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The 5:2 Lab

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Thanks @peebles, those conculsions make absolute sense. I look forward to reading the links you have provided. Is your interest in all this from your professional career, or are you just interested? You have probably mentioned elsewhere, I just can't recall...I

Edit: have now read the links, very interesting and useful. I will spend some more time looking around the first site - tho I am a little perturbed (not quite the right word) that MaryAnn has not heard for them when she registered.
I tried to register at the national weight loss registry (i've kept over 20% of my start weight off for over a year), but they never sent me my packet :-(

From the WebMD article:
8. Pick the Brains of Healthy-Weight People

Stevens advises those who need to lose 100 pounds to get insight from people who are at a healthy weight. He tells them: "Talk to people who are maintaining a steady weight, who have maintained it for three or four years, and who are your age."

Then ask them how they stay that way, he says. "You may be amazed," he says. Many overweight people think people at a healthy weight don't have to work at it, but those maintaining a healthy weight typically tell an unexpected story. It's an ongoing effort to stay lean. "They are careful what they eat; they pay attention every day," Steven says.

I have a healthy weight guru. We're not age-matched or size-matched (she's a half foot shorter than me), but I can talk to her about this stuff. It surprised me to find out how carefully she keeps track of things: her weight, how many treats she's had, how much alcohol she's been drinking, how much exercise she's done. She skips meals and has light days fairly regularly. It's not effortless, even if on the outside it seems to be.

I write about health-related topics for a living, and have something of a presence in the field, but I prefer to stay anonymous when participating in a weight loss support forum, because like everyone else who is working on maintaining a significant weight loss I need support, too, and it is much easier to get support when I don't have to contend with fans and foes.

I've been maintaining a loss of almost 18% of my starting weight (30 lbs) going on 11 years now. I had gained back ten of those pounds by last winter, mostly because of some health problems that caused me to have to stop taking a helpful medication for a year. When I got over that, and wanted to lose the weight I'd put on, I found my old approach, straight ketogenic low carb dieting, no longer was sustainable, due to my very low TDEE. Eating 1100 calories a day in order to lose 2 lbs a month was not sustainable. But thanks to 5:2 after 7+ months I am now back to 1 lb of my very lowest weight, eating a much less restrictive diet.
Thanks @peebles, your knowledge and experience make a very valuable contribution to this site, and I totally appreciate that you would/ should remain anonymous. Pleased to hear that 5:2 was the solution to helping you get your weight back on track, and I hope that you are finding enough support here - you seem to give so much, I hope you are getting enough in return. I can understand how living on a low TDEE is very hard to sustain - sometimes I feel the same about 1600 Cals!!!
Thanks again, and best wishes. :)

Thanks for your very kind words. I find the forum very helpful. Just hearing on a daily basis from people who are taking the same approach makes it much easier to do. Plus I am also learning quite a bit about cultural difference in how people eat, vacation, and drink in different parts of the world which is very interesting to me.

Another benefit is that when I have people who are interested in this topic to discuss it with, I am much less likely to bore my family and friends by discussing it with them. My poor OH, who is still wearing the same size pants as he did when we met 19 years ago and can drop 5 lbs just by not eating dessert three days running, has been incredibly supportive. But after all these years, he has heard more than any thin, healthy mortal should have to about diet theory.

He wasnt sure about fasting when I started, but the results speak for themselves and he is loving that I'm eating more normally on non fast days. Ketogenic dieting really limited what we could eat at home and where we could dine out.
Hi @peebles, I also have an OH without a weight issue, though he did put on a little in middle age, which he lost thru doing a little bit of exercise. He has cereal and full cream milk for breakfast, 2 rounds of ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch, chocolate biscuits with his white coffees, whatever for dinner, bananas and ice cream for dessert, glass of wine most days, snacks on cheese and biscuits. He recently had lots of blood tests when he turned 60, routine check, and everything is fine. When we went on holidays in our caravan, he actually ate less than usual and exercised more, and lost 5 lbs. I on the other hand ate more and put on a few lbs... Oh well!

PS @Moogie, the tag from peebles to me did not generate a message in my inbox.
peebles wrote: @My poor OH, who is still wearing the same size pants as he did when we met 19 years ago and can drop 5 lbs just by not eating dessert three days running, has been incredibly supportive. But after all these years, he has heard more than any thin, healthy mortal should have to about diet theory.

I have an OH exactly like yours [tag]peebles, though I am still boring him with diet theory. Luckily he has a Masters degree in food science and so is interested in the theory (up to now). :lol:
I've been fasting since 2011. I've met people on other forums who've been doing it since 2007 (and some were probably prior to that).

I'm interested in the different experience of maintainers. I still fast 4:3 (very low TDEE*) to maintain and because I'm gambling/taking a considered risk on some of the fasting research about metabolic health, reduction in inflammation etc. (sarcopenia is typically associated with metabolic dysregulation but so far I don't have any biomarkers for CVD, dysglycaemia etc.). However, I've observed that some maintainers here fast in response to an uptick but otherwise don't need to in order to maintain their weight. I've noticed this because on other boards, that's fairly unusual: most of those maintainers drop to 5:2 or 6:1 with occasional 5:2 to maintain (having previously been ADF).

*TDEE on a sedentary day is approx. 1000kcals, on a more active day it's 1275kcals (several hours paddling or similar).
Any ideas why this should be @Ssure?
@carorees and @SSure,

My guess is that the people SSure is referring to who have lost weight after longterm stints of ADF are a very unusual, self-selected group. ADF seems to be extremely hard for most people. I couldn't get through two weeks of it when I tried some years ago after reading through one of the more active ADF forums. And I am much more disciplined (ok, let's call it what it really is, obsessive) than the average dieter. So I suspect that the people who can stick with ADF for long enough to succeed at it, probably have significant metabolic and perhaps psychological differences from the rest of us that don't push them to overeat when they reach goal.

