The 5:2 diet: what is it and how does it work?


With the 5:2 diet, you can eat whatever you like five days a week — so-called feeding days. On the two “fasting days” you eat 500 calories if you are a woman, or 600 calories if you are a man.

 It doesn’t matter which days are spent “feeding” and which “fasting”, as long as the fasting days are non-consecutive and you stick to the 5:2 ratio.

 On fasting days you can consume your calories in one go, or spread them through the day — there is no medical research yet into whether filling up at breakfast or snacking throughout the day is more effective for weight loss.

 A typical fasting-day breakfast of 300 calories might consist of two scrambled eggs with ham (good sources of protein), plenty of water, green tea or black coffee. For a typical 300-calorie lunch or dinner, try grilled fish or meat with vegetables.  This could also be split into 200 calories for breakfast, 200 calories for lunch and 200 for evening meal –  poached egg and Ryvita for breakfast, avocado salad with tuna or cottage cheese for lunch, chicken breast and stir fry vegetables for dinner

 On feeding days it is said you can eat whatever you like, however I think this is an unhealthy statement that could lead to 5 days of junk food.  I think it is better to eat healthily on those days with a good balance of protein, wholegrain carbohydrates and plenty of vegetables.

 Contrary to popular opinion, fasting can be a healthy way to lose weight. It can reduce levels of IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1, which leads to accelerated ageing), switches on DNA repair genes and reduces blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.

 As a diet, it is not recommended for pregnant women or diabetics on medication. I wouldn’t recommend doing it if you are poorly, hormonal or hungover (when blood sugar levels are low).  Anyone considering a diet that involves fasting is advised to consult their GP first, and if necessary do it under medical supervision.

 Adapted from Telegraph Jan 30 2013


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