Lose Weight with the 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Diet
Edited by Maria Quinney, Eng, Doug Collins, Alma
The 5:2 Diet appeared in the mainstream media after Michael Mosely, trained as a physician at the Royal Free Hospital in London and Executive Producer/Presenter for BBC, introduced the world to the theory that reducing your calories twice a week could dramatically change blood sugar levels, cholesterol, inflammation and weight gain. Mimi Spencer, a journalist/Fashion Editor, partnered with Michael Mosely in an initiative to change how we think about food. I was introduced to the theory of Intermittent Fasting in Michael Mosley's Documentary Eat, Fast and Live Longer.
I was fed up with how I felt on a daily basis. I have fibromyalgia and the older I became the worse my pain came to fruition from fibromyalgia. I had tried things like Gluten Free foods and Weight Watchers but still I would lose the weight but there was no dramatic difference in my overall health and pain management. It was not an option for me in my late 30's to begin popping narcotic pain medication. Although I knew it would alleviate my pain, it could also cause addictions and destroy my liver and kidneys with long term use. So I started the 5:2 diet and over the course of 6 months I lost 40 pounds, increased my activity level and felt dramatically better and almost completely pain free. I did an experiment of stopping the 5:2 diet for the next 6 months and seeing what would happen. During that time I gained 20 of the 40 pounds I had lost. I experienced hormonal shifts and acne, But the biggest thing was that my pain and fibromyalgia flared up to the point that I was barely able to move some days.
On March 20, 2016, I got back into the 5:2 Diet and have decided to share my journey with you over the next year.
5:2 Diet Basics
- 1Fasting Days. On the two fasting days each week men can consume up to 600 calories and women should stay below 500. Now this can seem like a very restrictive day twice a week. Actually, there are no restrictions to what you eat as long as you stay below these calorie limits.Advertisement
- 2Plan Your Fasting Days. It is vital to plan ahead with this lifestyle. Do not schedule fasting days when you know you are going to a party or going to be extremely active that day. You can swap out your days to avoid fasting on Sunday when your family is having a party and instead fast the day before or after. This helps you avoid pitfalls or feeling left out. Personally, I fast on Wednesday and Sunday each week. These days work for me because on Wednesday our family usually eats at home and on Sunday we have our main meal around 2 p.m. and then watch a movie later with snacks. During these days, I plan my meals in advance a day or even week before.Advertisement
- 3Survive the Fast Days. Everyone deals with hunger differently. What I have found with me is the first two weeks of fasting were brutal. Then as I accomplished more weeks of fasting I realized that I had built in better food options and tricks to control my hunger. You will not be hungry if you plan your day properly. It is important to have low calorie options ready to go on these days so that the bag of potato chips in your cupboard is not calling out to you at 2 p.m.
- Tea. Rooibos Tea is a tea derived from an evergreen plant in South Africa. The tea controls hunger and I have found that if I drink the tea three times a day in between meals, I do not feel hungry. I use blends with fruit and my favorite is Twinings Cinnamon and Orange flavored rooibos tea. Choosing fruit flavors for me basically tricks my mind that I am consuming food. In the winter months I drink my tea hot but in the summer months, I make unsweetened cold tea. I also drink white tea blends. White tea is said to boost metabolism and once again I tend to use ones with pomegranate and blueberry undertones to trick my brain into thinking I am eating.
- Water. Everybody knows that you should consume 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. In order for the 5:2 diet fasting days to manageable, drink at least half of your body weight in water. I now have a habit of always having a stainless steel water bottle near me. It keeps the water extremely cold if I add ice. The cold water once again tricks your brain and German researchers recently found that drinking cold water 6 times a day can raise your resting metabolism. So if you are sitting sedentary most of the day at a desk, cold water can help. Even 50 extra calories burned a day makes a difference of 5 pounds lost in a year. You will also notice that the more you drink water, you will get the feeling of thirst more often and want more water. Also, water is excellent for our skin and detoxifying properties.
- This is an image of what is usually on my desk during the day. A mug of tea and my water.
