The 5:2 diet was really popular five years ago. You might have had friends and family who were really restricting their diets for two days a week, and then eating mindfully at a higher calorie intakes for 5. This had some good successes, with people claiming that they lost weight, and felt more focussed and energised.
As we know, diet plans come in trends and phases, but that’s not to say that the benefits that different diet plans bring can’t be grabbed and brought right back into our lives today.
Is the 5:2 something for you? Read our quick summary to see if this could be the start of a new eating journey for you.
What’s the aim?
The goal of the 5:2 diet is to cut calorie intake of fasting days to 25% of a person’s regular calorie intake. So, for those who are on around a 2000kcal diet normally, this is just 500kcals daily for two days a week on fasting days. These are usually spaced out throughout the week. For some people, this really works, as it means that there’s a dedicated focus for these two, and a continued varied and higher calorie diet for the rest of the week (compared, for example, to a constant 1000kcal a day diet – which can limit the variety in the diet all the time). However, for some people, the severe calorie restriction can trigger a binge on the non-restricted days, and 5 days is a lot to be eating more to make up for the low calorie days.
This is not a diet for everyone. But for some, it’s transformational.
A bit about intermittent fasting
A lot of the benefits of the 5:2 diet are centered around studies on intermittent fasting:
- Reduction in fat tissue, and cells that store fat
- Help in the management of blood sugar
What you eat on your fast days is your choice. Some people prefer to eat little food and have their calories in their drinks (it’s quite surprising how many calories can add up just from drinking tea and coffee, and two café latte’s and you’re at your limit for the day). You might choose to start your day with a light breakfast. For others, this might trigger hunger for the rest of the day.
However, these simple guidelines can be helpful.
1. Eat three small meals if you can
2. Keep your body satisfied using fibre-rich foods, and don’t cut out fat altogether, as this staves off hunger for a longer period of time.
3. Dark green leafy vegetables are a great way to add flavour and nutrients into your diet, and are calorie low.
4. Protein is important. Make sure that your restricted calorie days still includes lean protein from low-fat meats, beans, pulses and tofu etc.
5. Get fruity – but choose wisely. Some fruits are packed full of natural sugar; bananas, apples, figs for example. Instead choose berries such as cranberries, blueberries and blackberries.
6. Have your drinks without milk
7. Soup is warming and can really fill a hunger gap. Those made from fresh vegetables and stock are generally low calorie, and can help you to feel like you’re still eating a meal, especially if you add herbs and spices.
8. Keep processed foods to a minimum
If you want more information on how to follow the 5:2 diet, or would like help with which foods are suitable, then please ask in your local health food store. There are plenty of books, wholefoods, soups, stocks and organic fruit and vegetables for you to choose from.