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Weight Maintenance

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I think a lot depends on what you eat. If you eat really healthily (stacks of vegetables) you can eat quite a lot, but if you sometimes like things that aren't so good for you (cheese, cajou nuts, red wine and chocolate) you really have to make sacrifices in other areas. I have to skip quite a few meals in a week if I want to eat things that I like, even occasionally, and even when being very active. Thanks to 5:2 it is a lot easier to do this. But it is quite an eye opener as to how little food you can eat if you want to maintain a lower weight.
That's what is interesting about 5:2 I guess...if it retains the brain to reduce the desire for sugary foods will it resume in better long-term weight maintenance. I think, however, that part of the process going on in the body to drive the weight regain is a desire for calorie dense foods. It will be interesting to follow people's progress into maintenance. The only problem is that those who gradually return to their former habits are not likely to come on here to tell us!
Wow that is fascinating. Appreciate you summarising it / trying to make sense of it for us Carorees :).

I have certainly experienced weight gain in the past when I relaxed my calorie controlled / high exercise plan, and I was really surprised how relaxing it just a little meant that I put on a lot of weight. Very disheartening if you do something that isn't sustainable long term & without knowing the science I just felt like I must have eaten more than I'd really kept track of.
I think (hope) 5:2 is sustainable long term, I can see myself doing this forever (other than the odd break if I'm on holiday or something - have to be realistic) :)
I stopped trying to lose weight in December.
So now I'm maintaining and doing 5:2 for the health reasons.
Here's my plan

24 weeks a year I do it strictly
24 weeks a year I do my two fasts but do not strictly keep to the 500 calories
4 weeks a year I'm on holiday

I am so used to going 24 hours without food a couple of times a week, I cannot see the point in stopping
I think traditional dieting usually results in weight gain since it relies on will power. Will power is severely limited and is weakened every time you are forced to make a decision or have any kind of self control. Typically, at the end of the day, when you're exhausted from the complexity of our daily lifes with work, social life and the challenge of resisting temptations, almost all will sooner or later succumb and eat more than they originally intended.

To be successful in actually making a life style change, you must build new and better habits, routines that does not require any actual choice or concious effort, they should be automatic and not taxing on your reservoire of will power.

Sooner or later we all must allow ourselves to indulge, to relax. The key to success would be not having to say no to indulgence, but to postpone it and have it according to a plan.

The 5:2 method has a great structure and acknowledges this "ego depletion" problem, it takes our limitations into account and separates the "dieting" from the indulgence.
I came across this interesting post on the leangains (16:8 IF) website which gives a rationale for why intermittent fasting might prevent weight regain through stimulating leptin levels in a way in which constant calorie deprivation does not. I haven't followed up with a literature search to see if it has scientific credibility but I will do so.

http://www.leangains.com/2010/03/interm ... t-and.html

The key part of the article is near the bottom:
Intermittent fasting and leptin

Generally speaking, studies show a neutral effect on average leptin levels during intermittent fasting. While the fasting period decreases circulating leptin, this is compensated by a big boost when refeeding. In comparison to conventional meal frequencies, intermittent fasting induces a "peak and valley"-pattern in leptin synthesis. Leptin secretion is thus entrained to the meal pattern and shifting meal timing causes a comparable shift in plasma leptin rhythm.

However, there are some interesting discrepancies here in that women actually show a big increase in mean leptin levels during intermittent fasting. This occurs even in the absence of weight gain which is all the more fascinating. In the quoted study, despite calorie intake being elevated in comparison to baseline intake, the women actually lost weight and lowered waist circumference and body fat percentage. Intermittent fasting was also shown to decrease neuropeptide-Y, a hormone that stimulates hunger. This could probably be explained by elevated leptin levels, but there was no linear correlation between the two in this case.

Similar effects have also been shown to occur in men. That is, fat loss occurred without any reduction in leptin - and these were fairly lean athletes to begin with.

