It's the sixth and final week of our 5:2 diet plan (see weeks one , two , three , four and five if you haven't already) and we hope the benefits are already shining through. To finish off, nutritional expert Vicki Edgson has pieced together a delicious menu that even lets you treat yourself to a glass of wine or two. Just make sure you keep up the good work...
Foods to increase and avoid
Increase: Your confidence in eating out. The best foods are inevitably prepared from fresh at home, but when faced with the restaurant menu, look for the healthiest and better-balanced options. For those still preparing all their food at home, you may wish to select from weeks one to three at the beginning of the six week programme.
Avoid: Old habits – tinned and packet foods, and quick sweet snacks – it’s a fast and slippery road back down the Snakes and Ladders of healthy eating, but you have come to the final week of your six week programme, and must now be feeling good. Remember, this is a way of life, and research already shows that this approach to eating can reduce the likelihood of degenerative disease, and prolong your healthy years!
5:2 fast days update
Originally, the 5:2’s two ‘fast days’ consisted of cutting calorie intake to around 500 calories. However, after revising the plan into the 5:2 Blood Sugar Diet (based on the principles of the Mediterranean diet ), this has now been increased to 800 calories. You can still stick to the original 5:2 routine as before by following Vicki’s fast day meal ideas below (it may allow you to reach your weight loss goals a little faster), however allowing for 800 calories instead could make the plan easier to stick to on busy days.
Here are some guidelines as to the calorie counts of some healthy meal additions to take you up to the 800 mark.
100g serving of puy lentils: roughly 141 calories
50g serving of chickpeas: 160 calories
50g serving of butter beans: 145 calories
A banana: 52 calories
Poached egg: 53 calories
20 almonds: 140 calories (one almond is 7 calories)
Skinless chicken breast: 148 calories
100g serving of tofu: roughly 68 calories
Medium avocado: 143 kcal
One tablespoon full fat Greek yogurt: 59 calories
One small bar of dark chocolate (32g): roughly 180 calories
50g serving of houmous: roughly 160 calories
10 strawberries: 30 calories (one strawberry is 1 calorie)
30g serving of porridge oats: 114 calories
50g portion of brown rice: 166 calories
Additions aren't restricted to the above (just ideas!). For other foods, meals and snacks, use the NHS Calorie Checker to determine whether you're hitting your 800 calorie fast day limit.
Choose one option from each meal, for each of the five full eating days
1. Grilled tomatoes, 2 poached eggs, and a large handful of wilted spinach on toasted rye bread. One mug of green tea.
2. Smoked salmon slices with 2 tablespoons cottage cheese and 2 slices of pumpernickel. Mug of ginger and lemon tea.
3. Nutty muesli soaked in water and grated apple overnight, with added crème fraiche and fresh raspberries. Mug of white tea.
4. Spinach and ricotta omelette (2 eggs) with sliced tomatoes. Mug of green tea.
5. Grilled Portobello mushroom filled with garlic and chives, parsley and sage. Optional poached egg on top. Mug of Rooibosch tea.
1. Miso noodle soup with tofu, mixed vegetables and buckwheat noodles.
2. Salmon tuna sushi and sashimi box with seaweed salad, and pot of edamame beans. One satsuma.
3. Superfood salad with added roasted chicken, vinaigrette dressing. Apple.
4. Butternut squash and sweet potato soup with small tin of butterbeans (for added protein). Wholemeal pitta bread.
5. Asian beef stir-fry, with mixed green vegetables and brown rice.
Optional starter if eating out - choose from vegetable-based dishes to keep it lean and clean: Asparagus with olive oil dressing; globe artichoke; Greek salad; mozzarella, avocado and tomato salad, or minestrone soup.
1. Steamed sea bass with mixed vegetables and green salad.
2. Fish bouillabaisse (French style mixed fish and shellfish soup).
3. Grilled fillet or entrecote steak with small portion of fries.
4. Vegetable risotto with grated pecorino, and green vegetables.
5. Baked aubergine moussaka with large green salad.
Optional: glass of wine – why not? Spoil yourself!
Low calorie days
Choose from one of the options for either breakfast and lunch, or breakfast and dinner
1. 2 egg fresh herb omelette with handful of watercress.
2. 2 tablespoons cottage cheese with 3 chopped apricots and 1 apple.
Lunch or dinner:
1. 1 grilled kipper, with lemon juice and rocket salad on side.
2. 1 small roasted chicken breast with chopped tomato and garlic garnish.
3. Roasted yellow, orange and red bell peppers with small amount of olive oil, with crumbled feta (1 tablespoon).
4. Cumin-simmered puy lentils (2 tablespoons, cooked), with ginger-steamed leeks, courgette and peas.
Make up pots of your favourite herbal teas, and chill overnight for refreshing water alternatives.
Mix one shot of green Matcha tea with sparkling water for a power shot (dissolve the green Matcha tea in warm water before topping with sparkling water).
You choose – allow yourself a maximum of two evenings only per week when you can have one or two glasses of wine. Choose these evenings when you have something to celebrate, or you are eating with friends rather than making this the norm upon arriving home.
Congratulations! You have completed the full six week 5:2 programme. Make a note of how you feel – what has improved in your performance, clarity of thought, attention in the workplace, improved quality of sleep and so on? We’d love to hear how it went.
Find more 5:2 meal ideas, recipes and tips here