The 5.2 diet (sometimes also 5/2 or 5:2 diet) or Intermittent fasting (IF) has been discovered in 2012 in the UK and became famous after the BBC aired a documentary about it in August 2012. As all diets it gained momentum in January 2013 (after the holiday season) and is now getting more popular in the rest of Europe and the US.
The principle of the 5.2 diet
The principle of the 5.2 diet is really simple: in every week you fast for 2 days and eat normally for the rest of the week. The fasting days are days where you eat less than 500 calories for a woman and let than 600 calories for a man. If you struggle to grasp what 500 calories are, here are a few examples:
- 1 slice of bread (100), 2 cup soups (100-200), 3 carrots (123), 1 banana (105)
- 5 apples (roughly 100 each for a 180 grammes apple)
- 2 grand caramel macchiato from Starbucks (2x269)
- 1 big mac (490)
- 2 pints of beer (265 each)
- 20 medium carrots (roughly 61 grammes)
The above are just ideas to better understand what 500 calories are, they are not dieting recommendations.
What to eat on your fast days?
On your fast days, the best is to eat a lot of vegetables as they have a low calorie content and make you feel full. Soups, salads are ideal meals for fasting days. You can also have coffee (black), tea (with no sugar) as they don’t contain any calories. You will need to drink a lot of water as this will make you feel fuller and will compensate for the amount of water that you are no longer getting through food.
Losing weight with the 5.2 diet
The 5.2 diet is a great way to lose weight. The results will show very quickly after a fast day but you will regain part of the weight lost on non-fasting days. But if you carry on for longer period of say at least a month, the results will be noticeable. You can now also find different books on the 5.2 diet, like the The 5:2 Diet Fasting Cookbook or the The 2-Day Diet Cookbook.
Health benefits of the 5.2 diet
The 5.2 diet is a new diet and there have not yet been long term studies about the health benefits of intermittent fasting yet. The only long term studies with intermittent diets on mice have however shown health benefits. Read more about the science behind the 5.2 diet. If you want to read more about the 5.2 diet, there is a book by DISCLAIMER: this diet might not be for everyone so check with your doctor before starting, especially if you are pregrnant or if your BMI is below 18.5 (BMI=weight (in kg) / height in meters x height in meters or find it by clicking here)