Sunday, 9 December 2012

5:2 - the perfect frugal diet

I told you I'd be back sometime and here I am. Back to frugal eating but with a slightly different slant. Semi-fasting 2 days a week, otherwise known as Intermittent Fasting, the 2 day diet and the 5:2 diet. Ironically I’ve actually lost 5 lbs (just over 2 kg) in the first 2 weeks which is rather apt.

A food writer friend of mine had lost a similar amount and was raving about it as perfectly suited to the indulgent lifestyle we foodies enjoy. (Not expecting any sympathy, obviously, but it’s taken its toll and my weight has been creeping up relentlessly over the last 5-6 years.)

Apart from a brief spell on Weight Watchers after the birth of my son I’ve never managed to diet successfully but 2 days a week - even with a limit of 500 calories (men are allowed 600) a day is totally do-able.

The theory is that fasting twice a week rather than 24/7 confuses the brain and prevents it conserving fat rather than burning it up. (Normally as you lose weight your metabolic rate slows.) it also apparently discourages it from producing the hormone IGF-1 which makes the body focus on repairing and renewing cells rather than making new ones. No, I don’t fully understand all that either but read this article by Dr Michael Mosley, whose Horizon programme kick-started the craze, for  clarification.

So what can you actually eat? Not a lot if truth be told, unless you want to save up your allowance for one relatively normal meal - as many do. Effectively no cheese, no booze, no bread, no butter, very little meat and not much fruit. You can however fit in eggs, fish, low fat dairy and dips and loads of veggies. And there’s always the cheering thought that you can resume normal eating the following day.

When I say 'normal' of course I mean most people’s normal not a massive blowout to compensate for what you missed the previous day. I find it’s made me more conscious of what I eat and so I’m reining back a bit generally although this two week period has included a hugely indulgent weekend in Portugal.

I haven’t felt dizzy - some apparently do - though I felt a bit light-headed on the first fast day. I have felt hungry so find I need 3 meals plus some kind of snack which means the maximum I can eat at a sitting is 200 calories. I've actually quite enjoyed devising ways of getting round that. I've also felt much more clear-headed and energetic.

The other benefit is you eat less therefore you spend less. So frugal in the conventional sense too.

I’ll be posting occasionally to let you know how I’m getting on and pass on any useful tips.


Elaine said...

Hi Fiona. Be interested to know what kind of meals you eat on your 500 cal days? I'm guessing from the pix, lots of veg and dips. I thought maybe soup would bethe way to go. A chunky veg soup always fills me up - not sure how I'd manage without some bad on the side!

Millie said...

I read of so many people who are doing this!
I saw the program too, and after several days spent researching and reading, I decided to go for a different 5:2 diet.
I choose to not eat 2 days of the week. I will have an evening meal and not eat again until the following evening. Put simply, I fast for 24 hours, twice a week.
Instead of counting calories ans splitting a daily allowance, I just get on with the day.
I know that I would obsess through the day if I tried the "traditional" 5:2 diet.
I've never had a sweet tooth. My weakness has always been savoury food and this has made me more aware of my food intake. It's easy to fall off the wagon when you're told not to eat this or that, but I carry on eating the same food as always, just less of it.
This works for me. The weight-loss is steady, if slow, but then, I have been overweight for years, so it would be unrealistic to expect an immediate result!

Fiona Beckett said...

@Elaine I'm experimenting with different things - Yes, lots of veg and stir-fries, the occasional egg, had some poached smoked haddock the other night. Soups are very good in this weather. Planning one tomorrow.

@Millie - I don't think I could fast completely - in fact I know I couldn't but the key thing is to find out what works for you

Sarah said...

Sounds an interesting idea, but probably not one I'd go for. I needed to lose a bit of weight and generally tone up, so signed up to 2 classes of zumba per week.

It's been great. I now have a much flatter stomach and feel much better. I'd rather do that than eat less too, especially at this cold and chilly time of year. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Fiona on the 5:2 diet i have The Fast Diet book and meat is included in some of the recipes,They include bacon for breakfast,chicken stir-fry for dinner.What are your thoughts on this.