It seems that intermittent fasting is all the rage right now. It was a hit a few years back, went off the radar and now the buzz is back. If you have been living under a rock, here's the lowdown: you restrict your calorie consumption to 25% of your typical calorie intake for two nonconsecutive days a week (so that’s about 500 calories for the day), and then eat normally for the remaining 5 days of the week. It is recommended you have at least 12 hours of complete fasting in each of those 2 days.
There is a whole lot of science behind this diet which I won’t bore you with, but the benefits stretch beyond weight loss. Intermittent fasting is also said to help your body repair its cells, preventing heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
For me, the main goal of this diet was to shed the few kilos that crept up on me after I stopped breastfeeding a few months ago. My body was no longer using energy to make the milk so my chocolate-eating habit wasn’t disguised anymore (insert devastated face here).
I am on my third week of the 5:2 diet and I found day #1 the hardest. I have never been one to cut out foods completely from my diet or restrict myself from the things I love. For me, it’s all about balance and that’s why this “diet” works so well for me: It’s ALL about balance which means it's sustainable. If I feel like a sneaky piece of chocolate, I know I can have it – just on a non-fasting day.
So, after 2 weeks I have already lost 2kgs. YAY! On my fasting days, I have also found I am mentally sharper and more focused. I feel like I am making healthier choices on my non-fasting days because I am so aware of where the hidden calories are (cheese, I’m looking at you).
If you want to give the 5:2 a try, here are my tips:
1. Keep it consistent: All good diets start on Mondays, right? I have found that having consistent fasting days during the week works for me. I make sure I don’t have social catch ups based around a meal on those days or have events that could challenge my will power.
2. Have a 5:2 buddy: It’s no fun when your housemate or partner is eating a big meal and you can only afford to have one bite. If you are doing it with someone else, you can share the pain (or hunger) of a fasting day and as well as share recipe and snack ideas. The key is finding delicious and satisfying meals that are low in calories. Take a look at some recipes and meal plans here and here.
3. Try not to skip a meal: Lots of the suggested meal plans online are based around breakfast and dinner only. I found skipping an entire meal to be highly challenging and opted for three smaller meals throughout the day.
4. Know where the calories are: don’t waste your calories on something like cheese or yogurt. 5 slices of cheese could be your entire intake for the day!
5. Know where the calories aren’t: mushrooms and cauliflower are your friends. 1 large mushroom is only 5 calories and 1 cauliflower floweret is 3. Think of recipes you can make with those as the core ingredients – you can eat more of them and it won’t even feel like a fasting day.
Have any more fasting recipe ideas or surprisingly low-calorie foods for fasting days? We would love to hear about them! Share them in the comments below.
---- Jessica, YWY Founder