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The 5:2 Diet: Finally a Diet That Really Works?

Updated on October 2, 2018
annieangel1 profile image

Ann is a registered nurse & midwife with almost 50 years of experience in health care. Happily retired, she writes on natural health issues.

"Lady Measuring Weight Loss" by sattva
"Lady Measuring Weight Loss" by sattva | Source

Introducing my take on the 5:2 diet

Let's be clear, this is not a fad diet, it is a change in lifestyle that reflects where we came from, the hunter gatherers we were created to be. Then our bodies adapted to feast or famine and this is basically what the 5:2 diet is about. Read on to see how it works for me.

When the scales hit 13 stone and my annual blood test showed raised cholesterol and glucose intolerance I realised I couldn't ignore my diet and lifestyle any more. I'd been fairly good up to a couple of years ago when I just - well let go I suppose. Like most people I started to struggle with weight issues when I reached 50 and have yoyoed up and down fully realising that DIETS DON'T WORK. You lose weight for a while, your body adjusts to the lower levels and your metabolism slows then - whoosh back up goes the weight.

Then I read about the 5:2 diet and it made so much sense to me. For two days every week the idea is to reduce your calorie intake to 500 or less then for the rest of the time pursue a normal healthy diet. By changing about like this your body never gets used to only one calorie intake, so your metabolism doesn't slow and it is easier to control your weight. That is the overall principle but for me it is also about making it a commitment to a lifestyle change and that is what really works.

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Have you tried the 5:2

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How to approach the 5:2 diet

Make your mind up to stick to the this for 4-6 weeks before deciding whether it works for you. I've lost 1 stone in a month!

  1. Pick 2 days when you can reduce your calorie intake to 500 calories or less. These should not be two days next to each other, have at least one but preferably two or three days in between each fasting day. It defeats the purpose of keeping your body metabolism guessing otherwise. The 500 is often more wish than fulfilment but on my fasting days I do stick to under 800 calories. Normally 600 per day is considered starvation level.
  2. For the other 5 days have a normal but healthy diet. You CAN eat what you like, even chocolate if you like, but keep your calorie intake to no more than 2000 calories for a woman or 2500 calories for a man. These are generally accepted as being the basic needs for an average person per day. That said, for the first couple of weeks I had one day when I allowed myself to completely pig out - wine, pizza, ice cream and I still lost weight. What I did find though was these things gradually held less appeal and I now have one pig out day per month. Several of my friends have a Fat Friday where they can have anything they want and that seems to work for them. Remember you are in charge so adapt things to suit YOU.
  3. Introduce some exercise into your life. Now before you panic, it doesn't have to be strenuous. A walk or a swim work well. Use the stairs rather than the elevator, little changes can make all the difference. You might also consider some shaping exercises like yoga. Think about adding SOME movement for about 10 minutes a day if you can. There are now some wonderful videos on 45 second exercises which seem to work well too. I've included a link to one of my favourites below.

45 second exercises

"Tape around stacked Salad" by Serge Bertasius Photography
"Tape around stacked Salad" by Serge Bertasius Photography | Source

How I get through the fasting days

I've tried several ways of dealing with the 500 calorie rule: I ate low calorie breakfast, lunch and evening meal but personally found it seemed to make me hungrier. Now I tend to fast completely all day - taking only water and green tea (it's important to keep hydrated without using empty calories.) then having an evening meal around 6pm. If I take less than my 500 allowance I can snack on some healthy food in the evening which is always my worst time for getting the munchies.

