New 5:2 Diet? Yes it’s been updated and you’re going to love the changes.
The original 5:2 diet was based around a two day fast each week where men ate 600 calories or less on those two days and women ate 500 calories or less.
The Science Behind the 5:2 Diet
The 5:2 Diet was created by Dr Michael Mosley, who introduced it to us in a 2012 BBC Documentary Eat, Fast and Live Longer.
When Michael was tested in the documentary he discovered that his body was a third fat which put him at a higher chance of heart disease or cancer. After he changed his diet and followed the 5:2 diet his chances lowered quite dramatically.
The scientific facts behind the 5:2 Diet
- We all have a growth hormone called IGF-1. As a child this hormone helps us to grow, but as an adult it ages us. High levels of this hormone can increase our chances of getting heart disease, diabetes or cancer. To reduce our chances we need to lower this hormone.
- An intermittent fast diet like the 5:2 Diet helps to lower this hormone and our bodies go into ‘repair mode’ rather than ‘growth mode’.
- This was found to be the case in scientific tests and in studies of a small group of people in Ecuador who have much lower levels of IGF-1 and very rarely develop cancer and other diseases.
A personal story
While I was doing the 5:2 diet I often spoke about it to friends at work and indeed a few of us tried it. During one of these conversations an Indian friend backed up the data about the benefits of fasting and how it helps prevent against disease. She said in India her parents, grand parents, great grandparents and so on all fasted one day a week and there was no heart disease, cancer or any other age-related diseases in her family
The new 5:2 Diet
As I mentioned before, the 5:2 Diet has been updated. Michael Mosley is now suggesting we can eat 800 calories while doing the 5:2 Diet. In a article in The Telegraph he said “You don’t need to stick to 600 calories. Cutting down to 800 calories a day seems to be almost as effective and for some people much more ‘doable’.
Tips for the updated 5:2 Diet
- Eat 800 calories or less two days a week
- Space out your fast days, don’t do two together, this makes it harder.
- To make the larger 800 calorie count work more effectively, eat dinner earlier the night before your fast and eat breakfast later the day after your fast.
- Try to stay within the recommended daily amount of protein while fasting. Many people eat too much protein and this limits the effect on the growth hormone. The recommended daily amount is 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight. There is an online calculator to help you.
- Drink plenty of liquids on fast days. Water is best, but you can drink tea or coffee. 8 glasses a day is recommended.
- Try not to consume empty calories on fast days, so no alcohol (it’s good for you to give this up a couple of days a week anyway), crisps, cakes or sweets, even if you find low calorie options. I have a healthy chocolate mousse you can try instead if you want a sweet treat and only 126 calories per portion. A square of really good quality of dark chocolate is a good option too, if you have that craving.
- Do a bit more exercise while following the 5:2 diet. Just walking more or climbing stairs instead of taking the lift can help.
I’m going to give this a go. I followed the 5:2 diet when it was developed in 2012, then again the next year, but I found it was sometimes hard to get organised and back into it again after a break for a holiday or for Christmas and New Year. I lost 1-2 lbs a week while I was doing the diet and felt energised and positive on my fast days, but I found it helped to have a friend doing the diet too. If you don’t have a friend doing the 5:2 diet, there are some supportive fast groups on Facebook.
Help with the 5:2 Diet
I have a whole guide to the 5:2 Diet, with calorie counting, recipes and tips, but you can also more info on The Fast Diet website. You may also want to read about Michael Mosley’s new Blood Sugar Diet which incorporates the 5:2 diet.
If you have a 5:2 diet story or tips please share them with us.