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Intermittent Fasting, (the every other day diet) the facts, is it for you?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

I posted about this subject on a team thread, and judging by the response, thereís a lot of misinformation around, about exactly what fasting is, and isnít.

I started fasting on 17th March 2013, after reading a book about the 5:2 fast diet, and how fasting can considerably cut oneís cancer risk, and I am already a breast cancer survivor, of a type of tumour that is aggressive and prone to reoccur.

It cuts this risk by cutting down the rate that cells divide, which cuts down the rate that mutations occur, (they repair and recycle instead), by reducing a measurable blood marker IGF-1, (Insulin-like Growth Factor) which encourages cancerous cells to divide, and by reducing glucose levels in the blood, glucose is the cancer cells prime fuel source.

The research on this program has been ongoing for over 16 years. The evidence is very difficult to refute, and is well published in scientific journals, by Dr Krista Varaday, who deserves all the credit for it.

It is not a starvation diet! On the 5:2, you can eat normally on 5 days out of 7, but I soon discovered that I could overeat on those 5 days, to a far greater extent than the 500 calories eaten on the other two allowed for.

I then decided to try Dr Varadayís own recommendation, which was 500 calories, in the form of a 400 calorie meal, and a 100 calorie snack, every other day, and eating as much as I liked, of whatever I liked, on the others. Since starting in March I have gone from 179lbs to 151lbs, a loss of 28lbs.

Iím not too precious about it, I Ďtook offí my three week holiday in the USA last September, also Christmas and New Year, and if a fasting day falls awkwardly, or I have a horrible day that needs a beer and a takeaway, or am unexpectedly asked out, I simply move the whole thing on a day. You NEVER fast two days running.

Also during this time, I have never felt weak, wobbly or faint due to fasting. I don't suffer headaches, or even much hunger. In fact I routinely do 2 hours of karate on 2 evenings a week, (Monday and Wednesday, so if I fast on one, I fast on both,) and regularly burn 6,000+ calories during a week according to my spark tracker. Which is public, so you can check! On the contrary, I have this enormous surge of energy on fasting days, so much so, that sometimes I have trouble getting to sleep.

Now whether or not you feel that this program is for you, and I am the first to say that it doesnít suit everyone, (one size doesnít fit all remember), there is also a growing body of evidence to suggest that people who cut their calorie level daily by several 100 calories a day, permanently reduce their BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate). Thatís permanently!!! Which explains why itís so difficult to maintain weight loss, as successful dieters need several hundred calories a day less to maintain, than those who are at that weight naturally. Also why, if you Ďfall off the wagoní, you regain hand over fist, much, much faster than you were losing it.

(Done that, been there, got the tee-shirt in every conceivable size, design and colour)

So may I humbly suggest, that you try calorie cycling? E.g. if the middle of your allotted range is 1,500 calories, then one day at 1,500, one at 1,000, one at 1,500, one at 2,000. The calorie intake over a week/month/year is precisely the same, but the effect on your metabolism isnít. It basically keeps it Ďon itís toes.í

If on the other hand you would like to try it, but donít see how you can achieve it, or are nervous of trying, and letís be honest, nobody LIKES being hungry, (even Iím not that odd), then try this gradual alternative.

On alternate days, aim to eat no more than 1,000 or maybe 1,200 calories, (up to you where you set the bar, this is YOUR program), but on the others eat as much as you like, of whatever you like. It has also been proved that fasting is easier and more weight is lost on a high fat diet than a low fat one, contrary to perceived wisdom!

Now, I can see you all recoiling in horror! ĎIíll gain weight,í you all wail! Bear with me though and read through to the end. Yes you might, probably will even, during the first few weeks, but this is long term remember, for life in fact, not just till the next weigh in.

As former dieters, we actually need to practice eating like this, because weíre so unused to it, and feel such guilt even thinking of it. It is necessary however to practice NOT cutting our calories since when you eat only 500 calories on alternate days, you need to eat well on the others, and anyway, you will do it like this for only one week, possibly a couple if you feel more comfortable taking more time.

The next week you cut down by 100 calories a day, on your proto-fasting days, while still eating properly on your non fasting days. Also you are going to eat your calories on fasting days, in three meals or two meals and one snack, because snacking is not fasting! On non fasting days you can snack as much as you like.

Continue cutting down by 100 calories each week on your fasting days, until you reach 500 for ladies, or 600 for men. When youíre on 800 calories per fasting day, cut it down to two meals a day, or one meal and one snack, which is what youíll be doing on 500 calories per fast day. At that point (about 800 calories) you should start to see the pounds come off too.

Iíve been doing this for 10+ months now, so it's not a fad diet, and I intend to continue for life. Itís nice to have to intentionally eat enough on my non fasting days too. I hope that a few of you will try it and succeed, but if not, at least will understand a bit more about it, and my passion about it.


