An Introduction To 5:2 Fast Diet
What is 5:2 Fast Diet?
When you first look at the name 5:2 fast diet you probably ask yourself “What does math formula have to do with diet?” The answer is really straightforward: nothing. 5:2 is just a way to describe the principle behind this sort of diet. It is actually pretty simple. In one week (7 days) you eat normally, just like any other day, for 5 days and for 2 days you reduce the amount of calories, fasting yourself, hence the name 5:2 fast diet.
It goes by several names, to be precise. Sometimes it’s called 5:2 Fast Diet or just Fast diet, even Intermittent fasting, while many British people know it as Mosley diet after Doctor Michael Mosley, a British TV host and medical journalist on BBC (think Dr.Oz crossed with Sanjay Gupta). In August last year BBC aired the documentary called “Eat, Fast and Live Longer” hosted by Mosley and it was an instant hit. The broadcast gained high ratings, despite the Olympics taking place in London, with 3 million viewers.
Driven by the success of his show, Mosley got in touch with Mimi Spencer, a food and fashion writer, to collaborate on a book based on the documentary as well his own research he did in support of it. The result is a book titled FastDiet published in mid-January as a 200-page paperback with the first half written by Dr. Mosley, where he talks about scientific findings of the intermittent fasting, while the second half was written by Ms. Spencer, who provides tips on how to get through first days of fasting (keeping busy so you don’t hear your belly or waiting for 10-15 minutes for your meal) and also fasting recipes along with photos of delicious food. The book itself also has a very low price, it currently sells for less than 3£ on British Amazon and for a bit more than 12$ (hardcover!) on US Amazon. Also, for more recent updates like us on Facebook 5:2 Fast Diet page .
At this point it is worth mentioning that Ms. Spencer, 45, herself has tried the 5:2 fast diet method and she lost 20 pounds in 4 months, while also lowering her bmi for two points. And what about Dr. Mosley, you might ask, what are his results? After all, it’s his own diet method, surely he must have tried it. Well, he lost 20 pounds in 9 weeks (it goes without saying his bmi also lowered) but not only that, his glucose and cholesterol levels also went down.
Since the book was published in January it has held its spot in the top 10 bestsellers of British Amazon (as of this writing the book is currently no.2 while being in the top 10 for 220 days), further proving that 5:2 fast diet is the diet fad of the year in UK, you just say “It’s a fast day for me” and everyone around the table will nod sagely.
Science behind 5:2 Fast Diet
So what separates intermittent fasting from any other diet? The first and most obvious difference is that when following this diet you don’t starve yourself for days. You eat normally for 5 days and only then you decrease the daily consumption of calories to 500 (for women) or 600 (for men). This goes on for 2 days and after that you start the cycle again with 5 days of normal eating. What is the logic behind that? It’s quite interesting, actually.
Humans lived on a feast-or-famine schedule back in the days. When they made a big kill, they feasted on it and afterwards went hungry as long as they scored another one. In a way they already practiced the principles behind the fast diet, adapting their bodies to such on/off schedule. In a modern world there is a constant availability of food, the opposite of what our antecedents experienced, making our bodies don’t respond well to all this food. So it makes sense to fast ourselves from time to time, right? Temporary fasting is even a part of some religions like Islam and Judaism as a ritual.
The secret to the 5:2 fast diet, however, according to the book, is that the body begins to turn off the fat-storing mechanism in favor of fat-burning one after just a few hours of fasting. So on the two days when we are fasting, reducing the amount of calories we consume, our body will burn calories even faster because it has been taught so over the centuries – store the energy when there is plenty of food available for later times when there is none.
There are also studies done on mice which link calorie restriction with prolonged life. Scientists aren’t yet sure how it works, but previous research was done where it was proposed that cutting calories reduces level of the hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) in the blood. This drop triggers the body to start cellular repair mechanisms, protecting itself against heart disease, cancer and many other fatal illnesses. A clinical review done in 2007 (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/1/7.full.pdf+html) concluded that intermittent fasting may have a protective effect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Truth be told there are no definitive human clinical research-based trials to back up the claims of Dr. Mosley. Review of the National Health Service found on National Library of Medicine (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2013-01-14-does-the-52-intermittent-fasting-diet-work-/) done on the available research concluded that there is some evidence backing the claims, meaning they may have some validity. Reading between the lines this is a big, fat “it might work” statement about 5:2 fast diet.
There is also a study published in Nutrition & Metabolism (http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1743-7075-9-98.pdf), following 30 obese women with known pre-existing risk factors for heart disease. They were given a combination diet of low calorie liquid meals for six days a week and then asked to fast on the seventh day, consuming no more than 120 calories. After 8 weeks they lost on average around 4kg (8.8lb) and also around 6cm (2.3 inches) off their waist.
Let us not forget about Dr. Mosley and Ms. Spencer who both lost 20 pounds following the 5:2 fast diet formula. Dr. Mosley had in his first trial ate one cup of low-calorie soup every 24-hours for 4 days and after trying few other options finally settled on a 5:2 ratio as the best, more sustainable option that could be followed without destroying his social life or work.
And while he is very popular in England he is no match to celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck or Beyoncé who all swear by the 5:2 fast diet. It has even helped Kate Middleton to drop her pre-wedding weight, although she wasn’t exactly following this particular diet but a sort of predecessor, the Dukan diet, developed by French doctor Pierre Dukan. It’s a similar diet, also following on/off fasting method, but a little different because you have to follow a list of foods you can eat, while at 5:2 fast diet you can eat everything.
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