In the days of yore (though not quite apothecary tables) we gave a good few fad diets a go, usually coming back to WeightWatchers, the rocky relationship that permeated most of our twenties. Every Monday was the start of new regime that inevitably failed by Thursday.
But the only “diet” we can say worked for us, in that it kickstarted a healthier lifestyle rather than causing that oh so familiar quick loss followed by twice the gain, was the 5:2.
The principal is simple, limit your calorie intake to 500 (for women, 600 for men) for two days a week and eat “normally” for the other five (the eating habits of A Normal always being something of a mystery to me). I like to join a bandwagon, so when it was all over the MailOnline around December 2013 I decided it must be worth a try.
I’d been hovering between 11.5st and 12st for the best part of a year and I didn’t expect it to last beyond week one in the grand tradition of fad diets.
Two things surprised me that week.
First, fast days brought more boredom than anything, a natural side effect for someone whose entire day is spent looking forward to the next meal and the five following ones I’ve already mapped out.
Secondly, come weigh in day I waddled onto the scales adamant it wasn’t working, happy to throw in the towel having given it a shot. When I discovered I had lost 5lbs I skipped off them declaring life in the fast lane was the life for me.
Chaz jumped on-board a couple of months later – that’s the fomo for you.
I’m reluctant to wholeheartedly endorse any kind of “diet” because Kings and Greens is all about healthy lifestyles, everything in moderation, blah blah blah. The reason we decided to post about this is simply down to the fact more and more friends asked and we wanted to share our experience.
Here comes the science bit – concentrate!
Intermittent fasting isn’t actually as faddy as you might think, there’s a lot of evidence out there about the benefits to your health so many of the claims are medically backed up – and not just in terms of weight loss (though it really does work), it’s reported to aid blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin sensitivity too. But as with everything, there are downsides and it pays to be conscious of the potential pitfalls so you can navigate them – this may come in handy (if it’s too small to read you can find it on our Pinterest).
Compared to other weight loss regimes, the appeal for me was the fact I was never more than a day away from eating whatever I fancied (within reason). I fasted on Mondays and Thursdays as a general rule, so Tuesday and Friday breakfasts became something to really look forward to and plan with insane anticipation as I twiddled my thumbs on a fast day evening wondering whether 7pm was an acceptable bedtime for a grown woman.
My fast day menu looked something like this:
B: Porridge – 30g cooked oats with water and Stevia/bit of honey OR a small banana – about 100 cals
L: Homemade soup – about 150 cals
T: Two egg omelette cooked in coconut oil with a handful of spinach, a few mushrooms and chilli flakes (seasoning becomes your best friend on fast days) – 200 cals
That leaves you at around 450 cals so you can leave room to snack on a bit of fruit or carrot sticks and dream of a brighter tomorrow.
My mum’s friend Jacqui is doing really well on the 5:2, she’s lost over 3 stones and swears by sticking to the exact same food every day to take the decision making out of the equation completely (she has porridge for breakfast and two scrambled eggs with one slice of wholemeal toast in the evening).
Other people prefer to save their cals up for an evening meal, I tried this once and found it easier than expected. As always, it’s crucial to drink plenty of water and green/herbal teas and they can help stave off the tedium as long as you seriously lower your expectations of a good time.
The biggest aid for me in doing the fast diet, and still remains a constant now, is our faithful friend and super-app MyFitnessPal.
When I wasn’t fasting I generally stuck to 1200 calories on the other weekdays and relaxed this at weekends – 2,500 was and still is an average Saturday or Sunday and we always make sure we keep tracking as this helps us to stay healthy.
I’ve never been one of those irritating normals who chirps “I just finish eating when I’m full!” – this notion just doesn’t exist for me, I finish when it’s all gone and probably always will. Without MFP I would find portion control a big issue so I do weigh and measure most things and log everything there (the good, the bad and the ugly with a wide open diary so you can share these highs and lows with me) to avoid overeating. Feel free to have a gander by adding us on there – alibongo81 and charliequeso.
Nowadays, though, the calories themselves aren’t as big a thing for me as long as I know everything I’m eating is “proper” healthy food plus odd treats. Nutrition is much more of a factor now, so along with portion control MFP serves an an excellent way to monitor the old macros (I am obsessed with the pie chart) – especially important if you’re avoiding meat as protein intake is one you need to keep an eye on.
Overall, I lost about 1.5st in 4 months on the 5:2, stopping when I reached around 10st because I had started training for an ultra marathon and needed to eat a bit more.
A few tips for 5:2 success
- Download MyFitnessPal and use it
- Decide which days work for you and get into the same routine…..
- … but be flexible. You can juggle fast days to fit in with other plans and even switch things on the day if you slip up
- Stick to the same food on fast days IF you think that will help you by avoiding decisions
- If you’re likely to get bored easily, however, be creative and change things to suit your mood (follow @ellypear on instagram for inspiration)
- Don’t exercise on fast days as a rule
- Don’t do consecutive days
- Drink up! Lots of water and herbal teas (a post coming soon on tips to get more H20)
- Only weigh in once a week – same time and situ every week (7am on a Friday is my weekly date with the scales)
- Plan plan plan – you really can’t wing it so get yourself organised for your fast day meals and beyond.
Have you done it? Or are you planning to do it? We’d love to know your experiences.. comment below or tweet us @kingsandgreens – and if you’re starting today good luck!
All images taken by us or from Pinterest