Intermittent fasting may also be of benefit when dieting in the single digit range due to the effect of fasting on the fat mobilizing hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine. When you’re in the single digit body fat range, you’re likely to have low circulating levels of leptin. One of leptin’s downstream effects is on epinephrine and norepinephrine output. Low leptin equals impaired output of the aforementioned hormones. This is part of how leptin regulates metabolic rate. However, it seems that these hormones increase regardless during fasting. That is, leptin is not able to exert it’s usual power over these hormones. In this case, their increase cannot be mediated by leptin which allows fat mobilization to go on unabated during fasting.
I've found a paper reporting some of the results of the study on IF in women online: http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/APJCN/12/4/483.pdf
It was done during Ramadan fasting, so is perhaps more akin to 16:8 than 5:2 as the fasting was daily (about 13 hours during the daytime). The women were categorised as to whether they were obese or normal weight. Leptin and insulin levels were monitored by sampling at 1pm at baseline and at days 14 and 28 of the month of Ramadan.

Serum leptin levels exhibited a significant and comparable increase by 39% and 37% throughout the month in lean and obese subjects, respectively. In addition, a significant correlation (r = 0.52, P = 0.003) was found between changes in serum leptin and serum insulin levels.


It is interesting that the subjects insulin levels increased over the study yet we are aiming to get decreases in insulin with fasting. The late night eating that occurs during Ramadan may have influenced the findings as I have seen research showing that eating late at night can result in higher insulin levels the next morning. The authors' take on the findings is:

Since energy intakes were increased during Ramadan, it is possible that
elevated levels of leptin and insulin may reflect a state of positive energy balance due to compensatory increase in food intake during the night...Plasma leptin is secreted in a pulsatile fashion with peak nocturnal levels and the nadir at noon.4
Although the underlying mechanisms responsible for the circadian leptin rhythm is unclear, there is evidence that the diurnal rhythm of leptin secretion is entrained to the meal pattern and shifting the meal timing causes a comparable shift in plasma leptin rhythm.9 Since Ramadan fasting is associated with forward shifting of lunchtime by approximately 6 hours, another possible cause of increased levels
of leptin in our study could be attributed to shift in the circadian pattern of leptin with progressive proximity towards the peak nocturnal levels.


The results of the neuropeptide Y analysis were reported in another paper which is not published online, just the abstract.

So, this study does not definitively support the notion that IF results in increased leptin as there are other possible explanations for the increases seen. However, it does suggest that IF followed by refeeding might increase leptin levels. This tends to support the notion that it is beneficial to alternate fasting with feasting rather than fasting with calorie restriction (although, of course, we still need to create an overall calorie deficit over the week).
Caroline, thank you for the way you broke down the article and gave a focus to each section. It made it much more understandable. As a former (but once a teacher, always a ...)teacher, I appreciate the effectiveness of your technique. :grin:

Thank you, for this important "Well, duh!" moment
It seems to me that this predisposition of the human body to take advantage of, and protect, any gain in weight against what was previously the near certainty of periods of food shortage, even starvation, is completely understandable! :bugeyes: Viewing millions of years of human evolution and history, it would have been advantageous for the survival of the species. The abundance of available food (in the developed world) has changed part of the equation. If this situation persists long enough (highly questionable :frown: ), the human body will adapt. Unfortunately, the individuals caught in this "millions of years" time gap will perish due to their inability to successfully adapt. :curse:

I'd just as soon not be one of those who perish prematurely. :shock: So, with the help of those nerdy scientists and my own "adapt and get the job done" attitude, I am going to do my darndest to work with my old-school body and learn some new tricks. :lol: Truly, I'm 5:2 for life. :wink:
Has anyone put on weight coming up to their period? This is my second fast in two days and I have gained almost 1 kg. So disheartened- :starving:
srobinson wrote: Has anyone put on weight coming up to their period? This is my second fast in two days and I have gained almost 1 kg. So disheartened- :starving:

