Any success stories with the 5:2 diet? - Weight Loss NHS

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Any success stories with the 5:2 diet?


I'm wanting to lose around 5 stone. I don't find it difficult to maintain my weight - although I only have to look at certain things (Indian meals, chocolate, wine) to find my weight going up. Last spring I lost 23lbs easily and began rambling every other week, but when I couldn't go for a while due to a virus I put two thirds of that back on. Now I want to seriously lose again. I find it easy in the summer, but want to begin now so am making home made soups etc, but I also have meal replacement sachets which I can use. But I would really prefer to use the 5:2 diet and then just eat carefully to maintain the other days. Has anyone lost a lot of weight with only the 5:2 diet and not adding lots of exercise, etc? If so I would love to hear from you please. Sue

34 Replies

I was told by my consultant that I need to lose 5stone as having major op. I really struggled over Christmas but January and thought of looming op brought me to my senses. I started the 5:2 after reading up on it. Tuesday this week was op day and I was so happy when nurse weighed me to see I was 1st 1lb lighter! Unfortunate the op was cancelled an hour before I was due in theatre! Re scheduled for next Tuesday and I am actually looking forward to the weigh in. I will be non weight bearing for 3 months so bit worried about no exercise. The 5:2 diet is the best thing I have ever done! I am on a b2b today so will weigh in again tomorrow morning. Give it a go, join the 5:2 Facebook page and get lots of tips and encouragement........what have you got to lose 😃

Hi, I must admit, I have never heard of this diet. Please would you tell me how it works? - Thanks.x

Basically you eat normally 5 days a week and below 500 calories on two 'fasting' days.

in reply to secondhandrose2

I think this is a mistake lots of people are making because they just don't want to accept that their lives are going to have to change. If you eat 'normally' as someone who has become overweight, in most (not all) cases that is going to be too much. Until you have adjusted your appetite and attitude to food you are still going to need to monitor your eating and keep within a calorie limit.

What 5:2 does is to allow you to reduce your weekly calorie intake in a way which is acceptable and sustainable for some people without messing too much with your metabolism overall compared to eating the same daily average day in day out. My perception is that it works for people who habitually skipped meals even when they were overweight. I continue to have concerns about that as a practice given the evidence on the increasing accident rate associated with meal skipping.

It works where others don't - and it's rare to find a diet that's so easy to maintain ones weight loss afterwards.

in reply to gingernut49

But as I recall you *are* one of those people who habitually skipped meals when you were overweight and continue to do so. If I am remembering correctly, you never eat breakfast.

You have clearly found something that works for you and you exercise too.

My brother-in-law had major surgery this week, in theatre all day. I would not like to think his surgeon was operating on 600 calories and no breakfast.

You and I will always disagree and you seem determined to jump on every word I say.

Studies in intermittent fasting show that the metabolism is actually increased and burns body fat more efficiently after around 12 or so hours of fasting. The body runs on glycogen after a meal and continues to do so until it is used up, then burns fat until the next meal. If you are eating frequent meals then this doesn't get to happen. In fact, quite the opposite to the commonly held belief that eating frequently increases the metabolism. Our bodies were never designed to be constantly eating and digesting. Our hunter gatherer ancestors went for periods of time without food whenever it was scarce. It was a feast and famine situation. Allowing the body a rest from digestion helps it to concentrate on repair and cell renewal.

Breakfast is when you break your fast. When I ate breakfast in the early morning it made me hungry all day. Now I break my fast around 1pm on a non-fasting day and around 5pm on a fasting day and that works well for me and many others. Some, like Dr Michael Mosley, prefer to have a small protein breakfast and then they fast until their evening meal, so about 12 hours.

in reply to gingernut49

I'm sorry it feels that way - it certainly isn't my intention and I don't respond to every post you make and indeed I applaud some. You are a shining advertisement for taking the 5:2 *way of life* seriously and making it work, no question and I admire you for that. I'm also delighted that you step in to correct some extremely unhealthy misconceptions about what 5:2 involves - I don't think you or I say anything different on that, and I don't say "5:2 doesn't work". People have different lives and responsibilities - and different bodies and metabolisms. It terrifies me when a very dear friend with an eating disorder (and only recently recovered from other life threatening mental health difficulties) says she is going to try 5:2, especially when she has a teenage daughter who is already underweight and meal skipping.

