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The Beginner’s Guide to the 5:2 Diet


The 5:2 diet isn’t really a diet at all. There’s no requirements about what you can eat – it’s more about when you can eat.

Essentially, going 5:2 means having five normal eating days and two days where calorie consumption is restricted to 500-600. Here’s your quick guide to making it work.

The Basics

You can choose whichever two days of the week you fancy for your low-cal periods, but you need to make sure there is at least 1 non-fasting day separating them. For guys, it’s 600 calories during fasting days; for women, it’s 500. Most people seem to like doing Mondays and Thursdays, eating smaller meals instead of one large one.

You should still eat healthy during the other five days, but you can have basically the same amount you would if you weren’t following any specific diet.

What Are the Benefits?

Few studies have tested the 5:2 diet specifically, but there are some benefits you can expect. Intermittent fasting seems to be easier than continuous calorie restriction, and studies have shown excellent weight loss and a reduction in insulin sensitivity.

How to Eat

As stated above, you should simply eat normally on your non-fasting days. During the fasting two, there aren’t any restrictions, but most people enjoy one of the following setups:

  • Very small breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Slightly larger lunch and dinner.

Try focusing on high-fibre, high-protein foods that will help keep you full. Soup is another great option, and there are plenty of 5:2-specific recipe ideas to be found online.

How to Beat the Hunger

Expect overwhelming hunger during your first few fast days, as well as an overall sense of fatigue. That hunger should fade surprisingly fast, but some people still find it very trying. Keep a small snack handy in case you feel you need it, and speak to your doctor if you continue to feel faint.

Is the 5:2 Diet for You?

Most people can benefit from intermittent fasting, but it isn’t recommended for:

  • Those with a history of eating disorders
  • Those sensitive to drops in blood sugar levels
  • Pregnant women and nursing mothers
  • Growing teenagers and children
  • Those with type 1 diabetes.
  • Those with known nutrient deficiencies.
  • Women trying to conceive, or who have issues with fertility