The 5:2 Diet On Trial

Monday 15 July 2013

With 8 weeks to go until I'm on a beach, of course my thoughts turned to shaping up. I hadn't really thought much about it, I was just planning to go on SlimFast for a few weeks and try to be better behaved about treats.

But when I got to work and mentioned what I was up to, a couple of colleagues mentioned that they'd had really good results using the 5:2 or 'Fast Diet'.

I looked it up and it seemed so easy, I decided then and there to give it a go, and I'm going to keep a log of my progress here to review the diet and hopefully keep me on track!

What is the 5:2 Diet?

You have probably seen a lot of recent coverage about this new restricted eating sensation. But there's really not much to it. Sometimes called 'intermittent fasting', the only rules are that two days a week, you eat a quarter of your usual recommended calorie intake. In most cases for women, this is about 500 calories - although this can vary according to your activity levels etc. These can be any two dayes you like - consecutive, or spaced out during the week. The rest of the time you just eat normally (although I suspect going overboard is still going to cancel any benefits out). The diet was invented by a medical journalist -  you can find out more at

How does it work?

Obviously, you are lowering your overall calorie intake, which always helps! But the authors claim that intermittent fasting keeps your metabolic rate in high gear all the time, which means you burn fat a lot faster. The diet confuses the metabolism and helps it burn off more calories.

How do you do it?

You can buy The Fast Diet book from Amazon and other bookshops. And it contains lots of good recipes to help you through your 'fast' days. But although I am considering buying the book if I think the diet is working for me, mostly there's no trick to it. You can start from nothing. Just make a decision to do it and stick to it. You are told to avoid refined carbs on your fasting days- but only because they use up your calorie allowance quickly. High quality protein, fruit and veg is the best way to go on fasting days. Again, there are no rules about how to get those 500 on restricting days. One big meal, three smaller ones-  whatever you can stick to, as long as it doesn't go over your limit.

Why am I doing it?

I'd like to lose a few pounds in time to hit the beach, but I'll be brutally honest here. I'm lazy, and I don't have lots of willpower. I'm notoriously bad at sticking to things. And I sort of new my SlimFast diet would fail after a week. But I've decided to try the 5:2 because, for once, I genuinely believe I can stick to it. In fact, the only reason I'm making it public on this blog is because this is the first time I think I'm in with a shot of being on a diet I don't break!

The fact that its so simple- I can't be bothered to count points and I know cutting out food groups only makes me want them more. But this is so easy its ridiculous. If you want something badly enough, you only have to wait until the next day to have it- which even my scanty willpower will stretch to.

The fact that no food is 'banned'- friends have told me that even when they're craving something on a fast day, often by the next day when they can have it, they don't even want it anymore! I loathe feeling restricted, so the thought of being able to have a little of what I fancy works for me.

Its only two days a week -  even I can manage that. And if you mess up one day? Normally I use that as excuse to fall off the wagon. But with the 5:2 diet its not a problem- as long as you get those two days in. It also means if there's a special occaision you don't have to miss out by dieting- just do it the next day.

Plus actual people I know (not just magazine testimonials) have told me it really works for them and that they found it fairly easy to stick to.

My body, My willpower

My body is not brilliant. I could certainly stand to use a few pounds, but I'm not really overweight. My BMI is mid-range for my height but I have a bit of a belly etc. I exercise moderately (2-3 times a week) although I could do more. I don't watch what I eat, but I also don't eat a lot of processed foods etc, because I like cooking from scratch. I'm just thoroughly average, with terrible willpower. In an ideal world, I'd be ten pounds lighter, but I don't lose weight easily unless I'm very restrictive. Before my wedding I cut out all carbs and did military fitness bootcamp and I still barely lost a pound, which was extremely discouraging as its the one time I genuinely tried to stick to something. I get impatient without immediate results (my brain is unfortunately very short-term focused- I'm a sprinter, not a marathon runner!). I feel like my body is quite happy at the weight I'm at and forcing it to go lower is a massive effort that doesn't seem proportional to the weight loss I get! But I think this could be my chance to prove I can do it.

What else?

In addition to the diet, I'm going to try to avoid treats even on my 'normal' days, apart from the weekends, which I find too hard to be strict on. I'm planning to split up my two days so that my shonky willpower doesn't run out! I will chose the days randomly each week to suit me and what's going on in my life, but generally I think Mondays will be good (post-weekend excess) and maybe Thursdays (close enough to weekend excess not to get discouraged!).

I'm also going to make a big effort to drink more water in general. I have kidney problems and get dehydrated a lot of the time, but I still don't drink enough water! I'll try to keep a bottle on my desk and drink it during the day while I'm working. I will try to only drink black coffee, herbal tea and water during the day, and limit my Diet Cokes to 2 cans a week, max!

I'll also be trying to up my exercise and do a few more weights. I'll try to exercise every day except one, although what I do will be different. A mix of gym sessions, at home toning exercises using an iPhone app, and running outside. Perhaps a few classes or DVDs at home.

I'll be reporting back on how I'm finding it etc and trying to stay motivated on here! I may not get a body like the Angels above, even after losing lots of weight, but dammit, for once I'm going to try!


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