09 August 2012

5:2 Diet


If you live in the UK, you may have seen the Horizon documentary on BBC2, that aired on Monday night.  

Eat, Fast and Live Longer.

If you haven't seen it, then you may have heard people talking about it on twitter or facebook. It's a hot topic right now.



The documentary featured medical journalist and tv exec Michael Mosley, as he set himself the challenge to live longer, stay younger and lose weight. Three things that I am sure we would all like to achieve. During the one hour documentary Mosley spoke to many people including scientists and found out that a low calorie diet is the secret to these three elusive goals.

There are different ways to go about this, but basically you are either looking at having a continual low calorie diet or fasting. I think I would rather shoot myself in the foot than go on a lifelong low calorie diet, so I was interested to find out how the fasting went and the results it produced.

The results were astonishing. Mosley found out that a third of his body was fat and that he stood a high chance of getting heart disease and cancer, but after he fasted for 3½ days, his chances were reduced dramatically. Here is an explanation of how it works:



  1. Our bodies have  a growth hormone called IGF -1. As a child this is what helps our bodies grow, but as adults it ages us.
  2. High levels of IGF-1 can lead to diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
  3. Lowering your levels of IGF-1 can help prevent against these diseases and can be done through your diet.
  4. When lowering your IGF-1 levels, growth stops and your body starts to repair cells. It also uses up your glucose and starts to burn fat, so you also lose weight.
Now it all begins to make sense, doesn't it? But a 3½ day fast is more than most of us could contemplate. There are another two options:
  1. Fast every second day (still a stretch!)
  2. Eat normally 5 days a week and fast 2 days a week.
You can guess which option Mosley picked and the one I am going for, can't you?

If I manage to keep going with this diet and I hope I will, you will be able to track my progress here on the blog. I will also post meal ideas with calories. Hopefully you will give me some ideas too. In the meantime here is my Spicy Low Calorie Tomato & Lentil Soup. It Serves 6 and has 123 calories per portion. You might even get 8 servings out of it depending on how big a bowl you serve. The whole pot of soup has 740 calories. I will break it down into ingredients and calories at the end.




print recipe

Low Calorie Spicy Tomato & Lentil Soup
A full flavoured and satisfying soup with a low calorie count. Just 123 calories per portion.Great if you are watching your weight and if you aren't then serve with with crusty bread and butter.
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1 inch/2½ cm fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 150g red lentils
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 vegetable stock cubes, dissolved in 3 pints of hot water
  • 28g fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • a good grinding of salt & black pepper
Instructions
1. Saute the onion, garlic and ginger in the olive oil until the onion is soft. Because we aren't using much oil, you may need to add a splash of water to prevent sticking.2. Add the spices and mix well until the onion is well coated.3. Pour in the tomatoes, lentils and vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally as lentils have a tendency to catch on the bottom of the pan.4. Add the coriander and season with salt and pepper.5. Enjoy!
Details
Total time:
Yield: Serves 6

 

And the breakdown of calories:

  • 1 tsp olive oil = 40 calories 
  • 1 medium onion = 44 calories 
  • 1 clove of garlic = 4 calories 
  • 1 inch/2½ cm piece fresh ginger = 9 calories 
  • 2 tsp cumin = 0 calories (couldn't find anything but a 0 count for cumin) 
  • 1 tsp turmeric = 8 calories 
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes = 92 calories 
  • 150g red lentils = 477 calories 
  • 3 x Tesco vegetable stock cubes = 60 calories 
  • 28g fresh coriander = 6 calories 

Total calories per pot of soup = 740 calories

Thanks to everyone for their support and comments. There are now so many comments on this post it is hard to read them all at once. To see all the comments, click the load more button after the comment box.

347 comments:

  1. This sounds really interesting. I wish you luck with it!!

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    1. Thanks, I am really going to try and stick to it. It is easy to do when you think about getting cancer or heart disease.

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  2. I was away for the always brilliant Michael Mosley and his feature on fasting and longevity, but I have been reading about it for awhile in the cancer literature (I'm a cancer health educationist for Maggie's Cancer Centres in Edinburgh/Fife) and am intrigued. I would be interested to see if you find an increase in energy after fasting off and on for a few weeks, as that is also one of the bonuses, once your body stops whining about not having sugar that is! You probs know this already but turmeric and green tea are pretty good thermogenic foods so well worth having daily. Sorry to be bit of a know it all, but we do weight loss stuff in my cancer nutrition workshops so it is a pet subject of mine. I hope you keep us up to date on your progress.

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    1. You can watch it on iplayer on your tv or pc. Do keep in touch Kellie, it is nice to have someone around who can give good advice. I didn't know that about turmeric. Can't stand tea though, bleugh!!

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  3. Well done Jac, sounds like you are going to succeed with lovely soup like that!

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  4. Fascinating - I don't trust myself with fasting as one day could easily become a month, but I look forward to hearing how you get on.

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  5. Sounds fascinating! Might join you - haven't seen the documentary but will catch up on it. A really informative post - good luck!

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    1. Thanks Ren. You really have to watch it, it will open your eyes. Hope you do join in. I need all the help and support I can get.

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  6. WELL DONE you Jac! I realise now that I more or less do this for one or two days a week on my Weight Watchers Diet, but it is a very interesting post and I will follow your progress! Karen

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    1. Thanks Karen. Any tips you have will be gratefully received :)

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  7. Wow, this is really interesting - and terrifying too! I'm reading your post about weight etc but my eyes are straying to the side bar and the beautiful food... This really is food for thought though and I think that I'd like to learn more, thanks for the tip, I plan to investigate.

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    1. Have a watch of the documentary. It is on iplayer for the next month. You won't be able to see it after that, unless they repeat it.

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    2. Thanks Jacqueline, I watched it and this is day one of my fast. Just made your soup too with added carrots and celery. I don't think this is going to be easy but the benefits are something else aren't they?!

