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5:2 Diet 'Rules' & Variations

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What's your top tip for someone who is just starting out on the 5:2 diet? What do you wish you'd known before you'd started out? I think a list of tips that newbies can scan quickly will be very useful in helping people on their first fasting days.

Mine is drink lots of water. Water is calorie free and helps you feel full. If you don't like straight water, add some lemon juice. 10ml (two teaspoons) in a glass of water is less than 3 kcal. It will help stave off hunger pangs and rehydrate your body, which you'll likely need if you aren't getting as much water from your food.
Another one. If you're not taking in enough fibre on your fasting days, consider adding some Benefibre to your water. A teaspoon adds about 5kcal and 3g of fibre to your daily intake. It doesn't taste of anything or alter the thickness of drinks, so you can add it to your morning cuppa without even noticing it's in there.
Planning!
Try not to go into a fast day unprepared. Know ahead of time what you're going to eat and have it ready if you find it difficult to spend time cooking on a fast day :)
Keep yourself busy. Either working, or a hobby or even a nice treat like a long soak in a lovely bubble bath with a good book :)

I'm only a couple of fasts in to this so it may get easier but I find it easier to ignore the hunger if I keep myself busy instead of sitting and thinking about what I can't eat (at least until feed day lol)
Is it cheating to give 3? These are motivational rather than practical but helpful I hope:

  1. Hunger is OK! You are going to get hungry at some point, but hunger comes in waves and then goes away again, and there's no need to panic - because the next day you can eat normally again. You will learn to manage that feeling of hunger, it is just like a rash that you shouldn't itch, don't focus on it - get on with your life.
  2. It will get easier! Some people find fasting with 5:2 easy from the start, but if you're not so lucky, just get through those first couple of weeks of initial adaptation and you might even start to look forward to fast days.
  3. It's natural! We evolved to cope with times of plenty and times of dearth. It seems our bodies use a time of fasting for internal repair work - it's not just weight loss: live lighter, longer, better...
My top tips are:

1. plan and log your calories the day before
2. keep fast day foods simple - save the gourmet cooking for the feast days
2. fast day foods nutritious & filling i.e. low GI foods are more likely to keep you stable
3. hunger pangs? drink a big glass of water and find a displacement activity
I agree with the above and I would add:

A big mug of a hot salty drink, like Oxo, Bovril, Marmite, bouillon or stock, will make a nice change from tea, water etc and makes you feel like you've had a bowl of soup. Most come in at around 5 calories for a mugful.
I found having a couple of slices of melon is low calorie and satisfying in the mouth, refreshes the palate too.
Try to plan fast day meals that don't include many if any carbs, bread, potatos, rice, pasta etc. You can use up your calorie allowance for very little to eat with these foods. You get much more with veg, salad, chicken, fish etc.
Very useful.

Here are mine:

Weigh it! You can't count calories if you don't know what's there! Don't cheat!

Get yourself some 'Miracle' shirataki noodles for your local Asian store. According to My FitnessPal, 10 calories for 100g drained weight and they do fill you up in a veg stir fry with some tofu.

Also consider something like a Miso soup (I even saw it in Tesco yesterday). 35 cals per mug.
Moogie, as a suggestion, why not put this as a sticky in the new to 5:2 forum?
Done!
Next tip:

Create a Box of Munchies ready for when your hunger pangs get too bad. Chop some celery, pepper, carrots, etc, and keep in a box in the fridge. Measure out how much you put in so you can eat the whole lot but not exceed your calorie allowance for the day.
Honestly, I *know* this sounds scary to newbies, or at least it scared me - but the best tip I've gotten is to not eat until dinner time. If I eat a 200 calorie breakfast or lunch, I am so much hungrier during the day. If I do not eat until dinner at 6:30, it's much easier to manage with black coffee, herbal tea, water and maybe some bouillon in the afternoon.

The other upside to not eating until dinner is that dinner is much nicer, and can be nearly normal. You can get a large chicken breast and lots of veg for under 500 calories, and you won't go to bed with a rumbly tummy.
Recognise your 'hunger switch':

When we don't eat, our bodies assume there is no food available - famine situation - so it suppresses the (for want of a better term), 'hunger switch';

When we do eat, our bodies assume there is food available - feast situation - and turns on the hunger switch. So, we eat. Then, a short time later, the body says, "This must be a feast day, so I want more food - to store up fat reserves against the next famine". The result is we feel hungry again - and again and again, every time we eat.

When we sleep at night - or have any period where we don't eat for a while - we reset the switch.


Secondly, wait 20 minutes for second portions. It takes 20 minutes for food to travel to the end of the large intestine - where the satiety hormones kick in.

I often set my kitchen timer when I've finished a meal - works really well!
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