Saturday, 30 March 2013

Dr Michael Mosley's Fast Diet ... I have begun!!

I am currently sitting at my laptop in the kitchen eating a bowl of porridge. It is delicious! It is also my breakfast of choice these days, even on my fast days. ... Yes, I did say 'fast days'. I might have to explain that ...

I had noticed a couple of friends at work looking particularly well and rather slimmer than usual - not that they were particularly overweight to start with - and I mentioned how well they looked. It turns out that they had started Dr Michael Mosley's Fast Diet and were enjoying the benefits of said regime. At first I was skeptical  but as the book was selling for only £2.95 and my friends were so enthusiastic I bought it, read it and decided to try it for myself.

Now you may be thinking "fast?? That sounds a bit radical and unhealthy" but this idea is not about starving oneself. It is also known as the 5:2 diet or eating plan and involves intermittent  low calorie days. The book explains far more eloquently than I can here how it works, but, briefly its like this ...

In days gone by we humans would eat well some days because we had hunted well and then we might not eat as well or at all for a day or two. Over the last fifty years or so we have, in the Western world, developed a grazing habit. We are rarely hungry ... we eat because its time to eat and we eat portions that are too large. We eat too much meat, too much processed food. Dr Michael Mosley researched into the history and science of fasting and came up with the Fast Diet idea. This was not a flash in the pan and he self experimented with startling results. Not only did he not die of hunger, but as well as losing weight  ...and  most important of all, his blood test results revealed fascinating changes in his make up:

  • His fasting glucose levels had gone down. 7.3 down to 5.0

  • His cholesterol levels had reduced.

  • His Triglyceride level had gone down ( high levels are associated with increased risk of heart disease) 1.4 down to 0.6

  • His IGF-1 level had reduced from 28.6 nmol/l to 15.9 nmol/l (I am no scientist but this is apparently a measure of cancer risk and may also be a marker for biological ageing)

  •  His BMI had gone from 26.4 to 24
  •  His body fat from 28% to 21%
  • His waist size from 36 inches to 33 inches
  • His neck size from 17 inches to 16 inches
He looks upon this scheme as not so much a diet as a way of life forever. You eat normally for 5 days a week and then on 2 days you eat a quarter of your normal daily intake. For normal daily intake women should be eating about 2000 calories a day and men 2400. So, on split days you eat 500 calories as a woman and 600 as a man.

I started the diet last week. On Monday I ate porridge for breakfast with a teaspoon of honey and a cup of peppermint tea. This came to just under 200 calories. The trick (probably a bad word that and not terribly scientific!) is to leave 12 hours between your intakes of food so for the next 12 hours I drank water and peppermint tea only. Then I ate an Innocent curry which I knew was 316 calories. This was yummy but not ideal as I don't like eating foods I haven't cooked myself from scratch, but the range is fresh and I wanted to be absolutely sure of the calories.

I have to say I found that first day quite hard. I felt ravenous, but my hunger reached a certain level and then got no worse. I did get a headache, but I think that's because I didn't drink enough water. I was determined to reach the 12 hour mark and felt quite a sense of achievement when I did. Cooking my curry I looked at it in my bowl and was amazed that even after one day of fasting the quantity looked huge!! I savoured every mouthful ... chewing slowly and enjoying every burst of flavour! When I finished I felt really full ... bizarre!!

The following morning I woke an hour earlier than usual and felt oddly alert and full of energy. I can't quite explain it, but all this week I have felt somehow ... cleaner, more awake. And although this was not a fasting day I had no desire to cook a huge fry up for breakfast. On non-fast days you can eat what you like, but I enjoyed my normal healthy fare. I did get a twinge of guilt as I made myself a milky coffee, but then remembered that on this day I could drink milky coffee if I wanted. The feeling of glee was lovely!!

My second fast day was Thursday and as I was at work all day it was somehow easier. I suppose the trick is to just keep busy. I made sure that I drank lots and the dreaded headache did not appear. In fact I felt great! I ate 500 calories again and it was definitely enough. The great thing is also that even when you feel hungry you know that tomorrow you can eat normally again. Anyone can make it through one day can't they?? And you feel a sense of achievement when you do finish the day.

Before I started I measured myself ... weight, waist, hips and I also treated myself to a posh weighing scale which measures fat percentage, water, bone, muscle. I worked out my BMI and, as I already knew, I am obese. God, but that's hard to write ...

I am not going to reveal my measurements to you yet, but I do plan on keeping this blog updated with my progress and opinion and if it goes well I shall reveal all!! Stats that is ... don't get too excited. One of the things that I really like about this is the health benefits that the plan appears to have. I am heading towards 50 and if I can reduce my weight while at the same time reducing my risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes then that is fantastic. I also love food, love cooking so this will enable me to still enjoy the odd cheese board without pangs of terrible guilt. The strange thing is that I don't crave anything at the moment, other than healthy foods ... 