5:2 Diet Days
- 1Normal Days. On these days, you can eat whatever you want. Because of this, you do not feel deprived and studies have shown that diets that restrict several foods fail because eventually that piece of chocolate cake turns into us eating the entire chocolate cake. Moderation is essential for overall health as we all know but if you want that quarter pounder with cheese, fries and a milkshake on a non fasting day you certainly can have it. What I have found personally is that I still stay below the calorie count of 1200 on non fasting days. When I consume food that is rich in fat or sugar after fasting for a month, I almost feel sick because my body is no longer used to that food. It is also a fact that once you obtain from sugar, your body no longer craves it after a period of time. These days of regular calorie consumption should also be the days that you increase your physical activity. Do your grocery shopping and push the cart for one hour, take walks around the block or run in place in your livingroom. Dancing is a great way to get moving and not realize you are burning calories. Zumba is a popular dance exercise movement and you can participate in a class with others or watch YouTube videos at home and dance away in your livingroom.Advertisement
- 2The 600/500 Calorie Day. Experiment with what works best for you to maintain on these fasting days. For some people a 300 calorie breakfast and then 100 calorie snack and 100 calorie dinner are how they maintain. For me, because I have a family, I found that saving the large portion of my calories for dinner is my best option. Because I am the main cook in the family I am able to schedule foods for those meals that fall under the 500 calories for that day.
- Soups and Legumes. Soups are a fantastic way to fill up, eat nutritious foods and not feel like a rabbit with just lettuce on your plate. Stick with broths that are low in calories and add vegetables and a lean meat or legume. For our family, we love navy beans and black beans so on my fasting days we eat soups with these beans often. They provide protein and fiber for a low calorie option. You also feel full after a bowl of bean soups. I save my meat bones throughout the month and use them to flavor a broth or use vegetable stock and chicken stocks.
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetables. Once a week I take 20 minutes to chop up my veggie snacks for the week. I love red peppers and because they are slightly sweeter it has become a good snack for me. On a fasting day, I will take 1 cup of blueberries or chopped vegetables and add them to 1/2 cup cottage cheese. I also eat avocados on a regular basis. 1/2 of an avocado with a few drops of lemon juice for lunch has me satiated until dinner. You may not be a vegetable or fruit consumer but try several and pick the ones that you find palatable. Dressing them up with cayenne pepper or lemon juice can add extra metabolism boosts and you may be able to eat that vegetable once you do that. If you like fruit, stick with melons and berries. Melons have large water content so it is filling faster and berries are low in calories and full of antioxidants.
- Portion Controlled Snack. It has been proven that when we portion out our snacks into smaller bags or containers we consume less calories than if we ate potato chips right out of the bag. It is primal to think that we need to consume the entire package so make sure that you portion control your snacks ahead of time. I love Skinny Pop. It is low in calories yet makes me feel like I am cheating but I also could eat half a large bag in one sitting. So now I measure out my portions into smaller containers. I also keep items in my purse like 80 calorie Brookside Dark Chocolate berry packs. These keep me from grabbing that Snickers Bar in line at the Grocery Store Check Out.
- 1MyFitnessPal. For me, this is my favorite one to use. I can import recipes for the app to calculate in a recipe and save the recipe under a Recipe section on the website and app. Be careful when importing to make sure that the choices and calories for the ingredients are correct. For some reason, raw garlic never imports as an ingredient properly, but with just a few minutes of replacing to get the right ones the recipe is saved. When you log your daily foods you can choose from recipes. I have over 100 recipes in my recipe section on MyFitnessPal. I have a certain way I make my coffee and created that into a recipe. I also have our families favorite meals in the Recipe Section. The app has a scanner to use for barcodes when logging your food and a decent list of already figured out exercise calorie totals. I find that going back sometimes and reviewing a week based on my weight loss on weigh days shows me what I did right vs. the week before when I saw little change in my weight. There are also other apps out there like LiveStrong and Lose It but for me MyFitnessPal motivates me with friends on my app and the recipe feature saves me time with logging and planning.
- 1Vitamins. Because you are restricting your calories, taking a multivitamin is essential to stop any nutritional loss. You can experience hair loss, weak bones, low iron, and muscle spasms if you are not careful to consume enough nutrients or take a multivitamin. Calcium, Vitamin D and Magnesium all help with weight loss. If you are not consuming enough food to give you proper values of these then take a supplement
- 2Nutritional Support. I consulted with a Nutritionist at Nutrition House in Windsor, Ontario and learned that these supplements would work best to manage my pain and boost my diet. Experts in nutrition found in stores like the Nutrition House in Windsor, or in your local area should be consulted to make sure that you are not deficient in necessary nutritional elements that keep our bodies healthy. The nutritionist at Nutrition House Mark Cole gave me information on my diet and supplements for an all around healthy approach to the 5:2 lifestyle. He mentioned to me that black beans were an excellent source of protein and since then I have added this to our diet on a weekly basis in meals. He is also the one that introduced me to the Perfect Whey Protein Powder. While you may not be into consuming a protein powder you should still visit a nutritional supplement retailer to see if there are other options to help you with your overall health and weight loss.
