10 fit facts: Is the 5:2 diet something for you?


Is the 5:2 diet another fad or a great eating pattern? It’s a simple concept, but if you already know how many calories you eat, on average, a day you might be amazed to be challenged to eat just 600 twice a week.

If you don’t know how many you currently eat, you might well be even more surprised!

VegetablesDrawing on the work of Michael Mosley, we are told that our bodies are designed to fast, and we know that many religious faiths ask this of their followers. But why would we do it now, when food is plentiful and we no longer have to forage for our food and prepare to go without?

Fasting is said to help because it allows your body to rest. By taking your foot off the accelerator of a hormone called IGF (one that keeps your cells constantly active) your body gets a chance to recuperate. It will also do some necessary repair work with stored supplies.

So the science behind the 5:2 diet is good (read more in Dr Mosley’s book The Fast Diet: The secret of intermittent fasting). What about the reality?

It is said that 600 calories a day is entirely possible for just one day, as you know you will eat the next day. Doing this twice a week is also possible – most people aim to fast on less social event orientated days, so usually not at weekends.

Planning for the 5:2 diet

  • Which 2 days?
  • What foods do I need?
  • What does 600 calories look like?
  • What is the calorific value of the food I am planning to eat?
  • Would I prefer one larger meal or to spread my calories throughout the day?
  • What exercise am I doing on my fasting days (you will soon find out if you need to lower your activity on those days)?
  • How often am I going to weigh myself?
  • What is my measure of success?
  • How do I prevent myself form ‘pigging out’ on the other 5 days?
  • How do I hold myself to account for this regime?
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So, we know that the 5:2 diet works, but can you make it work for you? Most people lose weight eating this way or at least maintain the weight they already are (this depends on activity levels and what they do on non fasting days).

Give it a try – you might be surprised!

Marion Foreman

About Marion Foreman

I fall neatly into the ‘women who weren’t born yesterday’ category. I grew up in a turmoil of Guardian fuelled feminism. I went from ‘little woman’ to independent person in a decade. I began my nurse training in the early 70s in the midst of a male dominated university town. I convinced myself that my views must be wrong as the ultra clever men didn’t agree with me. It wasn’t until I did my degree with the OU that I realised that I had a voice – and a legitimate voice at that. Four children and three husbands later I have found my place in the world. A place that simply says that I am who I am, that I can choose my own path in life and choose those who walk with me. I have learnt that equality means making and taking opportunities, not feeling compelled to ‘do it all’.