The 5:2 diet explained
A form of intermittent fasting, the 5:2 is becoming increasingly popular alongside the 16:8 approach. Both involve some form of calorie restriction, whether that’s in terms of days or hours.
The 5:2 in short allows for 5 days of ‘normal’ eating, on the basis that on the remaining 2 days you implement a strict calorie restriction. On the 5 days you eat your usual diet and then cut your diet to around 25% of your normal caloric intake on the 2 days of restriction. This equates to 2 days of around 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men.
In terms of what you eat there is no set restriction however a healthy balanced diet is encouraged. So instead of 500 calories of junk food, we would recommend a healthy balance of proteins, carbs and fats. The guidance from the 5:2 diet book suggests loading up on plenty of veggies, small portions of lean proteins and hearty low-cal soups as they act as a great filler!
Is the 5:2 diet actually good for weight loss?
Healthy maintainable weight loss should be around 1-2 pounds per week which can generally be achieved by a weekly deficit of around 3500 calories depending on lifestyle factors. Alongside weight loss the diet also claims to help with boosting metabolism, improving brain functions, reducing the risk of heart disease and improving cholesterol levels. It is however worth noting that these areas still require further research before claims can be made.
How safe is the 5:2 method?
500 calories is pretty low and is the equivalent of just one meal a day so it is worth considering this before embarking on a fast. Based on this if you have any underlying health conditions, are pregnant or just seeking a second opinion we would always recommend consulting a medical professional.
Generally speaking, though the 5:2 diet is considered safe as long as it is followed correctly and normal calorie consumption resumes on the remaining 5 days. The other thing we would say is that 5:2 works best for those who have a healthy relationship with dieting and food. Any form of restriction is challenging both mentally and physically so if you have had a negative history with your eating habits, we would recommend giving this one a hard miss!
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