Just over three weeks ago Matthew declared that we were going to undertake the 5:2 fasting diet starting the following day – Monday. He’d obviously been thinking about it for a while but it was news to me. He told me that all we had to do was eat 500 calories on two days of the week and eat normally on the rest. Me being me then had to look into this a bit more and so I turned to my friend google.
Here I found out that this is meant to be a lifestyle change that is supposed to help people avoid aging too fast, increase resistance to the diseases of age (cancer/ Alzheimer’s/ heart disease etc) and improve memory skills. One of the ‘bonus’ side effects is that people lose weight and it is this aspect that has been picked up by many seeking the next new diet. There is a book, but I have yet to read it and some information on the BBC website, a forum related to the diet and numerous other blogs and forums where people discuss the pros and cons. I also discovered that men can eat up to 600 calories on a fast day and there have been one or two days when I would have killed for some of those calories!
So three weeks ago we started.
The fast days are interesting but do seem to be getting easier. We are opting to have 3 meals a day, a small breakfast (1oz branflakes & 90ml skimmed milk), a light lunch (very low-fat yoghurt and fruit) and then an evening meal of around 250 calories. However others appear to have two meals or even just one large meal. We are finding that the evenings are when the temptation to nibble is strongest and therefore this is when we need distractions. I am also finding myself a bit irritable the next morning so probably need to give myself a bigger breakfast. On a fast day I also cut back on tea and coffee (a tea with skimmed milk is 12 calories) and am aware that I get headaches, which are probably caffeine related, so now I am attempting to cut back on tea and coffee generally.
It only took a few fast days to realise that I was going to have to come up with creative ways on eating well with limited calories so as to avoid going down the already calorie counted ‘ready meal’ route. Fortunately I have now found a blog where a recipe developer is uploading some quite delicious looking calorie counted meals – lavender and lovage – it is well worth a look. I should also add that there are loads of delicious looking meals for non fast days too!
On reflection it this plan is very doable and if you are feeling hungry on a fast day you know that you can eat normally tomorrow, not sometime way into the future as is the case on most sensible weight loss diets. It is also possible to move the fast days around a bit to reflect on other activities in the week, so if Matthew has to change his cycling night or we are invited out we can move our fast days as long as there is at least one non fast day in between.
I have also been doing more reading around the concept, mainly on the internet and watched the programme that started it all, a BBC Horizon programme with Dr Michael Moseley. He was looking into the long known fact that people on calorie restricted diets live longer and are less susceptible to the diseases of aging. Medical research is now being carried out but is still in relative infancy so no one is in a position to say that intermittent fasting will work. Official advice is still for a woman to eat 2000 calories a day and a man 2500.
If you do decide to embark on this I would suggest that this might not be a quick fix diet and that more research needs to be done on the long-term effects and if the health benefits extend beyond the time of the diet. I would also recommend caution in reading all the on-line forums as they are full of sceptics and converts all pushing their point, as well as the disappointed who haven’t lost massive amounts of weight.
The early results for Matthew and I in regards to weight loss are pleasing. The first week we both lost weight, the following week we both put back on half that we had lost which was a bit disappointing. However our third weigh in showed that we had lost again,we have now both lost 6lbs and clothes are definitely roomier. Fortuitously just before we embarked on this my nurse decided to give my bloods a proper MOT and tested me for just about everything, so in several months time there is a base to compare with. As to having a sharper mind the jury is still out…!
So are you on this plan? Are you tempted to give it a go?