I have had another good result with the 5:2 diet this week, losing 1.5lbs. What really amazes me about 5:2 is that you really do only have to worry about dieting for the two days a week that you are fasting. I know that might sound a bit obvious, but I am the furthest from dieting as is possible on my five days, so much so that I’m worried that I am eating too much junk on these days. The problem I have is I’m still surrounded by Christmas leftovers and goodies, hopefully in a week or two when the ‘treats’ are well and truly gone my eating habits will improve!
Anyway, what is the 5:2 diet? For those who aren’t familiar with the ‘rules’ and principles I thought I’d include a little synopsis this week.
The 5:2 diet or The Fast Diet
In 2012, The Fast Diet hit the headlines when Dr. Michael Mosley made a TV programme with the BBC’s Horizon called ‘Eat, Fast and Live Longer’ (which is still available via the link if you are interested in watching). Dr. Mosley travelled around America investigating fasting in many forms, including the CRONIES diet (calorie restriction with optimal nutrition) where calories are restricted each day; a four day fast; ADF (alternate day fasting) and finally the 5:2 Fast. Dr. Mosley found that whilst all of the diets helped in the battle against the bulge, as well as having significant health benefits, the 5:2 diet was a much more sustainable (and pleasurable) way to fast while maintaining the health benefits and weight loss results.
How does 5:2 work? *
On two days a week you cut your calorie consumption to around 25 per cent of what your body needs, and on the other five days you eat normally. Whilst most diets expect you to deprive yourself every day to achieve a calorie gap, 5:2 concentrates the calorie-counting and restriction to just two days. On your two fasting days the calorie limits are strict, but this means that on the other five days you are free to eat out, celebrate family occasions and pig out on Christmas leftovers (if you’re me!!).
Benefits of 5:2 *
- It’s sustainable – you’re more likely to sustain intermittent fasting long term.
- It’s cheap – you are consuming less – as long as you don’t eat out too much on your 5 day….
- It puts you back in touch with your body’s signals – you will relearn what appetite feels like
- It has health benefits, including:
- Improved insulin responses
- Short term fasting can speed metabolism
- Enables cell repair
- May reduce damaging inflammation
- Boosts focus
- May reduce risk of degenerative conditions
- May improve life expectancy
Getting started on 5:2 *
- Set your weight-loss (or maintenance) goal and Fast Day Limits – 5:2 works because you create a deficit or ‘calorie gap’ between the energy the body uses and the energy you consume. The guideline for Fast Days is around 500 calories per day if you are a woman or 600 for men. This is based on the energy needs of an average adult, you can calculate your actual calorie needs on Fast and non-Fast days here.
- Pick two days on which you will fast in the week ahead – they don’t have to be the same days each week or consecutive days. Separate your days at first and choose days when you’re busy but not under serious pressure. You can do more fasts a week (4:3) if you wish to increase the calorie gap but avoid doing more than two fasts back to back.
- Plan your meals to fit your calorie limit on those fasting days.
Fasting tips and tricks *
Your first Fast Day can be exciting, but also unsettling (I know I hated my first Fast day and can’t believe how easy subsequent Fast Days have been in comparison). Once you’re used to Fast Days, you’ll almost certainly feel more energetic and positive.
A few things to expect on your first Fast:
- Feeling cold – drink hot drinks and wear extra layers.
- Headaches – drink plenty of water.
- Irritability – build in a non-food treat to look forward to.
- Digestive changes
- Feeling light-headed – less common, have a small calorie counted snack on standby if this happens.
Tips to cope with your first Fast:
- Drink plenty of water, black coffee, tea or low cal. herbal teas.
- Distract yourself.
- Move more – I can jog while fasting which amazed me the first time I tried.
- Feel your hunger and relearn how it feels to be hungry.
- Celebrate food – when you do eat make an occasion of it.
- Create a support network.
- Use the catchphrase ‘Tomorrow I can eat what I like’
* Taken from the book “5:2 Veggie and Vegan” by Kate Harrison.
There we have the 5:2 or The Fast Diet in a nutshell, you can read more about Vegan Fasting in this great pamphlet written by Viva “5-2 Vegan Style”.
So far it’s working for me!