To put it simply, the 5:2 Diet is an effective diet plan that is suitable for all but particularly useful if this is your first crack at dieting. Even if you have tried other diets and have not been successful, then this diet is highly recommended before you give up on dieting all together.
The 5:2 Diet enables you to have five days in the week of eating what you want with two days of fasting. Although this sounds simple, there are of course still restrictions and a managed approach to make it work effectively. The article will discuss how to follow the diet best in order to achieve maximum results and provide tasty recipe’s to assist.
What is the 5:2 Diet
The 5:2 Diet involves cutting your calorie consumption to 25%, two days a week and eating normally for the other five days. Intermittent Fasting is generally the term associated with these types of diets and an important benefit strongly linked to this type of dieting is that this helps with your body repair it’s cells, which may help prevent diseases including Heart disease, Alzheimer’s and type 2 Diabetes.
It has also been reported blood pressure and cholesterol levels have been improved significantly through using this diet. The diet on the whole helps you become more aware about what you normally eat, therefore making you appreciate the meals you do have more and allows you to understand how to manage your body’s needs which is good for making this type of diet more sustainable in the future.
What is meant by Fasting Days
Fasting can often be thought of in a religious context where people will go without certain things for a period of time. Not to worry, this is not the case with the 5:2 Diet as the two days fasting within the diet is simply a case of cutting your calorie intake for those two days down by a quarter.
Fasting in this context is used to describe limiting your food intake rather than going completely without. Based on the average calorie intake for Men, the reduced intake on fasting days should be around 600 calories and for Women should be 500 calories. With this in mind it is very useful to consume foods on these days that are filling but do not contain many calories.
Suggested Recipes for Fasting Days
When fasting, some foods that can be really useful include soups and generous portion sizes of vegetables. Certainly, drinking plenty of Water is highly recommended and herbal tea or black coffee are fine. The 5:2 Diet recipe book could be ideal (click link), especially if starting out and looking for interesting recipe ideas.
Below are listed several useful recipes:
Egg-fried Cauliflower Rice –
½ medium cauliflower, around 200g of florets (50 calories)
½ teaspoon coconut or sesame oil, 22
½ teaspoon whole or ground spices e.g. garam masala, five-spice, cumin or spice paste, 3-10
2 medium spring onions, finely chopped, 4, or ½ an onion, 19
150g vegetables e.g. sliced mushrooms, chopped pepper or carrot, frozen or fresh peas, 25-50 calories
1 medium egg, 78 cals
Optional: ½ small chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped 2-4
Splash of soy sauce, tamari or sweet chilli sauce
Calories per serving: 182 for 1 main course servings, 91 cals as a side dish for 2
Cooking time: 8-10 minutes
Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the spices, onion, vegetables and cook over a high heat for 2 minutes.
Add the cauliflower and cook for 2 more minutes and allow the rice and vegetables to brown slightly.
Beat the egg and lower the heat in the pan, move the vegetables to one side of the pan and pour in the beaten egg into the other half of the pan. Stir as they begin to scramble, for 1-2 minutes.
Mix the eggs and rice together in the pan and then serve. Add a splash of soy, tamari or chilli sauce depending on preference, then serve.
Peppercorn Risotto with Salmon/Fennel:
1-cal cooking spray
1 white onion, peeled and finely chopped 38 cals
50g sliced fennel, 15, or 1 celery stick, finely chopped 6 cals
1 garlic clove, finely chopped 4 cals
150g Arborio rice 510 cals
30ml white wine 21 cals
350-400ml hot fresh vegetable stock made with marigold 1tsp 12 cals
75g petit pois (frozen is fine) 38
30g smoked salmon (off cuts are fine for this, or chop into small pieces), 66
zest and juice ½ lemon, 10 cals
A dozen or so peppercorns
Optional: 1 tablespoon Light cream cheese, 22 (Additional 11 cals per portion)
Spray a little 1-cal cooking spray in a large heavy-based non-stick saucepan. Fry the onion and fennel/celery for 2–3 minutes over a medium heat, until softened but not colored. Turn down the heat, add the garlic and fry for another minute.
Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes. Turn up the heat, pour in the wine and heat for a couple of minutes. Then begin adding the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, waiting until each one is absorbed before adding the next.
When you’ve used about half the stock, add the petit pois, and stir through. When the rice is almost cooked stir in the salmon off cuts, lemon zest and juice and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Stir in the cream cheese if using and just before serving, scatter the peppercorns over the top.
Can you really eat what you want for Five Days
This is where many people don’t think the diet would work as it seems unreasonable to diet but still be able to eat what you want. The key is that it is for only five days of the week and on those five days you can eat what you want but not as much as you want.
It is important to stay within your normal daily calorie intake and not to binge heavily or eat more because you want to make the most of the freedom, however most people find that they learn to appreciate their food more by having the going through the fasting days. As a result, the temptation to binge isn’t the same as it may have been at the start.
Key questions answered
How long should I stick with the diet?
This is as long as you feel is necessary, I would always recommend a 12-week period and take it from there. You may feel happy moving to a 6:1 in the longer term, you may achieve a bit of weight loss and be happy with that and revert back to before or you may well look to continue to the diet going forward.
Should I exercise on fasting days?
Many people do exercise on fasting days and find that there are no problems at all. I would advise doing a lighter training session than you would normally do and see how your body reacts. Make sure you listen to your body for any signs of tiredness and stop if necessary.
How much weight can I expect to lose?
Of course, this can vary but on average you should lose a minimum of 1lb of weight a week if the diet is stuck to properly. The important thing is that the diet itself is very sustainable and so can be a long term lifestyle choice for some people and so can be beneficial not only in losing weight but also for longer term health.
I hope this article proves useful in providing knowledge on the 5:2 Diet. I can say from experience that dieting with intermittent fasting can prove extremely effective but also have in mind that people take to these types of diets differently and some can adapt better than others. Overall, I would fully recommend giving it a try if you are looking at suitable diet options for you.