Last Updated on February 5, 2020 by Fiona Maclean
5-2 Diet – The Fast Diet Review:
As someone who has followed 5:2 now for a few months, I was really looking forward to the release of the 5-2 diet book. The Horizon TV programme was really illuminating and I’ve been doing pretty well so far using my own research and the advice of friends and other dieters. And as such I’m probably NOT the target market for The Fast Diet although I really did want to see how useful it was. And I’ve tried to write my review of The Fast Diet objectively and as if I was starting out. I suspect this book is aimed at newbies.
Michael Mosley’s ‘The Fast Diet’ isn’t a particularly expensive book and is currently available for at £5.99 at Amazon. Personally, as a die-hard 5-2 diet follower who has been using the fast diet now for 4 months, I found some sections a lot more useful than others. To some extent, the book suffers because the diet IS remarkably simple. Unlike diet programmes like Dukan, you don’t have to do different things at different phases or buy special food. There are no ‘forbidden’ things to eat or things you must eat. The only rule is to keep your calorie count to under 500 for a woman and 600 for a man on fast days.
The introduction gives a little more detail on Michael Mosley’s original research and on his own test result before and after trying the diet for a month. It’s important to remember this diet is about a lot more than weight loss and it’s useful to have this point reaffirmed. It’s informative and helpful and I can see myself checking sections as needed when friends ask me about the impact of the 5-2 diet on certain illnesses (I have no medical training at all!!!). But, I found much of the ‘how to do it’ section of the book potentially off-putting. The meal planning is all about eating breakfast and supper and not helpful for someone like me who seldom eats breakfast and hates boiled eggs (and elsewhere the book comments that a longer ‘total fast’ might be more beneficial). Equally, the menu plans are less helpful for someone who wants to spread their calories over 3 meals. But they do have the benefit of being relatively simple.
Some of ‘how to’ is in my view unnecessarily confusing and perhaps reflects the speed at which this book was published. Nuts, for example, can hardly be counted as ‘good protein’, when to get your 50% of your RDA you’ll need to eat 578 calories worth. While, having tried my best to support my diabetic mother for several years, I know a reasonable amount about the GI and how important it can be, at times in this section you feel as if you are reading about the GI Diet rather than the Fast Diet. Green vegetables hardly get a mention and most of the fish-based meal plans revolve around oily fish; salmon, tuna and mackerel…which gram for gram have up to 3 times the calorie count of white fish. While I’m aware that you should try to include oily fish in your diet regularly, surely this is better saved for days when you are not following a strict calorie regime?
Of course, some of this may simply be that I believe those of us who are writing up the recipes we use ourselves for the 5-2 diet are doing a great job of coming up with interesting things to eat on fast days and practical meal plans. But, there are things that perhaps could have been covered such as sensible options for ready meals for those who don’t want to cook. Personally, I would have liked to see more about the different views about what to eat on non-fast days. It seems to be a grey area, with some researchers telling us we need to keep an overall weekly calorie deficit – and for those who are aiming to lose weight with the fast diet, I believe that’s an important thing to recognise.
At the end of the book, there’s a section made up of quotes from people on the various UK forums with 5-2 diet threads. Useful if you haven’t been following the forums anyway, rather wasted if you have. Then, a simple calorie chart, a useful resource – you REALLY do have to weigh what you eat unless it happens to be a ready meal!
At £5.99 this is a sensible purchase if you are starting the 5-2 diet and would like a simple, one-stop, resource and I’d recommend every 5-2 dieter gets hold of a copy to keep on the bookshelf.
I’m a real fan of the 5-2 diet. It’s easy to follow, strikes me as being something I’ll be able to do on an ongoing basis and has health benefits as well as helping with weight management. If I was starting on the diet right now, I think I’d find the book invaluable. So, I’d advise any new 5-2 dieter to get hold of the book and read it. My instinct at the moment is to skim read the GI information, as it makes a simple and easy to follow plan unnecessarily complicated and in some cases is just misleading. And, don’t be disillusioned by the meal plans, there are, in my view, better options around! Check out the 5-2 recipe section here. Karen from Lavender and Lovage has also been following the 5-2 diet for some months and has a great selection of 5-2 diet recipes – and if you are looking for veggie 5-2 recipe options, then pop over to Jac’s blog, Tinned Tomatoes. Or take a look at Fiona Beckett’s hints for how to get through a 5-2 fast day.