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    3. The benefits are great. Well done for giving it a go :)

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    4. The whole documentary is on Youtube so available to watch anytime. I'm on my second day of fasting. Blooming starving :)

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    5. That is good to know and keep telling yourself you aren't really and how proud you are of yourself. Good luck :)

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  8. Jacqueline Really interesting normally I love to eat soups are fast and I can control the sodium and others normally are veggies soup so I will bookmarked this:)

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  9. So funny - as I was posting my heart attack on a plate peanut butter pie recipe this morning this popped up in my reader and I had to laugh. Now I also finally get why you, Dom, Karen BB et al have been talking about fasting on Twitter. I thought it was some kind of in joke - food bloggers, fasting?
    This is really, really interesting and I'd love to know how you feel after a couple of days. I remember reading about the model Marie Helvin, who said she ate what she wanted six days a week, but always fasted (ie, ate nothing) on Sundays. And she STILL looks amazing! I don't think I have the stamina, but all power to those that do. Good luck! PS Great soup. Who knew onions were so calorific (relatively speaking!)

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    1. Haha, no in joke and I won't be eating nothing, just restricting my calories to 600. I will keep everyone up to date with how I am doing :)

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    2. Oh yes and I was surprised about the onions too and rather shocked by how calorific lentils are.

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  10. Hi there, This is so interesting, thanks for posting and do tell us how you feel about the 5:2. best....

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  11. When I was 20 something, fasting was my way to control my weight. I'm very familiar with fasting, and I know how much addictive can become (my fasting menu was breakfast: caffelatte, lunch: apple + caffelatte, mid-day snack: banana, dinner: water. I know: it was INSANE. Now, reading your post I feel tempted to fast again using a more balance method. I'll read your progress and who knows, maybe I'll be inspired...

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    1. Oh jeez I couldn't manage that Rita. No, sensible is definitely the key word :)

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  12. My mum has started this, she is going to let me know how she gets on and if it works I'll give it a try too...

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    1. Well let me know how she gets on too Kavey :)

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  13. I missed the documentary on bbc2 but it looks really interesting - i'm curious to see how you get on (as i'm not sure i'd have the willpower!) ut will definately be trying the soup recipe - thank you!

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    1. It is on BBC iplayer Tildy, so you should be able to watch it on your pc or tv. It is live for the next month. Really worth watching.

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  14. Hello! Me from Twitter here. I watched the programme too and it all sounds so sensible somehow. I think of animals that are routinely 'fasted' one day or more a week in captivity, like dolphins and the whole tradition of fasting for both physical and spiritual purposes has a long history so it's not like some extreme new dieting fad. I have never really dieted, but my weight has crept up over the years of middle age and since stopping smoking twenty years ago when I could 'eat anything'.

    I think though that 'fasting' is not really the right word for this, as I associate fasting with no food at all, only water to drink etc.

    I like your soup recipe, I made something very similar the other day, only with rice and bulgar wheat in it, so it would have been heavier in calories. I also made a red pepper, chilli, salt paste, from roasting red peppers and then blending them with the chilli and a little salt which is a good flavouring/seasoning for soups like these. Anyway best of luck and I will try and join you in a day or two of fasting very soon. x Joanna

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    1. Fasting can be many things. Some people fast for religious reasons and they don't even drink during the day, but they eat and drink at sundown. My hindi friend says that her grandparents fasted every month properly and they lived to ripe old ages with no serious illness, as was the case for many of their generation, so there is definitely something in it.

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  15. I have never contemplated counting my calories! Good luck Jacs, but don't deprive yourself :)

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  16. Gosh Jac - sounds like quite a challenge. I'm really interested in diet and nutrition but fasting sounds really hard. I wish you the best of luck with it. You are off to a great start with that nourishing soup.

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    1. Thanks Jacqueline. It has been easier than I thought, but variety of meals will be the challenge :)

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  17. Good luck Jacqueline! I know when I eat less (around 1400 calories or so) I feel heaps better with more energy, 600 calories is pushing it for me though!

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    1. It has been ok, but just discovered it should be under 500 for women, thinking I might stay with the 600 to begin with.

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  18. Good for you, Jacqueline! Not sure I could do that....I'd wake up in the middle of the night starving. The trick must be to have nothing tempting in the house. Keep us posted!

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  19. Excellent start to this. I had never heard of the diet. I love the look of the soup.

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    1. The soup was lovely and very filling, thankfully :)

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  20. Love the soup recipe will definitely pinch that for next weeks 2 days.

    How did you feel at the end of the second day, I couldn't believe how well I slept the first night and I woke up feeling so clear headed as opposed to the light headed I was expecting.

    I only ate breakfast yesterday, and then a slice of melon later when I got the munchies, so I stayed well within the calories. I did have a cup of coffee for supper as I didn't want to go to bed feeling hungry.... it worked.

    Can you clarify for me that we can have 600 calories, some folk on the Harcombe Forum are saying that it's 600 for men and 500 for women, it just left me wondering, I thought it was just 600 for everyone.

    Sue xx

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    1. They are right, I just found out tonight. I think I am going to continue with the 600 for the moment, might reduce it later once I get the hang of it. Still a whooping reduction in calories, so must be doing good and dropping IGF-1.

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  21. It was a really fascinating programme, I'm very tempted to try this, not for the weight side of it but for the other benefits outlined. I'll definitely be following how you're getting on with it. Good Luck.

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  22. I watched the documentary and found the outcomes incredible! Does anyone know if your 2 fast days have to be taken together? e.g. Mon & Tue or can they be split say Tue & Thur? I dont recall it saying in the documentary.

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    1. No, they can be taken separately as long as they are both within a 7 day period. My calendar runs from Sunday to Saturday, so that is my 7 day period. Much easier and a big F on the calendar on my fast days.

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  23. I watched the Horizon program. It was very interesting & the brilliant Michael Mosley made feel confident that this could be the answer for lots of people including myself. I'm going to try it. Just waiting for the book I've ordered which had loads of low calorie meals. Be prepared!

