20 Responses to “The 2 day diet”

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  1. avatar Rhys Downes says:

    I find it laughable that you choose to ignore the scientific facts as presented by the world leaders in this field. Are you trying to discredit the research carried out by picking holes out of the text? If so please make sure there are holes to pick. This article seems to me to be to promote the Harcombe diet (which is completely unproven, unlike this diet) by discrediting others. Shameful.

  2. avatar Carol Howard says:

    I am 5ft 4ins and weigh 9st 9lb so not particularly overweight but just have too much round the stomach. I am not sure dieting is the answer but what is. I do walk regularly and do ‘pulses’ morning and night but would Pilates or some other exercise regime be the answer?

  3. avatar Marion hudson says:

    I have been reading Zoe’s blogs etc all afternoon today! I find her extremely interesting ,truthful and blunt.
    I also agree with everything she says about the diet industry ,dieting DOES make us fat! I have done many of the fad diets out there,I am not obese and some would say that I don’t even need to lose any weight (They haven’t seen me naked!)
    I am 5ft 4 and at the moment I weigh 9st 9lb . 6 weeks ago I was 10st12lb. I have lost my weight by eating Real Food!!
    Lean beef,chicken,oily fish,fresh vegetables ,salads and low fat dairy products and I also enjoy a great British fry up and the odd glass of red wine !
    I have not eaten one biscuit,craved any chocolate or cakes and totally enjoy my meals! And after reading Zoe’s blogs I am now throwing out my low fat spread and buying butter!
    Like the lady Catherine Reynolds I have just become a member of a very popular slimming group,it’s working for me and the principles are very much like Zoe’s ( although you can have the dreaded carbs if you so must) I choose not to have the sinned foods and have lots of lovely berries instead.
    I am going to purchase Zoe’s book as I really believe in all that she says…. My parents and theirs were NEVER overweight! We had dripping lard for cooking and most meals were based round meat and two veg!
    We never had pizza or any processed foods and no money to buy sweets and chocolate! I was a healthy child and teenager and weighed 8st 3lb when I got married, that’s when the weight started to creep on! …. Some called it contentment! Really it was not being able to cook so I bought processed meals!
    Anyway,my life has changed and also my shape! I love the new Me and my new way of eating…… Thanks Zoe for all your great advice and knowledge,I’ve had a really lazy afternoon but a very informative one!…. Keep up the good work xx

  4. avatar Chris Steiner says:

    I’m glad I found this page. I didn’t buy the book because it seems that was the aim of the two originators. There are anomalies in it – mainly touted by the Daily Wail who seem to be saying you can eat your cake too. I find the logic of the Mosely idea sound. Humans have had, and still do in the ‘under-developed world, an uncertain diet. Until they began to grow food and to keep livestock, humans had restricted and unpredictable intake – mostly based on plants and occasional protein from animals. In July I saw the programme on juice dieting – bought a juicer on the basis of significant weight loss of the participants featured in it BUT I then thought, “where’s the fibre in this diet” and sure enough a proportion of people who’d taken it up complained of constipation. I then recalled the Daily Mail article and retrieved it. I’ve followed it but it is complex if you allow it to be. I’ve lost weight gradually – 8lbs in 26 days and lost girth (about two inches). However I also, and this follows any sensible diet, have stopped eating bread (except full-corn rye), crisps, biscuits, alcohol, chocolate and orange juice and have also cut down on fruit. I eat vegetables and protein rich foods and drink one cocktail of vegetable juices per day – I figure that I’m getting nutrients from the juice which I didn’t get before because I regularly threw away veg. that I didn’t use it before it began to spoil. The fact that I’m losing weight is possibly down to having stopped eating processed carbohydrates and that heavily fructose laden juice or to reducing my intake (between 700-800 cals on ‘diet’ days). I’m pleased with losing weight steadily. Rapid loss seems to be the aim for some comment makers. I’m not sure that’s a good idea – losing muscle mass is a risk. I’m also exercising most days so the natural depletion of fat reserves as fuel could be taking place because I’m not intaking processed carbs, esp sugars. I may amend to Mosely but the comment by Harvie/Howell that the fat-burning kicks in after 36 hours is persuasive. That might happen were we periodically unsuccessful hunter-gatherers. Some people on here seem to, as I stated before, want their cake and eat it too. Humans evolved to expend energy in the hunt for food or in the growing of it. Ask the guinea-pigs who made the Victorian Farm’ and similar programmes.

