This is part 2 of my post looking into some of the diets that are out there – what do they involve and, more importantly, are they going to work! The diet industry is absolutely huge with millions of $$$$ being spent every year as people search for the magic formula that will take them from fat to thin as quickly and as easily as possible:
The 5:2 Diet claims that you can lose 2 stone in 12 weeks by eating a ‘Mediterranean’ diet 5 days a week and just one quarter of your normal calorie intake on the other 2 days. The ‘Mediterranean’ aspect of the plan is to cut back on bread and cakes and to include more fats, from oily fish and olive oil, and use fresh vegetables and fruit. Apparently during the 5 days a week you are encouraged to eat ‘normally’. As, during the other 2 days your calorie intake should be around 600-800 (25% of your typical intake) we can assume that ‘normal’ will be between 2400 and 3200 calories per day.
The plan suggests that the 600-800 calories should be ingested in the course of up to 3 meals a day. Obviously this includes everything you eat but also everything that you drink as well so it will need a lot of careful planning to keep within these levels.
The fitness regime that’s recommended to go with the eating plan is short bursts of high intensity interval training (up to 20 minutes) three times a week with strength training on two other days to help build muscle and burn fat faster.
Verdict: I live on the Cote D’Azur i.e. the Mediterranean and I can tell you that the people here eat a lot of bread and also their fair share of cakes! Pasta and pizza are also very popular so why aren’t they all desperately overweight and turning to this kind of diet plan?
- They eat very little in the way of processed foods, meals are cooked from scratch using fresh and natural ingredients.
- The bread here tends to be of the baguette variety and not the sliced white kind which means that it’s not chock full of additives and preservatives. If you buy a baguette here you have to eat it on the same day because the following day it will be so hard that you could beat someone to death with it!
- The weather here tends to be very good with around 300 days of sunshine a year so people spend an awful lot of time outside, walking, swimming or playing sports
- Although cakes are very popular, they’re not eaten to excess for the most part and, again, they are freshly made without additives and preservatives.
All of that said, the eating plan that is proposed with this diet IS very healthy and, as you will be cutting your weekly calorie intake and cutting out processed and junk food I’ve no doubt that you will lose weight. However, what I cannot for the life of me understand, is why you wouldn’t just cut the number of calories that you eat each day to give yourself the same weekly total rather than carrying on as normal for 5 days and then drastically reducing intake for the other 2. I understand the principals of fasting and it can be very beneficial in terms of overall health but, in order to maintain the weight loss, participants will need to continue eating in this way long term. As you are effectively, ‘depriving’ yourself 2 days a week I wonder what affect this will have psychologically on people who are fasting purely to lose weight. If you come to dread the fasting days and see them as something to be endured rather than something beneficial then I would expect the tendency to be to ‘cheat’ on the fasting days or to overeat on the other 5. Although the testimonials for the plan were good, the fasting days were also described as ‘hard’ which, for me, never bodes well. Healthy eating should be a pleasure and not a torment.
When all is said and done, what this programme advocates is eating less crap, more fresh fruit and veg, cutting down on calories and exercising more so not really what you’d call ground breaking.