The 5:2 diet – where you feast for five days and fast for two – is one of the world’s hottest health fads, and one of the most controversial.
The trouble with diets is not just the lack of food, it’s the discipline and determination. If we trimmed down on that, it may be easier to actually cut back on calories without breaking your will power every other day by binge eating. That’s what I’m going to find out.
With the 5:2 diet, instead of stressing about calories every minute of every day, you restrict your intake for two days a week – essentially, it’s intermittent fasting.
If it sounds kind of difficult, it’s not. I’ve already tested it out for a week.
And you’ll be surprised to know that your meals on the 5:2 don’t actually look like this:
There’s been quite a divide between people who love the diet, and people who hate it, and that’s mostly because 5:2 is so new. There’s not really a massive study behind it.
But there’s reason to be hopeful that intermittent fasting regimes such as 5:2 are good for you.
The idea behind 5:2 is that, in the wild, periods of famine and feast were perfectly normal. Our ancestors didn’t eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with small snacks in between. They would hunt, kill, gorge and then go for long periods without eating anything. And scientific research is suggesting that following their lead could offer fast weight loss and even heart, brain and cancer protection.
So I’m going to test it all out.
At 5″4, 10st4 (or 144 pounds) and measurements of 37-28-37 before dieting, I’m hoping the 5:2 diet will take a few pounds off me by the end of my six week test.
So here’s the plan: For five days a week, I’ll eat normally. For a moderately active (I go to the gym three times a week) woman, that’s about 2,000 calories per day.
Then, for two days a week (I’ve decided to make this Tuesdays and Thursdays) I’ll fast by eating a quarter of my recommended intake – 500 calories – split throughout the day.
I’ve already tested this out for a week, and while the results aren’t 100 per cent there yet, I’ve already lost three pounds off of my starting 144. Mind you, I gained one of those back recently after having a junk food binge over the weekend.
Here’s how I’ve been doing it: During my fasting days, I break the 500 up evenly throughout the day. I have porridge for breakfast, which starts off the calories at 125 for the day. For lunch, I have half a cup of brown rice, which is 108 calories. With the remaining 267 calories, I’ll have vegetable stir fry in the evening and a banana as a snack. That brings me to around my 500 for the day.
And it’s working pretty well, according to my weight scale.
But the results for everyone online seem to be staggeringly different – from a couple of pounds to an entire stone over six weeks of dieting – so to figure out whether it all actually works, I’ll be documenting my diet experience over the next six weeks, including how much weight I’ve lost, how many cm have come off my waist, what I ate, and, of course, how miserable or great it makes me feel.
We’ll see how it goes.