Will I feel hungry, weak, tired, cold, dizzy and get headaches from fasting?

Simply put: yes, maybe, maybe, maybe and maybe!

But, that’s just in the early days – your body needs time to adjust to fasting and you may well experience things which you are not accustomed to – we’re all so used to just having something to eat when we feel hungry, most of us have forgotten what true hunger feels like. Many are afraid of it, but there’s nothing to be scared about.

The vast majority of ‘fasting side effects’ will pass within a few fasts. Just stay determined and you’ll be fine!

If you feel hungry when fasting, it will pass. Hunger does not get progressively worse and worse – it will usually pass within a few minutes and can often be helped on its way by a nice glass of water.

If you feel weak or dizzy when fasting, it’s probably just your body complaining about a lack of food (in particular, sugar) when it’s been used to regular feeding. In the early days of fasting you may want to split your calories up throughout the day and allow yourself something to eat or drink if you feel weak.

If you feel tired when fasting, more often than not this is a sign of dehydration. Most of us don’t drink enough clear fluids in general, and this becomes more obvious on a fasting day. Make sure you drink plenty of water or low calorie liquids to keep yourself hydrated. It’s amazing what a difference a glass of water can make!

If you feel cold when fasting, this is quite normal especially for women (and all the worse during our menstrual cycles!). A salty drink will help to warm you up, perhaps a low calorie soup or better yet a stock cube/bouillon or marmite drink for a really low calorie alternative to do the trick.

If you get headaches when fasting, this can also be a sign of dehydration and can be remedied with a nice glass of water. You can take paracetamol if the headache persists (don’t have aspirin on an empty stomach) as well. Another possibility is that the headache is a withdrawal symptom from something you would usually consume such as caffeine. In this case, don’t cut the caffeine out of your fasting days, but find a way to enjoy it in a low calorie version, i.e. black coffee or black tea. If you’re going to add milk or sugar (maybe Stevia, although expensive it is calorie free) make sure you account for these as part of your calorie budget for your fasting day.

Before long you’ll be used to the feeling of hunger and won’t even notice it. Most days will be quite easy, although as with all things in life there will be exceptions – I still have an occasional fast which I find challenging. Once in a while I still get a headache and I certainly feel the cold more on my fasting days.

How does the 5:2 Diet work?

Essentially the 5:2 diet/The Fast Diet works by reducing your calorie intake across the week.

One pound (1lb) of fat is the equivalent of approximately 3,500 calories, therefore to lose 1lb of fat per week one must reduce one’s calorie intake by that amount or burn off that amount of calories through exercise.

Many of us who have been overweight love our food and struggle to cut back our calorie intake on a daily basis – we may achieve it in the short term through fad diets, slimming clubs etc however in the long term those of us who love our food tend to struggle to stick to these restrictive ways of eating and will fall off the diet wagon before too long. Once we go back to our old eating habits, the weight piles back on – often with re-enforcements and the yo-yo dieting begins anew!

With the 5:2 method we need only worry about cutting back our intake on two days a week. Yes, it’s a drastic cutback but this allows us to eat as normal on the other five days. It’s a part time diet, making it really easy to stick to and therefore more of a long term way of eating than a diet. In addition to helping us to lose weight the 5:2 diet seems to change our eating habits for the better. For one thing we find our appetites decrease, particularly the day after a fast when our tummies have shrunk and do not wish to be overloaded with food. We learn to listen to our bodies needs rather than just what we want and we start to make smarter food choices based on the knowledge we have gleaned from our fasting days and being so careful with a calorie budget!

What is the 5:2 Diet/The Fast Diet?

5:2 Fasting is a simple way to reduce your calorie intake over the week without making yourself feel deprived and as if you are constantly on a ‘diet’. So many people diet only to get fed up of the constant restrictions and feeling guilty over ‘treats’ – this makes many diets difficult to stick to in the long term and more often than not any weight lost will be regained, often with extra weight. Yes, some people do manage to stick to these other eating plans and keep the weight off – but most of us do not want to go without our favourite foods forever.

With 5:2, you simply have 2 non-consecutive days a week where you eat only up to a quarter of your recommended daily intake of calories. For men this is usually around 600 calories and for women around 500 calories. It’s simple – go to bed on a feed day, wake up and consume no more than 500/600 calories for your fast day, go to bed, wake up and eat as normal. So, you’re only ‘dieting’ 2 days a week – some people call these days ‘repair days’ or ‘very low calorie days’ instead of ‘fast days’, as it is not technically fasting. You can split your calories however you like on your fasts, whether you want 1 large meal, 2 medium sized meals or 3 smaller meals. The other 5 days are often called feed days or feast days – but be careful not to take the term ‘feast’ literally, it is only meant in terms of the lifestyle mimicking a natural state of ‘feast and famine’!

It’s simple, and easier than you might think. The idea of fasting can sound daunting, but once you learn that hunger is only a fleeting feeling and can soon be quelled with a drink of water, black tea or coffee, it just gets easier and easier. You’ll probably also find your tastes in food change somewhat, when you realise how good your lovely filling veg and protein taste on your fasts and how good it makes you feel!

Read full article: “What is the 5:2 Diet?”