Diets explained – The 5:2 Diet
THIS diet isn’t so much a diet but a lifestyle choice you make that many people swear by. The premise is simple. For five days you eat whatever you like, and for two days a week you fast, eating foods very low in calories. Of course, “eat whatever you like” doesn’t mean five Big Macs for breakfast, everything within reason and all that.
While the practice of fasting has been around since cavemen roamed the Earth, tests uncovering the benefits weren’t carried out until the 1940s. The diet became popular in 2013 when doctor and BBC journalist Michael Mosely appeared in a documentary called Eat Fast and Live Longer.
This diet is more of an eating pattern than a diet. There are no requirements about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them. For five days a week, you eat normally and don’t have to think about restricting calories. Then, on the other two days, you reduce your calorie intake to a quarter of your daily needs – about 500 calories a day for women and 600 for men. Here are a few examples of foods that may be suitable for fast days:
● A generous portion of vegetables
● Natural yoghurt with berries
● Boiled or baked eggs
● Grilled fish or lean meat
● Cauliflower rice
● Soups (for example miso, tomato, cauliflower or vegetable)
● Low-calorie cup soups
● Black coffee or tea.
Some may find it easy to fast, others will struggle, so experiment and see what works for you. On fasting days, some report poor concentration and headaches. Maintaining hydration is important, so drink lots of water.
Avoid fasting on two consecutive days – for example, fast on Monday and Thursday. This helps prevent tiredness and you can also enjoy your weekends.