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The 5:2 Lab

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I read somewhere recently that it's going to take at least ten years to study IF and ADF properly and that there are many variables which make it nigh impossible to research objectively without skewing the results somehow.
I don't actually care because I know it works spectacularly well for me and for a lot of other folk on here and in the wider world. I am sure the long term trials will be done and we may all be amazed, nay, shocked at the conclusions but for now, for me, this has changed my life beyond my wildest dreams and let me tell you, my wildest dreams were a size 8..........clothes, not shoes! :shock:

Ballerina x :heart:
Another nice review article on this topic:
This is the Billion Dollar Question.

We have zero data from which to draw conclusions. I have seen a study that found that found that a short stint of alternate day fasting at 500 calories dropped leptin levels significantly.

If you are hungrier after losing any significant amount of weight on a fasting diet, it suggests that your leptin level has dropped. I am seeing a certain amount of this. It is to be expected with any significant weight loss. The question is whether the drop in leptin is less than what you'd see with other diets.

I'm at the point, weight-wise, now where in the past I could NOT maintain, but ate my way back up about 5 lbs, at which point I could.

So I will be very interested to see how I fare over the next few months.

But until there are 10s of thousands of people who have eaten 5:2 diets for 5 years or more, it is premature to draw conclusions.

My experience with low carb diets was that it took a good 5 years to see if they really worked. All the data you see cited by those who profit from selling diet-related books, TV shows, etc, is always drawn from 1 and 2 year studies but the big drop off of previously committed dieters happens in that 3-5 year window.

I'm very eager to learn more about this, but would caution us all to be very careful not to draw any metabolic conclusions from studies lasting anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months. Nor should we even get excited by those lasting a year or two. When we have a population of people who have eaten the diet successfully for 5+ years, that's when I'll start getting really excited.
I know @peebles, it's so frustrating having to wait. I think @breadandwine is probably one of the longest of our fasters here. I think he's been going around 2.5 years. I'm coming up to my second fastiversary, so far so good. But as you say we need another 3 years before we know. Meantime we have to keep on living our new lifestyle and hoping.
We need to "bump" this thread every year.
Honest reporting by those who don't succeed is also very necessary, so we can learn what defeats people and study the failures to find ways to improve success.

The biggest problem with many online diet communities is that those who succeed easily dominate the discussion, while those who have trouble tend to become silent and slink away, or are accused of not following the diet correctly. This is not the case here, though obviously a lot of people active a few years ago are gone. But this forum is very supportive of those not getting "as seen on TV" results, which is one reason I am so fond of it.
You're right, Caro, I'm just over the 2.5 year mark - maintaining for the last two years.

This is a very interesting question - looking at this WOL purely as a diet. But we know it's much more than that. It might take 5 or more years to prove its efficacy as a weight-loss programme, but we know the health advantages of this WOL prove themselves very quickly.

But there are other factors to consider - this WOL (I refuse to call it a diet) begins to improve eating habits pretty much from the start, unlike say WW (which I have experience of) - and fasters often report on the feeling of control and extra energy this WOL gives them.

I hope that we don't have to wait 5 years before IF gets the official seal of approval - I'm of the opinion that it could be the saviour of both the NHS and the care system.
It's a shame that the weight loss methods they were comparing in the latest study were "Biggest Loser" style rapid loss vs. Roux-en-Y gastric surgery. It would be nice to know if slow vs. fast weight loss will be different. Perhaps in the end, there won't be much different in metabolic adaptation, but instead in sustainability.

I was moaning a bit about fasting to a friend I don't see often, basically saying that I didn't want to have to keep fasting as much on maintenance as I did to lose weight, and she said something about it not being sustainable. I then got really defensive about IF because like most others here, I've found it very sustainable, even if I get a bit of fasting fatigue sometimes… On any other diet, I wouldn't have lost as much weight and I would have long since gained it all back or more (based on my previous pattern).
Hi everyone. I think I might have mentioned ages ago in one thread or other that I have an interest in being involved in some way with a study of different methods of eating and how these work long term with weight management and overall health. I wonder if we could lobby some of the longitudinal studies to include information on that - as a cheap way of doing something - as opposed to a stand alone study (which would be preferable). Though I would think that in both the UK and US, and maybe Oz, support and funding could be obtained for such a study, given the obesity issue in all these countries. (I am sure MM could marshall the support and funds should he so chose.) As you say, it would be a few years before meaningful results would be obtained.
On a related note, and this may be posted on elsewhere, I haven't searched, do you know of studies of the eating regimes of people who do not have weight issues?
The cost of doing any kind of large diet study is such that very few get done. Instead you get all these 6 week studies conducted in very small groups of people, which can't answer the kinds of questions we need answered. Doing a diet study that is designed properly, so that the results are scientifically meaningful, requires that you give participants sets of medical tests at intervals which is very expensive. And you have to observe them for several years. The best studies actually controlled what people ate for long periods of time, either giving out food or conducting the studies among people living in circumstances where they ate at an institutional dining room.

With fasting, for the study to be at all useful, you'd have to know what people actually ate both on fast days and non-fast days and correlate that to their TDEE. You'd have to give expensive tests for leptin and adiponectin, those insulin-like growth hormones, and you'd want to have glucose tolerance tests to track changes in glucose tolerance. Unless Bill Gates gets interested in fasting, this is not likely to happen any time soon.

I believe that an infusion of money from the Atkins Foundation, after Atkins' death was what helped fund those big LC/Low Fat diet comparison studies run a decade ago.
This is all very interesting. Thank you, Carorees, for posting such a subject.
Deep down...research or not... I fear regaining the weight back like I have all my life. This is why it is so important for me to read how other people are maintaining and having success. I really like this site.
I appreciate all the points that peebles makes, though I do think studies could be designed that give adequate accuracy without doing everything that you ideally would. Maybe. Even a qualitative study of people who have successfully lost and then maintained for a number of years could reveal a lot of useful information. As would a similar study of those who do not have weight issues. I hypothesise that every weight loss regime is successful long term for some (small?) percentage of people for whom that style of eating "works" ie fits in with their lifestyle and personality. Fascinating area.

There is quite a bit of information from informal surveys and self-selected reporting. The National Weight Control Registry at collects and analyzes user-submitted stats.

Occasionally people write books where they analyze the reports of people who have maintained significant weight losses for 4 years or more. Here's a web page that summarizes the findings of one such book, now out of print:

Here's a WebMD page that summarizes some very similar findings;

Basically they boil down to:

1. Find a way of eating that is comfortable for you. Because people are all different, different approaches work for different people. If you don't enjoy the food you are eating, and how you are eating it, you won't be able to stick to any diet long term. Successful dieters do change the way they eat and accept that they will have to continue with their new way of eating when they achieve goal to maintain goal.

2. Weigh yourself and keep yourself accountable. Most people I know who fail maintenance stay off the scales and hope that magic will keep them thin. It doesn't. Seeing the number on the scale every so often should propel you back into action if you have gotten sloppy.

3. Have realistic expectations. Losing weight to the point that you attain a weight that can only be maintained by continual starvation is a good recipe for failure. My rule of thumb is to assume I will be eating pretty much what I was eating during the last month or two of a diet, if I am to maintain. That means NO starvation diets, no fasting schedules that I couldn't do forever.

4. Expect some weight gain and take action as soon as you see the scales creep up. It's easier to lose 3 lbs than 10 lbs. And remember that 3 pounds (or 10) is the same couple pounds that were those last, extremely hard to lose pounds when you were dieting.
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