5:2 diet

I have decided to embark upon the 5:2 diet because it is easier for me than going on the ketogenic diet. But I am struggling with the two days in which I am required to eat 500 to 600 calories a day. I learned that even one plate of wantan mee is 450 calories! Do I have to skip two meals for those two days that I am doing intermittent fasting then?

You are right. One plate of wantan mee is around 450 calories!

You can imagine that one plate of nasi lemak, which people usually eat for breakfast in Malaysia, together with sambal and one piece of fried chicken, as well as one egg, will be around 850 to 1,100 calories!

Actually, you don’t have to skip any meal at all for those two days in which you are required to take in less.

How do I do this?

Okay, this is what you can do in a typical day to get below 500 calories.

Remember, if you are a man, you can eat up to 600 calories. If you are a woman, you have to do 500 calories.

In general:

5:2 diet, intermittent fasting, fasting diet, diet, losing weight, sample menu, corn on the cob, Star2.com

Corn on the cob, as seen in the above filepic, can be part of a dinner during this diet.

• Eat a lot of vegetables.

Green leafy vegetables are bulky and make you feel full. Also eat vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli because those give your stomach a sense of bulk.

• Eat small portions of lean meat, fish or eggs.

Protein will make you feel full. Remember to choose lean meats, rather than fatty ones, because fat contains a lot of calories.

Unlike the ketogenic diet, you are trying to restrict calories and not take too much fat.

• Bake and roast something, rather than fry.

We advocate that you prepare your own meals so that you can control your calories better, instead of eating out for these two days.

• Drink a lot of soups.

They will make you feel full.

• Do not eat a lot of carbohydrates like bread, pasta or rice.

You certainly cannot have cakes on fast days! If you must eat something sweet, try fruits.

• Drink plenty of water.

5:2 diet, intermittent fasting, fasting diet, diet, losing weight, sample menu, turkey sandwich, Star2.com

Paired with corn on the cob for dinner would be a turkey sandwich, which would come up to about 328 calories in total. — Visualhunt.com

You can also drink black coffee or tea without any added sugar or milk.

You should also avoid artificial sweeteners as these will spike your insulin.

Remember, you are trying to get your insulin levels to go down – the main reason why you are even doing intermittent fasting!

• Yes, you can skip a meal.

Some people advocate skipping breakfast entirely in order to get more hours of fasting in, and only start eating lunch at 2pm.

If you do that, you can add those calories back to lunch or dinner.

Give me an example of a diet on a fast day together with the amount of calories per meal.

Okay, this is an example of a one-day meal plan:

Breakfast – 1 sachet of mixed oats (255 calories)

Lunch – skip

Dinner – Beetroot, spinach and feta cheese salad (125 calories)

Supper – 1 apple with some butter (145 calories)

Total calorie count: 525 calories

Here is another:

Breakfast – skip

Lunch – 1 soft boiled egg and asparagus (90 calories)

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Snack – A few grapes (60 calories)

Dinner – Turkey sandwich (172 calories) with corn on the cob (156 calories)

Total calorie count: 478 calories

Wow! You can hardly eat anything at all! I tried this, and I was so hungry that I could not focus at work during fast days.

When you start this for the very first time, it is normal to feel hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar) or unwell, with a lack of concentration.

You should also not plan to exercise during fast days unless you are already comfortable with the diet. (No, you cannot add calories to your food based on how many calories you think you burned during exercise! You must stick to the calorie restriction!)

But if you keep busy, such as being hard at work, you will be surprised that time passes quickly and you won’t realise that you are hungry anymore.

Some people also feel cold or have headaches. Again, this is common with any new diet, and it will pass.

If you really cannot take the hunger, just keep one small snack available with you at all times. I recommend half a large banana, which is around 60 calories.

Pregnant women, teenagers and children should not fast.

If unsure, you should consult your doctor before trying this, or any, diet.

How much weight can I lose on this diet?