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    1. Let me know how you get on Carol :)

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  24. Wow.
    Well, Jac, years ago I had to do a medical fast and dropped a ton of weight (which came back, I might add), and I've heard of some diets here which are all about fat-loading and then eating only four fruit and some four green leafy veg for a month, and then adding/subtracting... oh, it all gets fuzzy after that.

    I read the article about this, and am a bit ... huh. Gobsmacked.

    I admire your commitment to trying it. Both of us are considering trying it, too, with a bit more research. I care less about how I look and more about the long-term effects of my weight on my heart and innards, so...

    Thanks for pointing this out.

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    1. I too was gobsmacked after watching the documentary. If something so simple can help prevent heart disease and cancer, then it is a no-brainer for me.

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  25. Hmm, I'm skeptical, but that's just how I am about these types of "fad" diets. Do the 2 fast days have to be in a row or can you eat, fast, eat, eat, fast, eat, eat?

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    1. They don't have to be together and it isn't really a diet in the terms of lets lose weight, although you will. It is more about health.

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  26. Wowzas.. that is nuts! This doesn't really sound sustainable, especially if you rebound and eat more the next day.... but I am curious to see how you fare. :)

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    1. I think it is sustainable, you just have to think ahead about what you will eat on your fast days. I am going to really try.

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  27. Hi All. I think this is sustainable. I've tried the fasting thing two days this week and had no trouble (biggest trouble was boredom in the evenings!). I got home both days when I'd normally have consumed 2000 cals - I'm a biggish eater... - having had 400-500 and really had no problem.

    Just one thing: I believe that artificial sweeteners stimulate the same insulin response as sugar. So beware of diet products with artificials you may be undermining some of the good work on your bloods

    Good luck to both of us and anyone else out there. Dan

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    1. You are so right Dan it is boredom in the evening. Funny thing is we are having movie night tonight, so we got snacks. Had one or two then decided I didn't want them. A knock on effect maybe.

      Good point about the artifical sweeteners, didn't think of that.

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  28. Honestly, I think I would prefer a lower calorie diet to fasting (then again, I did not watch the program, so I have no idea how low calorie it would be)... but I take my hat off to you for trying! Good luck :-)

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    1. It is 500 calories on your fast days. I initially thought it was 600, but that is for men.

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  29. never heard of this approach to healthy eating/weight loss - sounds better than dieting all week and far better than the 40 hour famine that I did one year - will be interested to see how you go - wonder if they will show the documentary here - we sometimes get these shows later on.

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    1. Hope you get a chance to see it Johanna :)

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  30. Really glad I have seen the programme I have been on a high protein low carb diet for last 6 months I have lost two stone but have trained 3 times a week I plan on doing the 5.2 diet as I think this is a safe way to get my weight down I will keep the training up as I really enjoy it but the 5.2 diet seems to be a better way to do things.

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  31. Good gracious.....I wish you well Jac but I am just off to France so you can imagine the sort of food I will be eating. I won't even mention the wine consumption! Good luck xx

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    1. Well have a lovely time and enjoy all the wonderful food and wine, then have a think about this when you get back :)

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  32. Good luck with the diet Jac but I don't see me having the willpower to follow something like that. I could certainly do with it though as I'm definitely on the overweight side of healthy.

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    1. It is easier than you think Mike and I am about to post some meal and snack ideas.

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    2. Perhaps it would be if I had someone prodding me to go for it but I just don't have the willpower. The programme has prompted me to keep a closer eye on what I eat though and I seem to be losing a little weight. For example, my shorts now seem to need a belt to hold them up whereas they didn't previously.

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    3. Well that is good Mike. Maybe you need to wait until you are in a better frame of mind to start.

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  33. Jacqueline,First of all thanks for taking the time to produce this site. Like I was fascinated with the program. I think I am like most people who don't really know the calorie count of most food. For that reason, I am going to follow your diets. If you are able to publish any more suggestion, I would be grateful. No one has mentioned alcohol. Is it possible to drink? Also in the program, Michael Mosely drank black tea. Is there a restriction on the amount of tea/coffee one can drink? I wish everyone luck who intends following Jacqueline's advise.

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    1. Hi Andy, Thanks for taking the time to stop by. I will be posting a range of meal and snack ideas tonight, I am off to Edinburgh just now, so tune in later. As to the green tea, I think you can drink as much as you like. Best to avoid alcohol on fast days though as you are giving your body a chance to repair.

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  34. Great summary of the programme Jac. Sadly for us women though, I think it was 400-500 calories :(

    Glad you are on board with the fasting too - the more of us that do it, the easier I'm hoping it will be - who am I kidding! Although I'm only doing 1 day a week eating fruit only, it's worked for me in the past. I find it easier at work though as I'm always so busy.

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    1. I know, you are right Choclette. I am going to stick to the 600 for the time being and then may drop to under 500, once I have the hang of it. Still a massive drop in calories for me.

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  35. Thanks for the post Jac! i watched the programme also and i found it fascinating! i am intrigued, and have decided to try the 5:2 diet also. every Tuesday and Thursday i will eat less than 500 calories, I have been to the the market and stocked up on fruit, and i think maybe that is the key. you can pretty much gorge yourself on fruit for a whole day and struggle to eat much more than 400 calories. Have just seen that this is what Choclette does! ^^^ woo!
    i am 16 by the way :) i've never really been one for diets, but i feel this could really be a good idea. people say that you should only eat when you are hungry, but i think like many people, i find it hard to distinguish between hungry and peckish.
    i really truly wish you luck and hope it works for you :) i will let you know how mine goes! x

    Ohh and i am veggie, just noticed you are. will definitely be trying your soup!

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    1. Hi Emma, nice to meet you and yes, my whole blog is veggie, so lots of recipe for you to try. I do love fruit, but not sure how well I would do only eating fruit all day. I think soup may be the key for me. I look forward to hearing how you are doing :)

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  36. This is really interesting, but what's the impact on the brain, given that cholesterol is so important for brain function and for cell membranes too for that matter?

