Fasting tips

In Diets, Fasting on June 3, 2013 at 7:10 pm


People have been asking for an update on the Fast Diet, so here we go.

I’m still on it, although I did have another break (after the infuriating illness and antibiotic induced one) when I went to New York for two weeks. I’m not that strong…

And then there was another week when I had lots of people to stay in succession and there just wasn’t a day when I could eat – and drink – nothing. Or so I told myself, ahem.

But I’ve made a decision to stopping and starting like that, because it’s making the weight loss too slow.

In this, as in any diet, the facts are simple: if you stop, you put the weight back on. So I’m determined not to have one more break until I’m down to my goal – and then I’m going to commit to fasting one day a week for life, to keep it off.

In the meantime I’m sticking to the regime I described in my earlier post Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! where I eat nothing at all until dinner time and only 300 calories a day in total– which allows me not to count every drop of milk I have in tea or the odd half apple (40 calories) if I’m desperate. Link to that post here

I found that when I budgeted 500 calories exactly I often ended up eating slightly more by accident and it’s really not worth the torture of eating nothing all day only to blow your weight loss on a cream cracker. Aiming for 300 just gives you that little bit of wriggle room.

I still find that I’m weirdly not hungry when I wake up the morning after fast day. I’ll even feel slightly disgusted at the thought of food – having planned a massive fry up as I went to sleep the night before. But if I then skip breakfast, I’m cave man ravenous by 11am and could eat a whole packet of bagels with cream cheese, so I have a light breakfast at the normal time.

I do worry that I’m eating more than before starting the diet on my non-fast days as there is rather a sense of having to cram it in while I can. I certainly found I was eating more chocolate bars than I used to in a ‘because I can…’ spirit, so I’ve cut those out.

But while I do tend to reach for the crackers – crunch is what I miss on fast days – I’m not sure feeling very full after normal dinners is because I’m eating more. I think it might be that my stomach is shrinking and I feel much fuller on the same amount of food.

I know people who are doing no carb on the other five days, as well as the fasting and losing a lot more weight, but I think that’s making it too hard. I know I wouldn’t be able to sustain it. I’d rather lose weight slowly and lose all the weight I want to lose, than give up after five pounds.

So I’m sticking to the diet as outlined in Dr Mosley and Mimi Spencer’s book. Find link here

Other things which are still helping me are:

Black coffee at the 11am snack twinge moment

Lots of water

Diet Coke

Diet ginger beer (in a nice glass, with ice, it’s my fast day ‘cocktail’…)

As many packs of sugar free gum as I need to get through the late afternoon (just finished my second pack of the day). I mix it up between mint and fruity flavours. I’m krazee, me!

Don’t even think about ‘spending’ 60 calories on 50ml (a pub single) of gin with a Slimline Tonic. It made me ravenous and it was torture not eating anything after it.

Don’t go near a supermarket on a fast day. It’s torture and you will buy everything in the shop and then have to drive home with it taunting you from the boot of the car.

Don’t fast on a Friday. The Thank God It’s Friday effect is just too great to resist – and that’s how I ended up having that foolish gin and tonic last week.

Take aerobic exercise, if you can bear it, and you will lose more quickly. With no concerted exercise I lose one pound (half a kilo) a week. With exercise it’s usually double that.

I still sincerely believe that this diet is the Answer – the one we’ve all been searching for and I’m committed to it.

But I’m not going to blog about it again until I reach my goal – which is getting back in a particular pair of trousers I haven’t been able to wear for two and a half years..

At my current weight loss rate that should happen some where around the middle of August… which puts me on the spot.

How are you doing on it? Got any tips for me?

  1. If you need some ‘crunch’ (and taste) celery sticks with salsa and also dill pickles are both really low calorie (20-40 cals, depending on portion size).
    By the way – I believe it may have been you who blogged about the babyliss big hair. I really owe you one. Turned 41 and dammit if I don’t need my hair to look more ‘done’.

    • Yay¬! so happy you are loving your Babyliss. I really don’t know how I lived without mine. Celery is a help, but it’s the dry crunch of crackers (my weakness…) I crave. But I’m not fasting today so I can eat one anytime I like… nom nom nom x

  2. I can’t fast due to blood sugar issues, but have you thought about other non-food distractions? I remember reading somewhere about food cravings disappearing if you a) Did not visualise or look at food (hence why avoiding the supermarket is good and b) Distracted yourself with something else, e.g. music or knitting.