This is the NHS weight loss forum and it does rather dilute its usefulness if people come here and don't find support for doing the NHS plan but are always encouraged to try something else!

Maybe the NHS could promote the 5:2 as well as their own plan by having a separate healthunlocked site? That way we could exert choice more easily :) I find the NHS approach too prescriptive, trying to stick to it leaves me feeling I frequently fail whereas the 5:2 is easier to manage.

in reply to GoogleMe


I responded to this post as Sue asked specifically about the 5:2 diet and I felt it would help her if I shared my personal experiences regarding it.

I feel it is unfair for you to make me guilty about my advice being taken inappropriately, if someone with an eating disorder uses it. Eating disorders were around well before this proposed 5:2 diet. In fact fasting as a concept has been practised for many centuries especially amongst Eastern cultures.

I am not against the NHS plan, but I feel that alternative ways of achieving the difficult target on maintaining weight loss over long term also need to be considered.

This is just a forum for different people to express views and I hope people take what is useful to them.

in reply to SurreyMan

Sorry yes, someone had asked specifically, my point was general and better made in a different thread.

I agree absolutely, I feel it is important to be open to whatever possibilities people find useful. There is a lot of advice about not fasting for three consecutive days but of course in some cultures people do fast that long and just eat one small meal a day during that time _ I know several families who do so and they are very healthy.

Hopefully anyone involved in such life-threatening work would take their responsibilities seriously enough to make sure they were fit for the task - well we have to trust they will :)

Hi, please see my reply to Sue below. :)

i have just started the 5:2 this week and its easy enuf. im doing a 4:3 this week as i will be going out on valentines day for a meal and i really want to enjoy it. i ate 471 calories yesterday and 531 calories on monday. i didnt start eating until lunch time so it made it easier. i had cup a soup, weight watchers yogurt and an orange, then for dinner i had a ww meal. ive just stopped smoking too so its a double challenge. join the fb page as it really helps you with ur journey. i have over 4 stone to lose. i have an underactive thyroid also xx


I went on the 5:2 diet last year and lost my target weight of 2 stones. I have been able to maintain the loss as I have managed to incorporate fasting as part of my 'lifestyle'. The main benefits I found compared to other diets is that I didn't have to worry about counting calories on the non-fast days. I found that I naturally reduced the unhealthy carbohydrates such as sugars and white flour in my diet. I started eating more of the food that keep me full such as soups, smoothies, stews and protein rich foods based on chicken/eggs.

I tend to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. I chose Mondays as it gives me a fresh start to the week and allows me to psychologically deal with any excesses over the weekend. For me, it has been easier to do the fasting during the week as I prefer not to have to deal with 'diet' when I am socialising with family/friends at weekends.

I believe if you search for gingernut49 on this site you will find lots of useful information about this diet and she is also very supportive.....

Good luck with whichever diet you do end up following :-)

in reply to SurreyMan

With regards to your question on excercise, the advice I've heard from Michael Moseley (who presented the original BBC Horizon documentary) is that it is good to do for other 'health' benefits but not very effective for loosing weight.

Fat is very dense store of calories (7000 calories per Kg). So you need to run over 40 miles to loose 1 Kg of fat (If running intensely at 160 calories per mile) . In practice, most people 'reward' themselves when they do so much excercise, so the benefit for weight loss is very questionable....

The best way to loose weight is to reduce the overall calories you consume. For me the 5:2 diet was effective as the fast days helped reduce the size of my stomach and appetite.

Yes, that's my thinking, that the overall health benefits of exercise are fine - I've joined Ramblers for that - but I found last year that exercise did nothing for my weight loss. I think I will find the 5:2 the easiest kind of diet because it will retrain my appetite! Thanks.

Gingernut! :)

Sorry about the spelling mistake gingernut49 - It was early in the morning and my brain was not in gear! Looking at my post, I made other spelling mistakes also.

Thanks for correcting my mistake.....

I quite liked it - astronaut, cosmonaut, gingernaut - though it wouldn't have helped anyone searching. ;)

Thanks for your replies both of you. I joined the facebook page but felt it was just too big - 27,000 members!! So I've left it straight away though there was helpful info on it. I saw the Michael Moseley programme and know a friend who incorporates fasting into her life anyway, but I've yet to seriously try the 5:2. Will begin this week :) Great to hear your success stories. I was put off as most people who say it works then say they run, or similar, but I wanted to know whether the diet works on its own. Hope the op goes well Les. Thanks SurreyMan, I plan to eat exactly the food you listed. x

I've just re-joined the facebook page as I think the info was useful - I'm obviously feeling a bit ambivalent about whether I will manage the diet :)

There's a better Facebook group called 5:2 for Life and Health. The original 5:2 group was superb when it started (I joined when there were around 40 of us) but now it's got far too big and full of people asking daft questions without doing any basic research, and then others who are giving them equally daft replies!