  5. avatar Catherine Reynolds says:

    I have recently joined a well-known slimming organisation with my husband (not Weight Watchers or Rosemary Conley). I did this because I promised him I would go along with his choice (he needs to lose a fair bit, and I was prepared to do virtually anything to help him). I followed the Harcombe Diet for several months, with success in weight loss and losing cravings, then he had a heart attack, and I “lost my way”, so to speak. I piled my lost weight back on, but I’ve never regained the cravings for sweet things that I used to have. I have found this has helped very much with the plan we are now following, as I’m just not interested in having sweets, chocolate, crisps or puddings. I eat plenty of protein, vegetables, eggs, yogurt and fruit (I feel duty-bound to stick to the low fat stuff for now!) and we cook our own meals with fresh, natural ingredients. I’ve refused to use spreads, other than butter, and my hubby is happy to go along with this. I won’t buy specific “diet” foods either, and am very happy to tell anyone about the synthetic gunge in any one of them! We are both losing weight (only three weeks in), and I am really not finding it hard, mainly because of THD. In fact, other than, for now, doing low fat, what I eat is all advocated by THD. Some of the members at our group talk about how they “have” to have a chocolate bar each day, or they just couldn’t stick with it. I don’t “have” to eat anything, because I don’t have cravings. One woman was in tears because she is “addicted” to crisps. Others were filling up because they could “relate” to this “dark place”. My hubby and I find this all a little bit bizarre, to say the least, because we have no doubt what caused us to pile on the pounds, and we choose not to eat those sugary, starchy, artificial foods now. He found it a bit harder than me to start with, because he has always had a sweet tooth, and would live on Chinese takeaway curry, but he knows that this is why he is overweight. Now, he even swaps recipes with a colleague on the same plan! He has cut his bread consumption to around six slices of wholemeal a week, whereas he was getting through more than two loaves a week before – by himself! I have had about four slices of bread in the entire three weeks. Nothing is banned or limited, other than sugary, starchy, artificial foods, and you have a daily allowance for these, if you want it. As long as he’s happy on this, I’ll stick with him, but I have THD to thank for finding it easy to do so. He has lost a stone in three weeks, and I am very proud of that. He would find this “fasting” lark virtually impossible. A colleague of mine has been following the 5:2, and has lost about 3lbs in eight weeks. It doesn’t teach you about nutrition, which I think is vital, again because I have read so much written by Zoe and others who think how she does.

    • avatar Zoë says:

      Hi Catherine – thanks so much for sharing all this. I’m so sorry to hear about your hubby’s heart attack – hopefully he’s doing better now he’s on real food. Your words will be an inspiration to those who think that they have to put up with a life long addiction to crisps – we really don’t! You could sit me next to a plate of biscuits for the next 20 years and I would never think of having one. Cravings can be beaten.

      Keep up the great work and you’re not alone in doing The Harcombe Diet at another club! The social support is valuable (that’s why we have http://www.theharcombedietclub.com) – long may it help you
      Very best wishes – Zoe

  6. avatar Denise Alison says:

    I was very interested in this diet, however the more I read in the book the more confused I became with the contradictory content.. To begin with the 2 restricted days are a max of 500 calls for woman, yet the Ready Reckoner at the back of the book states max calls for the fasting days? as 1,000 cals. When I looked at the minimum requirements of food choices for these fasting days I couldn’t see how you could do this within 500 cals. this diet promotes an obsessive pattern of behaviour toward your diet and this in itself is not healthy.

  7. avatar Peter Smith says:

    I too can recommend the 5:2 diet for weight loss. I started on 17th September 2012 and have been following up until now. I am not gaining weight. It is gloriously simple.

    Eat 500 (woman) or 600 (man) calories on 2 days a week and eat what you want on other days.

    Thanks Zoe for your special report. It helped me a great deal and I was able to enter into the diet with eyes open. I recommend it.

    You can see my pictures at http://www.52fastdiet.co.uk/blog/dohpeterchina/

    Best of luck whichever route you take,

  8. avatar naomi devlin says:

    I’ve just started reading your excellent blog. As a nutritionist I have been recommending intermittent fasting for years, with the focus on ‘intermittent’ and the consumption of foods on fast days as none, or a small amount of very nutritious foods (nutrient dense not necessarily calorie dense) to bookend the day. I think that 5:2 is too many days restricting yourself and too easy to get into an unhealthy pattern. I prefer the ‘Primal’ approach to fasting, which is to fast opportunistically when you have the urge to, or when good food choices are not available – for example when traveling, or in an all day meeting. Getting stuck in any kind of rut is not healthy or optimal – especially when the 5:2 diet recommends skimmed milk, margarine and sweeteners! Apart from the possible health concerns over sweeteners, have they not seen the studies showing that sweetened drinks promote an appetite for carbohydrate and maintain the desire for sweet foods? Great stuff Zoe, thanks for this reference. x x x

  9. avatar G Smith says:

    I’ve done both Harcombe Diet and 5:2 (the Michael Mosley version not the tosh above!!) While I lost about 11lbs on Harcombe, I did not find it sustainable and although cravings reduced, I was conscious of my food intake 7 days a week. Even though I wasn’t counting calories, I felt like I might as well have been on Weight Watchers! (Not that I ever have been). I started 5:2 in February and lost all the weight I’d regained after stopping THD, and more, 20lbs in 11 weeks. My appetite is much better, I don’t have cravings, I choose healthy, natural foods nearly all the time, I sleep well and have loads of energy (I’m running 8-10k three times a week, even on fast days). With 5:2 I can go out for a curry with my partner or eat the occasional biscuit without feeling like I’m breaking the rules! My BMI is now under 21.