  3. Hi Maggie,
    I have lost 5 kilos since Easter and people are starting to notice! I skip breakfast and eat a small lunch and dinner. I do have milk in my tea (which I count) and try to stick to 500 calories. I could not do 300 like you. I also have a Diet Coke and lots of sugar-free gum. I go to bed hungry, but like you, do not wake up hungry. I do not worry too much about what I eat on the other days, but most days I do not overeat. You could be right about the shrinking stomach. I haven’t been exercising because I broke my foot a few months ago and it still gets sore if I overdo things, I plan to start regular walks again soon. I lose about half a kilo a week, which is fine for me. I also plan to keep fasting once a week for maintenance when I reach my goal. I cannot thank you enough for bringing this diet to my attention!

    • Was so excited to post, I forgot to leave my tips! Here they are:
      Don’t fast if you wake up with a cold or otherwise feel unwell, you won’t be able to stick to it (unless you have a tummy bug!).
      Don’t fast if you are meeting friends or going out socially.
      Best fast days are when you are staying home and have control over your environment or when you are working and have a structure to the day.
      I need 2 days of eating in between fast days, I find it too hard if I only leave 1 day.
      If you miscalculate calories, don’t stress out. You will do better with more practice.
      Don’t be too rigid with the days you plan to fast. You can reschedule if something comes up (eg a lunch invitation).

      • This is all TOP advice and exactly my experience. You can’t fast and be social. It’s a Do It or Don’t Do It thing. I had a friend the other week who’s supposed to be doing it and we all met for drinks and she was saying ‘I was meant to be fasting today…’ and I just couldn’t understand why she would set herself up to fail like that.

        Also agree about the two days between – but not if it means fasting on a Friday!

    • Sounds like we are on exactly the same page…. very interesting to know you don’t feel ravenous the next morning either. I think mother nature has this whole thing sorted. If our cave man ancestors had woken up crazy hungry they wouldn’t have been able to think straight enough to plan the days’s hunting and gathering. 5 kilos is what I need to lose now. It’s always 5 kilos, isn’t it?

  4. Ohh Maggie I’m hopeless. I bought the book and the green tea, the low fat noodles and then lost all drive and willpower ! I will set myself a goal again, but I wish it wasn’t winter here in Oz, all those lovely puddings.
    Good to hear your progress, you have inspired me!

    • Green tea would be enough to put me off anything. It’s REVOLTING.

      Just try this: one day. On a day when you have nothing going on, just don’t eat anything all morning. Have black coffee. If you’re ravenous have a Diet Coke, have an apple. Chew sugar free gum all afternoon. Drink the tea you really like. Then as soon as you get home that night, have a couple of boiled eggs and a pile of your favourite veg (I had a big bowl of asparagus last night). If you’re still hungry have a banana. Do that for ONE DAY, knowing that in the morning you can eat whatever you like. Pavlova for brekkie if you want it. You can do that. Just try it and see – and then let us all know!

  5. So glad you’ve updated your “fasting story”…I was beginning to think you had maybe given it a miss!!
    I have to say it was you, along with the excellent doco from Michael Mosely, that has set me on this same path. Now into my 3rd week and have dropped nearly 2 kgs….and I’m finding it fairly straightforward….no breakfasts on fast days, some delicious chicken, veg broth for lunch and then something from the recipe book Mimi Spencer has written. I make the same for my husband but he gets to have potatoes with his!!! I’m not doing enough exercise, but figure that will happen when I get to it!!!
    Like you, I think this is a “strategy” that I can continue for all my days once I reach a happy goal weight….with this programme I actually feel very in control for the first time, with food not controlling me!!! I’m letting others know about it too, I feel the long term health benefits from this, far “outweigh” the short term denials!!!
    Good luck with it all…..and just quietly, love your work, and always enjoy reading your insightful and interesting blog ( and like so many of us, miss you in the “Good Weekend”!!!) Thanks Maggie.

    • This makes me so happy. There are so many of us now really benefitting from this new regime. Like you, I love the feeling that I am in control of food. I’ve held back from saying it as it sounds like an eating disorder mind set, but I don’t mean it that way. I just used to feel powerless not to eat loads of the carbs I so adore. With this system, if I’m eating NOTHING it’s just as easy not to eat carbs as anything else. It’s also trained me not to just pick up that sausage my daughter has left on her plate, which I used to do without even thinking. I wonder how many calories I was consuming a day grazing leftovers and bits and pieces here and there when cooking.

