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Is the 5:2 Diet for You?

Is the 5:2 Diet for You?

Amy Salant

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easy and “fast” way you could lose weight? That’s the appeal of the latest “fasting” diet strategy depicted in the wildly popular two-day-a-week fasting concept, and offered in the book The Fast Diet by Michael Mosley, MD, and Mimi Spencer.

Is this radical diet something you should try? Here are some thoughts on this controversial diet strategy, also known as the “5:2 Diet.”

1. What is The Fast Diet plan?
This plan consists of eating regular meals five days a week, then semi-fasting (500 calories for women and 600 for men) on the other two (non-consecutive) days. For Mosley, this approach has not only helped him lose weight but has also improved his health in the process.

2. Fasting Diet Plan Reduces Calorie Intake
This concept of ultra-low-calorie eating days combined with ‘eat anything and everything days’ may be a strategy that could work for some people, especially those who do not want to change their current eating habits or feel deprived of foods they love. However, this type of dieting is no magic bullet.  It clearly helps people to eat less calories in a faster and supposedly less painful manner than traditional dieting.

While the 5:2 concept may seem appealing, the drastic low-calorie starvation days are no “picnic.” The ultra-low-calorie intake may make you irritable and fatigued as well as completely deprived not only of your favorite foods but of any food!

3. Nutritional Concerns with The Fast Diet
Nutrition is a concern if you do not eat wisely on the "regular" days. This means that even on those five days you should still be paying attention to your food intake to make sure that you are making balanced and healthy choices. The typical American diet -— high in processed foods, bad fats and sodium and low in nutrients -- can still promote disease, even if combined with weight loss.

4. Type of Weight Loss with the Fasting Diet
You’ll also need to keep in mind that not all weight loss is created equally. The fact is that to lose weight, one needs to eat fewer calories and burn more through exercise. In an ideal world, you would want to create a long-term calorie deficit through a combination of mild calorie restriction and daily exercise in order to lose body fat and not muscle mass. However, with two days of fasting the severe calorie restriction will probably lead to loss of both body fat and lean body mass. This alters metabolic rate over the long term, making it harder to maintain your new, lower body weight.

5. A More Moderate Option
For long-term weight loss, the turtle beats the rabbit.  Taking a more moderate, slow and steady approach to weight loss has consistently proven to be the best long-term solution.

The best diet for losing weight, keeping it off and improving health is a plant-based, nutrient-dense, lower-calorie diet combined with an active lifestyle. But for people who want to try something more radical, following Mosley’s fasting diet plan is preferable to remaining overweight and experiencing the related health conditions such as an increased risk of heart disease, certain types of cancers, diabetes and high blood pressure.

A Fitness Together trainer can help you to set and attain small, doable, health and fitness goals which include finding a nutritious diet plan that works for you. He or she will also develop an exercise program designed to meet your specific needs. You’ll receive nutritional counseling through the Nutrition Together program, which will complement your workouts.