Healthy Living Advice

Tips for health, strength, weight-loss, and nutrition

The 5 - 2 Diet or any Fasting Diet

All the rave at the moment seems to be about the 5:2 diet, the idea behind it is that for 5 days you can eat whatever you like and then for 2 days of eating a very restrictive calorie diet (Men: 600cal / Women: 500cal). Many people are swearing by it as one of the best ways to lose weight, but is this diet as good as it is being made out to be?

Like everything, we need to look at the good and the bad. Let’s start with the bad

1) One of the main factors that draw people into the 5:2 diet is 5 days of eating whatever you like - who could blame them. But this should send off alarm bells, encouraging people to eat any food no matter the quantity or quality is going to have a negative effect on that person, their gut, intestinal, liver, kidneys, pancreas and thyroid health and not to mention your hormones.  This will all lead to some damage somewhere along the line. Poor food choices like processed, high sugar, high carbohydrate, low fat junk food is going to cause inflammation to your body internally. Allowing people to eat these foods is asking for long term issues; these foods are the reason why we are starting to see a large rise in autoimmune disease.

2) Poor nutrition causes a poor internal environment, which creates the ideal breeding ground for disease.

3) Modern life is not built for fasting - back in the day we didn’t have anywhere near the number of stressors we have today including work pressures, family responsibilities, finances, exercise, environmental stressors from pollutants and pesticides.  Consequently, the body is forced to burn through more nutrients to fight and reduce the negative effects these stressors cause.

4) When the body comes out of a fasted state it is crying out for nutrients; proteins, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats to heal and restore the body, but people tend to fancy pizza or ice cream instead, leaving the body nutritionally depleted.

5) On the days when people are told to consume 500 or 600 calorie where do you think they are getting these calories from? If on “eat whatever you want days” they are literally eating whatever they want. I can guess they are not going to choose whole foods but are instead going to eat simple starchy carbohydrates and trans fats that taste good as they would be craving them from the large amounts they have consumed over the last 5 days.

6) What gets me the most is the relationship we are creating with food, encouraging this style of eating - starving and gorging with no care for food quality. What happens when people lose the weight they want? Do they continue on the 5:2 diet or do they go back to eating the way they were? Where is the after care? 

7) Fasting or low calorie days can be more detrimental to women - low calorie intake will cause low energy, increased stress and hormonal irregularity.  This happens to both men and women but the effects happen quicker to women. When calories are low epigenetic signals are sent to reduce fertility as the body is in a state that cannot support itself, let alone feed a baby.  Fertility will increase when the calorie stress goes away.

What are the benefits?

1) It works, people will get results for the short term but you will see a lot of these people put the weight right back on once they stop and then it just become another yo-yo diet. 

My major concern is the physiological and internal damage done with their poor food choices, over eating, intense food craving, depression from nutrient deficiencies, development of autoimmune diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, type I diabetes, graves disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and the list goes on. I’m not saying the 5:2 diet causes these diseases, however, eating processed junk food does and when you tell someone who has only eaten 500 or 600 calories a day for the last 2 days to eat as much of whatever they want, it is very unlikely they are going to eat fresh salmon with 3-4 servings of vegetables covered in grass fed butter; they’re going to go for their favourites like pizza.

The 5:2 Diet can be done right, for 5 days you eat well balanced meals of protein, vegetables and healthy fats all from whole foods, for the 2 days of 500-600 calories you consume mainly protein and healthy fats with green drinks. This way you can get the best of both worlds, feel good from good nutrition and lose that unwanted belly fat. But this is the same for all healthy eating plans, you just need to stick to it and be consistent.

There are no beneficial lessons to be learnt with the 5:2 diet – it does not prescribe what foods and what quantity of food will help you to feel great and function at an optimal level.

This is what an eating plan should be about, creating health and wellness, then the body will lose unwanted body fat.

Knowledge is power

To Healthy Living

Daniel Christie


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