In her revolutionary Fast Diet Recipe Book , Mimi Spencer explains how interchanging two days of fasting (on around 500 to 600 calories) with five days of healthy eating will not only help people shift unwanted weight in the short term, but also change the way they look at food - helping to keep 5:2 diet adopters healthier and happier in the long run.
However, it can be easy to get a little lost, lonely and totally overwhelmed when navigating a new diet. So we’ve pulled together 10 top tips from Mimi herself to help keep you informed, focused and on track to achieving your goals...
1. Most people divide their calorie allowance between breakfast and an evening meal. You can, of course, skip breakfast and have a more substantial evening meal if it suits you better. The key is to aim for a lengthy ‘fasting window’ between meals.
2. On your Fast Days stick to the Fast Diet mantra: ‘Mostly Plant and Protein’. That way you’ll stay fuller for longer and get adequate nutrients in your diet.
3. It’s worth spending a little time preparing for a fast day. It matters that you have at least thought about what you’re likely to eat, simply to avoid the prospect of falling face first in the nearest chocolate fudge cake.
4. Get in the habit of having fast-friendly food around - just enough to allow you to grab a quick meal when you’re fasting and famished. Just enough to stop you ordering a pizza.
5. When the world gives you lemons… make a salad dressing. Sometimes, just a squeeze of lemon is enough to jazz up a plate.
6. Drink plenty of water. Get into the habit of drinking a glass of water before and after fast day meals. Drink water when you feel hungry too - it really does help.
7. In any one week, work out a pattern that suits you: fast on a day when you are busy but not overly social; have breakfast as part of your calorie budget if that works for you - skip it if not.
8. Get a handle on hunger: the pangs will pass. We often eat because we’re bored or emotional rather than actually hungry. Try to differentiate between the two. Real hunger won’t hurt you.
9. Stay calm. Going to 510 calories (or 615 for a man) won’t obliterate a fast. While there’s no particular ‘magic’ to 500 or 600 calories, do try to stick broadly to these numbers; you do need clear parameters to make the strategy effective in the medium term.
10. Stay positive. Don’t be disheartened if you ‘plateau’ and don’t lose weight in any given week; look at the medium term and remember the health benefits beyond weight loss, such as reduced rate of heart disease, diabetes and slowing down the ageing process.
Start our 6-week series of the 5:2 diet here for fast day and non-fast day meal plan ideas to get you started