5:2 Diet Beginner Tips and Sample Meal Plan

Learn more about the 5:2 diet, beginners tips and sample meal plan in this article.

Meal Plan

The idea of dieting, no matter what type of method used, is generally good as the aim of those who undergo this is to reduce weight for better health. People don’t subscribe to the practice just for the sake of doing it. There’s always a plan to transform the body, no matter how trivial the goal may be at times.

Getting into a diet may look simple in the beginning, and choosing which one to follow may seem not too daunting too. Reducing certain foods, managing the number of servings – I mean how hard is that, right? But in reality, while it is not complex, committing oneself to the program may be quite challenging. Issues on dealing with initial hunger pangs, cost of looking for healthier food alternatives, losing out on certain nutrients, and not seeing immediate results. Another challenge that could arise is keeping the momentum when you have work and deadlines to meet. Hey, dieting can sap one’s energy especially at the start – and we know how important to keep our stamina high when we have busy schedules.

For those who are about to embark on a weight-reduction plan but would like to take things slowly as not to shock the body, the 5:2 Diet may just be the right one for you. While this method is far from perfect and has yet to be fully scientifically assessed, so far reviews from followers and even from nutrition specialists look promising. Of course, sacrifices in the number of calories that you consume remain crucial, but the feeling of depriving oneself of delicious dishes is somehow reduced.

What does 5:2 Diet mean anyway?

The 5:2 Diet of Dr. Michael Mosley

Dr. Michael Mosley, a doctor, and journalist introduced the concept of adopting a fasting lifestyle on the show Horizon on BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). Initially called Fast Diet, it emphasized the principles of using intermittent fasting as a revolutionary way of getting rid of excess weight. He published a book that bears the name of the episode where he dissected the benefits of fasting (Eat Fast, Live Longer). A few months later, another book which also delved on benefits of intermittent fasting (5:2 Diet book) popularised by Mosley came out – authored this time by another BBC Journalist Kate Harrison.

So what is the 5:2 Diet?

Another form of intermittent fasting, this method removes the complexities of fasting by its straightforward approach: five days of normal eating while reducing food intake in the remaining two days. It’s simple and not too difficult to follow as the dieter would still be eating normally for five days and would only restrict the number of calories consumed for two days. Thus, it gives the perception that no one will be deprived of food. Of course, the five days allocated for normal eating should not be treated as cheat days if possible; meaning all excess food and eating way too much-processed food should not be the case as otherwise, the weight loss would be very minimal. The dieter might even gain a few more pounds.

Getting the standard daily 2000 calories or less would be just right.

Due to the simplicity of the method, many have said that it’s the easiest diet to follow and maintain.

The 5:2 Diet and Benefits

Unlike other diets that adhere to the strict limitation of food consumption, the 5:2 diet is flexible as it only for two days when caloric intake is reduced to just 25%. For example, if you follow the 2,000 calories per day, you will then restrict it to just 500 or 600 calories during fasting days. Likewise, in the 5:2 diet, it is advisable to have an in-between for the fasting days instead of fasting for two straight days which is more difficult for beginners. Hence, in the 5:2 Diet, some do the Monday and Thursday fasting or, Wednesday and Sunday.

Benefits are aplenty for the 5:2 Diet and other intermittent fasting diet strategies This includes:

  • Reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes from occurring since when intermittent fasting takes place, it helps lower insulin resistance by increasing the metabolic rate of the body.
  • It aids in decreasing the level of triglycerides and blood pressure, two underlying risk factors of heart disease. Following a 5:2 Diet or other intermittent fasting strategies thus lowers the threat of heart disease from developing
  • Encourage weight loss since when intermittent fasting occurs, it sends a signal to the brain to use the fat stored for energy. Weight gain at times is due to hormonal imbalance, which means the leptin receptors fail to respond or becomes resistant to signals from the brain to use the fats for energy.
  • Intermittent fasting can also control hunger pangs instead of increasing the feeling as when fasting occurs, it also manages to control the hormone ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone, from spiking.
  • While studies are quite limited yet, it is said that intermittent fasting can decrease the risk of breast cancer from happening.

Risks And Stuff To Watch Out For

Although news and reviews have been quite good for the 5:2 Diet, risks remain especially to those who are new in this kind of weight loss regimen. Dizziness, loss of focus, nausea, headaches, and fatigue will most likely occur during fasting days.

Pregnant women or breastfeeding women, young children, and teenagers should also not do the 5:2 Diet due to the potential loss of salient nutrients – that kids and babies need. Thus it is important to ask for a doctor’s advice first if you wish to embark on this fasting regimen. Diabetics too are strongly advised to seek approval first as the 5:2 diet might interfere with regular medication.

Beginners Meal Plan

For the five non-fasting days, continuing the normal meal plan, which is often around 2,000 calories per day is enough. However, make sure not to pack these days with heavily processed food or food rich in fats. A balanced meal should consist of enough lean protein like chicken and turkey, legumes, whole grains, and generous servings of vegetables and fruits.

During fasting days, since calorie intake is reduced to 500 or 600 calories, make sure to eat foods that can easily make you feel full. Examples include

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Plain yogurt with fruits
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Grilled fish or chicken
  • Soups mixed with tomatoes, miso, or cauliflower
  • Plain tea and coffee
  • Chickpeas and oats
  • Water to keep you full and dehydrated.

Sample Meal Plan from Dr. Michael Mosley’s book.

  1. 522 calories total
    • Breakfast: 40-gram sachet of oats
    • Dinner: Beetroot and feta salad with spinach and lemon. For this, use 50 grams of beetroot, 30 grams of feta cheese, and 60 grams of spinach
    • Snacks: 1 slice of apple and a tablespoon of almond butter.

Joanne Putney of Weight Loss Resources

  1. 497 Calories
    • Breakfast: 1 slice of wholemeal bread then layered with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
    • Lunch: Bolognese sauce with chickpeas
    • Dinner: Chicken noodle soup with carrots and celery. For this, use 10 grams of egg noodles, 50 grams of chicken breast, ½ carrots, and ½ stalk of celery.

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