Thanks for putting me in touch with the other facebook page :)

Here you are Sue:

I lost the three stone I needed to on the 5:2 Diet after watching Michael Mosley's excellent Horizon programme in 2012, "Eat, Fast and Live Longer" or and went from a size 16 to a size 10 by eating 500 calories two non-consecutive days a week. I've been maintaining my weight loss since April 2013 by just fasting one day a week - in the past I piled the weight back on as soon as I finished 'dieting'. I'd very much recommend you read Kate Harrison's book, "The 5:2 Diet" ( - it really does work and it will save you a fortune (towards your smaller clothes!).

I'd also very much recommend a free app for your phone called MyFitnessPal. Counting calories is very important so you can see how much you're eating and therefore eat mindfully rather than mindlessly. There are excellent videos in the Help section on the app that show you how it works - there's even a barcode reader to scan in branded foods.

It's important you don't eat more than your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) on non-fasting days. You can work that out here If yours works out at more than 2000 then aim at 2000 on non-fasting days.

Here I am in the Daily Mail on 7th January The other two ladies’ stories are inspiring!

Here Michael Mosley answers many questions on it

This little video explains more


Thanks for all the info.

Yes, I saw the Horizon programme and bought the Michael Moseley book, also the 5:2 fasting days cookbook so know how to do it but wondered whether it still worked with no additional exercise. I have no problem maintaining my weight with what I eat now I have cut out most of the rubbishy foods I used to eat and reduced my portion sizes drastically :) I used myfitness pal last year when I lost 23lbs - it's a great website - I don't have the iphone yet - just about to buy one - but will definitely download the ap - didn't bother for my android phone as couldn't work out how to use the phone anyway!!

My TDEE is apparently 1750 so I need to eat below 1500 or so, but I try to eat less than that though not too low. Luckily I don't have to work as I am retired so can take it easy on fasting days (and every other day!) but I do go walking with Ramblers sometimes, apart from that do little exercise so that was why I was asking about the need for other changes like going to a gym which I find I don't maintain. I want a lifestyle that I can maintain because I think that's a more realistic goal.

Thanks again, Suex

I'm not currently running as my mother is very ill - I'll start again when the weather warms up a bit. I don't have a car so I walk everywhere. I wear a fitbit and try to walk 10,000 steps a day. If you've calculated your TDEE ( as that and ticked the sedentary box then that's your eating goal for non-fasting days so you can be more generous. I certainly don't go to a gym or do any other exercise and I really don't think you need to at all, though of course it's important to try and stay mobile.

There are some excellent videos on YouTube by Leslie Sansone where you just walk in front of your tv or computer - she's a lovely girl and they're fun to do.

No - I can't be more generous - I AM sedentary!!!


Sorry to hear about your mum - and I know what you mean about not going out until the weather warms up a bit!! Walking in front of the telly - fun!! Not for me. As well as going out with the Ramblers I have been walking for a while with U3A and also recently started going to a Circuits fitness class run by Health Promotion - but apart from that I'm sedentary (though I do stand to do jigsaws!).

The 5:2 can work well for some but not for others. It is not recommended if you have underlying medical conditions. Calorie restriction puts the body under strain, so you need to take some care whenever you make a radical change. Good quality real food is likely to be a better idea than any meal replacement.

If you eat your evening meal at 7pm and don't eat anything until 7 the next morning, you will have had a 12 hour fast naturally. The reduction of insulin in your body is what allows your body to burn fat, and this can be accomplished by fasting or by reducing/cutting out carbohydrates.

I lost just over 2 stone by cutting out processed foods, including sugar and wheat flour, similar to Surreyman. I wasn't able to exercise at that point. I did not consciously cut my calories, just permanently changed what I ate and did not go hungry. Not all calories are the same, different food has different effects on the body. Intermittant Fasting may be good for you, but it isn't something I want to do every week.

Good luck with with finding what works for you.

Thanks, I was wondering how people who have tried to lose weight using it have managed without masses of exercise as well.

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