Yes! It's water retention. I will gain up to 4 lbs before my period and then sloooowly lose this and a little more. My weight fluctuates everyday, depending on how much salt, carbs and time of the month. Don't be disheartened, just carry-on and it will "drain" out of you. :wink:
Hi Caroline,
Great summary of a very complex subject. Thanks. After living for about 25 years @ or around 200#, I had gained ~15#, so went on a popular weight loss program & lost 20 lbs. But it wasn't sustainable for me, as I then got a stressful full-time+ job, had an Achilles injury that sidelined me from exercising. Over 3 years, I proceeded to gain 65# which is where I find myself today. 95% of diets fail not due to moral weakness, but due to biology, genetics & a tainted food supply with such refined carbohydrates, our poor bodies can't react any other way than to fill our adipocytes in desperation! I am PRAYING that 5:2 will break that cycle for good. The research I've read (which you supported) has good outcomes for glucose control, cardiovascular numbers & a host of other biological markers. They've been studying long term (years) IF since the 30's & people seem to do well on it if they keep it up, so as many, many others on these boards have pointed out, its a way of life, not a quick fix, temporary solution. Really appreciate all the sharing, discussion & level headedness on this forum. Be well.
izzy wrote: Yes, perhaps it's more about lifestyle changes and what you eat. Surely not everyone puts weight back on after losing it. If,as Franglaise suggests, you eat a healthier diet, then you are much more likely to keep the weight off. What a shame that we consider being unable to eat certain foods as a "sacrifice", when most of those foods are probably what made us fat and unhealthy in the first place - it's crazy when you think about it.

I wonder how many people have regained weight because they couldn't live without spinach? Or they caved when someone offered them a lovely lean chicken breast? :wink: Is it not more about the dodgy food choices made after losing weight, than just our body telling us to eat? The science might explain what happens to make us hungry after losing weight, but we are the ones who decide what to eat :wink:


There's a statistical failure rate for long term weight loss success of around 80-95% depending on the study. So actually, most people do in fact put the weight back on after losing and many actually end up gaining more weight, than what they initially lost.

The interesting part is that it doesn't seem to matter what method people used to lose the weight or are using for maintenance-low carb, low calorie etc all have a similar rate of failure. This would suggest that it actually doesn't matter so much what kinds of foods you're eating :?: A great book to read for more information on the statistics, as well as the history of the dieting industry is Rethinking Thin, by Gina Kolata. It also goes into some detail about Leptin and how it plays a role in this whole thing, as well as genetics (she dives into the adoption studies that have been done, which is really fascinating as it compares adult adopted children with their biological parents vs their adopted parents/families and how it relates to obesity).

IF/5:2 has probably not been included in the studies that have been done up to this point as it's a fairly new weight loss method (though it's been studied for years for it's health benefits), and an even newer maintenance method-we really are guinea pigs here :wink: However, knowing that pretty much everything else leads to long term failure, I'm definitely open to exploring IF as an option!

I'm excited to see what Krista Varady does in the future, as she's one of the leading scientists in the field of IF and weight loss. I hope she continues to explore IF and long term weight loss maintenance. However, at this point it's such a new field, it will be many years before we can really start to get a clear picture of the long term ramifications of IF and weight loss maintenance. I'm willing to go along for the ride though :grin:
Michael H wrote: I think traditional dieting usually results in weight gain since it relies on will power. Will power is severely limited and is weakened every time you are forced to make a decision or have any kind of self control. Typically, at the end of the day, when you're exhausted from the complexity of our daily lifes with work, social life and the challenge of resisting temptations, almost all will sooner or later succumb and eat more than they originally intended.

To be successful in actually making a life style change, you must build new and better habits, routines that does not require any actual choice or concious effort, they should be automatic and not taxing on your reservoire of will power.

Sooner or later we all must allow ourselves to indulge, to relax. The key to success would be not having to say no to indulgence, but to postpone it and have it according to a plan.

The 5:2 method has a great structure and acknowledges this "ego depletion" problem, it takes our limitations into account and separates the "dieting" from the indulgence.

Thank you so much @Carorees for your thread here - extremely interesting.

@Michael'Hs comments reflect my own thinking here. Even taking into consideration hormonal changes in the body, the discipline of fasting hopefully will keep our "eyes on the ball" with regards to our long term way of eating. Indulging occasionally - restricting twice a week. I also believe that our minds can learn and keep different habits. Knowing that our bodies just don't need nearly as much food as we think (especially as we age) I am sure we can get used to smaller plates etc. After all we humans are great adapters.
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