The latest phenomenon to hit the world of weight loss is the 5:2 diet, a regime where followers eat normally five days a week then fast for two. As well as weight loss, the diet also claims t
The latest phenomenon to hit the world of weight loss is the 5:2 diet, a regime where followers eat normally five days a week then fast for two. As well as weight loss, the diet also claims to result in an increased life-span, improved cognitive function and protection from diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Sounds wonderful, no? Despite these claims I, personally, have my doubts.
One problem for me is the extreme nature of the fast days. Women are to consume no more than 500 calories while men should cap their intake at 600. ‘500 calories of what,’ I ask. You may think 500 calories is 500 calories. Now I’m no dietician but surely 500 calories that mainly come from fat will be much worse for your body than 500 calories derived from protein. Eating two Mars Bars or scrambled eggs for breakfast then grilled chicken and vegetables for dinner will both get you up to your calorie goal; I know which I’d rather fuel my body with.
Another issue with such low calorie consumption is a serious dip in energy levels. The diet claims that on fast days one’s senses should actually sharpen based on the principle that when our ancestors were hungry they needed heightened awareness and abilities to help them catch their next meal. In reality, I find that starving myself makes me feel light-headed and seriously weakens my concentration.
Then there is the issue of what constitutes ‘eating normally’ for the remainder of the week. If you study the diet carefully, you will see that dieters are advised to reduce their intake of white carbs and fatty treats—sound dietary advice for anyone. However, I worry that many followers will piece together their own rough version of the eating plan and continue to eat the typical carb and fat-heavy Western diet most of us consume. One woman blogging about her efforts noted her ‘normal’ meals during two consecutive days to include a deep-fried pub lunch, Indian take-away and chocolate cake.
How can anyone expect weight-loss results with eating habits like these?
On the topic of exercise, the 5:2 diet advises followers to participate in some form of activity three days a week. This really is the minimum anyone should do to see real results. I think many people have been misguided into believing that a reduced-calorie diet alone will help them reach their body ideals. This is simply not true. To achieve a shapely and healthy-looking figure, it is imperative to build and tone your muscles. Otherwise, you may lose weight but not necessarily from the places you want.
Overall, I think this diet may achieve results if it is followed in a sensible way. However, due to the extremities it reaches, it will certainly not suit anyone. In my opinion, weight loss should be achieved by a healthy lifestyle—not some fast-fix fad diet. Too many people seek the easy way out when ultimately, like everything in life, it takes real effort and perseverance to achieve your body goals.