The intermittent fasting is a food habit that involves regular fasting. The 5: 2 diet also known as “The Fast Diet or 5: 2 intermittent fasting”, is currently the most popular intermittent diet.
It was popularized by British doctor and journalist Michael Mosley .
It is called the diet or diet 5.2 because five days a week, the diet is normal, while for the remaining two days, calories are limited to 500-600 calories per day.
This diet is actually more of a diet model than a diet. There are no food requirements, but there are times when you should eat them.
Many people find that this way of eating is easier to respect than a traditional low calorie diet.
This article aims to explain everything you need to know about the 5: 2 diet.
How to do the 5: 2 diet?
The 5: 2 diet is actually very simple to explain.
- Five days a week, you eat normally and you do not have to think about limiting calories.
- For the other two days, you reduce your calorie intake to one quarter of your daily needs. That’s about 500 calories a day for women and 600 calories for men.
You do not have to count calories every day, and you can choose the two days of the week that you prefer, as long as there is at least one day in between.
A common method of planning is to fast on Mondays and Thursdays, with 1 or 2 small meals, and then eat normally with a balanced diet for the rest of the week.
It is important to note that eating “normally” does not mean that you can literally eat anything.
If you eat junk food, you probably will not lose weight and you could even take some.
You should eat the same amount of food as if you had not fasted. In other words, do not understand: “I ate less yesterday so today I can eat a lot more. ”
In summary : Diet 5.2 consists of eating normally five days a week and then limiting your caloric intake to 500-600 calories the other two days.
The benefits of intermittent fasting for health
There are very few studies that have specifically tested the 5: 2 diet.
Nevertheless, there are many studies of intermittent fasting as a whole, which show impressive health benefits .
An important advantage is that intermittent fasting seems easier to follow a continuous reduction in calories, at least for some people .
Numerous studies have shown that different types of intermittent fasting can significantly reduce insulin levels .
One study showed that the 5.2 diet resulted in weight loss similar to a conventional caloric restriction.
In addition, it has proven very effective in reducing insulin levels and improved insulin sensitivity . Several studies have examined the health effects of fasting alternately (4: 3 diet), very similar to the 5: 2 diet.
The researchers showed that feeding mode helps reduce insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, cardiac arrhythmias, hot flashes of menopause and more .
A randomized comparative study in people with normal weight and overweight showed significant improvements in the 4: 3 diet compared to the control group who ate normally .
After 12 weeks, the 4: 3 group had:
- A reduction in body weight of more than 5 kg.
- A decrease in fat mass of 3.5 kg, without modification of muscle mass.
- A 20% drop in blood levels of triglycerides.
- An increase in LDL (good cholesterol).
- A reduced level of CRP, an important marker of inflammation in the body.
- Levels of leptin (hunger hormone) reduced by up to 40%.
In summary : Diet 5.2 brings several impressive health benefits. The most notable being weight loss, decreased insulin resistance and decreased inflammation. Blood lipid levels are also improved.
The 5: 2 diet to lose weight
If you need to lose weight , the 5: 2 diet can be very effective if properly applied.
The main reason is that the 5: 2 diet helps to consume fewer calories.
Because of this, it is very important not to compensate for fasting days by eating more days without fasting.
Intermittent fasting does not lose more weight than normal caloric restriction if the number of calories is the same .
That being said, fasting methods similar to the 5: 2 diet have shown many promising results in weight loss studies:
- A recent study revealed that follow intermittent fasting can lead to weight loss of 3 to 8% within a range of 3 at 24 weeks .
- In the same study, participants managed to lose belly with 4 to 7% less waist circumference, which means they lost a lot of harmful abdominal fat.
- Intermittent fasting lowers minimal muscle unlike a conventional calorie restriction .
Intermittent fasting is even more effective when combined with physical activity, such as endurance or weight training .
In summary : the 5.2 diet is very effective for losing weight, if done correctly. It helps reduce belly fat and helps maintain muscle mass.
How to eat the days of fasting?
There is no rule as to what you should eat on fasting days.
Some people prefer to start the day with a breakfast, while others prefer to start eating as late as possible.
Generally, people have two ways to eat:
- Three small meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Two more important meals: only lunch and dinner.
Since calorie intake is limited – 500 for women and 600 for men – it is recommended to manage your caloric budget.
Try to focus on nutritious foods that are high in fiber and protein that will make you feel full without consuming too many calories.
Soups are a great option on days of fasting. Studies have shown that they can make you feel more satisfied compared to the same ingredients in their original form .
Read also: The Complete Guide to the Ketogenic Diet
Here are some examples of foods that may also be suitable for fasting days:
- Most vegetables, but mostly green vegetables
- Natural yoghurt with red berries
- Eggs boiled or fried
- Grilled fish or lean meat
- Soups (eg miso, tomato, cauliflower or vegetable)
- Black coffee
- Still or sparkling water
There are no specific ways to eat the fasting days. You have to experiment and find what suits you best.
What to do in case of cravings?
During the first days of fasting, you can expect to have episodes of cravings or frustration. It is also common to feel a little weaker or slower than usual.
That said … you’ll be surprised at how quickly hunger dissipates, especially if you work or have things to do.
On the other hand, most people find that fasting days become easier after doing a few.
Read also: the benefits of the Mediterranean diet
If you are not used to fasting, it may be wise to keep a small snack at hand during your first fasts, in case you feel weak.
But if you often feel sick or weak during the days of fasting, take something to eat and talk to your doctor. Intermittent fasting is not for everyone, and some people are unable to do it.
Who should avoid the 5.2 diet?
Although intermittent fasting is safe for healthy people and eating well, it may not be suitable for everyone.
It is best to avoid dietary restrictions and to fast completely for:
- People with a history of eating disorders.
- People who are sensitive to low blood sugar
- Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, adolescents, children and people with type 1 diabetes.
- People who suffer from malnutrition, underweight or known nutritional deficiencies.
- Women who are trying to procreate or who have fertility problems.
In addition, intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial to some women as it is to men .
Some women reported that their menstruation stopped while they were following this type of diet. However, things returned to normal when they returned to a normal diet.
Therefore, women should be cautious when they begin intermittent fasting and should discontinue immediately if side effects occur.