It depends on how long you keep at it. A lot of people have reported losing anything from a few kg to 40kg.

You will usually lose more weight at the start of the diet than in the middle of it.

Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health, computers and entertainment. For further information, e-mail [email protected] The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

I was recently made aware of something called a 5:2 diet. People like Jimmy Kimmel from The Tonight Show follow it and claim that it is incredibly effective. What is it all about?

The 5:2 diet involves intermittent fasting. It is also known as the Fast Diet. It was popularised by a British doctor and journalist called Michael Mosley. It became really popular some time around 2012 to 2013. In this diet, you “fast” for two days and eat normally for five days in one week.

In the days that you “fast”, you have to restrict your calorie intake to about 500 to 600 calories per day. Most people find this diet a lot easier to follow and stick to than the ketogenic diet, especially when you eat out a lot and you’re eating Asian foods.

Wait. I only eat less for two days? Can I eat anything I want for the other five days?

Yes. For the five days that you don’t fast, you can eat anything you like from carbs to cakes to pasta. The 5:2 diet does not restrict you from eating certain types of foods, unlike the ketogenic diet or the Atkins diet. It only restricts WHEN you can eat them.

The tough part is the two days when you are restricting your calories. Those two days can be very tough, and many people feel as though they are starving. In those two days, if you are a woman, you have to restrict your calories to 500 a day. If you are a man, this will be 600 a day.

OK, let’s talk about the fun five days first. Can I eat however much I want?

Well, if you are planning on losing weight, it isn’t a good idea for you to eat 10 bags of potato chips and a whole cake every day for those five days! You should be eating normally, meaning breakfast, lunch and dinner – what you eat on a normal work day or what you usually cook for yourself.

You will find that because you are trying to lose weight, you end up watching what you eat during those five days as well because you don’t want to undo the good work you put in for those two restriction days.

I want to give this a try. What days should I restrict calories?

You can choose any two days in a week, but most people find two consecutive days of restricting calories really difficult. So most people choose Monday and Thursday as their calorie restriction days, and eat normally for the rest of the week.

And you should eat “normally” for yourself, not copy what other people are doing because everyone has different metabolism and caloric requirements.

Let’s talk about those calorie restriction days. Is it easy to eat around 600 calories a day?

It is very difficult actually. It requires you to have an in-depth knowledge of how many calories different foods contain so that you can plan your meals accordingly. During those “fasting” days, you should be eating two or three small meals.

But most foods we normally eat contain a lot of calories that are going to add up. For example, if you choose to eat one plate of wonton noodles, that would be around 480 calories. That would mean you can only eat 20 more calories for that day if you are a woman and 120 more for a man!

So you have to really make very difficult food choices. You have to be careful about eating your salads as well. Salads can contain quite a lot of calories, especially if you load up on cheese shavings/cubes, nuts and protein.

Think about halving your food portions – including your salads. A Caesar salad can contain up to 600 calories, especially if you pile on the cheese shavings and grilled chicken or smoked salmon. Drink lots of water! Water fills you up, if only temporarily.

Is this diet medically safe?

Yes. So far. There hasn’t been a lot of research done in the medical world for the 5:2 diet compared with, say, the ketogenic diet. But intermittent fasting has been shown to have many health benefits. This is because there are lower insulin levels, and insulin is a hormone that you want to avoid a spike of because it stores glucose and fat.

Studies have shown that the sweet spot for intermittent fasting comes between 18 and 24 hours of fasting. This is the spot that sees the greatest drop of insulin and the greatest increase in fat burning.

Achieving 16 to 18 hours of fasting is easier than you think! The hours that you are asleep also count, so it can actually be achieved by skipping breakfast and not having lunch until late afternoon. Fasting is extremely good for diabetics!

Of course, there are side effects. Most people report not being able to function or focus well on the job, and on those fasting days, you are probably too weak to exercise hard.


Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health, computers and entertainment. For further information, e-mail [email protected] The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.