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    1. I really couldn't tell you. I am not an expert. I wouldn't think it would have a great effect for one day at a time, maybe if you were eating like this everyday it would be more of an issue.

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  37. I was trying a simplified version of the Dukan diet but after watching the documentary I'm going to try this instead. Much easier to control your eating for 2 days, rather than 7. I'm starting tomorrow, but my fast days are going to be Wednesday & Thursday (mainly because I'm out for a meal with friends on Tuesday and I don't want it to effect that). Will check back and let you know how I get on.

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    1. That's what I think too Lori, much more sustainable and great if it benefits your health as much as they suggested on the programme. Good luck tomorrow and let me know how you got on :)

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    2. So, coming to the end of my first week on the 5:2 diet. First fast day was relatively easy, 2nd day was a little harder, mainly because I was out and about and not as much in control of my food as I am when I'm at home. Still, I appear to have lost approx 3.3kg but I think some of that was from the Dukan-style diet I was on originally, but still it's a great start. ;o))

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    3. That is a great start indeed Lori. Well done :)

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  38. Hi, I'm yet another person who's trying this! I need to shed up to another stone, after dieting but reaching a plateau. The perceived additional health benefits would be great to benefit from too. My days need to be consecutive, for practicality reasons - so I'm hoping that will be OK. I'm following more-or-less what he did on the programme - ham, scambled eggs and salad as meal one, and grilled fish and veg for meal two. With lots of water, herb teas and one black coffee. I'd like to add my thanks to Jacqueline for giving us this forum, and say Good Luck to everyone trying the plan and I hope we all get fantastic, healthy results! - Jen

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    1. Hi Jen, it does seem like a great plan, doesn't it? Do let me know hoe it goes for you :)

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  39. Hi, I'm also going to give this a go. Looking at the 'rules', I have come up with an approach which might be easier for me, but not sure if it will be as effective as the approach outlined on Horizon.

    So I intend to start Tuesday next with skipping lunch, then have dinner as normal (around 600 cals hopefully), then skip breakfast next day followed by normal eating at lunchtime. That would be a minimum 24 hour period with 600 cals or less. Then repeat a second time in the next 7 days.

    I'll give it a try anyway...Don

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    1. Well, let me know how that goes Don, it is definitely a different way of approaching it.

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  40. When I first read "fasting" I thought you meant totally! Interesting idea, I'll look forwards to hearing how it goes :)

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    1. Oh goodness no, I wouldn't never last. This is much more sensible :)

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  41. I didn't see the program but I do need to lose weight! Too many cakes for my waistline!

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    1. It is a problem for us food bloggers Scott :)

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  42. I thought it was dangerous for the metabolism to drop under 1000 cal per day?

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    1. Not sure about that, but I have a feeling that is more long term.

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  43. Interesting blog, have started the 5:2 diet today and hope to keep going for at least 2 months, apart from losing weight my aim is to become healthier after having breast cancer 2 years ago, will keep checking your blog to see how you are doing

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  44. Starting this 5/2 today just wondering do you have to have just one meal a day as michael did on programme or can you space it out over 24 hr.

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    1. Well, I am spacing them out over the day, as is Michael.

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    2. From what I've read you can use your 400-600 calories a day however you want. Either all in one go or spread out over the day. It appears you can also eat whatever you want as long as it's not more than the 400-600 calories on your fast day, so if you wanted to allocate some of your calories to a bit of chocolate for example, you can do. FYI, 1 giant choc button has 15 calories in it. ;o))

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    3. Haha, that is brilliant Lori, I will add the choc button to my calorie list :)

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  45. I assumed it was 2 meals per day - morning and evening. The comments above, however, imply you can eat throughout the day so long as calorie limited is adhered to. The reason I thought it was morning evening eating is because it is during the gap when the positive effects take place.
    I am not sure so would also welcome clarification.
    Thank you.

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    1. I think the programme said one meal of less than 600 calories per day. I think this is important because spreading the calories throughout the day is not fasting. The 2 days should probably be together otherwise again you are not inducing a fasting state for long enough. Fasting in Ramadan does not produce the same effect because you eat plenty of calories within a 24 hour period. We already regularly fast when we sleep. Someone would have to contact the American researcher about the details to confirm them. Scientific literature does not support the claims of Aspartame influencing insulin levels in the same way as sugar.

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    2. Dr Michael Mosley, who took part in the test and presented the programme is doing the 5:2 diet and he is eating more than one meal a day. He also does seperate days. He is fasting on Tuesdays and Thursdays and since he spoke to the scientists at length, I think we can follow his example. I am certainly no expert and I am just going on what I learned from the programme and from Dr Mosley.

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  46. OH watched the programme and is interested in trying it, neither of us are overweight and eat sensibly no processed food. We are both over 65.

    I have started to go through a calorie book and am saddened that the normal breakfast, lunch and evening meal all contain many more calories - without including the evening trip to the home bar!

    I have a list of foods which we could eat - breakfast which is usually for me a banana and small bowl of cereal to be replaced with 120g raspberries,40g new potatoes in skins,100g celery and 1 cup unsweetened tea - this gives 76 calories - strange breakfast? Lunch and evening meal are more bizarre and no wine...............

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    1. Ah yes, the no wine can be a test Anna. Do come back and let me know how you are both getting on :)

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  47. Glad I found this blog, just started 5/2 today after watching the Horizon show last week.
    I train 5 days/week (combination of weights and swimming), so was trying to find as much info about this method of Intermittent Fasting....surprisingly not much out there on 5/2!

    How I'm doing it...

