Overview Of The 5:2 Diet

The 5:2 diet originated in the United Kingdom in the 2010s and was popularized by Micheal Mosley, a medical journalist. As a form of intermittent fasting, the diet involves restricting calories for two days of the week. Followers of the plan can eat what they like for the remaining five days, and there is no need to restrict or monitor calories on these days. The plan allows an unlimited choice of foods and drinks on all days of the plan, so patients are in complete control of what they eat and can choose foods they enjoy. 

Many individuals will consider the 5:2 diet when they are searching for the best fasting diet for weight loss. Of course, there are a few ways to adapt this diet, including engaging in clean fasting as well as keto fasting. Patients should always check with their doctor before beginning any fasting diet for weight loss to ensure they can complete the program safely. They also need to understand intermittent fasting, including the 5:2 diet, before they begin.

Intermittent Fasting Basics

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Intermittent fasting involves fasting for a short and specific period. Some of the most popular methods involve confining eating times to a set number of hours per day. For example, patients may choose to fast for sixteen hours of the day and consume all of their food within an eight-hour timeframe. This method is often used by individuals who are new to intermittent fasting. As individuals become more comfortable with this eating method, they may decide to have a smaller eating window. Common approaches ask the patient to consume all of their meals within six hours while fasting for eighteen hours. Some patients choose to allow themselves a four-hour eating window with a twenty-hour fast. 

During the eating window, the patient eats all of their meals as normal. This means that there is no requirement to count calories or change their regular diet in any way. Instead, the patient eats as they normally would, though they must do so within a set number of hours. Many patients start by fasting overnight and eating breakfast a few hours later to make their fasting hours easier to handle. They can then restrict their eating window more after adjusting to this. Patients are typically advised to consume no food during the fasting periods. However, they are allowed to drink unlimited water, herbal tea, and other calorie-free beverages. An advanced variation of intermittent fasting involves a total fast (with no food) for twenty-four hours on two or three days of the week. The patient follows their normal eating pattern on the remaining days.

Get familiar with how the 5:2 diet plays into this next.

How The 5:2 Diet Works

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The 5:2 diet is a modified form of intermittent fasting. Instead of going without food entirely during the fasting times, the plan allows individuals to consume a limited number of calories within the fasting window. This feature often makes it easier for patients to continue with the diet as a long-term lifestyle choice. The program allows the patient to choose which days of the week they can fast. Many individuals appreciate this flexibility. It means that if a last-minute party or dinner invitation arrives, the patient can move their fasting day to another day of the week. Experts suggest beginners on the 5:2 program consider fasting on Mondays and Thursdays. By choosing these days for fasting, the patient can eat normally for two or three days before each fasting day, making the fasts easier to complete. The two days of the week the patient chooses to fast should be non-consecutive days, as fasting for more than twenty-four hours at a time is not recommended without medical supervision.

Learn about how eating works on fasting days next.

Eating On Fasting Days

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On fasting days, women must not consume more than five hundred calories. Men are restricted to six hundred calories. Patients do not need to limit their eating window to specific times on the fasting days. They can eat at their normal mealtimes. Thus, having a late dinner or an evening snack is perfectly acceptable. Followers of the 5:2 plan are encouraged to eat several small meals throughout the day to make the fast as easy as possible. Online cookbooks designed specifically for the 5:2 plan have recipe suggestions for fasting days. Patients can use any recipes that fall within the calorie limit for these days. Some individuals find it easiest to use packaged foods that display the calorie content on fasting days. Others choose to include meal replacement bars or shakes for some meals on the fasting days.

Building meals around whole grains, fruits, and vegetables enables followers to enjoy a larger quantity of food while remaining within the calorie limits. This can help ease hunger. For example, breakfast could include a small fruit salad or a portion of oatmeal with some yogurt. Alternatively, patients may want to have a piece of wholegrain toast with avocado slices. Including a large tossed salad at lunches and dinners is ideal. Patients should measure out the salad dressing for calorie control. If planned correctly, fasting days can include desserts as well.

Uncover more tips for fasting days now.