      Keep going and in a few weeks we’ll all have another on line ‘weigh in’. Hopefully, I’ll be wearing my favourite pants when we do it. x

  6. I don’t know but when you need inspiration you could look at and admire whatsisnames’s physique! He has been writing and working on intermittent fasting for quite a few years. Interestingly, he’s a bit dismissive of MIchael Mosely but can’t recall why off the top of my head.

    But well done and good to keep sticking to it. I am trying to add in one day a week at the moment, more in the mould. You are certainly credited with inspiring me!

  7. I’ve been on the diet for 10 weeks and really love it. It WORKS. Have lost 4 kilos, more than 3% of my body fat and a couple of waist inches. It is a ‘lifer’. My tips – first day = worst day. It gets easier and easier from then on. The vegetarian chilli is VERY satisfying as the evening meal – the legumes keep you full. Stay busy on a fast day and drink black coffee around 11 – the worst hunger patch of the day. Get past that and it’s easy to stay the course. Work through lunch and reward yourself by going home earlier. White or green tea are also good (and healthy). Have one tiny reward at the end of the day – mine is a mug of tea with skim milk. Whenever you feel hungry, just drink water. It trains your body to survive without food. Your body does learn – I find I look forward to the fast days now. But that’s from sustained effort at it. Interval training on non-fast days will shift more weight but you will feel hungrier on fast days. I wish you luck.

    • This is all brilliant advice. I think I need to lose the Diet Coke. It’s just not a good thing. But I would struggle without the chewie… I find the afternoon is a long stretch and the gum gets me through it. Those are my next goals, to get rid of those props. Water is a much better solution (but I’m in the loo so often, it’s embarrassing, I always think the bloke who has the office next to mine must think I’ve got a problem!)

  8. Hi Maggie,
    I’ve only been doing it for 5 weeks and find it a slow weight loss – but feel much better for doing it.
    I’ve recently bought the cookbook written by Mimi and am amazed by the range of delicious recipes. I think I spend more care preparing my meals on fast days . It almost makes them enjoyable.

    • Hmmm, I must give the book another look. I’ve just found it less hassle to keep it super simple.

      • I agree, keep it super simple on fast days. I allow lite milk allowance for cups of tea through the day and nothing til the evening. One day I really needed something and I used the Leek Soup from French Women Don’t Get Fat – chop one or two leeks, boil gently in water (plenty) for 20 minutes. Then I just blitz the whole thing with a little sea salt and black pepper. Nice and tasty and with texture and it makes about three hot mugs full. Filling and so few calories. French woman does it 48 hours/weekend every few months or so to get flat stomach for an event!!!

      • Hmmm, maybe I should be measuring my milk… but I’ve been thinking having that 200 calories ‘spare’ covers it. Better check. That soup is a brilliant idea, especially in colder weather, because I find miso just too salty. Those French women take no prisoners, do they? I remember seeing two very chic women in Brasserie Lipp. They each had an espresso and smoked (it was when you could still smoke inside). They had ONE chocolate éclair and they cut it up into 4 pieces and ate 2 each, very slowly… Me and my friends would have been stuffing in one each with gusto! You could make a big batch of that soup and freeze it in portion sizes.

  9. Love reading your blog! I’m a fan from way back when you started writing for The Good Weekend. I’ve also read ALL of your books!

    This year, June is juicing month for me. I’m committed to making a fresh juice everyday for breakfast for the month of June. I get my juicing recipes from ‘The Ultimate Detox’ by Sandra Cabot. I also experiment with my own ingredients. My husband has jumped aboard too and purchased a 5kg bag of carrots! The juices are yum and so healthy – it’s almost the same feeling as a chocolate hit.

    My motivation is that my current pair of ‘fat’ jeans are wearing out fast and I refuse to buy another pair. I’m determined to get back into my smaller jeans by the end of the month.

    I couldn’t do the fast diet. I’d be too hungry the next day and overeat!
    I look forward to hearing about your diet success in mid August.

    All the best,

    • Val, you’re a grown up, so I can’t tell you what to do, but the reason the juices taste like a bar of chocolate is that they have almost as much sugar…! just a different kind. How do you know you ‘can’t’ do the fast diet if you haven’t tried it? and the whole point is it doesn’t matter what you eat the next day.

