If you’re at all familiar with dieting and fitness trends, you’ve definitely heard of intermittent fasting. While time-restricted fasting (ie restricting your calorie intake to a specific time window every day) is the most well-known variant of IF, there’s also another option: the 5:2 diet.
Read on to learn all about 5:2 intermittent fasting, how it can help your goals, and ways to get started.
First coined by journalist Dr. Michael Mosley, 5:2 intermittent fasting is a style of IF that divides your week into two parts:
During those two days, people who follow 5:2 will eat roughly 500-600 calories.
So why would someone choose to do the 5:2 Diet in the first place?
The most obvious benefit of starting 5:2 intermittent fasting is the effect that it can have on your weight management. Your bodyweight is ultimately determined by the number of calories that you eat every day versus the number of calories you burn, and being at a calorie “deficit” can lead to weight loss as your body burns through its own fat stores for energy. When you restrict your diet to a tiny 500/600 calorie count, you’re promoting a deficit that can help you lose weight (in contrast, compare this to the standard 2,000 calorie diet!).
It’s more than just the calories, though: intermittent fasting has also been proven to help you improve your blood sugar levels and correct insulin resistance, which can also play a role in a leaner, healthier body.
Finally, many people find that 5:2 intermittent fasting is simply easier to follow than other diets in which they have to constantly restrict themselves. And of course, the longer you can consistently stick with a diet, the better your results will be!
Whenever possible, stick to fresh, whole foods the majority of the time so that you’re getting all the nutrition you need to make up for your extreme calorie deficits during those other two days of the week. And whatever you do, do not treat those other 5 days as “cheat” days - you can easily go overboard and cancel out the benefits of two-day fasting if you don’t watch it.
You might also want to consider taking a multivitamin or other supplements so that you’re fully equipping your body with the micronutrients you need for optimum health.
In that same vein, you might not want to do your fasting days back-to-back but split them up throughout the week instead.
Most importantly, though, is to be safe and listen to your body! Those fasting days can be very hard, especially in the beginning. Keep a light snack on hand to avoid serious drops in blood sugar and consult with a dietitian or doctor if you find that fasting is making you feel seriously ill.