Frequently Asked Questions about Fast-5
Can I move my window to 3-8 or 1-6?
Yes. Any five-hour window should work. The primary reason for having the window late in the day is to avoid having a time after the window is closed during which one must resist temptations (and limbic hunger) until going to sleep. For some, this presents no problem, while for others, it is a significant one. Fast-fivers have been successful with all sorts of windows, from morning to mid-day to evening.
Isn’t eating late supposed to be bad?
Eating late in the day is not a good idea if you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, because it takes away the last opportunity your body has to reach a long interval of low insulin, as shown in the graph on page 49 of the book. Low insulin levels are good for burning fat rather than storing it. If you’re fasting 19 hours a day, it doesn’t matter whether you eat early or late – your body still gets the opportunity to burn fat.
I was losing weight steadily for a while, but now it hasn’t changed in the last few weeks. What can I do?
This time of holding steady is called a plateau. Your body has lost some weight, but isn’t willing to let go of more. The following techniques may help you break through the plateau. Once broken, weight is lost at about the same rate as before, and you may reach other plateaus before getting to your goal weight.
For a short time (two weeks or so) increase your exercise by 20% or more.
- Consciously cut your calorie intake for about two weeks. Consistently cutting half a serving of one item in your meal can be enough
- Temporarily cut your window duration from five hours to two or three.
- If you’re feeling up to it, extend your fast on one or more occasions by 12-24 hours.
- Try a schedule holiday – a day or two off of the Fast-5 schedule, then return to your usual schedule.
People holding at a plateau weight using Fast-5 have reported having increased hunger just before the weight loss begins, so try to think of increasing hunger as a good thing.
I’ve been on eating on a Fast-5 schedule all week and I’m still eating everything in sight. What do I do?
Give yourself time to adjust. Compensatory overeating is a normal part of the adjustment, and typically subsides after a week, but sometimes it takes up to three weeks. Weight loss is not to be expected until you’ve been on a steady Fast-5 schedule for at least three weeks.
Is a shorter eating window okay?
Yes. Fast-5 is designed to be as easy as possible and still work. If you find yourself comfortable with a five hour window and want to try a shorter one, or if a shorter window fits your schedule or preferences better than a five-hour window, shortening the window may improve the long-term benefits of Fast-5 by reducing the time that your insulin level is elevated above the fasting baseline.
Can my window be a different time from day to day?
Success with a sliding window is likely to vary from person to person and schedule to schedule. This is one of the many places where one should start with a fixed schedule, and after achieving a comfortable “steady state” of weight loss, make changes to tailor Fast-5 to schedule and preferences. If your weight loss stops, it’s easy to go back to what worked. If your weight loss continues, then you have found extra freedom in tailoring the program to your lifestyle.
What can I drink during the fasting period?
Any beverage of zero or negligible calorie content is fine: water, flavored water, seltzer water, club soda, coffee, or tea. Decaf coffee is suggested in order to reduce the stimulant effects of caffeine. See the “Artificial Sweetener” question below for information on artificially sweetened beverages.
What should I eat?
Decide what you think is the healthiest diet, much like any parent would choose for his/her kids if they would eat anything and everything offered.
- A variety of fruits and vegetables with a generous amount of fiber
- A variety of protein sources: fish, eggs, meat
- Nuts or sunflower seeds.
A balance of carbohydrate, fats, and protein with no extremes. Reducing carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, cereals) may enhance weight loss by an additional effect on appetite moderation.
Can I combine this with low-carb (Atkins, South Beach)?
Yes. Fast-5 can be combined with diet programs that specify content, such as a low-carb diet, an ADA diet for diabetics, etc.
Can I chew sugarless gum or candy?
Sugarless gums and candy often contain calories because they contain sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, so this would not be fasting. Chewing and/or the sweet taste, even without calorie content, may trigger gut activity and increase hunger. If it’s important to you to have gum, you can compare Fast-5 with gum and without gum for a couple of days each way and see if you notice any difference. For candy sweetened with artificial sweeteners, see the artificial sweeteners question.
How can I see quick weight loss with your plan?
Fast-5 is not a quick weight loss plan. It’s powerful, effective, and sustainable, but it’s not quick. A pound per week is the typical sustained average weight loss. In the tortoise-and-hare tradition, it is more likely to get you to your goal than a “quick” solution. For most people, a pound per week is much faster than the rate at which the excess weight was gained.
What about artificial sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners are acceptable but should be minimized. Even though they’re artificial, they may trigger insulin release through taste receptors, which can lead to reduced fat burning. If their use helps with weight loss, then the overall health balance of good vs. bad favors using them, but it would be best to get used to drinking beverages without them.
What about stevia?
Stevia is a natural non-caloric sweetener widely used around the world. One should not conclude any product is safe simply because it is natural—the deadly toxins ricin and botulinum toxin are completely natural too. Recent toxicity studies have shown no significant threat in using stevia. When hundreds of millions of people have used it thousands of times, as they have with Nutrasweet and Splenda, hidden problems may become evident. Like the artificial sweeteners, the sweet taste may elicit some insulin response, so minimizing use would be a wise choice.
What about putting lemon juice in my tea or water?
No problem. Not enough calories to have an effect.
I’m hungry all day some days. What can help?
Fast-5ers report that high carbohydrate (bread, rice, pasta, potatoes) intake usually lead to more hunger the following day. You may want to trim your carbs. Increased hunger may also mean you’re about to start dropping weight again after a plateau period.
If you ate everything you needed to in order to get all the nutrients you need to survive, wouldn’t you be extremely stuffed?
No—consider this: What do we need nutrients (food) for?
1) fuel – energy to supply bodily functions
2) structure – spare parts to replace what’s used
As for #2, the body is very, very good at recycling. When cells or parts of cells grow old, their parts are largely reused. For someone who is not growing, pregnant, or breast feeding, the need for these spare parts is tiny compared to our need for fuel.
For #1, fuel, yes we need fuel, but if it is stored on our bodies already as fat, then we don’t need to be eating fuel. For those wanting to lose weight, the idea is to “eat” the stored fuel — as Carrie of the Fast-5 Yahoo group put it, she wants her body to go “eat” her thigh.
There is a lot of exaggeration about how much nutrient intake we need to live. Much is due to marketing and some is planned in order to avoid vitamin deficiency. The US RDA, for example, was developed based on micronutrients, not total calories, when obesity wasn’t much of a problem. It used a 50% excess of content to make sure sufficient micronutrients (vitamins, etc.) are available in an “average” diet for the “average” person.
Can I eat ___________?
Many people have asked if they can eat various no-carb foods such as olive oil or protein shakes during the fasting period. Eating anything during the fasting period, even if it does not produce an insulin surge, may impair progress on Fast-5 because eating calories of any sort may activate limbic hunger which instinctively prompts a person to eat more once the first bite is taken. Limbic hunger (p. 12 in the book) can be difficult to resist.
However, no two people are alike and what is a problem for others may not be a problem for you. What works for you is all that matters, so you can try any modification of Fast-5 you wish. If your modification works, you keep losing weight. If it doesn’t, you stop losing weight. You can always go back to what worked, and all you risk by trying something new is your rate of weight loss. Once you’re started on Fast-5 using the traditional style (no calorie intake during the fasting period) and see some steady weight loss, you know what works. After that, you can experiment and see what modifications work for you.
See also: Fast-5 Summary