Chicken burger

Everyone has tried countless diets. Nearly all of them involve cutting out the things you like most. Well, here’s one where you can eat what you want. It’s the 5:2 diet and I’ve been doing a road test.

The 5:2 diet promises to help me loose two pounds a week, whilst improving my cholesterol and blood sugars. Although two pounds doesn’t sound that much, there’s seven weeks left of term, so I could potentially shed up to a stone.

According to Dietician Katie Mackay, from St George’s Hospital in London, this is the most effective way to loose weight.

She says “it’s all about small long term changes as opposed to really extreme dieting, where we’d find most people would loose weight but then regain it”.

This means sustainable weight loss should be gradual “at a rate of about one to two pounds a week”.

“make small changes gradually but keep them up for a longer period of time”

katie Mackay, Dietician

Audio: Katie Mackay speaks about the best way to loose weight.

For five days a week I’m allowed eat normally (up to the daily recommended intake of calories e.g. 2000 for women) and on the other two days I can only consume a quarter of those calories.

The prospect of a diet where you can eat what you want on most days and get good results sounded great.

I read ‘The Fast Diet Recipe Book’ by Mimi Spencer to find out the philosophy behind the diet. I actually borrowed the book from my mum’s friend who started the diet in January and loves it so much that it has become a permanent lifestyle change for her and her husband.

What I ate on my fasting days:

Breakfast: Porridge with honey (220kcal)

Lunch: Half a pot of fresh ready-made chicken and vegetable soup (110 kcal)

Dinner: Fillet of sea bass with salad and broccoli (140kcal)

Total: 470 calories

MealsImage: These are a few examples of the meals I ate over the last week.

Mimi Spencer says in her book that “People don’t feel particularly hungry on non-fasting days because their appetite and attitude seems to change” and I found this to be true.

Although you can eat what ever you want on the feasting days I still mostly wanted to eat healthy meals, because I was in a healthy mindset.

burger

Image: What I ate on one of my feasting days.

In order to succeed make sure your fasting days aren’t on hangover days. I tried to fast the day after a night out, but my cravings for a chicken burger were just too strong!

But equally make sure your fasting days aren’t on days where your going out drinking, as alcohol is included in your calorie count and is extremely calorific.

As a student this meant I was left with only a limited number of days to fast.

So is this diet sustainable for a student?

Economically, yes. Eating less, even if it only was on two days of the week, meant I spent less. In fact, I saved £4 on my food shop for the week.

Socially, no. In order for a diet to succeed you do have to make sacrifices and I had to say no to nights out and eating out.

Top tips for success:

  • Eat lots of protein on fasting days. Your body doesn’t store protein and it keeps you fuller for longer.
  • Don’t eat carbs on fasting days. You will use up your days calorie allowance in one meal.
  • Ration your fruit intake on fast days. Opt for berries as they are low in fructose.

As well as promising to help you loose weight, the diet also claims to improve blood sugar levels. And with diabetes being a particularly prevalent disease in modern society I decided to read more into it.

The more carbohydrates and sugar you consume the more insulin your body has to produce. However, fasting reduces the levels of insulin in the blood.

But it’s not just diabetes that increased levels of insulin is associated with. Paired with hormone IGF-1, insulin stimulates the growth and turnover of new cells, which increases the risk that some cells will turn cancerous.

It was this fact that has really motivated to me to cut down on sugar and continue fasting. Yes I would love to loose a few pounds, but I’m not overweight, it doesn’t really matter if I eat a whole packet of Thornton’s millionaire shortbread’s, my body wouldn’t noticeably change.

Doing this research and ultimately this diet has made me realise that just because I can’t see the damage, it doesn’t mean its not occurring. It’s not all about having a thigh gap, Jennifer Aniston’s washboard abs or the girl that sits next to you in Wednesday morning’s seminar tiny waist; it’s about making healthier choices.