I'm in the process of compiling a range of low calorie meals that you will find on my blogs - Cheap Food: Healthy Food and you can find advice on healthy eating on YOUR LIfe in YOUR Hands. I'll update this article as these appear but here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Meals 200 calories or less

(click column header to sort results)
Garlic mushrooms on toast
150 calories
2 egg omelette
170 calories
SMALL baked potato
200 calories
120 g greek yogurt with fruit
175 calories
Small banana in bread roll
180 calories
Mixed salad and feta cheese
150 calories
Baked sweet potato
120 calories
Roast tomato and garlic soup
180 calories
"Hand Holding Belly" by Ohmega1982
"Hand Holding Belly" by Ohmega1982 | Source

Try a body blade for a flat belly

Bodyblade Classic Kit
Bodyblade Classic Kit

I bought the cheaper version of this last year - body sculpture stick which I see is not available right now. I didn't use it much. Frankly the DVD it comes with is rubbish but if you check out body blade videos on youtube they tell you all you need to know. I feel it primarily works on your arms and shoulders but also on you core strength - that is, on your abs which is what I am using it for. You only need a minute or two to begin to feel it in your muscles. Build up slowly.


Using a body blade

The importance of shaping exercises

I feel it is important to do some shaping and toning exercises alongside this diet. You don't want to be left with a flap of loose skin where your muffin top used to be! It only takes a few minutes every day.

I start in the morning before I even get out of bed. I use the Belly Flattener I wrote about elsewhere. It works fine in bed too.

  • Lie flat on your back with only one or no pillow.
  • Pull your knees up, keep your feel flat on the mattress.
  • Keep your hands by your sides.
  • Breathing in, keep your shoulders flat on the bed and raise yourself lower trunk so you form a straight line from knees to your chest.
  • Breathe out holding that position - you will note your belly becomes flatter as you breathe out.
  • Breathing in lower you back to the mattress and breathe out.
  • Repeat at least 4 times.

During the day I use my body blade/body sculpture stick two or three times but only for a couple of minutes at a time. I am not interested in getting huge upper body strength.

I try to walk 10 minutes every day or run up and down my stairs a few times - nothing that gets me seriously distressed - that has never worked for me.

Before bed I do 10 minute hatha yoga.

I'm sure you will agree none of that is complex, take much time or is danger of becoming a chore but it working for me. I am losing weight, I can actually discern my waist for the first time in months and I feel better. There is something about moving that just makes you more body conscious and it feels good.

Yoga for weight loss and weight management

I'm a great believer in the power of yoga - I've written an article on yoga positions for weight loss you might like and there are some great videos on youtube for yoga exercises. Check out the ones that work for you.

Things to remember:

  1. make sure you only stretch your body as far as it wants to go - straining will only hurt you but over time you will be able to comfortably stretch more.
  2. made sure you keep your lower back flat on the floor for floor exercises. You do this by bringing your knees up toward your chest before you start. You will notice how this flattens out that curve in your lower back and gives you the best support. If you feel strain on your back - stop.
  3. use your breath - notice how your stomach or abdomen flattens out when you breathe out - use that for developing core strength and a flatter belly.

Try some yoga before you get up in the morning

Like everything worthwhile it takes a bit of effort and I think it succeeds best if you consider it as part of a lifestyle change and choice. Once you reach your target weight continuing with this will manage your weight perfectly. I think you need to be a little fanatical about it until it becomes your new habit - you new way of life - after that is is easy. They say it takes about 6 weeks to retrain your body and to my mind that is six weeks well spent.

© 2014 Ann

Review - it is always nice to hear from readers - have you dieting stories to share

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    • annieangel1 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      it really does become a lifestyle choice after the first few weeks Lorelei and you feel wonderful on the day after!

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      4 years ago from Canada

      A cleanse really can be good for the body but I think that I would only add it in about once a month. I am the type of person with little to no will power so I really have difficulty making myself buckle down and follow a schedule.

    • annieangel1 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      good luck Richard :)

    • Richard-H profile image


      4 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      I've put on some weight lately, so I'm going to try this.

    • annieangel1 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      it is mumsgather and you can adapt it to suit your days

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I believe in doing things moderately and this sounds like a moderate diet, not one of those yoyo diets.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image


      4 years ago from Kansas

      I've never had much luck with diets. The only way I can lose weight, is to move more.


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