Fast diet, also known as 5:2 diet, follows a simple rule of eating what you want for 5 days and "fasting" for the remaining 2. The idea behind is to let us lose weight gradually without missing out on favourite snacks.

What is 5:2 diet?

Fasting has been around for years, and the beneficial effects of this kind of diet appeared as early as in 1940s. However it was not until 2012 when this plan took form of recommended way of losing weight. It was when BBC broadcasted episode of Horizon called "Eat Fast and Live Longer", where doctor and journalist Michael Mosley told us of benefits of this diet. Dr. Mosley claims idea of fasting is "genuinely revolutionary", which he supported by publishing a book on the subject in January 2013. That was quickly followed by another publication released by another BBC journalist, Katie Harrison, "The 5:2 diet book".

Why is it better?

The principle was inspired by the soaring numbers of people fighting with obesity, at the same time when more and more restrictive diet plans being forced upon us. Those who commit to a strict diet feel deprived of their ‘guilty pleasures’ and more inclined to cheat. Fasting gives us possibility to eat what we want and still lose weight.

Bear in mind, 5:2 diet is designed to deliver most comprehensive nourishment, as you do not need to steer clear of any food. Its’ main purpose is to keep us healthy, reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer, while improving out cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It is not to be treated as a miracle weight loss diet – the predicted pace of shedding weight is 1lb (0.46kg) a week.

Can you eat anything then?

Practically yes – during the 5 days. It doesn’t mean you should let loose and stock on cream cakes – but you can eat up to recommended daily calorie allowance – 2000 for women and 2500 for men. Have a nutritious breakfast, roast dinner and a healthy supper. There are practically no restrictions to the type of food you eat, as long as you stay within the 2000 calories limits.

Then on the remaining 2 days eat 25% of your daily allowance – 500 calories for women and 600 for men. You should almost starve yourself on those two days. It’s best top pick set days for that – avoid weekends, or family days – you know you won’t be able to resist and stick to a strict regime then.

What to eat on fasting days?

That’s a good question, 500 calories is very little and can easily fit in one hearty meal. The trick is to eat foods high in protein (which keeps us fuller for longer), yet low on calories. According to Dr. Michael Mosley, the foods to pick are:

  • Large servings of vegetables, especially leafy greens
  • Small cuts of lean meats, such as chicken breast or turkey. Roasted, not fried
  • Fish steaks and boiled eggs
  • Soups are great too, as they are hearty and filling
  • Salads with handmade vinegar dressing
  • Healthy meal replacement shakes

At the same time avoid carbs (white bread, pasta and rice) and sugary foods. Also remember to keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water. It will help you fight with hunger pangs – we often take thirst for hunger!

Is this diet for everybody?

Practically yes! It is a healthy diet with no strict limits. However, as with any diet, it is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Also diabetics and those on prescribed medications should consult with GP before embarking on any new diet. Note these diet restrictions are not recommended for teenagers and children, who need complete nutrition to develop fully.

You might also notice drop in energy levels and dizziness on fast days, also headaches and problems with concentration. Remember to top-up your ‘nutrition batteries’ on regular days by eating more fruit, veg, plenty of wholegrain products and lean meats.