      That juice diet is a disaster for your blood sugar.

      Anyway, you know what works for you, but do have a look at the original TV show which inspired the diet The science is riveting.

      And thank you so so much for your other lovely comments about Good Weekend and my books. I can’t tell you what it means to me as it was a punishing blow to lose that column. I still miss writing it.


      • Wow! What an eye opener! So you don’t actually starve yourself for 2 days a week, just cut back on calories (I prefer to count in kilojoules). I’m going to give this a go. I want my brain and insides to be healthy too!

        My juices are raw veggies – cucumber, celery, carrots, radishes, garlic etc, thus the sugar content is low. My daily juice substitutes breakfast only. I still have lunch and dinner as per normal, just omitting all the crap in between meals (chips, chocolate, biscuits, lollies).

        After 5 days of doing this, my skin, especially my face, looks better and my ‘fat’ jeans are a little loose.

        I’ll start weight training soon to tone up the flabby bits – I find this helps enormously and I do this in the comfort of my own home.

        The only problem I think I’ll have is sticking to this regime. I’m concerned that once I’ve reached my goal, I’ll go back to bad, old habits. This is the biggest hurdle for me. Any suggestions?

        Thanks so much for sharing the video – a much needed warning bell.


      • Val.
        I have replaced my breakfat with smoothies for many years now,
        Currently I use kale, cucumber,apple, ginger, tumeric in coconut water with some wonderful cocconut protein powder.Its delilcious and keeps me satisfied till lunchtime.
        In fastdays it really does sustain me (with a grumbling tummy) to my evening protein and vegie meal.
        I live in a semi tropical climate so juice is easy. Might be a bit of a struggle on a cold frosty morning!
        Kate Bx

      • Sounds delicious, do you have any idea how many calories are there in one of those? I LOVE coconut water.

      • I’m sure it’s good for your system to have a rest from processing all the bulk and crap we normally cram into it – whichever method you use. What is 500 calories in kilojoules? I have no idea. What the book recommends is that you fast (ie restrict calories to 500, or 300 in my case) one day a week for the rest of your life. That way the weight stays off and you get all the additional health benefits. I have a friend who’s been doing this since she lost the weight (she started the day after seeing that docco, last year) and she hasn’t put any weight back on. It makes me feel so good, I’m definitely going to do that.

    • Maggie on non fasting days I add loads of green vegtables to the coconut water with some amazing coconut protein powder and that comes in at about 170 to 200 calories. On fast days I use half water/coconut water a teaspoon of vital greens and a bit of protein powder. This comes in at 70 calories but believe it or not it really does ‘hold’ me to my evening salmon/chicken/steak with vegtables. My yoga teacher gets all very zen and says I am giving my body what it needs for the day in a glass. I think she is sort of right. Anyhoo it works for me!

  10. I’ve started a version of this diet: 2 very low calorie days per week, but not as low as 300 calories. I want to lose about 3kg, although I’m more concerned to reduce my body fat percentage to 20%. I’m muscular and I workout regularly and I’d like to see more muscle definition. Having 2 calorie-restricted days a week seems an effective way of permanently reducing my weekly calorie aggregate at a level that will keep me in the low end of my healthy weight range. I haven’t found it difficult to do as I wasn’t a snacker anyway and often go for 7 hours without eating between lunch and dinner (lunch at 1.00, dinner at 9.30). What I’ve found interesting is that it’s changing my view on what I need to feel comfortable or rewarded – particularly in regard to my dietary betes-noir: bread and chardie. I’m finding it energising so far, but I’m only a couple of weeks into it. But I agree, this is better than going on a ‘diet’ and it’s a healthy regimen for – ahem – maturing bodies.

    • As I say, I aim for 300 and usually come in a bit higher. It just gives me wriggle room. If you read the science, you won’t get the magic effect of the fasting unless you are down to 500 calories, so you may want to watch Dr Mosley’s original TV show.

  11. My weight loss has been slowish, I’ve had school holidays break my momentum a bit, but still finding the scale is going in the right direction. So not too fussed even if it takes till Christmas to reach a happy weight, because I feel better being on it. I like not having to think about food two days a week and enjoy that flat tummy feeling. I feel sharper at work, probably because I don’t have the distraction of food around me. I agree Friday is way too hard, as is Monday for me (Tuesday and Thursday are my fast days). I do get a bit smug on weekends though, and I’m sure my brain tells me that I’m allowed to have an extra chocolate bar/piece of cake/glass of wine as a reward for being good on my fast days.

