Intermittent Fasting is a huge trend – and for all the right reasons but don’t let the word “fasting” intimidate you. This new way of eating is much easier (and healthier) than you think, especially when you follow the 5:2 method.
However, before you start your food abstinence, it’s important to know exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Plus, you’ll be happy to find out that on the 5:2 Diet doesn’t require you to fast at all while still reaping all the benefits! Confused? Keep reading to learn how you thrive on this wholesome eating patterns, or rather, lifestyle.
What is the 5:2 Diet?
The 5:2 Diet is intermittent fasting from the grand scheme of things but it’s actually more of a way you can do intermittent fasting.
In other words, intermittent fasting, by definition, is a term used to describe “various diets that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting.” The 5:2 diet is one of those “various diets” that consists of eating five days of the week and restricting your calories for the other two days of the week. So, it’s much more like an eating pattern than it is a diet.
There are no specific guidelines in regards to the foods you can and cannot eat, nor are there specific recipes you should follow, eating times or any of the nonsense that has given the word “diet” a bad rap. In fact, you don’t even have to fast on the 5:2 diet. Instead, all you have to do is restrict your calories on those “fasting days”. For women, this is typically 500 calories and for men, it’s 600 calories.
The 5:2 Diet is simply eating normally for five days of the week and “fasting” by eating restricted calories for two days of the week.
How to Start the 5:2 Diet
Starting the 5:2 Diet is as easy as choosing your first eating day. Once you’ve done that, you can decide which two of the seven days will “fasting days”. Yes, it’s that simple. Most people choose to fast on the same days each week, such as Mondays and Thursdays. This will help make intermittent fasting a habit so it comes to you like second nature.
However, it’s important to remember that you aren’t actually fasting on those two days. In fact, you should never fast for more than one day a week, unless you’re a self-proclaimed intermittent fasting expert. Otherwise, fasting more than 24 hours can be quite harmful to your body. So, pick a day to start and schedule your two fasting days in and you’re ready.
General rule of thumb: Pick from one of these two popular 5:2 meal patterns:
- Three small meals
- Two slightly larger meals
The 5:2 Rules
As mentioned previous, the 5:2 Diet doesn’t have many rules or restrictions at all, making it one of the easiest eating patterns to follow. In fact, there are only two rules you need to remember as you go into your five days of eating and two days of fasting:
- 5 days eating normally, 2 days fasting
- 5 days eating healthy, 2 days of restricted calories
- 5 days of normal meals, 2 days of small meals
- 5 days of normal calories, 2 days of 25% of your usual calorie total
- Your two fasting days should never be back-to-back
What to Eat on the 5:2 Diet?
With the prior said, you’re likely wondering what you can eat on your “fasting” days since you aren’t fasting, by definition, at all. Instead, you’re restricting your calorie intake. As a general rule of thumb, you want to eat nutrition, high-protein, high-fiber foods that are low in calories. Here are some recommendations that’ll help you determine what to eat on those two “fasting” days:
- Large portion of vegetables
- Natural yogurt with berries
- Lean meats
- Grilled fish
- Low-calorie soups
- Miso, vegetable, tomato, etc.
- Boiled eggs
- Sparkling water
- Black coffee
- Unsweetened tea
Benefits of 5:2 Diet
Intermittent fasting, as a whole, has an abundance of benefits and the 5:2 Diet definitely doesn’t fall short in this area either. Here are some of the benefits you can expect when you start eating normal for five days of the week and restricting your calories for the other two days:
- Reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke
- Lose approximately 1 lb. a week, if not more
- Improve cholesterol levels
- Improve blood-sugar levels
- Reverse the signs of aging
- Slow down the natural aging process
- Reduce insulin resistance
- Reduce asthma
- Reduce seasonal allergies
- Reduce menopausal hot flashes
- Easy to follow
- You never have to go a day without food
- No deprivation
- Easy to form into a habit as opposed to a being “on a diet”
The 5:2 Diet is one of the most popular eating patterns for intermittent fasting, and as you can see, for all the right reasons. It’s an easy and effective way to lose weight and improve your health as a whole. The best part? You never have to actually fast. In fact, you can eat every single day which isn’t necessarily common with other forms of intermittent fasting.
So, if you’re hesitant about the whole “fasting” phenomenon, don’t be. Try the 5:2 Diet and you can reap all the benefits of fasting without the hunger pangs.