The trouble with diets for many people is not just the lack of food, it’s the discipline and determination.
How many times have you sworn to get fit only to sneak a slice (or whole) pizza two hours later?
If we didn’t have to constantly restrain ourselves, it may be easier to actually cut back on calories – and that’s what I sought to find out.
Enter the 5:2 diet, where you feast for five days and fast for two. So instead of constantly restricting your calorie intake, you restrict it for two days a week – essentially, it’s intermittent fasting.
So does it work? It all depends on your lifestyle – but for me? Not as much as I would have liked. Here’s why.
First and foremost, the diet works. I lost four pounds just in my first week of dieting.
Secondly, 5:2 is pretty much idiot-proof. Sure, you need to count calories on your fast days, but most people fall into a pattern (like I did) of eating more or less the same foods each fast day.
So once you’ve come to grips with counting calories for the first couple of weeks, you don’t really need to bother from then on out – it just becomes habit.
It also helps you realise just how many calories are in the every day foods you eat. While I thought I’d be eating close to nothing on my fast days, I had two bananas, brown rice, and vegetable stir fry – which kept the hunger pains and feelings of wanting to gnaw my arm off at bay.
Starting out, 5:2 is harder than you’d think. I go to the gym three times a week and eat healthy, whole meals. I do, on occasion (sometimes more), have too many carbs and sweets. And on weekends, I go to the pub. Essentially, I’m you’re average 20-something.
I lost four pounds in my first week, and the diet just seemed to hit a plateau for me from there. I also had a serious lack of energy on my fasting days, which resulted in me skipping the gym.
Despite suggestions that your body will adapt to a different feeding pattern over time, there will be a phase of adaptation where you’ll feel pretty damn rough. This could be a week, two weeks, or even a month (it was three weeks for me) – but considering the diet is done on different days, and you’re not eating the same thing day in and out, it seems like the adaption phase is longer with 5:2.
If you can’t see a difference, you’re not wrong – the diet seemed to take off a few pounds, but the inches? Not so much.
At 5″4, I started out on the diet as 10st4 (or 144 pounds) with measurements of 37-28-37. I now weigh 10st (or 140 pounds) and measure the same as before the diet.
While many have claimed to have lost up to a stone in six weeks, I didn’t seem to be anywhere near as successful.
Still, I’m a fan of the diet and being able to restrict your caloric intake without actually changing your entire lifestyle. But that being said, I’d much prefer to eat 2,000 calories a day and work out harder and more regularly.
So, if you tend to lead an average young adult lifestyle and drink on the weekends, don’t expect major changes. The 5:2 isn’t a miracle diet, but it does help you shed a few quick pounds.