5/2 is a Lifestyle Change, not a Faddy Diet
I have never been someone that was interested in the latest faddy diets. I will say it now, and get it out of the way so you can lynch me if you want. I am not someone who has really ‘needed’ to diet. I was blessed with a fast metabolism when I was younger. I was always on the ‘skinny’ side of the line. So much so, I was teased at college when people would see me eating so much and never putting on weight.
I never ‘needed’ to diet when I was younger, so when I had kids and all of a sudden my body and metabolism changed, I never thought, not even once, that I would ever have to consider a diet.
I had hyperemesis during my pregnancy so when I walked out of hospital after my first child, I was straight back into my size 8 jeans. Yes, I know. Lucky Cow, right?
But the fact of the matter is, I now have two children, I am hurtling towards 40 and my body is not as ‘compliant’ anymore.
However, for those of you looking for a Before and After story, this is not it. I did not go on a diet because I suddenly ballooned in weight. Yes, I am a little bigger than I was when I was a teenager, but I am a mum of two now, not a teenager, and so I am okay with that.
What made me go on this diet, was something all together different.
My husband wanted to lose weight, and after a million attempts at different diets (including Atkins) he was getting bored of trying the same things. I had heard about the 5-2 diet and suggested he look into that. It wasn’t until we watched the documentary “Eat, Fast and Live Longer” that our lives suddenly changed.
For any of you who have not watched this documentary, I implore you… watch it!
You see, Michael Mosley is a TV Journalist. He is not a health nut, or a personal trainer looking to make an extra buck from a health DVD, or even a Z list celebrity hoping to be the next Kerry Katona with her plethora of health books, DVDs and shows.
No, Michael is a journalist on a personal mission.
After finding out that he has a gene passed down the family that makes him susceptible to certain cancers, Michael headed out on a mission to see if there was any way at all we could prevent The Big C as long as possible.
After much research, (and I won’t give away all the secrets of the documentary) he discovers that actually, eating and fasting was a natural and normal way to sustain healthy living.
The whole documentary fascinated me.
I was determined to give it a go. With so much cancer in my own family, surely it couldn’t hurt. But despite all the positive research and the clearly obvious results, I still had my worries. What about the “Hangers/Hangry“? Wouldn’t it make me feel faint? Could I really give up food for two whole days a week?
Before I give the ending away, here are just a few of the ‘facts’ that may help you decide if the diet it right for you.
It’s not for everyone
This type of lifestyle change will not suit everyone. If you are the type of person that grazes all day long, you may struggle at first to give up those ‘habits’ of reaching for a mid-day snack. If you are someone who can go a whole day before realising ‘I haven’t eaten yet today‘ this will probably suit you better than most other diets.
It’s not just a weight loss regime
For most, this diet works well if you have a target weight that you want to achieve. You can continue on the 5/2 diet until you have reached your target weight and then drop it down to a 6/1 regime to maintain that weight and still have the health benefits that come with fasting.
Feast and Fast
The basis of the diet works like this – you choose 2 days a week on which you will only consume the minimum calories for you sex/height/weight. The other 5 days you eat as normal.
Obviously, it is recommended that you stick to the recommended calorie count for someone of your age and current weight. You can check and track this with apps such as Fitnesspal.
You can eat whatever you like!
Yes, you read that right. There are no ‘out of bounds’ foods. There are no restrictions. No calorie counting as such. It is recommended that you stick within your allocated normal calorie allowance, but if you fancy that piece of chocolate cake, no one is going to tell you that you can’t have it – just make sure it’s on a non-fasting day.
On the fast day, you restrict your intake to the recommended calorie intake that research has shown you need on a daily basis to sustain yourself.
For females this is 500 calories and 600 for males.
Now that might not sound like a lot, but actually, once you have done your first fast day, you will be surprised just how much you can fit into 500 calories.
Your Habits Will Change
Once you have been on the diet one or two weeks, (or even less for some) you will see your attitudes towards food change. You will realise that you don’t actually need any more than 600 calories a day to sustain yourself… and that has you questioning why you are even consuming that extra 1000 calories each day. If your body doesn’t need it, and it is simply because you ‘want’ it, all of a sudden your brain switches gear and you don’t want it anymore.
You will also find that because you are fasting two days a week, your stomach seems to ‘shrink’ and pretty quickly you will see your natural portion size slim down.
You Notice More
Because you are so busy counting the calories for the first few weeks on the fast days, all of a sudden you are incredibly aware of what foods have high calories. What foods benefit you most and what foods give you the best energy. You are essentially educating yourself about food and diet.
After a week of doing the 5/2 diet, you will find yourself surprised at how much it has changed your daily routine. I myself found that all of a sudden I had much more energy. I didn’t get that exhausted slump mid-day and I slept so much better.
Why? Mostly because during my fasting days, I cut out carbs. Anything ‘white’ or considered a carb is (not surprisingly) high in calories. So – without realising it, this is what my day had looked like before the diet
Breakfast – Feeling sluggish and slow – drink a coffee…
…Coffee gave me a boost and now I am running around like a blue-assed fly doing all my chores.
11am – another energy slump sees me reaching for another coffee, and a sweet treat because ‘I need sugar’ and of course I forgot to eat breakfast and substituted that with coffee.
Coffee and sugar burst sees my energy levels peak and as a result I get yet more washing done, another few articles written and the dinner prepped before…
The afternoon slump. Around 3pm I am flagging again. Prepping the kids dinner I realise I never ate lunch, so pick on the food I am cooking for them, washed down with a coke… because of course I ‘need the sugar burst’.
Come dinner time I am feeling less than hungry, tired and grumpy. A full dinner and a glass of wine to ‘cheer me up’ and I am finally done with my roller coaster of a day.
It wasn’t until I started the 5/2 diet that I realised that the reason I have so many slumps throughout the day is because I force so many ‘highs’.
Nowadays, I have a healthy breakfast, a coffee (because you can… God knows I couldn’t give up all my vices) and plenty of water. I spend my day listening to my body, to what it wants and to what it needs and instead of artificially boosting my energy levels, I now have enough actual energy to carry out my daily tasks.
As a result…
I sleep better!
Not putting my body through a constant roller coaster of energy boosts and slumps means that when my day comes to an end, I am naturally tired. My diet fixed my insomnia, anxiety, energy levels and as a bonus my dress size isn’t looking so bad either!
The 5/2 Diet is not a faddy diet. Not a method to lose a load of weight before the next summer holiday or to fit into that Christmas Party outfit. It is a change of lifestyle. A change of mentality that will see you opening your eyes in the morning with energy and bounce rather than reaching for that can of coke when you are having a slump.