a little bird told me

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A Day On The 5:2 Fasting Diet

I've been doing the 5:2 'Fasting' Diet on and off since May 2013 and have seen great results, losing a stone and a half in four months. Over Christmas and New Year (New Year lasts 'til March, right?) I let things slide and enjoyed all the food, but now I'm back on track and losing weight once again.

I often post my 5:2 meals to Instagram and there are always questions about how I find the diet and what I eat on my fasting days. So I thought I'd walk you through a typical day on the 5:2 Diet, looking at what I eat, when I eat and how I split those 500 calories.

It's worth noting here that I am not a nutritionist or expert of any kind - if you have any doubts about the suitability of the 5:2 Diet for your health or lifestyle you should speak with a doctor first. I am relatively sedentary so find my 500 calorie days easy to manage, but that isn't true for everyone and any reduced-calorie eating plan should be considered carefully.

If you're unsure what the 5:2 Fasting Diet is, have a little read of this post first. Go on, we'll wait. 

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All done? Good. So now you know that each week I have two 500-cal days to stick to, usually called 'fast days'. I try to mix my fast days around a little bit - I find that makes them easier to manage, but also works well if I'm going out for a meal one night or will be more active during the day. But I'll always do Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday - a normal day in between and the weekend off, because fun.

There are a few different ways to follow the 5:2 Diet, but I tend to stick to the original format - I eat very little during the day then have a filling dinner come evening. I find that eating early in the day makes me much more hungry later on, whereas I rarely feel ravenous if I don't eat until 3pm. 

what to eat on fasting 5:2 diet

My fasting days always start with water. I have couple of glasses before I leave for my studio, usually brighten up with a slice of lemon. I don't drink tea or coffee (never have) so will have lots of water through the day. Sometimes I'll have a Diet Coke as an afternoon boost but water is my boo!

fasting diet recipes

My snacks vary from day to day - sometimes I'll be very good and have chopped raw carrots, celery, radishes, cucumber or anything else that takes 30 seconds to prepare on a morning. I have a tub of these on my desk that I'll munch on throughout the day. This handful of carrots is about 52 calories. On cold days I like toasted crumpets (98 calories) and when I'm being lazy, a packet of Quavers (88 calories).

5:2 diet meal ideas

Because I don't eat much during the day, I'm usually able to have a pretty normal tea in the evening. This is really important for me - I hate faffing about with measurements and have no time for complicated 'fake' things like cauliflower pizza. I like to eat hearty meals that fill me up and as I usually have about 400 calories to play with, there's a lot of choice.

This dish was based on a recipe from my favourite 5:2 blogger, Lavender and Lovage. It's a cajun chicken kebab in a pitta bread, with grilled chicken, tomato, cucumber and mint yoghurt, a squeeze of lemon and a side salad. A really fresh, filling meal that came in at an astoundingly good 257 calories, so I had a second helping of the chicken and yoghurt.

With my total calorie count for the day at around 400, I finished off with some fat free vanilla yoghurt and a handful of berries to bring me up to 500.

It's very important to stress that following a 5:2 eating plan isn't about 'starving yourself' - it's about eating less. The beauty of this approach to eating is it doesn't take over your life. On my non-fast days I eat very normally - not counting the calories but not pigging out either. Of course, there are days when I eat like I'm preparing for a marathon and I would never order a salad in a restaurant, but that's one of the main reasons I do 5:2 - if I can avoid my tendency for chips and quash my love of mayo for two days a week, I can indulge without feeling guilty.

If you're giving the 5:2 Diet a go, I'd really recommend reading Lavender and Lovage for ideas - Karen eats three small meals on her fast days, which is a much better method if you're quite active during the day or can't fathom going without lunch. I'd also recommend downloading the My Fitness Pal app - it's a great way to work out how many calories are in the food you're eating, and keep track of your total on fast days.

What do you think of the 5:2 Diet?

18 comments:

  1. I've never tried 5:2 because I think I'd get too hungry. My friends have tried it and go along with it really well.

    www.nicolabishopx.com

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  2. Great post, my Mum does this diet and she has lost a stone (she was only 10 stone to begin with!). I think I might have to join her, you make it look easier than I imagined :) x

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  3. I think its amazing! Congrats on the loss too. I started in November and rather smuggly lost 6lbs pre Christmas. I haven't yet got in to my stride with new job new house et all, but soon!

