5:2 Diet – Three Tips to make a Fast Day Easy!
2013 seems to be the year of the 5:2 Diet – have you tried it yet then? Of course it’s partly the time of year – many of us will be starting 2013 with a resolution to lose weight – and trying something like the 5:2 Diet with its associated fast days and a relatively normal lifestyle for the rest of the week. The Horizon programme about the 5:2 diet Eat, Fast and Live longer was about research into the 5:2 diet and fasting, focused on general health improvements, not weight loss. Now, weight loss or weight management appears to be a helpful side effect to the 5:2 diet and I suspect there are links between some of the health improvements that Michael Mosley experienced and the weight he lost (if he’d followed a conventional diet rather than the 5:2 diet he may have experienced some of the improvements in blood markers). But, the whole subject is not fully researched at the moment. So, all we know is that for various groups of monitored animals and humans it has produced significant improvements both in terms of blood markers and reaching an ideal weight. And, personally, I believe it is here to stay as a way of life simply because it is easy to do, if you follow my 5:2 diet tips. These are basic tips for those starting out on the 5:2 diet and I know that there is plenty more to find out and plenty of questions you may have. If you are looking for more information please do check out my recipes or contact me for more information about 5:2 diet support groups on facebook.
Common sense suggests that if you don’t want or need to lose weight through the 5:2 diet you will need to eat more on your feast days. And, that if your intention is to lose weight you shouldn’t gorge yourself on high calorie foods when you are not fasting. My recommendation is to keep to a sensible diet on your feast days (which you can modify according to whether you are trying to lose weight or not). The research suggested that people didn’t want to gorge themselves when they were not fasting and our personal experience reinforces that. If you don’t eat very much for 24-36 hours, your appetite decreases and you don’t need to eat so much when you break your fast. If you are really trying to lose weight quickly then consider three fast days each week so that you are doing a 4-3 diet rather than 5-2 diet. The basis of the 5-2 diet is intermittent fasting where you follow an alternate day fast pattern, so this should help.
Secondly, don’t get too hung up on how many times a day you should eat. It is better to have a sustainable eating pattern that works for you. That’s exactly what Michael Mosley did – eating a relatively substantial breakfast and a light evening meal so that he could cope with his normal working life. We are all different. If you don’t normally eat breakfast, then your body may have adjusted itself so that it doesn’t expect food first thing in the morning. Don’t change that for the sake of this diet…use it to your advantage and save the calories for later on. Equally if you are used to eating three meals a day, then find a way to spread the calories out. There are meal plans to suit those who can manage with just one meal during a fast day, those who like to eat twice and those who prefer breakfast, lunch and supper.
Thirdly: although I like cooking healthy diet recipes, you don’t have to cook to follow this diet. I am very aware that for some people, having to think about making a dish when they are fasting is actually quite hard. And for those of you who prefer not to cook I am going to list some easy 5-2 diet options for you.
There are a few things to remember if you are following this eating plan. You’ll need to make sure you don’t snack throughout the day or that if you do you really understand the calories in what you eat. If you really want to snack try celery sticks or a tangerine. In general though, with the 5-2 diet the fast diet calorie allowance is so low that the odd handful of muesli or extra banana will result in overeating. Even if you have a few calories left at the end of the day I don’t advise drinking alcohol for a number of reasons. Firstly it will affect you far more on an empty stomach. Secondly, alcohol has ‘empty’ calories – it provides almost nothing in terms of nutrients but uses up a lot of calories. Thirdly, drinking slows down your metabolic rate. So, if you are trying to lose weight it will make it harder to do so. Finally do exercise – on a 5-2 diet fast day this might just be a short walk or swim, but, doing something is important. Don’t try to achieve a personal best, but if you can manage some light aerobics or weight training again, it will help in the fat burning process. And, certainly make sure you exercise on the days you are not fasting.
Some Easy Low Calorie Ideas if you don’t want to cook on the 5-2 diet:
- Miso soup (20-50 calories a bowl depending on brand)
- Bovril (5 calories a cup)
- Cooked Prawns
- Ryvita Thins (37 calories a slice) topped with low fat cottage cheese or quark and cucumber or tomato
- Zero fat greek yoghurt with fresh fruit and, if you like it, a teaspoon of honey
- Boiled or Poached eggs
- Green salad, tomatoes and cucumber – either use low calorie dressing or Hellman’s dijonnaise
- A small jacket potato (120-150 cals) with Hellman’s dijonnaise (5 calories per teaspoon!)
- An orange, satsuma or clementine. Or, an apple.
So the 5-2 diet doesn’t have to be all about cooking. There are plenty of other choices if you really don’t fancy spending time in the kitchen. But, if you do want some 5-2 diet recipes, then I’m posting those I am making or adapting from old recipes in the 5-2 diet recipe section of London-Unattached. Good luck – and do comment below if you have any feedback or ideas.
I believe the 5-2 diet is a lifestyle choice. And, it’s something that seems to work well for me. I’m pretty good at ignoring the ‘disbelievers’ mostly because I genuinely feel better after a 5:2 fast day – and so I will continue to use the diet throughout 2013 as as way to try to lose a bit more weight and to balance my eating (and drinking) habits. I don’t advocate it as a solution for everyone. But this diet seems to work for me and I’m happy that I seem to be gradually losing weight by following the 5:2 diet.