5:2 Diet: Desired Weight Thanks To Two Fasting Days Per Week

It stimulates the metabolism and prevents the yo-yo effect: the 5:2 diet. Means: Eat normally for 5 days – half a day for 2 days. The form of intermittent fasting has many health benefits – a field report and a sample day including recipes provide information about part-time fasting.

5:2 – what sounds like the intermediate result in a tennis match is a nutritional concept recommended by scientists.

The concept of intermittent fasting was developed in 2013 by the British research team Michelle Harvie and Tony Howell, who actually created the nutritional model for women with a high risk of breast cancer. In their book “The 2-Day Diet” they explain the 5:2 diet scientifically, but also in a way that laypeople can understand.

But what are the health benefits of 5:2 intermittent fasting? How well can it be integrated into everyday life? Is it possible to lose weight in a targeted and long-term way with this type of nutrition? You can find out here.

This is how the 5:2 diet works

On five out of seven days you can eat a healthy and balanced diet without giving up – a piece of chocolate or a burger would also be allowed here. Strict fasting is then announced on the other two days.

However, you do not have to do without food completely on the fasting days: women should not consume more than 500 calories and men should not consume more than 600 calories on these fasting days.

Carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, pasta, rice or potatoes as well as sugary snacks and alcohol are therefore not a good strategy on the two days of fasting – they simply do not keep you full for long and provide too many calories.

Instead, there are lots of vegetables, some fruit, a good portion of protein, healthy fats and plenty of water, vegetable broth and unsweetened tea on the menu.

At best, the two days of fasting should not follow each other and should be firmly established each week, for example on a Monday and Thursday. The weekends are not recommended, as they often increase the drop-out rate.

Tips for implementation – this is how the 5:2 fasting works

  • The calorie quota for the two days of fasting may be divided into one or more meals.
  • In addition, a lot of fluids in the form of water, unsweetened teas and vegetable or miso broth must be drunk.
  • On the five non-fasting days, uninhibited gluttony is not on the agenda, but a balanced, healthy diet without strict plans and guidelines. A calorie deficit should be avoided here.
  • Intense exercise like HIIT training, kickboxing, or jogging for more than 30 minutes should be added to the five non-fasting days. For the two days of fasting, however, yoga (such as yin yoga) or meditation is suitable.

Feasting instead of overeating

With the 5:2 diet, many make the mistake of really feasting on the five non-fasting days – pizza here, fries there and a chocolate cake for dessert. “After all, you fasted for two days” – so often the excuse. From this attitude, Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer, authors of The Fast Diet.

Although the two promise quick success in losing weight – about half a kilo per week for women, a little more for men – they make the caveat: “Success also depends on not overeating on the non-fasting days.”

That means: keep an eye on your total turnover on the non-fasting days and avoid too high a calorie surplus.

The benefits of the 5:2 diet

  • The protein intake on the fasting days does not lead to muscle breakdown
    5:2 Intermittent Fasting is one of the more flexible forms of fasting, where intense exercise is allowed on the non-fasting days
  • The form of nutrition can be easily integrated into everyday life, since you do not completely forgo food intake
  • No blatant change in diet or severe abstinence is necessary
  • The 5:2 diet ensures that there is no yo-yo effect due to the moderate, long-term weight loss and that you level off at your ideal weight
  • In the “InterFast” studies by the research team led by Frank Mandeo at the University of Graz, it was clearly shown that the “toxic” visceral fat – also known as brown fat, which wraps around the organs – and high blood pressure were reduced and the improved cholesterol levels
  • In addition, there was an increase in ketone bodies, which causes the hormone insulin to be released less and thus there is less fluctuation in the blood sugar level. This ensures that lipolysis runs better and fat cells can be broken down.
  • Cardiovascular diseases and diabetes can also be treated well by fasting
  • An improvement in the inflammation values in the intestine could also be shown in a study

5:2 diet week: A field report

Strict diet plans aren’t my thing, but eating disciplined for two days can’t be that hard…

Day 1: Monday is a rest day – in terms of calories, because I start the week with the first of the two fasting days of the 5:2 diet. Ideal for balancing the scales after a weekend of good food and wine.