Member Comments About This Blog Post:
NUOVAELLE 9/9/2015 2:46AM

    Thank you for all this valuable information! The gradual reducing of calories on the fasting days sounds like a really great idea. I don't think we should be afraid of fasting. Its benefits to the human bodies have been known for many years and I believe that nowadays, with all those processed foods in abundance, fasting is a great way to give our bodies a break and help them recover.
emoticon emoticon

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SHARONLEE2016 10/16/2014 12:45AM

    Thank you for sharing this. I am on the FBI team you are visiting. Last week I fasted for a medical procedure for 14 hours - the next day I didn't feel like eating much - when I weighed in on Weds. I had lost weight whereas I had maintained the same weight for the past 3 weeks. I have the 5:2 book and was thinking about trying it and then up pops your post on our team! I do want to try this and appreciate your advice on starting with 1000-1200 calories -- I can do that. I may also try the calorie cycling. emoticon

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OVERWEIGHT 10/15/2014 10:23PM

    I enjoyed your blog and also the write ups following. I may give this a try after our trip.

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SHANTODD420 8/1/2014 12:36PM

    Thanks for sharing might have to give it a go and see what happens.

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MJK0430 8/1/2014 11:44AM

    Thanks for the writeup. I just placed a hold on a 5:2 book at the library because I'm still intrigue. :)

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JUSTME_KELLYD 6/22/2014 3:50PM

    I think I might try this!!! Thanks for sharing!!! And continued luck!!! You are doing GREAT!!

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ZOEANAEL 3/4/2014 9:13AM

    Thank you for the info. I jumped in the primal LCHF wagon in january and naturally, I've been skipping days of eating where I would no eat until dinner. I don't really count precisely my calories (on fasting and non-fasting days) but I feel great and I see results already. I wouldn't be able to do it I think if I was still doing Low-Fat/High-carb, because of the Blood glocuse rollercoaster but sometimes I'm simply not hungry (which surprises me everytime!) and I simple not eat. Thank you for the great informatons. People on SP keep telling me I'm starving myself, but I'm not at all!

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TIME2BLOOM4ME 3/1/2014 12:01PM

    Great blog. I want to try it !

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LIVE_AMAZINGLY 1/30/2014 7:22PM

    Congratulations on your weight loss!

I read recently that fasting, or even going long hours between meals, lets our intestinal system rest, and it is that rest time that allows our bodies extra time to heal, and rejuvenate. Also, the lower metabolic rate that it puts a body into makes for less cell division, which = less chances of making a mistake that leads to cancers.

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SUSANNAH31 1/13/2014 10:58PM

    A very interesting program. I'm glad you have found success with it.

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IONA72 1/13/2014 5:18PM

    Thanks for the info, certainly something to consider. You must be pleased with your results, keep up the good work.

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ALIHIKES 1/13/2014 3:31PM

    Interesting blog, thanks for sharing. I have friends who are doing IF (5/2) but they have not explained the science or reasoning

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BEANIES_MOM 1/13/2014 8:10AM

    I love the IF approach! Thank you for the info

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-BLESSINGS- 1/12/2014 6:17PM

    great info... thanks sooooooooooo much for sharing

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PREDEL 1/12/2014 6:03PM

    Thanks so much for laying it all out for me. What your saying makes perfect sense based on my personal experience in the last 60 years. I've seen far greater weight loss when I'm drastically varying my calories day to day (one day really good, one day bad) as opposed to 1200 calories day in and day out.

I am definitely going to try this, gradually working my way to your plan. I really, really like this. emoticon



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SUZIEQ1097 1/12/2014 5:53PM

    emoticon for sharing.

Susan : )

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MISSDAISY23 1/12/2014 4:26PM


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BOPPY_ 1/12/2014 2:06AM


First, your entire report is extremely well written. The first part on 5:2 was very informative, and I thank you very much.

The second part on "calorie cycling" does not (according to the details of your report) seem to be based on anything but your own intuition. But note that the very credibility that you site for the 5:2 diet is based (according to your own report) on controlled scientific observation and measurement. According to your report, the, the second part is antithetical to the spirit of the first part.

Or, what am I not understanding?

I, for one would have been much happier with this situation, if you had broken the report into two blogs, the second expressing your (?) hypothesis about "calorie cycling"!

Lee emoticon

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IDICEM 1/12/2014 12:54AM

    This is an interesting approach. I will look into it. Thanks for sharing!

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ALIIDA 1/11/2014 11:14PM

    Thank you so much for taking the trouble to explain this. I was intrigued by your fasting. Your explanation of the science of it is fascinating, and the link between glucose and cancer answers a lot of questions for me.

Wishing you continued great health!

