Nowadays, people tend to favor intermittent fasting as a way of losing weight in a healthy manner. Unlike other diets or regimes, intermittent fasting is not about what you are allowed or forbidden to eat, but more about when to eat – certain time frames or days of the week, for instance.
There are three popular fasting methods involved:
- the 16/8 method
- the 5:2 method
- the eat-stop-eat method
Today we’re exploring the 5:2 diet, which was made popular by the British broadcaster Michael Mosley.
What is the 5:2 diet plan?
The 5:2 diet or the 500 calories diet is a form of intermittent fasting where you can eat normally 5 days of the week, without limiting your calorie intake, but you restrain calories in 2 different days of the week. In these 2 days, women should consume 500 calories, while men should stay below 600 calories, that is because both genres have different nutritional needs.
The point here is to cut the caloric intake to 25% on fasting days. Each person can choose their 2 favorite days of the week for fasting, with only one condition: there has to be at least one non-fasting day between them because the body needs to take full advantage of all the necessary nutrients in order to function properly. For example, one can choose their fasting days to be Monday and Thursday, or even Wednesday and Saturday.
The biggest advantage of the 5:2 diet is its flexibility. Rather than severely cut food groups out of your diet, you can maintain your regular healthy eating plan and only restrict calories intake up to 500 or 600 in 2 days of the week, at your choice. In this way, you will avoid unnecessary cravings and still enjoy a healthy diet.
500 calories a day meal plan
Also called the 500 calories diet, for the selected 2 days of fasting, you have to make sure you include all the healthy food categories in your meals:
- vegetables and fiber, such as salads, dark leafy greens, zucchini pasta, carrots sliced as noodles
- proteins: white fish, eggs, beans, lentils, peas, tofu, lean chicken
- fruits: blackberries and blueberries, which may curb sweet cravings
- unsweetened tea and coffee
In these 2 days of fasting, it is best to avoid refined carbohydrates, processed foods, cooking with excessive fats.
500 calories menu plan
Here is a quick guide of 500 calories meals that you can enjoy in the 2 fasting days of your choice:
- Breakfast: 2 hard-boiled eggs
- Lunch: a small portion of steamed white fish
- Dinner: vegetable soup
- Breakfast: natural yogurt with berries
- Lunch: fresh vegetable salad
- Dinner: beans soup
What are the 5:2 diet health benefits?
A study from 2018 proved that both intermittent fasting and simple calorie restriction diets are as effective when it comes to promoting weight loss.
Another research from 2014 discovered that intermittent fasting methods can help reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance in obese adults, but more findings are necessary in order to properly confirm this discovery.
These discoveries do not claim intermittent fasting is a better alternative of losing weight, but instead, they show that it is as effective as other calorie restriction diets.
The 5:2 diet side effects
If this is the first time you try intermittent fasting, you may experience irritability, dehydration, tiredness, lack of energy, dizziness, inability to focus, and constipation. Although these are not severe side effects, they may interfere with your working schedule and leisure time.
Keep in mind that the 5:2 diet is not suitable for pregnant women, people with diabetes, teens, children, or people that take certain medications. It’s always best to ask for your doctor’s opinion before trying any new diets.