Monday, 4 March 2013

Does the 5:2 diet work?


The question I get asked most often (mainly on Twitter) is whether the 5:2 diet actually works. And the answer is? Absolutely, yes it does. In the three months I've been on it I've lost almost a stone and a quarter (8kg) and dropped a size. I needed to, mind you, but nevertheless it's a massive achievement for one who has never managed to say no to food for that length of time before.

It doesn't tell the whole story though. I haven't lost much in the last 3-4 weeks and have been trying to work out why. Maybe being slightly less careful on the 'feed days' although at least I've got in the habit of skipping dinner when I've had a big lunch. Maybe being busier than I was just after the new year. And eating (and drinking) out more. You actually have to be quite mindful about your eating on non-fast days. It's not 'anything goes'.

A few other things I've noticed. If I'm active rather than sitting in front of my computer all day I tend to lose more. (No surprise there but I hadn't realised how big a difference it made.) When I say active I don't mean going to the gym (god forbid!) but just going for a reasonably brisk walk. Even getting up from your chair every 20 minutes is advisable, according to Dr Michael Mosely author of The Fast Diet. In fact essential. 'The chair kills!", he's just tweeted.

Meals that are heavy on salt, fat and sugar put on A LOT of weight. I was 3lbs heavier after my Chinese New Year feast and it took a couple of days to lose it again.

I don't get so hungry on fast days and slightly less ratty (although my nearest and dearest might tell you otherwise). I can manage on two meals now instead of having three and a snack. On the other hand the rather wonderful feeling of euphoria the morning after a fast day has diminished. I guess the body just gets used to semi-fasting.

I am, if I'm truthful, slightly bored with it at times. Less inclined to dream up ingenious ways of creating meals at less than 250 calories - fewer still if/when I have lunch. But that's not good because bought-in diet food like miso soup and milkless porridge (above) is boring - though I have, as I mentioned, come round to cottage cheese.

I think I probably need to shift another 2-3lbs to rekindle my enthusiasm though as I'm just about to disappear to Paris for a week during which I don't intend to fast at all, that certainly isn't going to happen any time soon.

So my mid-term report is 'could do better' and certainly 'could get her butt off the chair more often'  but I still have 10lbs to lose. I''ll let you know how it goes.

How's it going for those of you who have been on the diet for a while?

14 comments:

Fiona Maclean said...

whew, I am so glad you posted that you were getting bored. I seem to have some kind of moral obligation to post recipes. And, actually sometimes I just want (yet another) home made soup and some cold meat and salad

Fiona Beckett said...

Nothing wrong with that, F. I have my days - some when I feel like creating a proper meal and others (like yesterday) when I want to spend as little time thinking about food as possible. Permission not to post recipes if you don't feel like it!

Jackie Bailey said...

I've been doing the 5:2 diet for about 8 weeks now. I lost quite a lot in the beginning (half a stone in the first two weeks) but the weight loss has been much slower since then (nearly half a stone in last 6 weeks). I fast on a Monday and Thursday and find that I always lose weight on week days, but seem to put most of it back on over the weekend. I think I'm eating less than I did before I started the diet, but now I've only got a stone left to lose it is getting very hard to shift the rest. I am noticing that I have to be very careful about what I eat on feast days now and any amount of alcohol/fatty food seems to ruin all the hard work of fast days. I'm sure I'll get there eventually, but it is very slow now that I'm nearly at my target.

Fiona Beckett said...

I'm in exactly the same situation, Jackie. I think the clue is probably to keep up the exercise and try not to hit the carbs too much. It's possible, of course, that as one gets nearer ones target weight it gets harder.

Anonymous said...

I have been on the 5:2 diet for about nine weeks. My story is similar. I can only guess at my weight loss as I do not like getting on the scales. I have done 16 fasts and intend to do 60, so I am past one quarter there. I have dropped a dress size but it comes off very slowly now. I think being post menopausal has a lot to do with it. At least I only have a spare car tyre around my middle now, not a tractor tyre like before.

I hate thinking about what to eat on fast days and generally rely on a veg soup at about 2 in the arvo and a big salad for dinner with slim pasta in it. I am way below the 500 calorie mark, as I am concerned about not sleeping because of hunger and want to save some calories just in case. Have not needed them so far.

I accept the fast days but do not enjoy them. I do not get headaches or agitation any more which is great. I plan to move to just one fast day a week after I complete 60. I also want to cut out more days where I drink alcohol.

Iain Robertson said...

Luckily I've never particularly needed to diet but I mostly cook from scratch and eat a lot of veg, mostly in soup, which is often filling and quite low in calories. I most wanted to comment on the exercise though - in Edinburgh walking or cycling is a quick way to get around and it keeps the metabolism revved up. I'm with you on the gyms - I loathe them!

The KitchenMaid said...

Your post, Fiona and the comments of others, are really interesting. I've watched the 5:2 buzz with interest from a distance (in NZ the doco has yet to screen) and the consensus seems to be that the weight drops off at the start and then things get tricky. But well done all of you for sticking to it, I am not quite up to even the experimenting with one day stage yet. And I agree that the chair kills!

Anonymous said...

For those of you that noticed a sharp decline in weight loss after the first couple of weeks, this maybe this will be of some help.

I'm fairly new to this way of life myself, but I've lost 4lbs in 4 weeks

Anonymous said...

It is 4 o'clock in the afternoon and I have just enjoyed a cup of black tea. I am fasting for the second day this week. I started yesterday! I had not intended to fast today, however I am going on holiday tomorrow and wanted to fit a second fasting day in. I have 10lbs to shift, which has crept on since last summer and I would like to try this diet to see if it works. So far I have not found it hard to fast. I do like the health benefits and would like my cholesterol level to go down. Hopefully will be able to post good reports!

essendy said...

I've been on the diet since November and my weight loss has only averaged about half a pound per week, but (unlike previous yo-yo dieting where it would all have gone back on again by now) I do feel I can continue with this forever. The reward, for me, is not so much the weight loss as the knowledge that I can eat what I want most of the time - a day of fasting earns me a day of enjoyment! (And I do enjoy my food more and don't take it for granted as I used to.) I could lose more weight if my feast days were more like a diet, but that would defeat the idea of a permanent regime that I can stick to fairly easily.

Linda said...

I am about to start the 5:2 diet and have found the comments interesting and useful. I need to lose 2 stone so it will be hard.

Anonymous said...

Back from skiing in France. Having enjoyed good food and wine for a whole week I am only 1lb heavier. Probably due to the two days of fasting before going on holiday. Not wasting any time I fasted yesterday and will fast again tomorrow, then again on Friday. Progress report next week.

Anonymous said...

People need to be very careful when talking,encouraging or actually doing this diet, because it is the making of a bulimic. i would know.
Im not saying it is a bad thing to try to lose a few pounds, but maybe be slightly more careful in the way that you go about it, as the amount of diets and calorie restricting encouragement out there is surely not healthy, especially for younger girls.

Anonymous said...

I weighed myself this morning and have recorded a total weight loss of 5lbs, since Easter. Not bad considering that I had one week off, skiing in France. My 7th fast was completed yesterday. At the start I said I wanted to lose 10lbs, so half way there. Very pleased!

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