The five and two diet: 5:2 diet explained
The five and two diet: The 5:2 explained
Want to lose weight super fast without having to completely starve yourself? Well the 5:2 diet might be the option for you.Find the right diet for you from our huge selection of diet plans in our comprehensive Diet A-Z.
Let's put it out there, this diet might be the biggest thing on the dieting radar right now. The 5:2 diet practically exploded onto the market in 2013, with an internationally best-selling book and a super-following from the public and Hollywood A-list alike.
Not only will you apparently easily drop a dress size with this diet over a month but you'll be giving your body a well-needed blitz without having to do any full-on fasting!
The diet has had such a good reception that even Hollywood dieting goddesses Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez and Jennifer Anniston have all given it the thumbs up!
But dieting for two days a week initially sent minor alarm bells into our heads, so we spoke to Dr Kelly Johnston, Head of Nutrition and Research at LighterLife as well as others to get the low-down on this low-calorie diet!
How it works:
You can get quite a lot of what this diet is about purely from its name.
Basically for 5 days you eat normally and for 2 you fast, eating no more than 600 (if you’re a guy) or 500 (if you’re a woman) calories per day. In essence this is intermittent fasting at its best.
It’s completely up to you how you divide those calories up, so you could have a ‘huge’ breakfast at 300 calories and then limit yourself throughout the day. The rest of the week, you virtually eat what you want. This means that your natural metabolism will get a massive kick-start and start burning all those calories faster, as well as your general calorie intake being significantly less so you will lose weight.
Now you might spot a hole in this idea already – what happens if you just pile on the pounds for the other two days? Well Dr. Kelly says that normally reducing your calorie intake for those two days a week naturally encourages you to limit what you eat (a little) for the other five.
“Despite the allowance of free eating, a few small trials of this diet have shown that individuals often end up eating fewer calories overall; comparable or better than other widely used methods of calorie restriction," she assures.
As well as this, the diet also claims to be great for other health complaints due to a little hormone called IGF-1. Fasting essentially lowers the level of potentially cancerous cells in the blood and could lower the risk of this disease. Advocates also suggest that the 5:2 diet can also help protect against Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
However the level of research into all of this, Dr. Kelly admits, is pretty low. But there are studies taking place and initial results look positive.
Lead investigators from the Nutrition and Metabolism group at the UK's University of Surrey, Dr Denise Robertson and Dr Adam Collins, say the potential of this diet is huge.
“The potential benefits of the 5:2 diet go beyond that of simply weight loss through calorie restriction. Humans are metabolically designed to function through periods of feast and famine, a complete contrast to modern lifestyles that are more conducive to feast and feast.
The 5:2 diet may be metabolically advantageous as it helps retrain the body to operate as it was designed to do, hence improving overall metabolic health. Considering your metabolic health is far more important than simply body weight and size, regimes like the 5:2 diet have greater therapeutic potential”.
So really what can you expect?
Dr Kelly says that the results can vary from person to person.
“Some may not lose any weight and others may lose up to 7lbs. What, if any, a person loses is highly variable and will depend on many factors, including but not limited to the starting weight of the person, the dietary intake on their ‘5’ days etc.”
That said, when health journalist Michael Mosley took on the challenge last summer he reportedly lost just under a stone and reduced his body fat by about 25%.
So for some the 5:2 diet really is that miracle worker they've been waiting for.
So let’s talk about the two-day fast first. During these fasting days it’s best to consume high-protein, low-calorie foods that still give you energy. For example, fish, eggs and fibre-rich food like oats and grains.
There are also ready prepared options out there that you can use for greater convenience.
Dr. Kelly suggests having four LighterLife food packs per day as well as keeping yourself nice and hydrated with plenty of water and black coffees or herbal teas.
“A typical pattern is porridge as the first meal, a bar at lunch time and then soup or shepherd’s pie in the evening with a chocolate milkshake or hot chocolate drink in the evening.
If you feel hungry in between have something to drink – often we mistake thirst for hunger, so a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea will keep you going until it is time for your next food pack.”
Then for the other five days you can go wild – well not quite but in comparison!
Dr. Kelly just suggests to not binge, be sensible with your weekly diet, but ultimately what you eat will be determined by what you want from the diet.
“What you eat will be largely down to choice and whether or not you are attempting to use this diet to drop a little bit of weight, or simply maintain your body weight where it is.
"I would personally advocate that on the days that you are not fasting you can eat normally and eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole-grains, pulses, lower-fat dairy products and lower-fat protein-rich foods such as lean red meat, poultry, fish and eggs. And of course there can often be room for a little treat if you fancy it.”
If you're going to do a fasting diet then this could be your best option. Traditional fasts really are unpleasant and can do some major damage to your body.
With the 5:2 diet you will have all the effects of a fasting diet but without quite such an extreme approach.
Dr Kelly also assures us that for anybody who is fit and healthy before the diet, there should be no prior risks to your health!
The idea of only eating 600 calories for two days a week doesn't sound so great right? Yeah we thought so too.
The fact that there isn’t all that much research on the results isn’t too reassuring but for the people who have tried it, it seems to be working.
It also is not particularly easy to maintain. What happens when you stop having those two fasting days? Well you simply put the weight back on.
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