    • My brain definitely tells me – GO OOOOON, you’ve earned it – but as I’m still losing weight, I just go with it. I share all your other thoughts 100%. It’s made me feel in control of my weight. I know this works, so I don’t have to panic any more and go on a crazy diet I can’t possibly stick to, which just leads to failure, then binging…

  12. This is the best diet I have ever done! Thank you o much for publicising it. I’m fitting into all my clothes and am at a weight not seen in 13 years. I can’t manage not eating all day like you can, so I have a shake for breakfast, soup or yogurt for lunch and a light meal for dinner. Black coffee is fine but I too have to have milk in tea, though I don’t mind a reduced fat variety. This all means that I may creep over the 500 calories BUT I go to the gym or ride my bike almost every day. The latter, in particular, burns heaps of calories.

  13. Ditto to Diana – best diet ever. Fast days are hard but amazing knowing you can eat agaif at home, or a full fat small flat white if out. Then wait till dinner (trying hard to ignore all the kids snacks and meal leftovers!) and so far have followed a few recipes in the Michael Mosley book. 2 kgs down after 4 weeks, but I’m not in it for the weight loss – I want to live longer. On fast days when I’m feeling hungry, I think of the years I’m adding to my life. And after that lofty statement, I feel I should tell you I may or may not have eaten some cookie dough and a packet of BBQ Shapes after my first fast day. But I’m getting better at it…

    • I’ve definitely eaten more ‘bad’ foods on my non fast days, but as I’m still losing weight I’m not beating myself up about it. And I think I’m settling down with that as I get further into doing it. I don’t do the recipes as it just puts me too much in the food zone. I find it easier to keep it super simple – just a chicken breast, some baked fish, or eggs – and then I cook up a storm the other 5 days.

  14. Sorry, something went wrong above, meant to say it is made much easier by knowing you can eat again tomorrow, and that I have a boiled egg at about 11 am if at home etc…

  15. A few things I’ve learned:

    Delay eating on a fast day for as long as possible. As soon as I eat, the hunger switch is turned on and I’m starving for the rest of the day. But if I can delay eating until mid-afternoon (non-negotiable morning skim latte excepted), everything seems so much easier.

    A glass of light cranberry juice in a tall glass with loads of ice and a straw or two make a pretty alcoholic drink substitute, for 20 calories.

    Don’t waste any calories on pasta, rice, bread, rice cakes etc on a fast day. 100g of protein and a massive amount of vegies will fill you up so much better and for longer.

    The Libra app keeps me focused when I don’t seem to be losing weight. It tracks the trend, and as long as it’s trending down – however slightly – I’m happy.

    Also, the forum is great for inspiration and encouragement. It helps me to see that what I’m experiencing is also normal for some others. (Not Michael and Mimi’s forum, which only opened last week, but the other one with around 8,000 members.)

    • Tara, which forum is that? Can you post a link to it?

      • Sure, if Maggie will let me, but I thought it might not be good manners 🙂 If you google ” 5 2 forum ” it’s the top result

      • Thanks for that, I will post it. This diet is changing the world and we all need as much support as possible x

    • Agree with everything you say. When I started I was splitting my calories into pathetic little amounts 3 times a day until a friend who has lost loads on it gave me the tip not to eat anything in the day. If I’m desperate I’ll have a pear, or a boiled egg, but mostly have nothing and then save all my calories for a filling dinner. It doesn’t seem like much when I look at it, but then I find I am full…

      Can you let me have the link to that forum please? x

    • Mind you, I would say never ever weigh yourself more than once a week…

  16. I just wanted to share an observation with you all. I have been dieting and exercising and lost 17kg (at 1kg a week) and am considering a fast day as maintenance. While I was dieting and weighing myself obsessively I noticed that on days I drank diet soft drink I lost NO weight! I’m not sure how that works, but it may be worth experimenting and seeing what effect it has for you. Soldier on 😉

