The 5:2 Diet – Eat, Fast and Live Longer!

Why is the 5:2 Diet so Important?

This site is all about the power of intermittent fasting using the 5:2 diet.  The starting point for most of us in the UK has been a TV documentary called Eat, Fast and Live Longer on the BBC looking at the health benefits of fasting or calorie restricted diets.  And, the point of this programme was not JUST weight loss, although for most of us it’s a very welcome result too.

The starting point for the programme was some research looking at how lowering your calorie intake and restricting the amount of protein you ate could help lower IGF-1 levels – a hormone that is one of the drivers keeping our bodies ‘fit’.    The presenter, Michael Mosley,  talked to individuals who followed an ongoing restricted calorie diet – and his own ‘fitness’ in terms of blood markers (IGF-1, glucose and cholesterol) was monitored against someone who had been following the regime for several years. And, was shocked at the beneficial results of a restricted calorie diet not just on weight and body fat, but on blood markers, indicators of serious diseases often associated with aging.

For most of us though, eating is an enjoyable experience and restricting your diet to less than 1000 calories a day is not something we want to do in the long term.  In order to be healthy on that level of calorie intake you really do have to monitor your food carefully and take additional supplements to make sure you don’t have vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

So what are the realistic alternatives?

ADF, alternate day fasting has been promoted by a whole range of fitness enthusiasts, from body builders through to those seeking to delay the aging process.  And, it’s been researched periodically since 1943.

Some of the potential health benefits for intermittent fasting – 5:2 or ADF include

  1.  Protection against the worst effects alzheimer’s, parkinsons and other similar ailments.  This was in work carried out by the Institute of Aging in the USA, where a 5:2 diet has been proven to provide some level of protection
  2.  Significant improvements in several blood markers such as LDL cholesterol in as little as eight weeks from work carried out by Bhutani S, Klempel MC, Berger RA, Varady KA. Improvements in Coronary Heart Disease Risk Indicators by Alternate-Day Fasting Involve Adipose Tissue Modulations. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Mar 1
  3. Weightloss (which in itself can help with health problems).  It seems obvious that reducing overall calorie levels by around 15% will result in weightloss, but what is significant is that for many people intermittent (semi) fasting is preferable to ongoing diet regimes.

scallops with lime and chilli butter

One set of research on rats concluded that the optimal frequency of fasting was one day in three.  And that this prolonged the lifespan of the rats by an average of 20%.

Well, at the risk of sounding glib, one day in three (effectively 5:2) of fasting to prolong my life by 20% and help me lose the weight I’ve gained over the last few years sounds fine to me.

The current recommendation too, isn’t about total, water only fast, but about restricting calories to 500 a day for women and 600 a day for men (e.g. about a quarter of the recommended daily allowance).  And, if you pick your meals carefully that’s really not too hard to achieve.

On this site I am going to introduce you to the concept of 5:2 menu planning.  My aim is to show you that it is possible to follow the 5:2 diet and eat tasty, appealing meals EVEN on your fast days.  Because I believe this should be a lifestyle choice for those of us who gain weight easily, and as such it will only work if it is easy to follow.  I’ve been following this diet for a few weeks now, so I am collecting a host of recipes that work for the 5:2 diet because they are very low calorie

The researcher on the TV programme lost nearly a stone in weight over a five week period of following the 5:2 diet.  I’m now into week two of the same programme and have lost just a kilo so far (2.2lbs).  I am not eating any differently on my non-fasting days – and I am optimistic that this programme could provide me with the solution I have been looking for.

I am a reasonably fit woman in her early fifties, with slow acting thyroid and mild asthma (which is agravated if I gain weight).  I have no other health problems.  I weigh 65kg or 10.23 stone and my target weight is 60kg.  I will be publishing menu plans, recipe ideas results of my own efforts to follow the 5:2 diet plan and more on how to follow the 5: diet plan on this site.