    Fasting mon & tues (600 cals per fast days)
    Today(mon)
    -wake up, no breakfast, just a large mug of green tea...pretty much 0 cals
    -pre-workout... 1 protein shake (100 cals)
    -train weights 1h30 + 30 mins of easy swimming drills.
    -Post workout... 1 protein/carb shake (100 cals)
    -Lunch (2pm)... 125g steamed brown rice + 2 whole large eggs (400 cals)
    -thats all my meals for the day... I think its quite important to have a long period in the fasted state without any meals.
    -I've had 1 black filter coffee @ 5pm, and drinking loads of water whenever I feel hunger pangs or headachy.
    -nearly 10pm on first day and I feel ok.

    Tomorrow (tues), my plan is:

    -wake up, no breakfast, big mug of green tea.
    -pre workout protein shake (100 cals)
    -swimming day, so lets see how I get on with a 1 hr (fasted)swim! (approx 11:30am)
    -post workout protein/carb shake (100 cals).
    -lunch (1:30 pm) 125g steamed brown rice + 2 large whole eggs (400 calls)
    -some black coffee to give me some energy in the afternoon + stacks of water.

    depending upon how this week goes, I'll integrate it into my week.

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    1. Forgot to add that I'm 38 yr man, no weight issues bt want to get ripped! (without having to resort to the usual carb depleting methods).

      I will be breaking my 2 day fast on the wed am for normal breakfast

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    2. That is good for the first two days, but you may like to try and vary your meals a little or you are bound to get fed up.

      Good luck with it and let us all know how you get on :)

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  48. If you are sweetener users, try Stevia. It's a plant-based sweetener - super,super sweet and super, super low gi so no insulin shift

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  49. Good luck with the fasting ; one thing to consider though is that the science is base around one meal of 600 cals a day - each time you eat anything its like 2 steps back as you start producing IGF1. It's about the length of time you go without eating and basicly the fewer times you eat the better.

    Michael Mosley had decent results eating twice a day - but worth remembering he only drinks no calorie drinks to stop IGF1 production stopping and starting.

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    1. I'd like to know where to read more about IGF-1, if you have any webstites to recommend.

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    2. agreed re research links. I'm not sure the programme said its the length of time without food - i fact it suggested that the number of calories was the key factor but not clear - think it was a weak Horizon in that respect - most unusual

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  50. My husband and i start the fast tomorrow,are we supposed to keep the protein low,and what about the carbs or just count calories of the meal.Cath

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    1. It is just a calorie count as far as I know. Good luck Cath :)

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    2. they mentioned protein as a real problem but then seemed to suggest its just calories - would really love to read more in detail as TV is very good at the big picture - not s good at detail

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  51. love this blog and keen to try the 5:2 approach as need to improve diet and health.

    Will be keeping an eye on your ideas and receipes, useful space so thank you!

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    1. Thanks Vivsif. Let us know if you take the plunge :)

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  52. Great to find this blog. I'm trying this too...not nearly so organised as you, so it's really good to get your recipe ideas. I also thought along the lines of the anaonymous post above, that the idea is to not eat for some period of time, so keeping food consumption perhpas to beginning and end of day on fast days, also was wondering about whether to do the fast days consequetively (sp?) or spaced out in the week..any thoughts?
    Today I've had one slice of wholemeal toast spread with Lurpak spreadable and peanut butter (no idea how many cals that is) and just been drinking water. I love white tea (the refined version of green tea) it's much milder to drink than Green tea, which I find a bit'dry' and bitter, but with all the same health benefits. I don't like normal tea either.
    I'm going to try this 5:2 for hopefully at least 6 weeks, but also do feel that I could attempt the ADF approach, especially as it seems you can eat all the 'bad' stuff on your eat days. But am just keen to see if I can keep this going first.

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    1. There is 95 calories in a tbsp of peanut butter and about 96 calories in a slice of wholemeal bread, not sure about the lurpak.

      I am spacing the fast days out as I want this to be sustainable. I am fasting today and will fast on Thursday. Dr Michael Mosley is also fasting on Tuesdays and Thursdays also.

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  53. Good luck with your diet :) My husband has started doing this today and I'm desperately looking for things that we can both eat (and umm... that don't sound dull!) so we'll have to give your soup a go. Looks great!

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    1. I hope you enjoy it and both do well. On a non-fast day, I would put more lentils and less stock in to make it lovely and thick, nut alas, that is more calories :)

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  54. I started it today - some rice biscuits and fruit. I actually found the horizon a little lacking in detail - for instance the need to be "hungry" to replicate brain cells, didn't really explain if merely not eating but not being hungry would kick start this process.
    It is possible to fast and not feel hunger.i have fasted for 7 days merely taking psilium husks (with no nutritional value) which fills the stomach and adds to de toxification (apparently) so get some if you are feeling you cannot do it - once the stomach is full then you really feel nothing

    The alternate day fast and the 5:2 fast research did not (at least in the programme) specifically claim to reduce IGF1 production, though Mosely did reduce his, so it would be useful to know if that is a by product proven by research

    best of luck

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    1. I would love to know more too Matt. If you find any good info, please let us know. For me, after having my little boy, losing some weight would definitely be healthier, but I am hoping to lower my LGF-1 too :)

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  55. I've tried this over the past couple of days and basically made do with the following:

    Breakfast - nothing
    Mid Morning - slim-a-soup (60 calories (minestrone))
    Lunch - 3/4 of a yoghurt (80 calories)
    Mid Afternoon - another soup (53 calories (chicken))
    Dinner - M&S count on us range (375-400 depending on what you have)

    Both days have been fairly easy and i'm normally a big eater, the trouble comes later on at evening 9pm time when i get peckish, that said i just go to bed.

    This is a "diet" i can stick to fairly easily i think, i just hope it works.

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    1. It is quite easy to stick to, but like you I get peckish in the evenings, ie now. Just ignoring it, haha :D

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    2. Whats wrong with celery sticks - something to nimble and chew and tiny calories. I don't like celery but if it was that or nothing...........

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    3. I do like celery, but more as part of a dish or in a sandwich. Not sure I wold enjoy it on it's own.