Motivated, I mix 150 g low-fat quark with 50 g defrosted berries, a few chopped almonds and sweetener in the morning. Mmmm! Tastes good and is filling. I drink a pot of green tea until 2 p.m.

For a late lunch, I prepare a salad from spinach, tomatoes, peppers, some kidney beans, 100 g light sheep’s cheese, a few olives, olive oil, lime juice and herbs.

After that there is only water. First noticeable effect: During the evening yoga class, nothing weighs heavily on the stomach.

Day 2: Contrary to what I expected, I don’t wake up starving. I even find my obligatory Nutella bread in the morning almost too sweet.

Is it all just imagination? Maybe, but I still follow my gut feeling and order the light vegetable stew during my lunch break. For dinner there is a salad for the whole family.

Day 3: I have decided to use Wednesday as the second day of fasting. At breakfast I use the same ingredients as on Monday.

I skip lunch so I can eat the second allowed meal in the evening. I’ve been invited to my birthday. There is pumpkin soup – fits perfectly into my concept.

But then suddenly there is a basket of bread in front of me. It smells so good! When I grab it, I think: “Tomorrow is another day!”

Day 4: to a new one. Since 250 g of lean, protein-rich foods are allowed as a satiating factor during intermittent fasting, I start the fasting day with an omelet made of two eggs and fried vegetables.

I can make ends meet with tea and mineral water until 6 p.m. For dinner I make a tomato and fish stew for the family. There’s no baguette today!

Day 5-7: After the second day of fasting, I weigh 1.5 kilos less. That motivates. I eat low-fat quark and berries again for breakfast on Friday and Saturday, simply because I like it.

Somehow I feel like eating a lot of vegetables even at the weekend. But there is still a glass of wine.

My conclusion: With a little planning, the 5:2 diet is definitely suitable for everyday use and recommendable. I was amazed that I can be deliciously full with 500 calories. Important for me: The fasting days should not collide with invitations to dinner.

Delicious and healthy recipes for the 5:2 diet

All recipe ideas for the three meals do not exceed the total of 500 calories per day.

Meal 1/ Breakfast

At best, breakfast should be high in protein – whether savory or sweet. Which foods are suitable? For example low-fat quark, skyr, goat’s cream cheese, eggs and low-calorie vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumber or zucchini.

How about a low-fat quark berry mix? 100 grams of low-fat quark already provide 12 grams of protein. The frozen, pureed berries provide the necessary vitamins and antioxidants. Seasoned with amaranth, lemon zest and agave syrup.

Nutrients: about 110 kcal; 13g protein, 0.8g fat, 14g carbohydrates

Meal 2/noon

At lunchtime you should always make sure that the calorie quota is not overused if you often get hungry again in the evening.

For a low-calorie lunch, 100g chicken fillet fried in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 100g fried zucchini slices (fried in oil) would do. The dish would come to about 250 calories, 23g protein, 16g fat and 3g carbohydrates.

Vegetarian alternative: Mediterranean peppers with soft-boiled egg, seasoned with a little honey, rosemary and capers (you can also leave them out).

Nutritional values: approx. 260 calories, 7 g protein, 20 g fat, 14 g carbohydrates

Meal 3/dinner

In the evening, an easily digestible meal can preferably be eaten.

Pretty tasty and low in calories would be 8 ounces of steamed broccoli marinated with 1 tsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp soy sauce, and coarse pepper. The cherry on the (vegan) cream cake: light sesame. Overall, the vegan dish has about 101 calories; 10g protein, 3g fat, 8g carbohydrates.

Fancy a fresh salad? Then there is a cucumber salad with radishes and a light yoghurt dressing.

Nutritional values: approx. 130 calories; 3g protein, 8g fat, 11g carbohydrates.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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