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143 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This Book, 5 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: The Fast Diet: The Secret of Intermittent Fasting - Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, Live Longer (Paperback)
I have always loved Horizon as one of the best, if not the best, popular science programmes, but lately I've moved away from watching so much TV and so I missed Dr Michael Mosley's programme on high intensity exercise, and more frustratingly, was away for his "Eat, Fast, and Live Longer" programme and neglected to record it.

Luckily I found a Facebook Group trying the 5:2 diet populated (then) mainly by fellow writers and friends, which is how I found the group in the first place. At the time, Michael Mosley's Horizon programme, which I'd looked for on i-player but hadn't found, was on YouTube, so I watched it, feeling somewhat guilty about the violation of copyright. The video was removed shortly after that, which I thought was a shame but could understand. This, I felt, left a huge gap for those of us wanting to know the basis of the diet, and one which I am glad to say is filled by this book, amongst others. Better still, it arrived early.

The science seemed sound and answered a lot of questions which had occurred to me over the years. The concept is easy: eat 500kcals for 2 days out of seven, then eat ad lib the rest of the week. And the primary motivator for this regime was to improve the internal biochemistry rather than weight loss per se. That aspect is very important, because weight loss is a slow, long business and not terribly motivating day-to-day, and easily overcome by temptation - temptation which can be postponed and indulged in the next day in this "diet". Physiologically and psychologically this way of eating makes sense to me.

I ordered Mosley and Spencer's book to see what it was like, even though I don't think you actually need the book to do the "diet". Restrict kcals to 500 two days a week, eat ad lib the rest of the time - what could be simpler? I had already lost well over a stone. I didn't really need the book, but I wanted it.

It's great. The first part was pretty much a reiteration of the Horizon programme, and therefore of great value to anyone who didn't see the programme, and of value anyway because although my memory is reasonable, there were things I'd overlooked or forgotten.

The second part was Mimi's experiences, and as a female I found this interesting.

There's an emphasis on glycaemic index, which is important.

There were some menu plans for men and women, which apart from inspiring people, make it easy to do, though I haven't tried any, tending to opt for salad and lean meat or fish, or, at a pinch, a warmed up can of beans (life's too busy for faffing around).

There were anecdotes from people using the 5:2 approach.

There was a list of calorific values of basic foods.

Reassuringly, there was a list of references at the back. I doubt I'll have the time to look these up, but at least I feel the science is well researched. There was no bunkum or hocus-pocus, and no faffing around with endless supplements, no hard sell or defensive blathering (which I found irritating in Atkins' book - like he invented ketosis. I don't think so - ketosis as a weight loss strategy has been around for longer than the Atkins diet; but I digress). In short, this book is scientifically sound and does not insult the intelligence of the average reader, yet is easy to read and does not dazzle with science, or the case of some diet books, pseudoscience.

Downsides? There was mention of headaches, which several people in this FB group have commented on, but unless it was in the inspirational anecdotes (which I haven't read) there was no mention of the other problem some of us have suffered from; constipation. Perhaps nobody has had the indelicacy to mention it to Dr Mosley.

I recommend both the book and the eating approach.

I found a number of typos in the book, one of which had me puzzled, but which, for the most part, did not affect reading quality.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Jan 2013 14:06:16 GMT
Daniel says:
I found that constipation can easily be overcome by drinking lots more water (especially on fasting days) and that headaches and a mild feeling of nausea have significantly reduced since I have reduced my cafeine intake (my new years resolution is only one cup of tea a day).

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jan 2013 15:39:14 GMT
Linda says:
Thank you Daniel. I drink a lot of herbal teas on fast days, so I don't think my fluid intake is too low. I suspect I lost so much weight so quickly my "innards" were a bit loose, as it were, which meant the peristalitic movements had less to work against. I did stomach toning exercises and I think that helps. But that's probably a crackpot theory. I have ameliorated the situation by using fibre supplement in fizzy drinks and I break the fast the next day with oat bran which has been soaked in milk for at least an hour before cooking. The oat bran swells up and absorbs most of the water. I'm not sure that cooking without the soaking allows the fibre to become fully wetted.

As for headaches, I don't get them any more, and I increased my caffeine intake on some days, and I have really strong real coffee.

I still suffer from cold hands and feet, though.

I am so excited about this, but the diet industry will be spitting shards of glass, I suspect. They will have to adapt, and create meals of 500kcals, 600kcals and 200 and 300kcals, methinks.

A note of caution: I used to think drinking water was harmless, but there has been at least one case of an unfortunate lady who died from drinking excessive amounts. I think she drank so much it disrupted her electrolyte balance.

Good luck Daniel.

Posted on 24 Jan 2013 11:08:34 GMT
Last edited by the author on 24 Jan 2013 11:09:01 GMT
RM says:
Google "xvdbtt" if you want to view/download the Horizon programme.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Mar 2013 09:28:34 GMT
Wendy Ely says:
Thank you for a great post, I am contemplating an adapted version of this diet. If you suffer from cold hands and feet, you should get your thyroid checked- these are typical under-active thyroid symptoms ( as is the tendancy to gain weight).

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Mar 2013 10:10:40 GMT
Linda says:
Glad you found it useful. In Kate Harrison's Facebook group, the cold hands and feet are a common problem. I don't think my thyroid is misbehaving, thanks, becvause my hands and feet are normal on non-fast days. If I moved around more I'm sure I wouldn't feel the cold so much. But writing is a sedentary task.
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