Trying to lose a few pounds but hate the idea of dieting every day? The 5:2 Diet may be for you.
The premise seems easy enough: Consume 500 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, eat healthily on the other five (and you can have a glass of wine here and there), do 30 minutes of exercise three times a week, and watch the weight fall off.
It worked for Jacqueline Whitehart, who lost 14 pounds on the program and wrote the "5:2 Fast Diet: Recipe Book," which compiles her best 500-calorie recipes to enjoy on the so-called "fast" days.
Sound too good to be true? We spoke with Whitehart to learn more.
What separates this diet from all the other options out there?
The 5:2 Diet is unique in that you only diet two days a week. This makes it incredibly flexible — you can fit the diet in around you, not the other way round. The majority of people who try the diet find that willpower and motivation is a lot easier to achieve over a single day.
Why is fasting on two days better than just eating less all the time?
Three big reasons: first, you are shocking your body into losing fat, not muscle — every pound you lose is fat; Second, it's easier to stick to so you are more likely to succeed than with calorie-counting every day; and third, the health benefits — you are cutting your risk of major age-related diseases.
How can you make sure you don’t totally binge on the “off” days?
I think it's a question of attitude. You certainly deserve a treat or two on your “off” days, but keep it in moderation. If you stick to three healthy meals a day and cut out unhealthy snacks, you'll stay right on track.
500 calories seems like very little on the “fast” days. Is this safe/healthy?
Thousands of people are now losing weight on the 5:2 diet without any ill-effects. No significant dangers have been found with the diet. The human body is not particularly designed for a regular daily calorie intake; this is a more modern invention. Back in the days of hunter-gatherers, good meals were infrequent and they only ate by feast and famine. Our bodies are still built to cope well with this, and the 5:2 diet is just trying to adapt the body back to this state.
Can you really drink wine on this diet?
Yes. On the five days when you are not fasting, you can have a glass of wine or two, or cake, or chocolate — whatever tickles your fancy. Nothing is denied on your normal days, just don't go overboard.
It seems like this diet aims to slim you down quickly. What happens when you just want to maintain your current weight after dropping the pounds you wanted to lose?
One of the easiest ways to maintain your current weight is to fast just one day a week. This is “maintenance” mode and you shouldn't lose any more weight with only one fasting day per week. If you continue to lose weight, you could always stop altogether for a month or so and then do occasional fast days.
How successful have you been while adhering to this diet?
I found the diet surprisingly easy to stick to and followed it carefully for four months, losing 14 pounds in the process. After this, I cut back to one fast day a week, and have been following this ever since. I have maintained my weight-loss and look and feel the best I have in years!
Is the 5:2 Diet for everyone?
The 5:2 Diet is for anyone with a bit of weight to lose or anyone who wants to lower their risk of heart disease, diabetes or Alzheimer’s. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, under 18, suffering from diabetes or you're hypoglycemic, then you should NOT attempt the diet. If in doubt, please talk to your doctor. If you are healthy and willing, then get set for the 5:2 Diet revolution — you WILL lose weight and feel healthier than ever before.
Check out some of Whitehart's recipes below: