The 5:2 Diet: Intermittent Fasting
The 5:2 Diet: Intermittent Fasting
The 5:2 Fast Diet – Fad Diet?
Mention ‘dieting’ and especially ‘fasting’ most people cringe. Paleo, New Atkins, Raw Food, Protein meal replacements, are some of the more recent ones. New kid on the block ‘The Fast 5:2 Diet’. Is this just another fad diet? Based on work from leading scientists around the world this is touted as the new alternative to diets.
If you could have 5 days of ‘normal’ eating with little restriction, followed by 2 days of restrictive calorie control with guaranteed weight loss and health benefits would you consider it?
In The Fast 5:2 diet, you eat ‘normally’ for 5 days and then fast for 2, eating a quarter of your recommended daily calorie quota on the fast days. This usually works out to be 500 calories (2092 kilojoules) for women, or 600 (2510 kilojoules) for men. Researchers have found that most people who fast tend not to eat as much on the days following a fast, although success also depends on not over-eating on your ‘normal’ days.
The ‘Sunday Night’ program (Sunday Night – Fast Diet) interviewed the founder of this new way of eating Dr Michael Mosley; who said that if you stick to the plan you can lose approximately 0.5 kg a week however the benefits extend to far more than just losing weight.
Studies of intermittent fasting show that not only do people see improvements in blood pressure and their cholesterol levels, it can act as a breast cancer preventative, reduce insulin sensitivity (which relates to type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome). Intermittent fasting does not mean that you stop eating entirely. It means reducing the amount you eat, but only for short periods of time. After sleep we break-the-fast through eating breakfast 7 or 8 hours after rest. Intermittent fasting means extending these periods to 24 or 48 hours with the health benefits including weight reduction deemed important in modern day society.
According to Dr Mosley, this is not a new way of dieting; it is a new lifestyle, a way of eating. Our cavemen ancestors evolved in periods of feast and famine. Traditional hunter-gathers had times when food was scarce. When the tribe killed an animal everyone ate well and when hunting was less successful the tribe ate less, ‘went hungry’. To survive during these times the body ‘switches into repair’ mode, cells are modified and the body processes toxins away.
Modern humans eat regularly and there is evidence that suggests the hunger hormone, ghrelin, rises simply in anticipation of a meal. Many of us live in a modern society where an abundance of foods exists for all of us; tempting us into overeating. Some say the abundance of sugary, salty and highly processed foods are causing us much harm. “Intermittent fasting can put us back in touch with our human selves. It is a route not only to weight loss, but also to long-term health and well-being,” said Dr Mosley.
Most people including Dr Mosley have lost significant weight choosing this method of eating. Not only did he lose 20 pounds (9kg) in 2012, he controlled his type II diabetes. He was completely surprised to learn (in his BBC program), that his internal organs had a significant amount of weight surrounding them which caused him metabolic syndrome.
As wealthy nations report obesity at increasing alarming rates (Australia no.4 in the world), it seems that maybe the scientists are onto something. With my interest in genetics and nutrigenomics (how nutrition influences the expression of your genes), I have come to learn that genetic testing/profiling can also provide insights into your metabolism, your methylation pathways (energy) and liver detoxification that is specifically tailored for you. After all it is your genes!
For many years I followed a principle of fasting over a three day period at the end of a season (& the beginning of the next), to cleanse and prepare my body for the new season. I always found that at the beginning ‘fasting’ was most difficult, battling my mind which was saying, “Why do I need to do this?” And I also knew that if I continued, moved past my resistance, I would start to feel the benefits of fasting including renewed energy, improved digestion, a clear and settled mind. This is not some kind of voodoo or magic; just a way to align to the season ahead, to get the most out of my life. Part of this was due to the processes that I engaged in whilst doing the fast. I always undertook it being organised, having lots of fresh vegetables in the house, minimal protein although broths where included and loads of water.
Intermittent fasting can be tough; there is no doubt about it. At the time of writing this I am in my first day of fasting. It is hard not to focus on food when you have made it a priority. Remember that the suggestion with The Fast 5:2 Diet is to restrict your calorie intake for 2 days however you could start with one and see how you manage. I am choosing foods that are light with beverages such as herbal teas (the one I have just blended for my new organic herbal range!), a healthy salad (greens, celery, radish, sprouts, and an egg for lunch) and a vegetable soup for dinner (no fats just vegies). In between, it is important to stay hydrated with at least 2 litres of water daily. Exercise is also recommended along with The Fast 5:2 Diet. See the BBC program for details on this (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01lxyzc)
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone! Planning and organisation are the key and knowing whether this is appropriate for you! Knowing what to eat and portion control is important. Maybe there are better ways for you to lose weight or control diseases. I recommend that if you are planning on starting any diet regime that you contact a professional Nutritionist or Naturopath for more advice. This is not recommended during pregnancy or whilst breast-feeding. Consult your doctor if you are taking medications to ensure that this is diet may be safe for you.
Tips for Intermittent Fasting
- Keep yourself hydrated which keeps you fuller on fasting day/s and assists the body in eliminating toxins.
- Portion control is important on your fasting days. Chose light salads and vegetables to keep within the calorie limit. Once you start you will get the idea of what you are able to do. Purchase the book if you need to.
- Supplementing on your fasting day may be useful. Use this as a time to ‘Heal’ you, particularly your digestive tract as you are giving it a ‘rest’ on your fasting day. Use ‘green powders’ ie containing spirulina or chlorella (if you are able to), to cleanse and clear.
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine as this can overstimulate your adrenal glands and cause stress.
- Stress affects all of us in different ways. On your fasting day, go within and be kind with yourself.
- If you need to stop during the process for whatever the reason – do so immediately!
If you would like to book a personal consultation with me please do so via emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call Karen Green on 0400836254.