So ... my thoughts on the Fast Diet at the moment are very positive. If you are doubtful then I recommend you read the book and perhaps keep checking back here to see how I do!! 


Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah!
Thank you for your blog. I too started the FastDiet last week. My feelings were exactly like yours. Today I feel good and went out for my usual walk with the dog and felt healthy.I had been feeling more like the dog was taking me out for a drag.I feel very hopeful about this new way of life as I have struggled with diets for years. Looking forward to your continued posts and I will post back to you.
Best wishes for healthy living,
Sharon Anthony
Raleigh, North Carolina

sarah at secret housewife said...

Hello Sharon. Thanks so much for your comment! Its good to hear from someone else at the same stage as me. I am excited by this plan and it will be interesting to see how we get on! Good luck!! Sarah xx

Urban Cynic said...

I've been trying to do this for a few weeks now (I keep forgetting about it & I've got a stinking cold this weekend so want to eat just everything!!) I've lost 4lbs so far & feel great on the days I 'fast'.

I actually do 2pm until 2pm and find that extremely easy. I actually don't really eat much and prefer to just pick at pistachios and raspberries etc rather than have my full allotted 500 calories.

I heard about this Fast Diet recently & it turned out (so I thought) that I was one of the only people that wasn't doing it. I watched the original Horizon TV programme on the Internet & was stunned at the medical results. In fact this is the only time I've changed my eating habits because of lifespan reasons rather than weight!

I showed the programme to my ex and he's been doing it too and he's definitely lost weight. I love the fact that you know you can eat what you like the next day so don't mind feeling a bit hungry for a few hours.

A few websites you might find useful are and and

They all show meals for under 500 calories. Well done at giving it a go and I also look forward to seeing how you get on. x

sarah ... secret housewife said...

Hello and Happy Easter lovely Urban Cynic! I am excited to learn you are doing this too!! It seems that lots of people I know are and, as you say, often for the long term health benefits rather than just weight loss. I shall have a look at those web sites and keep you updated!! xx

blurose_in_ok said...

Hi, I ran across your blog looking for reviews of the Fast Diet...I too started and will begin my 3rd week (5th and 6th fast days) this coming week. I have already lost a few pounds and feel great. My 1st day was hardest and I have found drinking a few cups of coffee during the day helps keep my headache away.
Good luck to us!

allthingsclever said...

Glad to have found your blog! I'm 55 year young newlywed (well, 3 years wed)who has hit menopause head on suddenly and gained 25 pounds. Life as a newlywed has been grand! But - I sincerely want to drop this weight and have never dieted in my life. This method seems like the answer. I have survived two fast days and am believing I can do this. Though - I haven't lost a pound and by reading the comments on Amazon it seems people typically do lose something initially - at least a pound or so. Can anyone shine a light on their experience? By the way - I am going to try the 2 - 2 p.m. fasting times on my next day. Glad to have found you! Cheers on this rainy day in Canada.

Anonymous said...

I also started this diet just a few weeks ago. I love it because I feel that I'm in control of food, rather than the other way around. Whenever I tell someone what I'm doing, they look at me with pity and thing that I'm doing something very extreme and unhealthy, despite my insistance that this is actually healthy. People are so brainwashed about eating every 2 or 3 hours. I'm going to stop telling people about it unless they ask. :) Anyway, I can't wait to share great results. I didn't weigh myself initially because I was afraid of the numbers, but now I weigh regularly and know that I"m losing weight while getting healthier. I was pre-prediabetic and was VERY thirsty all the time. Now, I'm not drinking anymore than anyone else, so I'm quite sure that my health is improving.

Anonymous said...

Love to read all the comments. My husband and I started this 4 weeks ago and have lost weight, feel better and intend to carry on. We do the 5:2 and have the breakfasts as suggested by Dr Mosely and just drink tea or coffee till supper at 7pm. Always good to get other points of view. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

These are interesting comments. I'm 65 male. I've been gaining weight steadily for 10 - 15 years. Not eating stupid as in out of a bag or snacking, just healthy meals that my wife plans carefully with lots of veggies and salads and very little red meat. And usually a shared litre of wine.
March 1 we started the Fast Diet together and have followed it religiously. We still have our normal eating habits except on our two fast days. I've dropped from 264 to 240 pounds.
My wife knows that she's reduced in size and bulk but she doesn't use the scales.
We see this 5:2 as a life style and not as a diet. We intend to continue this lifestyle for the foreseeable future.
It's not very difficult to do and for two days a week it brings us together at breakfast. What nice thing to have happen.

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Anonymous said...

Awesome post - I have been on the Fast Diet/Lifestyle since 1st October, and have lost more than 15kgs (33.5 pounds) so far... The first week felt more like a detox, and I wasn't very good over Christmas and new year - but I didn't actually put ON anymore weight - I just leveled out a little. Now it's dropping rapidly again, and I'm chuffed.

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