What is the 5:2 Diet?
The 5:2 Diet has been receiving a lot buzz these last few years due to its claim that fasting two days per week is the key to quick weight loss. The 5:2 Diet plan involves restricting your calorie intake twice per week, while eating whatever you like for the remaining five days – hence the 5 and 2.
It claims to be revolutionary and your personal ticket to better health, but does a fasting diet plan actually help you lose weight? And is it safe? Here at beautyheaven we’re not so sure. So, we pinned down Cassie Mendoza-Jones – whose credentials read naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and founder of Elevate Vitality – to answer all our queries about the 5:2 Diet book…
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beautyheaven: What exactly is the 5:2 Diet?
Cassie Mendoza-Jones: The 5:2 Diet involves eating normally for five days of the week (around 2000-2400 calories per day) and then drastically restricting your calorie intake to around 25 per cent of your normal calorie intake for two days of the week (around 500-600 calories per day).
bh: What are the benefits of the 5:2 Diet?
CM: The concept of intermittent fasting – where calorie intake is drastically reduced – is a highly effective way of cutting fat mass, boosting energy and improving blood glucose levels in some individuals. Calorie restriction may also increase lifespan, and improve fat burning and brain function. The 5:2 Diet also puts fasting in a slightly more manageable light, although it still may not be for everyone.
bh: Is the 5:2 Diet safe?
CM: Diet is such an individual thing and this diet may not suit everyone. Pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding, children and teenagers, people with diabetes, immune issues or anyone with a history of eating disorders or psychological disorders regarding their body image and appearance should avoid this fasting diet.
bh: Do you think the 5:2 Diet is just another fad?
CM: The 5:2 Diet isn’t a sustainable and balanced way to eat in the long-term for most people. The fact that the creators of the diet say you can eat what you like on ‘feast’ days shows this diet isn’t completely sustainable. Long-term weight loss and weight balance doesn't come from an ‘all or nothing’ attitude.
bh: What do you suggest people eat on the fasting days?
CM: You’re restricted to eating one or two meals on the fasting days, but you can still drink black tea or coffee, herbal teas and diet drinks. You’re allowed to eat lots of vegetables and small portions of lean meats, fish or eggs, as these are more satisfying than carbohydrates like white bread and biscuits. I suggest splitting your food intake into two meals of 250-300 calories each, and drink lots of herbal tea and water. This means you could have two poached eggs with some baby spinach and mushrooms for breakfast, and some grilled chicken breast with a 20g brown rice and some veggies for lunch or dinner.
bh: Are you free to eat what you want on the non-fasting days?
CM: Yes, and this is one of the pitfalls of this diet. The creators say you can eat anything you like, including your favourite (not-so-healthy) foods. They also say research shows bingeing is unlikely (though I’d love to see this research!) and that calorie counting is unnecessary. However, if you’re not losing weight after a few weeks, they do suggest counting calories and cutting back slightly on feasting days. It’s worth noting you can split up your feasting and fasting days across the week in a way that suits you.
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bh: Do you recommend this diet for those wanting to lose weight?
CM: I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this diet, as I don’t believe it instils a healthy, balanced mindset. It gives you the impression that you can eat whatever you want on one day because it won’t matter, as you’ll be starving yourself the next day. Both intermittent fasting, such as in the 5:2 diet, and continuous calorie restriction has been shown to produce weight loss, improve markers of disease and reduce the risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Severe calorie restriction doesn’t work for most people, and while this diet may seem impressive, it’s not sustainable.
Have you heard of the 5:2 Diet? Have you tried this intermittent fasting eating plan? Are you a sucker for fad diets?