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REGILIEH 1/11/2014 10:00PM


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JUNEAU2010 1/11/2014 6:59PM

    Thanks for the food for thought. I flirted with calorie cycling a while ago, but, reading your info, did not approach it in a sane, methodical fashion. I think I will try this again. I appreciate the nudge!

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DEBB1313 1/11/2014 6:41PM

    Thanks for the post. it was a great blog! You have me very interested and I am certainly going to investigate further. Oh and by the way, great accomplishments in your journey!

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A_NEW_CHAPTER 1/11/2014 5:13PM

    I was having success with this back in the summer - I found out about it after watching this video
R>I need to get back to it!

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LIVE_AMAZINGLY 1/11/2014 2:21PM

    For me, the 5:2 diet caused excessive fatigue on my fasting days, but that may be due to the fact that I have heart failure. The positive that 5:2 did for me was "reset" my appetite towards healthier eating, and stopped the raging between-meal cravings. It also greatly reduced my GERD.

What I recently found that works well for me, even with my heart failure, is doing low-carb one day (lean proteins, low-carb vege's with healthy oils, and berries); then the next day doing high carb (with lower amounts of protein & fats, and all carbs being whole, natural, non-processed foods).

With this alternate day life-style, after just a few days I started experiencing what you describe: greatly energy and trouble going to sleep at night due to having so much energy and sense of well being.

There are many styles of fasting, and of alternate calories & carbs. If one doesn't work for a person, they can likely find one that does, with some experimentation. In the end they each reduce insulin, body fat, cancer risks, and other health risks. Here's to health, however we find it!

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FITADMIN83 1/11/2014 1:39PM

    This is an interesting program to think about. I am glad it has worked so well for you. It seems as though the key is to look at what you are eating on the days you are not fasting and keeping it healthy but not limiting yourself. Thank you for sharing:)

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MARITIMER3 1/11/2014 1:23PM

    I just joined the 5:2 team, which recommends 2 consecutive days of 500 caloriea, eating the regular SP range the other 5.

Main difference seems to be that the 5:2 says you have to do this on 2 consecutive days, while your friend says definitely not to do it on consecutive days.

There is also some evidence that the 5:2 plan may prevent the onset of Alzheimers.

I definitely believe there are benefits from fasting. My daughter in Europe pays a fortune to go to spas to fast and exercise.

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JIBBIE49 1/11/2014 12:55PM

    Of course, you will get negatives from Sparks since they have their own diet here and a Cookbook, etc. This type of information really comes from someone like Dr. Mercola (he is a medical doctor) and has a lot of information about IF on his web site and lectures on YouTube. He stays in Ketosis and eats a lot of healthy fats and organic meats, etc. I understand why you want to do this diet since you are a cancer survivor. My son, Nathan had Testicular Cancer five years ago, so we have learned much from Dr. Mercola and also from Roby Mitchell M.D. (he is DrFitt on YouTube). Dr. Mitchell has a medical degree and also a PhD and he has studied in China. He had advanced prostrate cancer and cured himself with diet and exercise.
My son is doing IF plus lots of strength training, because he knows if his cancer comes back it will not be in his Testicle (5% chance) but somewhere like in his lungs or liver, so he wants to be strong to fight it. Plus they have told him that in his 40s he might get cancer from all the cat-scan/x-4ays he's had to have, but that is down the road and he plans to be very fit in his 40s as well.

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AMARILYNH 1/11/2014 12:45PM

    I have heard a bit about IF from others on SP but this is the clearest description I've heard. Very interesting about the cancer link - having lost three siblings to cancer this is quite important to me. I read a bit online about it too - actually tried it a couple of times and didn't really find it that difficult as I don't normally eat my first meal until around noon anyway and routinely eat two meals a day, sometimes with a snack, sometimes not. After reading this I believe I may need to look into it further.

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BATCHICK 1/11/2014 12:35PM

    I LOVE intermitent fasting for its flexibility. Like you said if you have a bad day or get invited out you just shift everything and its that easy. That is why this is the only "diet" that I feel can be a eal lifestyle for me. I have been doing 5:2 since October and I have never felt better!


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KENSHO 1/11/2014 12:09PM

    As you know...I did the 5:2 diet for 3 months and lost 17 pounds. I stopped for various reasons and gained back 7 pounds.

Recently I have been trying another approach and I'm curious about your take on it. 8:16 is what I call it. Eat for 8 hours a day and fast for 16. I eat between noon and 8pm. Before and after I only drink water or tea.

I'm not entirely sure if it's working for me or not only because I've been sick with a nasty bug so the scale is not a great gauge right now. I've lost weight but I can't say why at this point.

Anyway...thoughts on 8:16? Do you think I will reap any of the benefits from fasting for those 16 hours?

