What are ‘fast days’ and what can I eat on these 2 days?

Fasting days does not mean you to eat nothing or starve yourself twice a week.  Instead, on your 2 days of fasting you limit the amount of food you eat for the day to be a quarter of your normal daily intake. This averages to about 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men.

The type of food you eat or how many times you eat during the day is entirely up to you. Whatever works best for you and that you can do comfortably will give better results. For example, if you feel cravings when first starting out, you can have 3 small meals throughout the day. However, some people do find that once they start eating they can’t stop so prefer to not eat till later in the day and just have 1-2 meals. Both give the same results.

What can I eat of ‘fast days’?

There are no restrictions as to what you can actually eat on the 5:2 Diet. Just make sure it is within the daily limit of 500 calories. Here are some guidelines to help you keep the calories down on your ‘fast days’:

Try to avoid:
•    Fried foods (for example a boiled egg has 78 calories while a fried egg has 93)
•    Refined or processed carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, sugary sweets and canned or dried vegetables.
•    Fruit drinks and drinks with artificial sweeteners.
•    Sauces and salad dressings (1 tbsp of standard salad dressing is 60 cal!)

Better choices are:
•    Whole grains (due to increase fiber which assists in metabolism and help lower cholesterol, blood sugar and weight.
•    Fresh fruits and veggies
•    Small portions of lean meat or fish
•    Drink lots of water, helps fill you up to reduce the need for food
•    Tea and coffee. However if you add sugar or milk, remember to take this into account.

How do I know how many calories I have had on a ‘fasting day’?

You can always use free calorie counters found online to check the calorie values of food. There are also free apps you can download onto your phone to help you calculate food calories on the go. Also make sure you read labels on packaging.

I have compiled a list of foods and recipes available for under 500 calories, for my subscribers, in the 5:2 Diet Plan eBook. To subscribe and get your copy, click here.
After familiarizing yourself with the 5:2 diet and working out your own 5:2 diet plan, you will be able to roughly estimate how much calories you are taking

I cheated. What should I do now?

The 5:2 Diet plan is very flexible, hence it’s popularity. If you cheated, for example, by eating more than 500 calories on your ‘fast day’, then consider this a normal day and you should try to make it a priority to fast the next day or add another day in during that week to suit you. Remember the 5:2 diet is very simple, it just requires you to fast 2 days a week. Just remember to make sure you take the initiative to ‘fast’ again another day and not let yourself give up., just because you think you failed by cheating.

Can I exercise on my ‘fast days’ and ‘buy’ more calories?

There is definitely no harm in exercising any day of the week. Just remember though that your calorie intake on the fast days are lower than usual so it would be advisable to refrain from any vigorous workouts , especially at the beginning of the diet, just so your body can cope and understand it’s change in environment.
There is also no such thing as ‘buying calories’, think of the exercise as a bonus to your health and weight loss and not a bribe for more food 🙂

Will fasting cause my body to go into “starvation mode”?

Starvation mode is a state in which the body responds to long periods of decrease calorie intake. Thus, your body only switches to starvation mode as a result of long-term calorie restriction. You cannot starve yourself by restricting calories for just 1 or 2 days.

The 5:2 diet only requires intermittent dieting and there has been evidence to suggest that intermittent dieting helps with body cell repair and maintenance as well as aid in the control of blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

I am not losing weight. Why and what can I do?

There could be couple of reasons why you may not be losing weight:

◦    Your calorie intake on fasting days is more than 500 calories.

You may not intentionally be cheating, but there are a lot of foods out there with hidden calories. In addition you may be underestimating the amount of calories in some foods. For example, did you know a small handful of approx 20 almonds is 140 calories?

◦    On your normal days you are eating more calories than required to maintain your weight.

Just because you are fasting 2 days a week, this is not an green light for you to eat more than usual on your normal days. In addition, you can calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) to estimate exactly how much you should be eating on your normal days. For example, if your TDEE is 1500 calories a day but you are eating 2000 calories then it will take a lot more for you to lose weight.

If you are eating the right amounts of food but still not losing weight after 2-3 weeks then:

◦    Look out for hidden calories.

Take a look at calories you are getting from drinks (fizzy drinks, juices, energy drinks etc). Drinks do not fill you up and usually contain more calories than expected. For example, cup of orange juice may contain 3 oranges and still not fill you up as much as if you had eaten 3 oranges.

◦    Weight is not everything. Do not weigh yourself everyday or too often.

Weight may fluctuate due to hormones and fluctuation in fluids in the body. Try not to be obsessed with your weight and try to only weight yourself only once a week. Remember that you may still be losing fat, but not necessarily weight. In such cases make sure you measure yourself around the waist, hips, bust, arms and legs and then compare these measurements once a month. This would be a clearer indication if the diet is helping you lose fat (not necessarily weight) or not.

◦    Add another fasting day to the week.

Try adding another fasting day into your 5:2 diet plan. You can make it 4:3, or what is commonly known as Alternate day fasting (ADF) with the same flexibility to eat what you want on normal days and 500 calories on fasting days. This may also work for people who wish to lose weight faster as well

◦    Try being a bit more active

Add a bit more exercise to your fitness program. It is highly recommended you get a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day. Moving around more will help burn those extra calories as well as increasing your metabolism

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