  17. Hi Maggie, my husband & I started the fast diet on 14 Jan this year after seeing Michael Mosley’s Horizon programme via your post. I bought the book online for my iPhone (handy, as you always have it with you!) We are so happy with the results. I have lost a steady 8 kilos, which has come off nicely all over, 7cm off waist, 3cm off hips, 5cm off bust, and a drop in BMI from 27.44 to 25.18. Theoretically this equates going from overweight range to healthy range. I have yet to have comparative blood tests but will let you know when I do. We only do one day a week as we find this manageable, & will do it for life.Hunger now is a completely different feeling for me. I used to be a bit scared of it & think it was not a good state. But I now know that, as Michael says, hunger doesn’t build. It rises & falls. I suppose its all about habits & control.
    I have been an avid reader of yours for many years Maggie & was so sad the columns in SMH GW ceased. (I even used to cut out the particularly good ones & keep them for reference) so I was thrilled to have you back posting regularly. You have brought the Fast Diet to my attention & my life & health have changed as a result. Wow!! What a huge positive impact you can have on someone’s life. That is truly awesome. Thank you Maggie. Cheers Carmel (in country NSW)

    • Yay, Carmel. Thanks so so much for all of this. It’s beyond FANTASTIC to know that the diet is working so well for you and your husband – and thrilling to know I had in helping that happen. Thanks also for your kind words about Good Weekend. It was a huge blow when they dropped the column and it took me a while to recover from it. Comments like yours really help xxx

  18. Bikram hot fast yoga?
    Works for friends of mine – they swear by it/melts kilos!
    (personally I’d rather cheese grate my face as I really don’t like the hot and sweaty indoors thing – I am a water/surf person).
    Good on you for your tenacity Maggie. BX

  19. Maggie, I’m experiencing the same amount of weight loss as you but I’m happy with a pound a week (roughly half a kilo isn’t it?). I seemed to have stalled at 3kg loss (after two months on 5:2) but still feel better for it. Keep at it and thanks for the tips especially the chewing gum! Miso soup is my saviour. And I agree, it’s the only diet that has ever really worked so it’s a lifetime committment for me too…

  20. I’ve been doing 5:2 for about four/five weeks now. I love it. Overall I have not actually lost much weight (maybe none? Maybe about 2 kilos if I weigh myself after a fast day, naked, and after a wee) however, immediately prior to starting 5:2 I did 12 weeks of Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation and lost ten kilos, so I’m willing to take 5:2 as maintenance and/or a verrry slow weight loss. But the best part truly is just eating as I want nearly all the time and not gaining any weight. I am one of those very unlucky souls who will be constantly gaining weight if I eat as my appetite dictates. In order to not gain weight I have to be actively eating less and “better” than I really want to. I don’t mean that I want to eat cake and hamburgers all the time: I don’t want cheap fast food or soft drink (a takeaway curry every 1-2 weeks). I drink much less alcohol than I did when I was younger. I don’t buy chips or lollies or giant sweet muffins. I just mean that a normal diet of family meals (chicken, fish, veg, pasta, rice etc) will have me gaining constantly. This way, I eat normally with my family nearly every night, have a few treats, and feel healthy and slim. I have met my two fast days around 450 cals every week found it easy. I find it easier to not cook at all on fast days, and rely on whole foods that come in a definite quantity. Here’s a fast day menu for me:
    Breakfast: skim milk flat white (100 cals) OR 1 boiled egg plus brewed coffee with a splash of milk (104 cals)
    Morning: 1 banana (95 cals)
    Lunch: 1 of these OMG amazing soups I have discovered – Hansell’s All Natural. They have a hot and sour soup that is delicious and is 40 cals.
    Afternoon: 1 apple (50 cals)
    Dinner: Boiled egg plus tea with milk (104 cals)
    Dessert: 1 banana (95 clals)

    Interspersed with black coffee (sometimes with Sweet n Low, a deliciously terrifying poison) and diet coke, I am not unhappy at all, knowing tomorrow will come.

    I do think I could do this forever. Every other diet I have done, I have known within days (or hours!) that it was not a long term solution. I just can’t make myself diet every single day. This is perfect. Good luck!

    PS: An addendum to this epic. I miss you in the SMH. You were great. I still think about things you wrote years ago.

    • We are metabolic twins… I’m exactly like you on all counts. Normal family eating – I gain weight and I’m not superhuman enough not to have the pasta, or baked potatoes… Like you I just have simple bits of protein on my fast days. Anything more complicated and I accidentally go over and then the magic stops.

      I brought my calorie count down to 300, partly to allow wriggle room, but also because my metabolism is shot by being on a diet since I was 14 and being short doesn’t help either. Also old. So you may find if you eat a little less on fast days you might start losing.

