Intermittent fasting has become popular as a wellness fad in recent years. Intermittent fasting has also been studied by scientists. The ability of diets like the 5:2 diet to encourage weight loss, assist in managing or preventing diabetes, and enhance heart health has drawn the attention of researchers. However, study findings have been conflicting, and authors frequently point to the research’s complexity.
The 5:2 diet, sometimes referred to as the Fast Diet, is an intermittent fasting program that calls for cutting back on eating on two days each week. When British television journalist and former doctor Michael Mosley published his best-selling book “The Fast Diet” in 2013, the technique gained popularity. The technique that enables you to eat normally for five days and restrict calories for two days is described in the book.
- What is a 5:2 Diet?
- Benefits of the 5:2 Diet
- How to Start a 5:2 Diet?
- Diet Plans for 5:2 Intermittent Fasting
- What are 5:2 intermittent fasting results?
- For Whom is the 5:2 Diet Top Right?
- Risks of the 5:2 Diet
- 16:8 vs 5:2, Which is Better?
- Triggers to Maximize the Effectiveness of 5:2 Intermittent Fasting
- How to Select a 5:2 Intermittent Fasting App?
What is 5:2 Diet?
The 5:2 diet is characterized by eating normally five days a week while severely restricting calorie consumption on the other two days. The aim of the 5:2 diet is to reduce caloric consumption on fasting days to 25%, or just one-quarter of a person’s typical intake on the other days, as opposed to a genuinely fast, which involves not eating for a fixed period of time. For instance, someone who typically consumes 2,000 calories per day might only consume 500 calories on fast days. It is crucial to provide the body with the calories and nutrients it needs to survive, thus fasting days should not be consecutive. For instance, people frequently take their low-calorie days on Monday and Thursday or Wednesday and Saturday to spread out their fasting days.
Benefits of the 5:2 Diet
As one of the intermittent fasting plans, the 5:2 diet share some similar health benefits with it including:
Intermittent fasting may help with weight loss in a manner similar to calorie restriction, according to a study that was published in the Canadian Family Physician journal. Besides, according to a 2021 study reported in PLOS ONE, five percent of body weight was reduced over the course of a year by persons who followed the 5:2 diet, compared to people who employed the conventional dieting strategy.
Prevention of Alzheimer’s
Intermittent fasting, according to a study on animals that was published in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, helped protect mice from getting Alzheimer’s disease by repairing a crucial portion of the blood-brain barrier.
Normalization of blood sugar
According to several studies, fasting lowers hemoglobin A1c and helps normalize fasting blood sugar, both of which are good for controlling blood sugar levels. So it might make it easier for someone to better control their fasting and average blood sugar levels if they have diabetes or pre-diabetes.
How to Start a 5:2 Diet?
The aim of the 5:2 diet is to reduce caloric consumption on fasting days to 25%, or just one-quarter of a person’s typical intake on the other days, as opposed to a genuinely fast, which involves not eating for a fixed period of time. In reality, it’s really easy to start the 5:2 diet. You don’t have to think about calorie counting on the other five days of the week when you eat regularly. Then, you consume only one-fourth of your daily needs calories on the other two days. This equates to roughly 500 calories for women and 600 for men per day.
Consult a physician
Once you’ve selected a general intermittent fasting strategy, such as the 5:2 diet, speak with a doctor to be sure IF is the best option for you.
The 5:2 diet is not for everyone, but it may be a good alternative for certain people seeking a less stringent eating regimen. People who frequently experience low blood sugar or who quickly become weak or dizzy without food may not wish to follow a diet that includes fasting. Women who are expecting or nursing should also refrain from fasting. Children and adolescents shouldn’t fast except under the strict supervision of a physician because their bodies are still growing. Before attempting any diet that involves fasting, anyone with a chronic disease, such as diabetes, should speak with a doctor.
Test for a week
Before doing the 5:2 diet, try it for a week to determine whether it is suitable for you and you can keep on this plan. Once you find something uncomfortable in your body, stop it and ask for your doctor’s advice immediately.
Select a smart tool
The 5:2 intermittent fasting may be challenging for some people to maintain as it requires two days with only about 500 calorie intake. In fact, the key is keeping track of your diet. Thankfully, a wide range of practical mobile apps helps you keep an eye on everything close at hand with a smartphone. One of the greatest apps for tracking your achievements and receiving personalized coaching for your goals while on an intermittent fast is the Soon app. The SOON app lets you monitor your weight, steps, water intake, and fasting hours to help you each day.
Diet Plans for 5:2 Intermittent Fasting
Although the diet is relatively flexible, the two days of fasting have stringent calorie limits. On your fast days, you can eat whatever you want as long as it doesn’t add up to more than 500 calories for the entire day.
