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