There’s a big buzz about the 5:2 diet, but what exactly is it?
Get the Gloss has teamed up with top nutritional therapist Vicki Edgson for our exclusive 5:2 diet video explaining what it is, its health and weight loss benefits, and how to practise it safely. Do take a look at GTG regular Hilly Janes’s article on the 5:2 craze as well as Prue White, Associate Style Editor at the Times Magazine’s positive experience of the diet here in her tried and tested review .
GTG: What is the 5:2 diet?
VE: “The 5:2 diet is a form of intermittent fasting or ‘alternate day fasting’ which allows you to eat normally for three days, fast for one, eat normally for another two days and fast for another.”
GTG: When you say fasting, do you mean we shouldn’t eat at all?
VE: “No, when we talk about fasting we are actually talking about a reduced calorie day. The 5:2 diet recommends that for two days a week women eat no more than 500 calories and men no more than 600 calories.”
GTG: We know lots of people doing it but where has it come from?
VE: “The discovery began in the States at the Baltimore Institute for Longevity, where they discovered that if they intermittently fed rats and mice, the benefits were huge.”
GTG: What are the benefits of the 5:2 diet?
VE: “There are many: lowered cholesterol, lower blood pressure and regulation of blood sugar levels as well as weight. There are also shown to be many mental benefits: Alzheimers and Parkinsons may be significantly reduced whilst mental clarity, focus and concentration are increased. There also seems to be additional benefits for those suffering from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and asthma.
GTG: So can we eat whatever we like on the non-fasting days?
VE: No. This diet encourages healthy eating as opposed to bingeing on the days when you can eat normally and starving on the days you can’t. Fasting is actually nothing new to us – in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, Chinese Medicine and South American Medicine, fasting has always been a part of the healing and detoxification or cleansing process.”
GTG: How does the 5:2 diet work?
VE: “What occurs is that during a period of fasting for 12 hours or more, the body’s natural processes are allowed to function optimally. However the most important scientific fact about this approach is the reduction of the production of Insulin-like Growth Factor. When this is reduced, it allows you to burn body fat at a higher rate and regulates our blood sugar levels at a more normal level.”
GTG: What can I eat in the 5:2 diet on my normal days?
VE: “The key factor here is variety, both with vegetables and protein sources - eating the same thing day in, day out is going to get very boring. The foods to avoid are the following: biscuits, cakes, bagels, muffins and anything else with a high sugar content. However you can give a big YES to anything that’s found in nature or grown naturally.”
GTG: What does a fasting day look like?
VE: “If you are on a fasting day you have 500 calories to play with, which doesn’t sound a lot, but you could have the following:
Example of breakfast: Two scrambled eggs with spinach
Example of lunch (you must choose between lunch or dinner): A large mixed leaf salad, half an avocado with a lemon and olive oil dressing
Example of dinner: Grilled fish and mixed vegetables, or if you are vegetarian a miso broth with tofu and broccoli.”
GTG: What does a ‘normal’ day of eating look like?
VE: It’s important to understand on your normal eating days that this isn’t an excuse to binge on junk food. You need to use healthy food with plenty of variety.
Example of breakfast: Bircher muesli with plain yoghurt and berries
Example of lunch: Grilled chicken with salad or mixed vegetables, or for vegetarians, a bean pot and tabouleh and feta.
Example of dinner: Dinner can be the same size as your lunch plate but with an alternative form of protein such as a fillet steak, a piece of grilled fish and plenty of vegetables.”
GTG: Who is the 5:2 diet suitable for?
VE: This diet is suitable for anyone in search of a healthy lifestyle, those seeking to lose weight and those interested in longevity.”
GTG: Who is it not suitable for?
VE: “I wouldn’t recommend it to children, adolescents or the elderly. Also it is to be avoided if you are planning a pregnancy, are training for a big sporting event, have serious heart disease or you are diabetic.”
GTG: Anything else we need to know?
VE: “For those embarking on the 5:2 diet I would recommend that you take a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement to cover any deficiencies you may be experiencing before your healthier eating plan kicks in.”
GTG: Are there any circumstances where you should stop the 5:2?
VE: “If you feel very fatigued, then you should stop. Also if you find that excess weight is being lost, I would recommend going back to a normal healthy eating regime.”
GTG: Do you think it’s something that’s sustainable in the long term?
VE: “The success of any diet is whether it is sustainable or not, but research is now showing that the 5:2 diet is both safe and sustainable. Plus many people that have been following the diet for over a year have seen fantastic health benefits.”
Want to try the 5:2 diet for yourself? Follow Vicki's weekly 5:2 diet plan and let us know how you get on!
Video by Pocket Motion Pictures
Make-up and grooming by Helen Asher at Era Management