How to Schedule Meals during the 5:2 Intermittent Fasting?
You can choose any two days of the week as long as there is at least one day that is not a fasting day in between them. One typical weekly meal plan calls for two or three small meals on Mondays and Thursdays, followed by a normal diet for the rest of the week.
The 5:2 diet gives you complete freedom over when to fast. The following schedule is an example of a popular protocol:
- Sunday: Normal
- Monday: Fast
- Tuesday: Normal
- Wednesday: Normal
- Thursday: Fast
- Friday: Normal
- Saturday: Normal
What to Eat during the 5:2 Intermittent Fasting?
There is no specific method to eat during fasting days because everyone’s body reacts to fasting differently. According to the 5:2 theory, a person only consumes 25% of their typical calorie consumption on fast days. For instance, some individuals might require a light breakfast to get their day started. Others might find that skipping breakfast would make them feel more hungry all day. These people might wish to put off eating their first meal for as long as they can.
It makes sense to manage your calorie budget because calorie intake is restricted to 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men each day. A person should choose to avoid the following foods on fast days in order to avoid additional calories or exceeding the daily calorie limit on meals: refined carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, and white rice excess fats like cooking oils, animal fats, and cheese processed foods, which are often refined and rich in calorie. Try to focus on nutrient-dense, high-fiber, high-protein foods that will fill you up without causing you to consume excessive amounts of calories. Here are a few examples:
- a large serving of vegetables
- Berry-flavored natural yogurt
- baked eggs or boiled eggs
- Fish or lean meat on the grill
- broccoli rice
- Soups (for example miso, tomato, cauliflower, or vegetable)
- Healthy cup soups
As for the regular days, a person consumes food as normal. The fact that these 5 regular days are not “cheat days” must be made clear. Because of this, eating a variety of healthy foods and adhering to the suggested calorie intake guidelines are still beneficial. A person who consumes a lot of packaged, processed, or unhealthy foods is likely to have less weight loss after a fast.
What to Drink during the 5:2 Intermittent Fasting?
On the 5:2 diet, you are free to consume as much water as you like, but you should try to consume as much as you can on the days when you are fasting. This will keep you hydrated and may help you resist hunger a bit longer. Drinks with milk should be avoided because they consume calories that may be used to fuel a meal. Here are some recommended drinks for you:
- Black or herbal teas
- Black coffee
- Diet drinks
What are 5:2 intermittent fasting results?
Celebrities frequently engage in extreme diet trends: Twitter’s Jack Dorsey is well known for his intermittent fasting habits, and Jimmy Kimmel attributed his 25-pound weight loss to the 5:2 diet. Kimmel consumes coffee and eats pickles, egg whites, apples, peanut butter, and porridge on the days that he restricts his diet, Monday and Tuesday.
For Whom is the 5:2 Diet Top Right?
The 5:2 diet is not for everyone, but it may be a good alternative for certain people seeking a less stringent eating regimen. People who frequently experience low blood sugar or who quickly become weak or dizzy without food may not wish to follow a diet that includes fasting. Like with any diet, results can only be attained if you are truly committed to the plan and adhere to the 500-600 calorie days. If you cheat a little bit, eating 800-1000 calories on fasting days, you won’t see the same benefits that the 5:2 may provide when followed. This diet is particularly difficult and might even be inappropriate for busy, active people with high energy needs. But on the other hand, the 5:2 can work particularly well for people who do not eat much during the day and instead prefer to eat a larger meal at night if they can regulate the quantity of their evening meal.
Risks of the 5:2 Diet
Weight loss may not be the one thing that the 5:2 diet can bring to you. This type of diet might have negative side effects, such as insomnia, bad breath, overeating, and irritability.
Overeating is a risk of calorie restriction that never goes away. Some people may consciously or inadvertently eat more than they need the following day since they were so hungry after their fasting days. When you eat ultra-processed foods on your regular eating days, you run the risk of putting on weight and even becoming more susceptible to certain types of chronic illness.
Irritability and other mood changes
When they engage in intermittent fasting, some people may experience irritation and other mood changes. You could become agitated if your blood sugar is low. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can happen when you decrease your caloric intake or when you fast. As a result, you can become agitated, anxious, or have trouble concentrating.
In a 2020 study, 1,422 participants in fasting plans lasting 4 to 21 days were observed. According to the study, 15% of participants experienced sleep problems as a result of fasting. Compared to other adverse effects, they mentioned this one more frequently.
