How does the 5:2 diet work and how does intermittent fasting help you to lose weight?

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The 5:2 diet seems like the perfect way to live – eat what you want for the vast majority of the time but continue to lose weight.

The intermittent fasting format has been making a lot of fans and a lot of headlines ever since it was popularised by brit quack Dr Michael Mosley almost a decade ago.

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It has proven to be a far easier dietary plan to stick to for many people when compared to more traditional dieting methods like daily calorie limitations.

Mosley, a doctor and BBC journalist, labelled the diet as “genuinely revolutionary” before publishing a book on the scheme in 2013 called The Fast Diet.

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There is of course no guarantee this will be suitable for everyone, but for some, it is regarded more as a way of life compared to a dieting regime.

How does the 5:2 diet work?

How does the 5:2 diet work and how does intermittent fasting help you to lose weight?
© Getty Images/iStockphoto The 5:2 allows people a little more freedom in what they eat

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The diet’s core principle is simple: eat what you want for five days a week and then for the other two put a strict and low calories cap on what you consume.

On your periods of fasting, you are restricted to taking in no more than 500-600 calories per day. But, on your days off (there are a lot of them) you can eat whatever it is that takes your fancy.

Dieters are recommended to have a normal amount of calories for them in the five days and then on the two non-consecutive days, they must keep levels to around 25% of what they normally consume.

In other words, try not to go crazy and try and eat everything you possibly can – instead, act normally except for removing three-quarters of your calories on two non-consecutive days per week.

This works out at 500 calorie intake for women and 600 calories for men.

There are no restrictions on the foods you eat, although the BBC report that women could lose 1lb per week when they participate in the diet.

How does intermittent fasting help you lose weight?

Fasting, as a general principle, works by helping you eat fewer calories. Healthline reports that a 2014 study found that people who intermittently fasted reduced body weight by 3% to 8% over a period of three to 24 weeks.

They report that the weight loss associated with the practice is caused predominantly by this total calorie reduction. Healthline report that no difference has been noted when comparing weight loss through intermittent fasting to traditional daily calorie restriction.

The concept behind fasting has been kicking around for decades – the BBC report that experiments were even taking place to work out how effective it was back in the 1940s.

Be warned though, the hunger that people often experience is likely to be a limiting factor for many. Feelings of low energy are reported, as are poor concentration levels and dizziness.

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