A while back I had promised to update you on how it was going with the 5:2 diet. If you’re not familiar with it, it is a way of eating where for two non-consecutive you almost fast. (Women eat 500 calories, and Men, 600) That’s about a quarter of our normal caloric intake. Then for the other five days of the week you eat normally. This eating strategy has lots of health benefits, you can read more about it here.
Paul and I did the fast for about three months. When I went to the US for two weeks in July we both took a break, but resumed when I came home. Neither of us lost a substantial amount of weight, each about three pounds. We’ve since stopped the fast, although I do think we will do random fast days in the future.
What did we like about fasting? We both just felt better. We had more energy and enjoyed the challenge of mind over matter. We liked that it forced us to think about all the little things that go into our meals – like do we splash the olive oil in the pan or take a little more time to monitor how much we use? We got an iPad app (My Fitness Pal) to figure out the calorie counts of things and would plan out our fasting day meals before we’d go grocery shopping so we didn’t get caught with nothing appropriate to eat. Since we were doing it together it was fun for us to plan and cook together.
What didn’t we like? Paul would have continued on with fasting, but I got tired of it. My main complaints had to do with the way I cook and food being wasted. For example, if we went out to eat on Sunday and brought home leftovers, we wouldn’t be able to eat them on Monday (a fast day) and by Tuesday they wouldn’t be appetizing. Or sometimes I would make a big pot of beans, or sourdough bread, or if someone would give us a bag of bananas we couldn’t eat them. I had trouble planning to make sourdough bread because it takes two days. So if I start it on Monday (a fast day) and bake it on Tuesday we can eat it Tuesday and Wednesday but then Thursday was another fast day. Plus after a fast day it seemed we always wanted to eat out so then the bread might even sit until Wednesday…. Can you understand the problem?
Were we hungry? Sure. The first couple of times were hard. Once we got used to it, though, it wasn’t too bad. Around 3 pm we’d need a cup of tea to tide us over until we ate an early dinner.
What did we learn? We can be creative. At the top of this post is a picture of the zucchini “noodles” with pesto and veggies that we’d make at least every other week. Vegetable soup is always a winner, as well as veggie stir-fry with brown rice, pictured below. You can eat a mountain of vegetables for very few calories.
My take away from this experiment is that it is easy to eat too many calories and that fasting can be a part of any food plan. If you’d like a book recommendation, here’s one I read and enjoyed that has a lot of recipes, too: The 5:2 Diet Book: Feast for 5 Days a Week and Fast for 2 to Lose Weight, Boost Your Brain and Transform Your Health.