      • Michael Mosley (on ABC radio 702 talking to Richard Glover who is also 5:2 ing) mentioned a lady doctor doing research into breast cancer in Manchester Uni or Hospital. She recommended two days per week (5:2) of eating VEGETABLES ONLY which made a difference in likelihood of developing breast cancer in her studies. Thus NO PROTEIN on Fasting days. So I keep my fast day calories to a vegetabley/soup dinner only, always bearing in mind that resting from protein is a good thing (also mentioned in Mosley’s Horizon programme).

      • I try and always have meat free days in the week. My husband is Serbian and although they are a big meat eating country he said there was always a couple of days each week when his mum would make all vegetable (and rice/bread) dinners. I’ve never seen women with better figures than Serbia, so I thought that was pretty interesting.

    • Me too re SMH – hasn’t been the same since Maggie left (and now sacre blue! its no longer broadsheet! hard to tell it apart from the Daily Telegraph I’m afraid) B
      PS That’s a lot of black coffee! (I don’t know if I would ever get to sleep at night)

  21. Good on you for hanging in there,Maggie.

    My friend The Paddington Foodie up in (you guessed it) Sydney has been doing the 5/2 diet for a while and has some great tips and recipes. At the moment reading her recipes and suggestions is more passive enjoyment for me (as is the rest of her delicious blog); but now, having just about conquered my 3 week foul bug and the effects of the operation etc I had before that, I am ready to rock.

    I always seem to have an excuse as to why I continue to do silly things food and exercise wise: I should just be brutal and take a photo of myself in Biggest Loser style garb and maybe then I will accelerate things…

  22. I’m so glad to hear you’re still on it maggie! I’m on holiday so it’s my second week off since January. Before we went away, I’d lost 8kg- slow but steady, with a definite slow time once a month. That is the hardest time to stick to it!
    Like you, my best weeks are when I have fasting days two days apart on busy but not social days. I wait until about 2 to eat a 100 calorie lunch and then have a fasting version of the family dinner, which makes it easier. i aim for 400 calories which gives me some wiggle room for an accident.
    Friday can work- as long as you arrange to go to the movies with some non drinking friends!
    And my key ingredient for success is slim pasta. I know you hate it but I crave something stodgy to fill my stomach and that fits the bill and has only 20 calories in a pack. It is gross though- needs lots of flavour to make it work!
    Looking forward to getting back into next week- it’s nice to have some time off but I like the control it gives me. Look forward to your post in August (or maybe even July??) about fitting those old pants.

    • Do you mean those odd noodles made of foul smelling gel? They have their place! If family have pasta I have those and it makes it bearable, but I do think it’s better just to have simple blob of protein – baked fish, chicken breast, eggs – than anything more complicated.

      • I agree-only for desperate times at dinner! I have mine at lunch with chicken stock, soy sauce and chilli powder- very satisfying on a winter day ( it’s much harder to do it in winter- have you noticed it’s easier now its summer in England?)

      • “summer” – yes much much easier, which is part of the reason I’m determined not to have another break so I’m at my goal before the end of the – relatively – warm weather.

  23. Maggie-thanks so much for putting me onto this diet/lifestyle.I have only been doing it a few weeks but losing about half a kilo a week. It is surprisingly do-able. I have even managed 2 fast days at work when we had gourmet afternoon teas and I didn’t eat a thing! I find a good breakfast works best – I like porridge with no fat milk plus raspberries (winter in Melb) And then nothing much all day -water,black tea with some stevia and I love your sugar free gum trick, it really helps, thanks. I tried having a late brunch but I felt even hungrier at 4 o’clock. Dinner is often chicken and veg. i think chicken fills me up the most.I love the book by Angela Dowden “the 5:2 Cookbook”, lots of great recipes and snacks and treats. I am even thinking in calories (not kj) again.

    • So great to hear it’s working for you too. It’s slow, but they say if you lose slowly you are more likely to keep it off, as it’s not just water, so I’m in for the long haul… x

  24. It is possible to lose it and keep it off without depriving yourself and feeling like you need food substitutes to get you through the day.
    Having said that, I wish you good health and success. I’d like to be wrong about this diet, for your sake.

