Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few months, you’ve probably already heard about the 5:2 diet. Maybe you’ve even researched it or contemplated giving it a go?
Gareth and I decided to do just that a couple of weeks ago. We’d got into bit of a rut of having wine every evening and eating too many random snacks. Neither of us are overweight and we’re both pretty active, but my midriff was expanding and when I got on the scales (which I don’t do often) I was a good few pounds heavier than I like to be. We’d previously bandied around the idea of cutting down on the booze and the chocolate biscuits, but without a proper ‘plan’ neither of us are really any good.
So, what’s it all about. Well, basically it’s a regime (quite commonly referred to as a way of life) which involves eating normally for five days each week and then ‘fasting’ for the other two. The fast days mustn’t be consecutive. You may eat a quarter of your average daily calorie allowance (so around 500 cals for women and 600 for men). The benefits are manifold. Slow, sustainable weight loss is the most obvious advantage, but the underlying health benefits are impressive.
Being my usual sceptical and suspicious self, I wasn’t initially convinced by all of the positive reviews. The common thread seemed to be that this regime is manageable because it’s only for short bursts. I checked out the website and also managed to find the original Horizon documentary* ‘Eat, Fast, Live’ which in aired August 2012. It was after watching this that I could really see the point of giving it a try. Gareth felt the same.
Anyway, here we are, we’re just over two weeks in. We fast on Mondays and Thursdays (today is our fifth fast day). I’ve already lost around 3lbs which has taken my weight back to where I like it to be and my tummy has flattened quite considerably. So, how’s it going? Well, fine, almost easy. The first day was a challenge, I cannot lie, and there were a few times when I thought I was going to drop from lack of energy (it was hot and I have a pretty physical job), but I made sure I drank lots of water and managed to get to dinner time which is when we use most of our calorie allowance. Day two was easier though and since then I haven’t really found it hard at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad when I get up the day after the fast and I can eat normally, but that’s the whole point of this exercise. It’s not about denying yourself the pleasure of food for days and weeks on end. In case you’re wondering, a typical fast day for me is like this:
Breakfast : one slice of wholemeal toast with a scraping of low fat spread and vegemite (around 100 cals)
Lunch: big, green leafy salad and a drizzle of Pizza Express Light dressing (no more than 50 cals and helps psychologically I’m finding)
Dinner: Veggie chilli and small portion of rice/Salmon with watercress salad and a small portion of cous cous/ Tuna and white bean salad with one ciabatta roll (around 350-400 clories)
I drink water or tea with a dash of milk throughout the day.
It’s truly amazing (as someone who’s never counted calories) to realise how just many are in a chocolate biscuit and it’s also amazing to discover how much food you can actually eat within the constraints of a 500 calorie plan. It’s totally doable.
Do any of you do 5:2? What are your what are you hints and tips?
*This is quite hard to find and I’ve since lost the link, but worth looking for if you have time!
Image courtesy of Prosar.com