Other Tips For Fasting Days

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Of course, there is more to fasting days on the 5:2 diet than eating. Individuals need to remember to drink a significant amount of water on these days. The minimum is eight glasses, though more can be quite helpful. Patients should consider drinking a glass of water either before or after any food they consume on their fasting days. Another good tip for fasting days is to plan ahead. Specifically, it helps if individuals plan what they will eat on these days, even the time frame in which they will eat. Keeping fasting-friendly foods in their refrigerator and pantry is crucial, since it will help them avoid ordering food and going off their fast entirely. 

As mentioned previously, it also helps when individuals schedule the fasting days for when they are busy but do not need to be incredibly social. Social events often include a fair amount of food and eating, which can be tough on individuals who are fasting. Finally, the best tip for fasting days is for individuals to be kind to themselves. Accidentally eating a few more calories than allotted, such as 520 calories instead of five hundred, will not destroy the fast. Hunger pangs are also normal and will subside, but it is okay if individuals need to restart the 5:2 diet.

Continue reading to uncover the health benefits of the 5:2 diet next.

Health Benefits Of The 5:2 Diet

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Studies show that intermittent fasting methods like the 5:2 diet are often associated with significant weight loss and improved metabolic health. A review of several studies conducted in animals concluded that intermittent fasting reduced both fat tissue and fat-storing cells. A 2018 meta-analysis found this type of fasting is just as effective as traditional calorie restriction for weight loss and health improvements. Research suggests that intermittent fasting approaches like the 5:2 plan are ideal for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. In clinical studies, participants who follow intermittent fasting programs have reduced their blood glucose readings and insulin resistance. When insulin resistance is reduced, the body is more sensitive to insulin and can use it more effectively. 

A three-month study of normal-weight and overweight individuals found that intermittent fasting reduced triglycerides by twenty percent. It found that levels of an inflammatory marker called CRP were reduced as well. Notably, the study concluded participants who fasted were able to decrease their leptin levels, a hormone produced by fat cells, by forty percent. Additional research suggests that intermittent fasting may reduce symptoms associated with asthma, seasonal allergies, menopause, and irregular heart rhythms.

Read about the risk associated with the 5:2 diet next.

Risks Of The 5:2 Diet

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Although the 5:2 diet is safe for many individuals, it does have some risks. Doctors advise that it not be used by patients who have a history of eating disorders. This includes anorexia and bulimia. It is also not appropriate for those with a history of nutrient deficiencies or malnourishment. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use the 5:2 diet. It is also not intended for children or teenagers. 

Patients with type 1 diabetes are cautioned to avoid all types of intermittent fasting, as it could interfere with their blood glucose and medication. Anyone who experiences frequent episodes of low blood sugar is advised to choose a different dietary approach. Some women who try intermittent fasting routines experience changes in their menstrual periods. Menstruation could stop during the program. Women should consult their doctor before starting intermittent fasting. They should also inform them if they experience any issues with menstruation.

Uncover common mistakes made on this diet next.

Common Mistakes Made

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One of the most common intermittent fasting mistakes, including on the 5:2 diet, is starting too fast. Individuals who are new to intermittent fasting should not attempt to do a twenty-four-hour fast right away. Instead, individuals should gradually transition themselves onto the 5:2 diet. This can look different depending on the individual. However, it does mean starting with shorter fasts first, such as fasting for sixteen hours and eating for eight. Starting the 5:2 diet too quickly increases the risk of individuals failing and abandoning the diet completely.

Another common mistake is eating only three large meals on non-fasting days. Individuals should space out their meals to keep their energy steady. In addition, some individuals make the mistake of eating their limited calories all at once on fasting days. This is also a significant issue, as it is even more important to space out the energy from their food on fasting days than non-fasting ones. Individuals on the 5:2 diet often also forget to drink enough water. Although they are limited in the food they can eat, water is not included. In fact, it is vital to drink lots of water on this diet, as well as other intermittent fasting approaches. Finally, some patients fail to listen to their body on this diet. Although it is effective, it is not suitable for everyone. Patients should talk to their doctor about any negative effects they feel.

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    Emily Fowler