What is the 5:2 diet?
The 5:2 diet is a form of fasting where followers eat about 25% of their recommended calorie needs (about 500-600 calories) on two scheduled fasting days and then eat normally the other five days that week. People generally intersperse their fasting days (like planning them for Mondays and Thursdays) so they’re not back-to-back.
Some followers take the 5:2 diet to an extreme by consuming zero calories on their fasting days. Others place restrictions on their non-fasting days by following a high-fat, ketogenic diet. You may have also heard of the 4:3 diet, which is the same concept but you are required to fast for three days instead of two.
What can you eat on the 5:2 diet?
There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules about what to eat on the 5:2 diet, so you can essentially eat whatever you like on fasting days as long as it stays within the caloric limits. Typically, people will eat lower-calorie foods on their fasting days. These could include vegetables, fish, soup, eggs, and lean meat, plus zero-calorie beverages like water and black coffee or tea. You can eat up to three times a day on a fasting day. Since there isn’t an official list of 5:2 diet foods or 5:2 diet recipes, you just have to keep track of your caloric intake rather than macronutrients and the like.
Can you lose weight on the 5:2 diet?
It really depends. The theory is that intermittent fasting (IF) limits the opportunities for eating and you’ll lose weight simply by taking in less calories overall. That’s because many of us eat based on scenario, not hunger levels. For example, if you’re fasting during your Tuesday meeting that always includes fresh donuts, it may prevent you from eating a higher-calorie food you would’ve had otherwise. However, you could likely achieve the same goal by having a healthy snack about 30 minutes before your meeting and opting out of deep-fried, doughy treats simply because you’ve had something more nutritious ahead of time.
If you’re in an overall caloric deficit for the week, then yes you’ll likely lose weight. But this diet only controls caloric intake on two days of the week; the remaining five days of the week you have the ability to eat practically whatever you want so in the grand scheme of things, your caloric intake may not be substantially decreased at the end of the week to warrant weight loss.