    • Thank you for your generous thought. Different things work for different people. I have a friend who lost a lot on Dukan and has kept it off for well over year – it’s never going on again. That didn’t work for me, but I think this one will x

  25. Hi Maggie,
    Thanks for the update.
    I love how eating in this way makes me feel. I no longer see it as a weight loss solution but now see it as a lifestyle choice.
    Like you I feel energised in the morning after a fast day and really eat lightly until dinner on my ‘up’ day’. I do however have a piece of gluten free toast smothered in butter with Vegimite to break the ‘fast’ and believe me it is ambrosia.
    I never weight myself but stupidly did the other day I and was mortified to see my weight was only a bit down BUT my clothes are much loser and people are asking me if I have lost weight.
    Oh well.
    kate Bx

    • I weigh myself every Monday morning. It’s been a ritual for years, although I do agree that the belt buckle is a much better test really. I’m belting mine 2 holes in !

  26. Hi Maggie,
    Thanks for the great tip on the slim pasta. I am not doing the fasting as I am training for endurance sport, but its very comforting to be able to have a ‘hot lunch’ ( slim pasta with vegies and a smidge satay sauce + maybe a can of tuna being a fav) in winter instead of a salad. Yes, its always 5kgs isn’t it. So near, yet so far. I think I am the opposite to most comments in that I’d rather run a marathon then have to miss out on cake, and i hate being too hungry to train hard.

    • Oh my reading about a tin of tuna was not a good idea at 11am on a fast day! Will have to run for my black coffee… A friend who has lost a lot of weight said the first 10 kilos hardly made any difference, but by the time she was 5 kilos from her goal, every extra gram she lost made a huge difference. One kilo lost and she was down another dress size. So that 5 really is the clincher… I’m going to make it this time!

  27. oh and I meant to say, if you are worried about a gradual ‘ sneak up’ in calories on non fasting days ( or just to prove to yourself that you are eating less) maybe try the myfitnesspal app to track your food. I find it useful as you can scan barcodes from your phone and you can program in meals that you eat a lot.

  28. I’ve just started the diet and I’m loving all the tips. It’s good to have a go-to list of snacky foods that are low cal. I’ve just made a beginners error by eating 2 measly little medjool dates – and blown 120 calories – dammit – there goes my boiled egg for dinner.

    • So easily done – that’s why I find it easier to eat NOTHING until dinner, or only an apple or pear if desperate. I also write down every single calorie I consume. It’s made me realise that all those little bits of bacon etc I normally stuff in are really not a good idea… Let me know how you get on.

      • Gosh Maggie aren’t you lovely replying to every one of these messages! Sound advice and back to square one for me but I agree with you – this really does feel like the diet we’ve been looking for (especially those of us with a short attention span, like me!). Thanks again.

      • I love the comments – it’s the best bit of blogging, as being a writer is a very solitary occupation. I am now back into my favourite summer dress, so very very happy with the fasting…

  29. Hi Maggie,
    I first heard of the fast diet through your column/blog and decided to start it at Easter 2013 as I liked the idea of resting and repairing the body’s cells by an intermittent fast. I’ve found that approaching the fast days as ‘rest’ days (from eating) rather than ‘going without’ it is easier to maintain the fast. So I hope that helps.
    Ps – I’ve lost about 5kg – most important have reduced waist circ. and improved metabolism.

  30. i cant follow your tips right now.ive travelled from paris across to venice, 2 days im cruising the meditteranean for 12 days.i will think about it then!

  31. Thank-you so much for posting the vimeo link, Maggie. Dr Mosley’s program was so interesting – I want to do the 5:2 fast not just for my waist line, but for my long term health. I have a fear of losing my mind as I age. And this feels like something I can actually DO!

    • You can! If I can… anyone can. It’s the old AA maxim of One Day at a Time. It’s easy knowing tomorrow you can have cake for brekkie, if you want to (and you oddly don’t).

  32. Just wanted to share an observation- ever since I’ve been doing the fast diet I’ve managed to avoid succumbing to a cold, even when surrounded by coughing and sniffling kids and colleagues. I’ve woken up a few times with the beginnings of a cold – it’s usually on a fast day and by the end of the day I feel 100 per cent again. Not sure if its scientific or psychosomatic, but my theory is that because my body doesn’t have to deal with food digestion, it’s able to focus on fighting the cold. Anyone else experience something similar? An added bonus to keep at it this winter!

    • I think you could be on to something there, Pippa. I have woken up with a sore throat and headache, but I have been back to normal the next day. This is a big thing for me, as I am asthmatic and a cold usually goes straight to my chest, but I have avoided that so far. Gerardine

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