, I like a pint or 6 on a Friday night and the odd bottle of wine in the evening. I love food, travel and socialising. Inevitably this lead to middle age spread, as it has with all my friends of a similar age. 5"11 and 13.5 stone.
So of course I've tried diets, and stick to them quite well in the typical yo-yo fashion, only to end up even bigger 6 months later.
So 7 months ago a friend mentioned he had seen the Horizon TV program and was going on the 5:2 Fasting Diet. He said it was for the health benefits and not to lose weight (think he felt it wasn't a blokey thing to do, to go on a diet). So I watched the program and decided to join him on it.
I changed nothing else in my life, still binge drinking more than I mean to and eating out etc (some things are much harder to change in life, but I'm only human:)
To my surprise I found it very easy to stick to. I had a headache a couple of times on the first few weeks so had my doubts, but after a few months, because you feel so much better, it becomes a joy to be on. Of course there are "fast" days when your tummy rumbles in the evening after you have used your 500/600 calories, but it's not going to kill you and it's only until breakfast next day, which tastes so much better.
7 months in and I've lost just short of 2 stone. The weight loss has slowed to a almost a stop which is a relief as I was going to have to alter the diet some how as I had reached my target weight and didn't want to get too skinny (a nice problem to have). My resting heart rate has dropped considerably which is probably why the weight loss has almost stopped (my metabolism seems to have slowed). I don't get out of breath and I'm much fitter.
I can't see myself ever coming off this diet as my relationship with food is at an all time high. No guilty feeling when you have enjoyed a nice meal. Everything just tastes so much better. You know how towards the end of Christmas or Easter you just stop enjoying food because your so fed up of binging, well reverse that feeling and times it by 10. Even Bran Flakes after a fasting day tastes good. Even beer tastes better :)
There have been some poor reviews of this diet, but I think they just miss the point. The government and doctors are very good at telling us what we should be doing, but we already know what we should be doing, we just can't stick to it. We are genetically programmed to eat food when it's available. Years of natural selection have meant "survival of the fattest" during times of famine. It's not our fault, but to me this way of eating is how our bodies are designed to live. We were never designed to graze continuously very palatable and calorie dense food that is available 24/7, 365 days a year.
Well that's my rant over, to the book. It's £4 and I enjoyed reading it, it filled in some gaps. It's written by the guy who started it all for me and not one of the copy cat books. Good science in it. Buy it.
Just one more thing. Thank you Dr. Mosley. You have improved my life, and probably my life expectancy. I've two teenage daughters and I'm sure they will appreciate having me around in good health for longer. I've started walking now as I can now get up the hills, so if I see you on one of your walks, and it's not a fast day, I'll buy you a pint :)
Well it's 2016. Am I still on the 5:2? Well actually, yes, I am. What other diet could you stick to for years that would actually bring health benefits? Some weeks I don't love 5:2 as much as I did in the beginning and the novelty has certainly worn off, but I'm still a great advocate of the 5:2 and I'm so glad I found it. I can't even say for certain that I would still be alive had those stones of fat still been round my waste, who can say.
Half a stone has snuck back on over the past couple of years but that still leaves me 2 stone lighter than I was when I bought the book 4 years ago. My fat friends (sorry) say to me "you still doing that daft 5:2 thing?", all having lost a few stone themselves on other diets only to put them back on again. I miss out 5:2 the odd week now such as holidays, Christmas etc, and I'm not always as strict on the 600 calories as I was in the beginning, hence the extra few pounds I guess, but I'm still happy with my weight which is well within the healthy range.
I hope my review makes you buy this book as it is life changing. Those friends that I have been able to convince certainly think so and look great for it. I'm convinced that I will be updating this review again with a similar comment in a few years time. Thanks again Michael Mosley.
on 30 October 2013
Ok, so for those who don't like reading long reviews here are the main points:
I used to weight 11.5 stone (159lbs) which was overweight for my 5ft 2 height, I was around 12-14 dress size.
I bought this book and after following this diet I now currently weight 8.11 stone (113 lbs) dress size 8-10.
In terms of the book, the first section is well written and I enjoyed hearing about some of the science behind the diet, although the authors do admit more clinical trials are still needed. The recipes seemed straightforward although I haven't actually tried any yet as preferred to use my own. The section with mumsnet quotes etc... was heartening to read although I could have done without it. The tables at the back are the sections I refer to the most on my fast days to work out my calorie allowance for different foods.
Been on this diet for around 1 year now, so my weight loss has admittedly been slow due to having had had periods of time off the diet e.g. holidays, birthdays, Christmas etc... but did not put on weight during these times just maintained. This diet won't work if you eat rubbish on your non-fast days, I still watch what I eat and never go above my recommend daily calorie allowance of 1200-1500, I also rarely drink alcohol. Exercise is also a big factor in losing weight alongside the diet. The weeks when I have lost the most weight have been when I have exercised a lot (normally gym around 3-4 times a week mix of cardio and weights for 1 hour.)
Anyway, the diet has worked for me, I am going to stay on it for a while longer to lose a few more pounds then hopefully go down 1 fast day a week to maintain. If you're considering purchasing the book I would recommended it for learning more about the science behind the diet and also using the calorie tables at the back.