This is my morning supplement intake:
- This is my personal routine but you can find supplements that fulfill your needs or use mine and experiment to see if it helps you. Remember that there are no magic weight loss pills. You have to use determination, willpower, calorie counting and exercise.
- 1To control my fibromyalgia I take Magnesium Malate from Naka called Pro Mg12 250 mg Elemental Magnesium Malate. Magnesium Malate is the best form to take for fibromyalgia and unlike other magnesium supplements, this one does not affect my stomach the way others have.
- 2I take K2 for inflammation and it also helps put the calcium I consume directly to my bones. It also helps with wrinkles and that can't hurt as I approach 40. I take this as a kidney support as well since I tend to get calcium formed kidney stones.
- 3400 mg dose of Precision Extreme CLA with Green Tea. CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a trans fatty acid in the Omega 6 chain of fatty acids. This can also be found in Grass fed Beef and raw dairy from Grass fed animals but it is hard to find/afford grass fed beef so I take a supplement. CLA has been shown to reduce belly mass and also mimic insulin which I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and those that have it carry extra fat storage in the abdomen and respond better to weight loss with a diabetic diet or insulin even though we are not diabetic. I found that when I do not take CLA I do not lose as much weight. It is not a miracle weight loss supplement but for me, it aids the calorie reduction and extra activity that I am doing to lose weight. This particular brand also contains green tea which helps with energy levels and boosting metabolism.
- 41000 mg Turmeric. Turmeric is highly beneficial to add to a daily diet. It is an anti-inflammatory herb that helps me get through my day with less pain. It is also used for many other health benefits.
- 5Liquid L-Carnitine. I take this on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. 15 ml dosage provides me with extra energy and fat reduction. It also helps with Type 2 diabetes and PCOS, builds muscle mass and bone density, helps with kidney damage and many more healthy benefits.
- 6Perfect Nutrition Perfect Whey French Vanilla Protein Powder. I add this to my coffee in the morning at least 5 times a week on non fasting days. It contains 28 g of protein, L-Glutamine, and reduces the build up of Lactic Acid. This protein powder is free of gluten, peanuts, lactose-free, yeast free, wheat free, and instead of aspartame, it is sweetened with plant derived Stevia. What I love about this is that once again is is made from Grass fed beef and we get our CLA from grass fed beef. I drink two cups of coffee in the morning. So I add 1/2 cup almond milk and 1/2 rounded scoop of the protein powder. It is important to make sure that your coffee is not super hot or it will just clump but once I add the almond milk the coffee is the perfect temperature to add the Perfect Whey.
My Evening Supplement Intake
- With dinner I take two additional CLA capsules. I also drink a white or green tea after dinner. This helps me to flush extra sodium from a meal and I almost feel like I am eating dessert.
- Melatonin. In order to lose weight you need to sleep properly. 8 hours minimum is needed nightly. Sometimes I struggle with going to sleep so I will take a 3 mg dose of Melatonin.
- Probiotic. I take a Probiotic right before bed because that is usually 3 hours after my last meal of the day. Keeping your gut in the best shape is important for so many health benefits. I just take the same tablets that I give to me children daily.
From March 20, 2016 to April 17, 2016 I lost 12 pounds. Since this was my first month getting into the routine again, I struggled the first two weeks but still showed a loss of an average of 2.5 pounds. Currently, I am fairly sedentary but will soon change that for better exercise routines. Mainly I have been trying to get more active by running in place or walking around a store for one hour but I know that I need to up my activity level soon.
From April 18, 2016 to May 18, 2016 I lost 10 pounds. This gives me a total loss of 22 pounds in 60 days. I made a few different changes this month:
- 1Exercise. If I can't get out to walk or ride my bicycle, I turn on music while I am working and dance at my desk for 10 minutes every hour. I work while I am moving around but at least I am getting some movement in. I also received a Schwinn Sanctuary 7 bicycle for Mother's Day and have been trying to go out on a bike ride for one hour each week. I will ride more once the weather gets warmer and this bike is a comfortable ride for me so I enjoy using it for exercise and not driving while accomplishing errands close to my house.
- 2Oolong Tea. Drinking Oolong tea twice a day has been amazing for me. A study suggested that Oolong tea can help you burn fat better as well as absorb less triglycerides from fat. This type of fat is damaging to our bodies. The Oolong tea also gives me energy which is great when I am feeling fatigued or need to focus. What I do is add my Rooibos tea in with the Oolong tea so that I still get the benefits of both teas in one drink. I use a large mug so the teas combined are not overwhelming and actually, I probably would have to double up on tea bags because the mug is a 16 ounce capacity.