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    4. I love celery and although it's low in calories, I'd much rather use my calories on something more substantial. ;o))

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  56. Hi Folks, I watched the programme too and have been doing further research. In the programme, the fasting days were 400 to 500 calories for women and 500 to 600 for men. The other thing was that they consumed all of those calories in one meal, whereas you have been spreading them out over the day. In the programme, they suggested that you have your single meal a day at around 1pm. However, Michael Mosley opted to have all of his for breakfast as he could not face the thought of not going to work without breakfast.

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    1. I did amend the calories, if you read to the end of the post. I am spreading my calories out until I find out more and Michael is actually having two meals a day.

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    2. When I watched the program, he had scrambled eggs and a slice of ham for breakfast, then nothing all day except water and black tea, and then fish and veg for tea. I didn't see anything which suggested you should have all your calories in one single meal??

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    3. A lot of people seem to think it is one meal, but Dr Michael Moseley says you can spread the calories out. I would also think that one huge meal would send the LGF-1 hormone into overdrive.

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  57. I'm having early nights on fast days! And I'm eating a lot of fresh fish, which is very low calorie (though I am finding out some suprising things about oily fish and calories...should have guessed!) fingers crossed this works...it's a perfect diet plan for food bloggers;)

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    1. It is a good plan for food bloggers. Good luck with it Fiona :)

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  58. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  59. Hi, I was also very interested in the Horizon programme and most impressed with the results he achieved in losing weight over the 5 weeks, (apart from the other benefits that may come if this diet is continued. I started monday and decided that mon / tues will be my 600 or less days. I have also started to exercise a little harder and hopefully will start seeing good results soon. Good luck to all who try this. Also looking forward to seeing menu ideas.

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    1. Hi Frank, I have blogged some menu ideas here and some more calorie counting here.

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    2. if you do a search for the BBC Good Food website (not the normal BBC Food site), they have a section for meals which are 200-400 calories, which I found really useful. On our fast days this week I made the Italian Beef Stew, which was 225 cals per portion. The recipe serves 4, so I made the full recipe and just saved half of it for the following day (my next fast day). Worked well for my husband and I. We had mashed potato with it the first day and just loads on veg with it on the 2nd day.

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    3. I will have a look at that Lori, thanks for the heads-up :)

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    4. Thanks Jacqueline and Lori. Will check those out. I appreciate you responding.

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  60. Hi All
    I have started the diet this week. Monday was my first fast day and I found it very difficult. I had eggs and ham for breakfast, a bowl of cabbage soup for lunch and cabbage soup (2 bowls) for dinner. I went to bed starving. I was really surprised that when I woke up yesterday I wasn't hungry. I ate a calorie controlled diet yesterday (1500 calories) and did an hour of exercise. Today on my fast day I didn't eat until 1pm after weight training at the gym. I have eaten two vegetarian sausages, egg and five cherry tomatoes (242 calories) and I feel a lot better today, eating later in the day suits me more. Tonight is steamed seabass with ginger, spring onion and lemon grass and half a bag of stir fry vegetables. (170 calories) I am going to have some fruit this afternoon.
    Does anyone know if you exercise can you eat more on the fast day?

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    1. It sounds like you have it all under control Lou. I am not sure about the exercise effecting the calories, I think you still have to stick to the 500.

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  61. I also am having a go at this - watched it on iPlayer two days ago.

    I must have missed where Dr Moseley talked about non-consecutive days for the 5:2. It would seem to make sense to put them together if the fasting aspect rather than the potential overall reduction in calories is to have an impact. The BBC web page makes it pretty clear that Dr Moseley's 5 week 5:2 diet features a breakfast and an evening meal.

    Never been provoked into any form of diet before but this really hooked me and it looks sustainable but I need to mod the approach

    day 1: Fruit breakfast, More fruit at lunch along with a lot of water, low cal Thai Hot and Sour soup for supper - under 600 cals in total and I was too hungry to concentrate in the afternoon.

    day 2: small scrambled eggs with a small slice of smoked salmon, some tomatoes at lunch, lots of water and black tea through the day and making a low cal chicken chop suey for supper.

    Need to have a think about the balance of this to make it interesting but it feels OK. As a side note how shocked am I about how many calories there are in noodles...and onions....and loads of other stuff.

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    1. Hi, good to find this blog. I'm in the second week of trying this, since the documentary. I'm trying to do my two days together on Tuesday and Wednesday if possible. Last week I ate my meals at about 1pm but found that I was ravenous and really grumpy by evening, so this week I'm trying to eat in the evening instead which I've found it a lot easier. I definitely find the hunger comes and goes: this morning when my daughter woke me up at 4 I was starving and had to eat two rice cakes to get back to sleep; however, I then got up at 8 and wasn't at all hungry. I was seeing a friend who had made lunch (arranged before this programme) and didn't want to be rude, so I just ate two falafel and a bit of undressed salad with her at about 1:30. However, I didn't really feel hungry and have only started feeling hungry in the last hour since cooking the kids' tea. I'm going to eat a small amount now, trying to take into account what I ate at lunch time, and then will hopefully make it until morning. It is hard when you have to cook for and feed other people though!

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    2. It might be better if you spread your calories out Amanda, so you don't dip too much. Have a read of this Telegraph article/

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    3. I know, it is shocking Iain. Have a look at the calorie list I have written in latest post. Soup may be the answer for you, as it will be more filling and you can have a good sized bowlful.

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  62. day two and this morning i felt brilliant - i was tingling all over, felt alert and alive, incredible, though brought down to earth when i completely forgot where i had left my car!
    continued to feel good with just a few rice cakes and strawberries
    just broken it now with some proper food but will def do again next week

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  63. ok probably best to break it with salad rather than chicken and potatoes!, feel v bloated

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  64. Completed two consecutive days at 600 calories and have lost 4lb and that bloated feeling!! Feel great!

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    1. It's great that you feel so good on it. I really think it is beneficial.

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  65. Just a small point - I thought the programme said to eat ALL the 600 calories in ONE meal.... that is what I found hard. All the best with it.
    B

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    1. Dr Michael Mosley who presented the programme is splitting his meals and as he was the one who spoke to the scientists, I am happy to go with that too.

