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The 5:2 Diet - Feast and Fast

Feast for five days, fast for two.
Image: Steven Depolo, Flickr ::

Smaller images by Tiberiu Ana and Mike McCune.

First a confession... I have never been on a diet but, as I rapidly approach the big four-zero milestone I'm finding that my metabolism is starting to let me down, I need a solution. I have been fascinated by this diet ever since I watched the BBC Horizon Programme - Eat, Fast and Live Longer , the 5:2 diet is now taking the world by storm. I think it's appeal is largely down to the fact that you can eat whatever you want most of the time but there are some criticisms about the diet, one being that it does not encourage healthy eating. However while reading about the experiences of people on the 5:2 programme I was surprised to learn that many did not feel the urge to indulge in gluttonous feasting on the non fasting days. Could this diet be the antidote to my advancing years?

Before going on any type of diet you should always consult your doctor or health practitioner.

How does the 5:2 diet work?

Why do intermittent fasting?

Article / ByDr Michael Mosley

Intermittent fasting is about reducing your calorie intake on two days and eating normally on the other five days. On the two fasting days you limit your food intake to 500 calories if you're a woman or 600 if you're a man. On the other five days you can eat whatever you want. Simple.

Two-Day Diets: How Mini Fasts Can Help Maximize Weight Loss

Article / ByAllison Aubrey

Mark Mattson has been conducting research which showed that the 5:2 diet improves blood sugar levels and boosts performance in cognitive tasks. He's also been on a fasting diet himself for several years and found that he is now more focused and productive.

Research and caution

Does the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet work?

Article / ByNHS

The evidence supporting intermittent fasting is limited compared to other types of weight loss techniques. It is unclear which pattern of intermittent fasting is most effective to improve health, or what the optimal calorie consumption should be on fasting days. And what are the side effects?

Does the "Fast Diet" Actually Work?

Article / ByKari Hartel

Nutrition experts warn that you will only see the benefits of this diet if you eat healthy during the feasting days. Preliminary research has found that intermittent fasting will not only aid weight loss, but also increase lifespan and decrease the risk of developing certain cancers and diabetes. However, these conclusions are based on research conducted on rats, not humans.

Are Fasting Diets Safe and Effective?

Article / ByWebMD

This article is about fasting diets in general and not limited to the 5:2 method. So what does it say about the 5:2 diet? "Fasting for a day or two probably won't hurt people who are generally healthy, provided they maintain an adequate fluid intake."

Start the diet

The Fast Diet

Book / ByDr Michael Mosley, Mimi Spencer

One reader of this book described weight loss as a side effect and prolonged life as the real purpose of the diet. Michael & Mimi (the authors) were both involved with the BBC Horizon programme that started all the fuss, with Michael serving as the guinea pig. In this book, you can expect to find some scientific research to back the authors' claims, as well as their own experiences on the diet, and some eating plans to get you on your way.

The 2-Day Diet

Book / ByDr Michelle Harvie, Prof Tony Howell

The creation of this diet was driven by nearly two decades of research with women diagnosed with or at risk of developing breast cancer - being overweight can significantly increase your risk. Unlike Michael Mosley's diet, this one requires two consecutive days of restricted high-protein, low-carb eating. This is followed by five days on an unrestricted healthy Mediterranean diet and regular exercise. This book contains meal planners as well as recipes for the restricted and unrestricted days.

5:2 diet recipes

The Fast Diet Recipe Book

Book / ByMimi Spencer, Dr Sarah Schenker
This recipe book is an accompaniment to The Fast Diet . Usually when I make my way through recipe books, I ignore the boring bits in the front and head straight to the recipes, if I had done that this time I would have missed out on interesting stuff like, "You should aim to have a waist (as measured round your belly-button) that is less than half your height.", "Intermittent Fasting is unusual in that the weight loss appears to be almost all fat." and, Intermittent Fasting helped Mimi to shed her stubborn baby weight (the baby in question is now 17+), I was sold after that bit! These are her recipes for delicious breakfasts, suppers and snacks.

The Ultimate 5:2 Diet Recipe Book

Book / ByKate Harrison

Kate Harrison usually writes fiction, she went on a 5:2 diet after watching the now famous BBC Horizon Programme. These are her recipes to get maximum flavour from minimum calories, and with recipes like Grilled Mackerel with Roasted Beetroot, Watercress and Horseradish and Balsamic Dressing and Mushroom Stroganoff, the fasting days will surely be a pleasure (or maybe less painful).

5:2 Diet on Lavender and Lovage

Recipe / ByKaren Burns-Booth

Sticking to 500 calories doesn't equate to just bread and water, there are some truly mouth watering recipes to keep you very happy. How about Parmesan & Chive Salmon with Garlic & Nutmeg Spinach or Butter Bean & Chorizo Stew with Tomatoes for a winter's night. There are some very tempting photos too.

5:2 Diet Recipes from the Scottish Vegetarian

Recipe / ByJacqueline Meldrum

It seems that even vegetarians can go on the 5:2 diet. Spicy Cauliflower Rice with Grilled Halloumi (380 calories) anybody? Some inspiring meal ideas and lovely photos.

They're on the 5:2 diet

Fast love

Article / ByMaggie Alderson
Maggie was motivated by health reasons to go on this diet, and her previous attempts at dieting have been unsuccessful. This is her account of her first two fasting days on The Fast Diet . I've managed to track down the Miracle Noodles which she described as 'foul' if you're feeling brave.

The 5:2 Fasting Diet

Article / ByJen Allison
Jen's impending wedding was the motivation she needed for adopting this diet. Her previous attempts at healthy eating have been sabotaged by Nandos, the pub, and a trip to Barcelona. She has managed some regular exercise but realised her eating habits had to change. This is her experience. (She recommends Graze boxes for a low calorie snack).

I am the founder of I love reading personal development books and try very hard to implement the stuff that resonates with me. For the most part I am paralysed by fear and indulge in the fine art of proscrastination. So it's small changes for me.

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