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  4. I can't say that I ever diet as I lead a generally healthy lifestyle (with the exception of an insane amount of chocolate)!! Incredibly interesting post anyway however as I'm endleslly fascinated by diets for some reason - also well done on your willpower! :)

    http://findmethoseheels.blogspot.co.uk/

    x

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  5. i couldn't do it, i like pizza too much.. but well done!! :)
    www.thewanderlusthasgotme.blogspot.co.uk

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  6. I love your instagram posts for fast day ideas. I've recently fasting one day per week until dinner time and find that the break from eating that I get from fasting actually makes me less ravenous and that I think about food less than when I spend my days looking forward to the next meal - funny how our brains work! x

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  7. I've considered this but I'm not sure about it - I go to the gym at least 6 days per week and when I'm there I'll burn more than 500cals, which I guess wouldn't be good for my fast days. Does that 500 take exercise cals into account?

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  8. I'm the same when it comes to breakfast- if I have a day where I don't eat until about 3, it's actually not too bad. I'm on my feet walking around for ten hours a day so I don't know if the fast days would be enough for me. I'd like to give it a go though! x

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  9. I'm on slimming world which isn't showing great results ... 4 lbs in 6 weeks. Your post has given me inspiration, Jen, you're such a great writer! I'm going to incorporate the 5/2 into my slimming world plan. Size 12 here I hopefully come!

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  10. Having watched the Horizon documentary I'm sold!

    X

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  11. This post makes me feel sad for some reason; I've followed the little bird blog for years, and you've always looked a normal/slim healthy size to me. Diets like 5:2 feel a little too much like starvation to me. We should try and accept ourselves; surely unless we are medically overweight and it is causing health worries?

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    1. Sure, I've always been reasonably slim - I'm tall with long legs so that helps. But I absolutely was not healthy. There's no way you can tell anything about my health from an outfit post - I was lethargic, sluggish, tired constantly, my skin was terrible, I felt depressed... much of that was to do with a terrible diet and zero exercise.

      Unfortunately I have no will power when it comes to food and I find 5:2 an excellent way to curb habits I consider bad, like daily 3pm brownies and whole frozen pizzas for tea.

      The word 'starvation' is bandied around far too much when it comes to eating plans like 5:2. Starvation is denying your body calories it desperately needs - this is not what I do. I eat a bit less, 2 days a week. A little perspective is needed here.

      Sorry if that comes across a bit strongly... I am a huge believer in being comfortable in your own body and not feeling the need to conform to typical standards of beauty. But that's just it - I was *not* comfortable with my body and I've taken simple, sensible steps in order to enjoy what I see in the mirror again.

      Thanks for your comment - I hope my answer explains things a bit! :)

      Jen

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  12. That doesn't come across too strongly at all; I completely agree that you can look one way and be feeling another - pictures can never tell the whole story. I hesitated before commenting, because of course everybody should have the right to diet if they feel they need to. Just thought I'd say that since I've been reading the blog I've personally thought you looked brilliant - body size-wise and the threads of course :)

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  13. Hey, sorry; I read my post back to myself then and it did read-back a little judgmentally...of course everybody has the right to diet if they feel they need to. I certainly agree that how you look on a photograph does not express how you feel in yourself. Just wanted to let you know that throughout the time I've been a reader, you've always looked really brilliant - but if you feel much healthier as a result, good luck :)

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    1. No worries at all! Thank you for your kind words :)

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  14. Oh, I've been doing that diet for about a month now and am already seeing the results. Plus, it's actually the easiest diet to stick to from all the ones I've tried.

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  15. I've been doing the 5:2 for about 9 months now, and it's the first diet I've ever done.

    I go to the gym, eat relatively healthily, but still wasn't feeling myself, so I watched the horizon document and read around the subject before trying it. It's so facinating to read about the physiological side of this too.

    I feel so much better now I do it twice a week - a lot of people ask me if I over eat the following day, and actually I feel less hungry than I would normally. And it's definitely helped me curb some over eating habits I was taking on.

    I probably couldn't do more than two days, but the two days are very easy!

    Plus diet coke is my secret weapon too if I feel a day going badly!

    Hmm maybe...

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  16. I actually find fast days really easy now. I drink loads of water all day and my vice is a can of diet coke and then sugar free polos, they distract me and make me think I'm eating something I think...

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