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    2. I'm with anonymous B here. I took it that the 600 calories had to be from 1 meal. Its not really a fast otherwise!
      S

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    3. You have to do what you feel best, but as far as I am concerned, if it is good enough for Dr Mosley, then it is good enough for me.

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    4. i think the show was pretty vague - v unusual for Horizon, anyone calling the BBC to more detail?

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    5. Are people watching different programs?? On the Horizon programme I watched it was just 600 calories a day. Michael had breakfast and evening meal. I don't remember anything about all the calories in one meal, as I think that would be really difficult and the whole point of this diet is that it's sustainable. I guess it's good that people are try all different variations though, as it's kind of an unoffical human trial. ;o))

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  66. HI Jacqueline, just wanted to say thanks for the blog...i'm on my first day of fasting. I"ve approached it so I have 200 calories at breakfast and 300 calories at lunch (from an innocent veg pot). Actually feeling very hungry right now so will see if I can stick to it, but knowing you are out there and did it is really encouraging.

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    1. Good luck Julia and let me know how it goes. I have just had my evening meal on my fourth fast day.

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    2. Hi Jacqueline

      I decided to fast Mon and Wed as we usually eat well on Sundays and I can start Mondays with good resolve. It is really helpful to have recipes and calorie counting guides which make life easier. I need to have a meal after work so have coffee for breakfast, drink water all day, apple for lunch (or similar) and eg salad for dinner or chicken and veg. As this totals less than 400 calories (I think), my treat is a lightly buttered digestive biscuit with black tea before bed.

      I find that I am enjoying my food more after fasting and although not dieting, I don't want to undo the good work I have done and I am therefore eating 'mindfully' on my normal days.

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    3. That is really good KKD and it is true that you do think more about what you are eating on other days :)

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    1. The omelettes are a good idea Liz and thanks for the link too :)

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    2. Hi I'm enjoying your blog having watched Horizon and am getting ready to have a go but am nervous that I might feel terrible on only 500 cals. There is an excelent article on the Telegraph website which clarifies the guidelines. Here's the link
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/9480451/The-52-diet-can-it-help-you-lose-weight-and-live-longer.html
      It says fast days should NOT be consecutive and meals can be spread however you like as long as you stay within calorie limit.
      Low cal recipes are really helpful so if you discover any more it would be great if you could post them. Egg white omlettes look like a good way to fill up.

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    3. Hi Liz, if you click on my banner, my page will refresh and you will see my next two posts on the diet, with menus and calorie counting.

      I was pleased to read the article too. I am still doing the under 600 calories, but I do plan to drop to under 500 once I am in the swing of it.

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  68. Thanks for that recipe might replace the red lentils with spinach or mushrooms less chance of being hungry afterwards: good luck on your journey.Im looking forward to hearing about your progress.My first fast day is Thursday

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    1. Good luck for Thursday Leo. I really think soup is the best way to go as it is so filling, but low in calories.

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  69. Thanks for that recipe might replace the red lentils with spinach or mushrooms less chance of being hungry afterwards: good luck on your journey.Im looking forward to hearing about your progress.My first fast day is Thursday

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  70. Id do the 500 ..keep it scientific..you dont want any flaws..lol..

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  71. I would like to recommend the BBC's good food website which Lori Dale suggested to me. http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/content/recipes/healthy/200-400-cal/
    It has some great recipes and they are filling too. Ideal for the 5:2 diet. I had the turkey steaks with citrus and ginger sauce yesterday and now I'm cooking the egg and chips recipe as I type this. Bon appetit

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    1. Thanks for the link Frank, I will add it to my post :)

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  72. Hi I have just watched the Horizon program and I think I will try the 1-1 eating plan. Is there a good time of the day to eat on the fasting day?

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    1. There isn't enough data yet, but I am spreading mine out over the day and Dr Michael Mosley is splitting his into breakfast and dinner, with lots of green tea in between.

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  73. Just stumbled across your site. Marvellous! I myself just started the 5:2 style and have seen crazy results already. I've not lost any weight yet (been 3 weeks). But, I have more energy and feel more, I don't know, invigorated. It's also changed the way I eat on my feed days for the better. I crave less. Best example, I used to drink about 3 cups of coffee a day. Now, I have one and only out of habit (plus I love coffee). Loving your recipes for my fast days.

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    1. That's Great Themo, it sounds like you are doing great. I will keep putting recipes up as I go. Just put one up for a coconut fruit salad :)

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  74. Hi Jacqueline,

    I've been doing this now for over 3 weeks. I'm beginning to get more convinced it's sustainable. My problem is still evening boredom and old bad habits/temptations of fridge-raiding. Hunger is NOT the problem!
    I seem to wake up on fast days with a different mindset: no temptations, no old bad habits, happy to listen to my body and feel the hunger without panicking, eat slowly and savour....

    AND it's beginning to affect my eating patterns on feed days: no gorging, feel fuller earlier, eat slower etc.

    Am I losing weight? Maybe a bit and slowly - but I've always been against the idea of quick weight loss - recipe for putting back on again and more one day

    All good stuff. I'm impressed.
    Dan

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    1. You are really in a good mind set Dan. Good for you. I know what you mean about it spilling over onto normal days, I now feel guilty when I have a treat and don't want as much snacks.

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  75. Hi Jacqueline and all!,
    Started last Weds, now doing Monday and Wednesday. Two meals: breakfast then dinner, about 12 hours in between. Being at work is a good distraction I think. Really need to research low cal meals, so I'll look into the links posted. For the moment I am popping a Pharmaton (multi-vitimin) on fast days with brekkie. Fascinated to see the results. My cholesterol is high again (6.9) - I brought it down last year with a 'severe' veggie diet - I think 5-2 is much more sustainable. Will ask my GP for a cholesterol check in several weeks. Good luck everyone!