There are so many factors that haven't really been explored. For example, the little bits of research into the variations in how people's mitochondria function find that genetic differences can make two people otherwise with the same parameters respond very differently to exercise. Some will get no weight benefit at all, others will. My guess is that there is something similar to be found with fasting.

I just read a long, and quite tedious, but at the same time eye-opening book about epigentic changes, The Epigenetics Revolution by Nessa Cary. It made me realize that genetics is far, far more complex than the typical presentation would suggest, to the point where it makes your head hurt to think about it. But the finding that binding various bits to your genes before and after birth turns genes on and off, sometimes permanently and in a way that can be inherited, explained the very worrisome findings of epidemiological studies where it appears that grandparents' diets and nutrition status affect the health of grandchildren in surprising (and depressing) ways.

So not only do people start out with genes that are tilted in various directions due to selective pressures on their ancestors (often how common starvation was in their environment, which selected for fat storing genes particularly in women) but then there are epigenetic changes made to the genes that regulate the proteins that regulate metabolism caused by things like exposure to organic pollutants like pesticides, herbicides, plastics and plasticizers, which may or may not be reversible.

Fasting seems like it would have a strong impact on these epigentic changes. Maternal starvation at certain points in pregnancy imprints epigenetic changes on offspring that can be inherited. But the effect of involuntary fasting in animal studies and epidemiologically seems to tilt towards making weight gain easier not harder.

When you thrown in the "intermittant" component, it gets more complex, and as stated, no one has really looked into this beyond those first couple weeks when so many of us bail on ADf out of misery. And to take it further, intermittant fasting in mice fed every other day would be very different from IF in humans, given their much shorter lifespans and faster metabolisms.

Finally, one last factor that does NOT get enough attention is starting weight. The people who are trying to maintain those 100+ lb losses and who had the discipline to eat ADF for the long time it took to lose that weight are likely to be far more motivated and perhaps more obsessive than those who only had 20 lbs to lose, who don't feel the same, "Its now or never" feeling. Someone from Rudolph Leibel's team who did so much of the important research on major weight loss and its effect on metabolism was quoted (I think in the book, Fat:Fighting the Obesity Epidemic a good summary of research done in the 20th century) that the only people in his experience who had been able to maintain huge weight losses were those who were strongly obsessive. I detected quite a bit of that tone in the posts in the one ADF forum I occasionally read.
Thanks for the interesting points made. I fully agree that we have only very limited (= almost none?) knowledge on the interaction effects of the large variety of psychological and physiological factors on weight loss and maintenance. And although I have no 'proof', I would expect that in the end success will be dependent on these interaction effects.
Very interesting and informative stuff, folks, thanks greatly! :)

Just a point about gaining short-term weight. I've been maintaining for around 2 years now, and, every now and again I'll gain 4-5lbs after a heavy weekend - but it always comes off after one, or at the most two, 24 hour LOFs. I post mainly on the 5:2 Mumsnet threads (that's where I started online - once again about 2 years ago) and that's the experience of most of the maintainers on there. So you mustn't panic if you put a few pounds on - provided you take appropriate action!

Thanks again, guys!

Edited to say I think the body is accustomed to - perhaps expects - the occasional blowout, or feast. After all, you wouldn't eat moderately if you made a kill after several days without food, would you? You'd fill yourself to bursting point - then lie around until you got hungry - then start looking for food again.
There's another article out there about weight regain after weight loss. ... 13-8587(14)70200-1/abstract
The idea was to test whether regain happened differently when weight loss was slow vs. fast. They didn't see a difference. The write-up on Yoni Freedhoff's site suggests that the reason is the lack of continued support after the weight loss phase: ... -slow.html
Not specific to 5:2 but: How dieting makes the lean fatter: from a perspective of body composition autoregulation through adipostats and proteinstats awaiting discovery. ... t=Abstract

Given the increasing prevalence of dieting in normal-weight female and male among young adults, adolescents and even children who perceive themselves as too fat (due to media, family and societal pressures), together with the high prevalence of dieting for optimizing performance among athletes in weight-sensitive sports, the notion that dieting and weight cycling may be predisposing a substantial proportion of the population to weight gain and obesity deserves greater scientific scrutiny.

It's a controversial area but I'm sure it's something that's occurred to a fair number of people and comes out in comments from time to time when people wish they could go back and warn their younger selves about dieting.
Couldn't find a decent place to put this but in a way - until there is an agreed, Number Needed to Treat (aka NNT) and Number Needed to Harm (NNH) for weight loss advice, I have some sympathy with the author: Why there’s no point telling me to lose weight

When health professionals bring up my weight in a consultation, I don’t feel like they’re looking out for my health. All my health markers are fine, I’m active and happy, and I’ve spent years fighting against the low self esteem that came from an adolescence spent believing that I’d never be attractive to anyone, yet they still think that it’s important to tell me to do something that I know to be impossible. They give me the impression that my weight is the most important thing about me—more important than, say, my penchant for body piercing and platform shoes, both of which have caused me more infection and injury than my adipose tissue has. They put me right back to where I was when I was a binging-fasting teenager: full of shame.

It's an interesting piece. I've no idea if she'd be an outlier in Marmot terms and one of those who remains metabolically healthy despite obesity: post215664.html?hilit=marmot#p215664
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