- 3Measurements. Taking measurements of your body is important. For instance, I only lost 10 pounds in the past 30 days but I measured myself at the beginning of the monthly cycle. In the past 30 days, I have lost a total of 23 inches around my body. Mostly in my stomach region and thighs. I am also down 4 dress sizes since I began the 5:2 diet 60 days ago.
- 4Resistant Starch. I have begun transitioning my starches within my nutrition to resistant starch foods. Resistant Starch is reheated pasta, rice, potatoes and other foods like black beans. When the starch is transformed to Resistant Starch, your glucose levels do not rise the way they normally would. I used Resistant Starch to break my plateau.
- 5Plateau. Two weeks into this month, I hit a wall with weight loss. The scale was not moving at all for an entire week despite me staying on track with my eating plan. So what I did was eat a pasta dish for dinner two days in a row. This pushed the scale up 3 pounds and although I wanted to cry, I kept doing what I have done for the past 45 days. Four days after the carb load, I dropped 3 pounds. Not only that, but I am back on schedule for my goal of losing 2.3 pounds a week. Occasionally if you hit a plateau the best thing to do is switch things up. This does not mean go on an extreme eating binge but instead, introduce some foods you have not eaten in a while for 48 hours then go back onto your normal routine. This can help break your plateau and move the scale again.
You can follow my Pinterest Boards of 5:2 Breakfast Meals, 5:2 Lunch/Dinner Meals, 5:2 Sidedishes, and 5:2 Snacks. I regularly make these recipes and will swap out something like cream or milk for almond milk to save on calories. We have been making the mug cakes often as a dessert because they can be made in so many different flavors and my children love to make them for dessert. They range from 60 to 100 calories depending on what you use in the mug cake but most of the mug cakes I make for myself are around the 60 calorie mark.
From May 19, 2016 to June 19, 2016, I lost 7.8 pounds. This is a total of 29 pounds in 90 days. I am slowing down on my weight loss and here are a few factors:
- 1Weather. Where I live we have been experiencing extremely hot weather stretches. Although I am consuming water, I found myself retaining water each week. This has slowed my progress down as I do not consider any losses from this should I see the scale move down.
- 2Exercise. I have started to ride my bike more as well as walk to run errands where I normally would drive to. Because of this, I am gaining muscle which weighs more than fat.
- 3Sleep. I changed my sleeping schedule this month to wake up a few hours than I normally would. Unfortunately, this also resulted in difficulty falling asleep earlier. For optimal weight loss, you really should be sleeping a minimum of 7 to 9 hours. Because I was not getting more than 5 hours of sleep, I did not lose at all the week that I transitioned. The good news is that I did not gain any weight either. Sometimes we can get discouraged by a plateau and I was very close to that but stayed on point with my fasting days this month as best as I could.
- 4Social Distraction. It was a month of parties and celebrations. As much as I tried to behave and did, for the most part, I still had two or more weeks of moving around my fasting days to accommodate parties. It is difficult to only eat from the veggie tray and why does every party have to include pizza?
- 5Planning. Because I was so busy with the social calendar, it was tough to plan properly. I am tied to myfitnesspal as almost a security blanket yet when eating out or at someone's home it is tough to properly account for calories. Although I do mostly LCHF (low carb, high fat), it was tough to do while on these social functions. We are going on vacation this month and renting a cottage so that I can still control better what I eat instead of 10 days at restaurants.
- 6Fat loss. During the first 10% loss from your starting weight, you are basically losing mostly water weight with some fat. This past month I lost over 20 inches around my body. The largest inch detraction was from my stomach and arms. You will find that you may not be losing the way that you did at first and now instead of 2 pounds a week you are only losing .2. The point of this is that you are losing actual fat and not just water weight. It takes just a few weeks to put on a pound of fat but can take a few months to remove that fat from your body. When you are overweight, fat accumulates around your organs and the loss of this is vital to overall health but diminishes excruciatingly slow. Especially if the scale is your motivator. This month I stopped weighing myself daily and stuck to my weekly Sunday weigh in. I found it helped me with obsessing about whether or not I was losing and kept me focused on eating healthy. It is very easy to not see a loss on the scale and then eat dessert every night because what is the point!
- The next update will be interesting considering I will have to see how well do I on a 10-day vacation.