  10. avatar Jessica says:

    And the fun continues! They are now trialling the 5:2 diet for type 2 diabetics! Terrific. So if we don’t succeed with this diet, we will be told it’s because “we’re not sticking to the diet” and it “must be our fault” if it doesn’t work. I’d like to know if the 600 calorie a day diet does work – it seems to have had some success, and I would follow anything which really DID work. But I don’t want more reasons from people to condemn diabetics to a living death, more reasons to look down on the obese.

    What’s the difference between an anorexic and an obese extreme dieter? The anorexic gets told to eat more.

  11. avatar camilla gilbert says:

    I have doing the 5:2 diet and whilst the weight loss has not been massive, I have altered shape, becoming leaner round the tummy and on the thighs. I also feel very much lighter and my digestive system is working more efficiently now. After a fast day, I sleep so incredibly well – a very peaceful sleep. You claim the Harcombe diet can deliver 17lbs weight loss in 5 days. That can not be fat that is lost – it would be far too quick, and I imagine unhealthy. What I like about the 5:2 is that I really can eat what I want on non-fast days and fast days are very bearable – you can make 500 calories go a long way without too much effort.

  12. avatar Anne Robertson says:

    I think that any premenopausal woman following one of these diets risks infertility. Just eating real food and cutting way down on the carbs will ensure continuing good health, an improved immune system and good fertility. In any case, real food tastes much better than any manufactured junk!

  13. avatar Kindke says:

    “– you will have trained your body to maintain on a lower calorie intake.”

    This is key and something many people are unable to grasp. Your body is exquisitely good at detecting calorie restriction and it will definitely make changes to compensate.

    I suspect calorie restriction is probably a better way to make people obese than overfeeding.

    If your only eating 500 calories for 2 days a week, your body can do one of 2 things. Either it can maintain its BMR in which case you will eventually reach 0% bodyfat and die of starvation, or your body can reduce its BMR to match the averaged energy intake of calories.

  14. avatar Megan says:

    Lighter Life do a similar diet these days – but they sensibly say that it is perfect for maintaining your weight – not weight loss. Their own studies have shown that weight loss is negligible therefore they say that you can use their products on the off-eating days to ensure you get the right nutrients and you will help to maintain your weight.

    They also found that people took a couple of weeks before they stopped stuffing themselves on their eating days. eventually it calms down and eating becomes more normal – whatever that means.

    Why can’t we just eat until we are full – because of carbs. Cut those out and there is no need to take two days off a week.

  15. avatar Jessica says:

    Yes, I was doing splendidly on a LCHF diet until recently. I added in a few more carbs (natural stuff) and have been told yesterday that my weight has gone up and I have gained 10cm round my tummy!

    This despite doing a cleaning job over weekends (5 hours of continuous movement) and cycling everywhere. It looks like that contrary to popular opinion (here :-)) I can only lose weight by eating less food. Or having such a restricted diet I feel sick facing a pork chop AGAIN!

  16. avatar Kate Hardesty says:

    Hi Zoe,

    Great review of the diet, I am so glad that you found it over complicated and so obviously a 7 day diet! I thought I was going mad when I was reading the guidelines – who has the time or inclination to analyse their proportions of food to this degree? Also, the constant recommendation of low fat spread and diet drinks is the antithesis to all up to date thinking on nutrition isn’t it!

    Typical overhyped diet being serialised by the Daily Mail!



  17. Hi Zoe ,great simply explained article .As a STOTT Pilates instructor and personal trainer lots of my clients have asked me about this diet and I can now safely say to them don’t bother with the misery of starving yourself !and having read two of your books recently very much recommend them to my clients to follow your advice.
    Finally an author like yourself who has spent a lot of time researching the evidence! And gives the truth not a marketing miracle .

    Look forward to your next post !
    Thanks Amanda

  18. avatar Amrutha Gayathri says:

    Hi Zoe,

    I’ve been reading this space for some time now, and I love your no-nonsense approach. Same for this story, however, I’d like to add something that I’ve felt holds true when it comes to dieting.

    To each his own. I don’t think labeling this particular diet as obsessive and miserable does any good to your analysis. It’s up to people to figure out which diet fits their bodies and minds perfectly. Some might feel the ever-popular Atkins Diet don’t suit them, while some might find the seemingly shocking Warrior Diet perfect.


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