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GARDENQE2 1/11/2014 12:01PM

    I joined Evelyn in alternate-day-fasting in July. emoticon
I have lost 20 lbs. since then. The best result for me has been a lessening of symptoms of formerly aching joints no longer ache and my allergy/sinus infection, which has annoyed me for four years has almost disappeared. emoticon

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RAWCOOKIE 1/11/2014 11:57AM

    very interesting; and thank you for describing at least two ways of approaching it. For me, I think the idea of having a 'free' 'no limits' day is a bit scary for me - I might think I can eat whatever I want and more than make up for the previous day. Perhaps the 1000/2000 alternate days might work for me. I will look at your tracker and see how it works for you.

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MALAMI518 1/11/2014 11:48AM

    That is very interesting, and I will definitely look into it. I was calorie cycling for a while, but I've fallen into bad habits again. I will at least go back to that, but the alternate day fasting sounds like it would have some real health benefits, too.

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ZELLAZM 1/11/2014 11:33AM

    The details of your program are very interesting, Evelyn. I know you did alternate fasting days and a little bit of the why, but not the nitty gritty of the practice. Will keep this in mind for the future after my next trip. Starting out must take a good deal of planning, but it's doable. I used to do a weekly fast as more of a spiritual discipline but it was helpful in other ways as well.

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    Thank you for explaining your nutrition plan. I have been curious about fasting plans but not enough to actually make the time to do any research.
Thanks again, Audra

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CHAKARA1 1/11/2014 11:11AM

    very interesting

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SUSANELAINE1956 1/11/2014 10:52AM

    Great write-up. I've actually started doing this lately, but not to the extent you do. I cut back 3 days a week, have a free day (though still around 1600-1800 calories), and 3 days of moderate eating. I've only been doing it for 2 weeks, but I like it. I'm close to not tracking my foods (in 2 more weeks), and am excited to see how that goes.

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SIMPLELIFE4REAL 1/11/2014 10:48AM

    As a triple negative breast cancer survivor, I'm a big believer in doing anything I can to reduce risk of recurrence/mets. I do think fasting makes it more difficult for cancer cells to survive because they require so much energy. What you are doing is awesome in my book. I want to learn more about it.

Right now, I still have a little bit of chemo left to go, surgery and radiation to come...but I'm giving a lot of thought as to how I want to make my "terrain" very inhospitable to cancer cells....particularly over the next five years.

Thank you for sharing all that information. I'm going to look into it.


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4-1HEALTHYCYNDI 1/11/2014 10:41AM

    Thanks for taking the time to explain the concept and how it works for you. I'm not considering it at this time (have to do some more research and talk to doc before starting anything like this). But I do like the idea in theory.

Congrats on your success!

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MADEIT3 1/11/2014 10:38AM

    Interesting. I will need to learn more.

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WATERONE 1/11/2014 10:35AM

    Very clear explanation. I'm glad this is working so well for you. emoticon

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WATERDIAMONDS 1/11/2014 10:32AM

    Your explanation is lucid and compelling. Thank you for giving me something I seriously am going to think about/investigate.

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NEW-CAZ 1/11/2014 10:24AM

    thank you for posting in such detail, very interesting.

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SIRIUS2014 1/11/2014 10:15AM

    Thanks for the blog. It seemed to describe my last 2 months. Overeating, hungry and gaining 6 lbs. ugh. I have such a fear of failure now although I did well all summer. I am going to reread this and try some of your ideas. Hugs

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MARUKI52 1/11/2014 9:44AM

    Thank you for detailing this diet so well. That will be really helpful to anyone considering starting on this route. I have noticed that I have some weeks when my calories on some days are pretty low but this is not intentional. I have noticed that when this happens and I exercise then I am notified that I am not eating enough for the amount of exercise I am doing. Obviously on the days when I eat more it is not considered to be enough.

Having been brought up in the war years and with rationing my body has never been used to eating lots of food, it just wasn't available so we just didn't have access to lots. I often wonder if this has an effect on weight gain in later years.

Editing my post: Just out of interest I've just inputted a typical day for when I was at school and it tells me that I was eating 900 calories but that was a day when we had syrup sponge pudding! I'm not sure how it would work out with any other meals that I had. It was largely made up in the carbo's rather than other nutrients. I wonder if that was enough for a growing teenage girl? emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/11/2014 10:10:00 AM

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EFFIEANNIE 1/11/2014 9:43AM

    So nice to hear you explain this. I have heard other people talk about this, but never really had much explanation. Thanks for posting this.

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BEWELL48 1/11/2014 9:37AM

    Very interesting. What does your fasting day look like in terms of food and times?

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SLIMMERJESSE 1/11/2014 9:35AM

    I've been seriously thinking about it and will find out more about how to do it. Thanks for this blog in reminding me to look into it further. And best wishes for continued good health in this not-so-new year.

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