Intermittent fasting definitely has its place in the fitness industry and don’t get me wrong, this is a technique I use on prep to deal with hunger (more in my next post)… but extreme fasting diets like the 5:2 are more likely to make you fat and screw up your head in the long run, than help you to achieve your physique goals.
This wasn’t exactly the post I had planned on writing about today, but when my friend whats app’d me asking for an opinion on the 5:2 diet because everyone was telling her to ‘give it a go’ (which by the way immediately throws up a red flag. If a diet is something you can simply have a go at, for me this suggests that it’s a temporary thing that will eventually end. Don’t you want to achieve your goals and actually keep the results longer term? What happens when you stop? Think about it. Strike 1) I felt so strongly about why she shouldn’t, that i needed to get a post up pronto!
My response was simply – ‘don’t waste your time’.
She wants to lose weight, tone up and then maintain her shithotness-ness for the rest of her life. So with that in mind…this diet isn’t going to be her best friend.
What is the 5:2 Diet?
I guess I should start by explaining what the hell the 5:2 diet actually is.
Basically, you eat what you want for 5 days of the week and for the remaining 2 days you send your body into starvation mode by only eating 500 calories and drinking a lot of water.
You don’t have to exclude any food groups (hurrah something they got right!) and on non fasting days you eat a ‘normal’ amount of calories.
Firstly… Normal? What is a normal amount of calories? Is this maintenance level? Is it what you eat now and the reason why you’re looking at this diet in the first place?
Help me out here, so many questions!
For the purpose of this post, lets assume that ‘normal’ means you maintenance calories.
So as an example lets take 2,400 cals per day & 16,800 cals per week to be this.
If you’re eating 2,400cals a day for 5 days (assuming of course that you are in fact eating this amount, because you’re not required to track on your non fasting days so god knows what you’re actually consuming – strike 2) and then 500 cals for 2.
2,400 x 5 = 12,000
500 x 2 = 1000
12,000 + 1000 = a weekly total of 13,000 calories.
That’s a total calorie deficit of 3,800 cals per week.
Because you’re now in a calorie deficit of 3,800 cals per week and 1 pound of fat is the equivalent to 3,500 calories, you will lose at least 1lb of fat a week.
Yes, technically the 5:2 diet works! The science is there, the numbers add up – what’s not to love?
“Excellent!” you think, ‘I must recommend this to everyone because i have lost weight and it works, it’s a bloody miracle!’
Except you’ve tortured and starved yourself for 2 days and conned you brain into thinking that starving yourself is a good thing.
Strike 3 – You’re Out!
Why would you do this?
Not only are you committing to having 2 shit days a week where you’re likely to feel low in energy, have poor concentration and get headaches/dizziness but you risk developing some really nasty (potentially dangerous) eating habits such as a binge-starve relationship with food.
Not ideal huh & I’m pretty sure a few weeks down the line when you’re starving hungry and feeling like crap on one of your fast days, that you’ll yell ‘fuck this shit’ and give up as you’ve come to the conclusion that you just can’t spend the rest of your life writing off 2 days of your life every week.
I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t.
Fancy Diets = Fancy Results
I’ve noticed recently that a lot of people seem to think that a fancy diet with complicated rules and regulations that must be adhered to at all times, must therefore equal some pretty fancy results.
Sorry to tell you this, but it won’t.
Because at the end of the day it’s about calories in Vs calories out – this is the stuff that has maximum impact on your body.
Your body only cares about how much energy you’re providing to fuel it, and where it’s going to get its energy from if you’re not (your body’s natural energy reserve – fat stores).
The 5:2 diet and every other diet out there works on this principal as the foundation. Except for some reason the ‘experts’ like to make things extra complicated by throwing in rules that have minimal impact.
You don’t need to make it hard.
You can achieve the same results by flexible dieting.
By eating all the delicious foods in the world and not cutting out food groups.
By tracking your macros consistently to ensure long-term results.
You can calculate your own macros to put yourself into a weekly deficit to lose a pound of fat a week, without having to starve yourself stupid, compromise your lifestyle and spend 2 out of 5 days a week in tears.
You don’t get any additional points for doing it the hard way. Work out your own personalised nutrition plan today and put an end to your torture.