An unpleasant side effect of intermittent fasting for some people is bad breath. Lack of salivary flow and an increase in acetone in the breath are the causes of this.
16:8 vs 5:2, Which is Better?
Which way you can stick with is more important than which approach is better. Although there is rising evidence to support the usage of the 5:2, it is not simple to implement. A 500-calorie diet consists of very little food each day; a tiny supper of fish and salad, together with an egg and a cup of coffee, is not for the weak of stomach.
Compared with the 5:2 diet, the 16:8 method is simpler to maintain because you just need to eat two to three well-balanced meals in a row within an eight-hour window if you can control your morning hunger and wait until 10 am or noon every day. There is no set amount of calories to consume in order to lose weight as long as you finish your meal within eight hours, you can eat a healthy, balanced diet. People who struggle with the low-calorie intake of the 5:2 diet do better with the 16:8 eating plan. The 16:8 diet may be more practical for people who need more energy during the day or who work outside. Another benefit of the 16:8 diet is that it only requires 24 hours to complete, and you may repeat the process throughout the rest of the week as it suits you. It is considerably harder to follow a 5:2 diet because it must be done throughout the week.
See Also: All You Need to Know about 16:8 Intermittent Fasting
Triggers to Maximize the Effectiveness of 5:2 Intermittent Fasting
The 5:2 diet, as a popular way of intermittent fasting, is really an effective way to lose weight, but what can you do to maximize the benefits that the IF brings to you? The following triggers may help you maintain your goals and maximize the effectiveness of 5:2 intermittent fasting:
- When you are eating, try not to overeat. After a fast, it could seem normal to treat yourself to a big meal. However, overeating might undo whatever good job you’ve already done. When you aren’t fasting, make sure to watch how many calories you consume so that you don’t consume more than one day’s worth. Even if you are not fasting, you should still make an effort to consume wholesome, well-balanced meals.
- Focus on eating nutrient-rich foods. It’s crucial to eat the correct foods when you do eat. Your body will benefit greatly from fruits, vegetables, beans, and lentils, which will provide you with enough nutrition to get you through your upcoming fast. These foods will keep you full and keep you from overeating. Salmon, chicken, tofu, egg whites, and yogurt are all excellent choices for meals that can be eaten at any time of the day.
- Engage in exercise. Diet and exercise go hand in hand. To increase your calorie deficit and maximize the benefits of fasting, try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day. Additionally, exercise will keep your body in shape and help you develop muscle tone. Sometimes it can be challenging to exercise when you are hungry. So you can try walking, stretching, or yoga if you’re fasting. During the times you are not fasting, you can attempt lifting weights, jogging, running, swimming, or trekking.
- Get hydrated every day. Dehydration is simple to develop while fasting. Make sure you’re drinking enough water, and consider keeping a bottle close at hand so you can sip whenever you get thirsty. To maximize your hydration, avoid dehydrating beverages like coffee and alcohol. When most people consume a meal, they drink some liquids. It’s simple to forget to drink water when you don’t eat meals throughout the day.
- Maintain a regular sleep routine. Every night, try to obtain between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. To establish a schedule you can follow, go to bed and get up at roughly the same time each day. By doing this, you’ll be able to regulate your body’s metabolism and consume fewer calories overall. Try to avoid drinking alcohol and coffee later in the day because they can keep you up all night.
- Plan your meals and avoid eating at night. To prevent storing additional fat, plan your meals during the day. Many studies have found that in order to store energy for the night, the body frequently stores food consumed later in the day. Eat your last meal around dinner time to enhance your weight loss outcomes. You should refrain from eating at night even when you aren’t fasting during your period.
How to Select a 5:2 Intermittent Fasting App?
If you are a professional dietician or a startup in fitness and wellness and you want to enter the fasting app world and adopt a suitable 5:2 intermittent fasting lifestyle but aren’t sure whether to do it or not, read on. Most programs for intermittent fasting include tools for determining reasonable weight targets, tracking hydration and nutrition, and keeping tabs on exercise regimens.
The Soon app is one of the best fasting apps since it allows users to schedule their fasting periods and choose their own start and end times. A brief quiz is the first step in tailoring the app to your specific requirements and objectives. You will be asked about your prior experiences with fasting, your eating habits, your level of fitness, and a few other things. The fasting tracker is also the first thing you see when you launch the app. More importantly, the Soon app also mixes intermittent fasting with more than 20 different diet patterns that are available, as well as the keto, paleo, Mediterranean, and other diets, in order to achieve the greatest results. With all the above, the Soon app can be a good choice for you to track and practice 5:2 intermittent fasting well.
See Also: Best 5 Overall Intermittent Fasting Apps in 2022