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  76. Hi,

    I watched the programme on iPlayer recently and decided to give it a go. I'm on my second week and have done 3 fast days in total so far, sticking to 500 calories. I need to carry it on for a while to see if I notice any significant effects, however I have noticed that on my feed days I'm eating much more sweet/sugary foods as my cravings on a normal day have gone mental. Has anyone else noticed this?

    Kirsten

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    1. Hi Kirsten, I haven't noticed that myself. In the programme, they found people ate approx 10% more after a fast day, but the results were still good.

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  77. Done two weeks of this so far. I've been doing two days together (Tues and Weds), just because I have felt OK to do it like that and then I feel I've got it out of the way for the week! Last week I found really easy. This week I felt really hungry and also had a huge headache all evening but that could have been from a day spent in the sun. Been having porridge made with water, a few raisins and honey for brekkie, then usually a plate of steamed veg perhaps with some homemade garlic and tomato sauce. I'm not really checking calories, but am sure it's low, althought the posts above about onions being hi cal have got me thinking...I'll definitely try the soup approch next week. Am feeling very committed to at least giving this a six week trial. Not checking my weight but clothes are feeling a bit looser. Should I get body fat rating now/wieghed by my doc? Mainly I want abit of wieght loss but to improve my chances of not shuffling off from cancer in my early sixties like my mum did...I suppose only time will tell.

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    1. Good job on giving it a go and my hat is off to you doing two days together, I would find that really hard. I find days at work easiest. I am going for a wellness check up at doctors soon, so will be asking questions then and seeing what my overall health is like.

      Really worth doing if you have cancer in your family.

      Let us know how youa re getting on :)

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  78. Oh yes, the other thing I was going to say is that I'm feeling like troughing loads on 'normal' days, but think this is psychological and not actually hunger driven. Hoping this will just abate in time as I get used to this just being how I do things rather than a new achievement that I feel all proud of myself about each day that I do it.

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    1. You Should feel proud! I really do think it is psychological, as I don't feel really hungry on fast days, just the odd niggle.

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  79. Whoopee my husband and i have just completed second week of fast,we have been doing wed/thurs. For breakfast each morning we have had scrambled eggs with ham or smoked salmon and a few cherry tomatoes,one morning we had smoked haddock with a poached egg,evening meals have been fish we loads of green veg and prawn stir-fry done with spray oil.I would be lying to say its easy but i have found it easier than being on a constant diet,my husband has never dieted before he is not that overweight but has high cholesterol and wanted the health benefits of the 5/2 .We have ate normally on food days and even shared a bottle of wine with our evening meals on three of feed days.We both exercise and enjoy walking it does not seem to affect this as the days we fast seem to fit in,I am 58 and my husband just had his 60th birthday so if this gives us all of the health benefits we will be delighted,Plus when we got weighed this morning i had lost 5lbs and hubby had lost 8lbs in two weeks,i was lucky to loose 1/2 a pound a week with a slimming group.

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    1. Well done Mary, that is fantastic, you are both doing so well. It is a much better plan for long term I think. Diets are such a short term thing and this benefits your health too.

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  80. I started the 5:2 regime this week after seeing Michael Mosley's programme. I had 500 cals on thursday and am doing the same today (Saturday) I was so pleased with myself that I managed the first day! So the next day, even though I knew I could eat what I wanted, I wasn't tempted to overeat. Today is a little difficult because it's 18:00 now and I've only got 50 cals left - I had lunch with my hubbie. I thought I would be low on energy today but that has not been the case. My bloated stomach has shrunk already and I can fit into clothes which were really tight last week so something must be working!

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    1. That's brilliant. You really can tell by your clothes :)

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  81. Like most of you I was blown over by the health benefits of the programme's 5:2 approach. I've started it but with a key mistake, I think. I have been fasting with 500 calories only for 24 hours from evening meal to evening meal (instead of 36 hours, from evening meal throughout the next day's entire meal cycle until breakfast-time the following day).

    Thus thankful to this blog AND the recipes!

    Just a comment to the person who noted sugar cravings on feed days: research suggests you should feed this carving with fatty foods but NOT sugary/carb-based ones (e.g. whole dairy, avocados, almonds, using coconut oil). Have a look out there for the research about fat being good for us but the sugars killing us.

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  82. Hello,
    I saw the program a couple of days after it went on air and thought it was great. I have always been interested in how fasting could help with a healthier lifestyle. The problem is I have an Italian wife (that cooks brilliantly) and 3 kids. Fasting at home will be impossible. The only chance I have is that I play football twice a week and normally have a pizza/salad and a beer after the match. My only concern is if I am only allowed 600 calories a day and normally eat afterwards, what can I eat during the day BEFORE the match and have enough energy to play ?
    Any advice greatfully appreciated.

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  83. I started this last week & am loving it! I have so much energy the day after the 'fast day'& have found I don't eat anywhere near as much the rest of the time. I'm fuller quicker & making better choices. Plus my sugar cravings have subsided significantly. Have bookmarked your blog & thank you for the recipes! Look forward to following your progress. Finally, something that works that I know I can stick to!

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  84. Hi folks, thanks for the great insight. I have a quandry can someone settle the argument. On a normal day ie not a fast day I have dinner as normal, finishing at 6pm, then from 6.01pm to 6.01pm the following day (my fast day, 24 hours)I have under 600 calories (I am male)at 6.02pm I can then resort back to my normal day with dinner. It seems to me it is the 24 hours on under 600 cals that is important not which meal you start with, my friend reckons it has to be breakfast to breakfast. Any help would be great thanks.

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  85. Thanks Jacqueline and all the commenters, this all seems to make sense to me from a evolutionary point of view - Its only very recently in history that we've had access to ample food, and our ancestors would have regularly fasted, not through choice, so our bodies have evolved to be at their best without feasting every day! My boss and my best mate have been doing this for a couple of weeks now, and I'm going for my 1st day tomorrow (I've been on holiday). Wish me luck!

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I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x