The Fast Diet – a one-month update

Fast day breakfast

Fast day breakfast

Four weeks ago, I wrote a post about dealing with overwhelm and the need to get clear on my priorities in life. One of the things I talked about was embarking on Dr Michael Mosley’s Fast Diet, also known as the 5:2 diet. I’ve been on it for 4 weeks now and in this post I detail how it’s been for me.

First of all, I don’t really like to refer to this as a diet, not only because I think short-term dieting isn’t helpful but because my plan is to adopt this way of eating indefinitely, so instead I tend to refer to it as my eating strategy of intermittent fasting (not as catchy but hey!).

What is intermittent fasting?

Essentially the Fast diet as detailed in the documentary I’ve linked to below and the book The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting is a system of eating whereby you eat normally for five days a week and you “fast” for two. It’s called fasting but it’s not what you might think, on fast days, women are permitted to eat up to 500 calories and men, 600.

The benefits of intermittent fasting are plenty, top of the list for most people is weight loss but there are also a host of health benefits to be had from fasting, including: improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, insulin sensitivity as well as the reduction of your chances of developing many cancers. But I am no expert so I recommend watching the documentary as a good way to get your head around the science of it.

What made me do this?

Months ago, when I was still living in Chiang Mai, my friend and running partner told me about the documentary ‘Eat, fast and live longer’ and encouraged me to watch it. I did watch it, felt inspired, vowed to start and then promptly forgot about it.


Eat, Fast & Live Longer HD by limoslight

However, since I’ve been living on Koh Phangan, which started with an 11-day detox, my health has become more of a priority. Doing the detox, made me realise that my relationship with food isn’t especially healthy. I love food but I know that I often eat more than I should and I don’t always make the healthiest choices. I’m not mindful with my food, often shovelling it down my throat without chewing properly and whilst doing something else. Seven days without solid food changed something in me. I have, since my first detox in March completed a second 7-day detox and as of this week, I’ve completed four weeks of intermittent fasting.

Fast day dinner

Fast day dinner

How I did it

I decided to make my weekly fast days, Monday and Thursday. This, I figured, gave me the weekend off plus as I always feel more resolved to be “good” on a Monday, it made perfect sense to me.

In terms of the 500 calories, the book states that you can consume them whenever you want throughout the day, with some people opting to spread their calories throughout the day, others using them all in one meal and others, including myself, opting to split the calories into two meals with a significant break in the middle. In the main, I opted for a light breakfast of porridge (made with water) and a sliced kiwi fruit for breakfast at around 7am and a salad or stir fry for dinner at 7pm. This gave my body nearly two 12-hour fast periods over a 24-hour period, twice a week.

I love a good spreadsheet, so my first port of call with this endeavor was to create one. It contains, details of my weekly measurements: weight, thigh, waist and bust as well as my daily food intake and calories consumed.

Spreadsheet to track progress

Spreadsheet to track progress

Finding the calorific value of foods can be a bit hit and miss. I usually simply google it and if there seems to be a range of different answers for the same piece of food, I take the average.

The numbers 

Day 1 Day 28 Difference
Weight (kg) 57.8 56.8 - 1kg
Waist (inches) 32 31 - 1 inch
Thigh (inches) 23 22.5 - 0.5 inch
Bust (inches) 34 34 0

 

The metrics after four weeks aren’t particularly impressive. I’ve lost only one kilogram in weight and my measurements have only changed marginally, but despite the low numbers, I feel great. I actually love my fast days and I’ve noticed changes in my body and my attitude towards food that I simply can’t put a number on. Several people have commented on my apparent weight loss and despite what the scales say I feel and look slimmer and healthier. Most importantly for me however, is the fact that I feel differently about food, I’m less hungry on my non-fast days and I feel less anxious about when I can next eat. Not only that but I’m making healthier choices about what I do eat when it comes to meal times.

In conclusion

I love this way of eating.  It has been a lot easier than I anticipated and whilst hunger is definitely a feature on fast days, as the weeks have gone by I’ve found it easier and easier to deal with. I know that giving my digestive system a break from regular consumption is good for it and I’ve definitely felt the benefits. I have no intention of giving this up any time soon and I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

If you are interested in knowing more about my experience of intermittent fasting, including my meal plans and tips for success or if you want a copy of the spreadsheet I use, then feel free to drop me a line at caroline@lifeislimitless.com 

Comments

  1. P says

    Sounds good to me Hun, please send me your spreadsheet, you still a little OCD on detailing?? Hope everything going well for you x. X

    • Caroline Leon says

      Hey P! I’ll send it you today, I’ll leave my details in so you can see what meals I prepared and yes I am still OCD on detailing, how could you tell!? ;) Sending love xx

    • Caroline Leon says

      Hey Maria, I would love to share more details with you and maybe catch up at the same time – it’s been a while, I hope all is well with you! :)

  2. says

    I’ll have to watch the documentary to understand the benefits and then maybe I’d have the motivation. I’m often thinking about what we’re going to eat for lunch while we’re still eating breakfast. But that isn’t the kind of mindfulness that leads to good health :) I find it so difficult when we’re eating out all the time but we just bought a knife and a peeler so we can easily have fresh veggies for snacks.
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    • Caroline Leon says

      Hey Ashlie, do watch the documentary it’s fascinating! Yes eating well on the road is tricky, now that I’ve had a kitchen for the past 6 months, not sure I could live without one, but what a great idea to get a knife and peeler! Hope you’re enjoying India! :)

    • Caroline Leon says

      Yes it can seem extreme but once you understand the benefits, it’s hard to go back to “normal” eating! Thanks for your comment.

  3. says

    A up Barbara, I tried this bad boy for a couple of weeks, felt great afterwards, I’ve got no idea why I stopped. Going to try it for the rest of the year from Monday. I’m doing a 10k assault course tomorrow so thought I would wait till after that if I survive.

    Hope its going tickerty boo on your travels.

    • Caroline Leon says

      A up Sandra, so good to hear from you!! Yeah I love the Fast Diet, made me feel great too! I hope your assault course went well – sounds like something I would love!! :)

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