By Corinne McKenna
After months of resisting the hype and scoffing at friend’s triumphant success stories I have finally succumbed and I am trying the 5:2 diet. The first thing people ask when they hear what I am doing is “don’t you get hungry?” And the short answer is “yes!”
As I write this I feel rather peckish and it is sixteen hours until I can “break my fast”.
If you have not heard the hype the 5:2 diet consists of eating normally for five days of the week and then for two non-consecutive days you eat no more than 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men. But its benefits are not just limited to weight loss. Fasting appears to stimulate the repair of cells in the body which is especially good for the health of the brain. It also lowers the blood levels of the IGF–1 ( Insulin – like Growth Factor 1) hormone. This is good news because studies have shown that increased levels of IGF-1 lead to increased growth of existing cancer cells. More studies need to be preformed but the preliminary research does suggest fasting may help prevent diseases such as some forms of cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
To be fair I am not a “fast” type of person. Many people may find this dietary change much easier than I have. I marvel at those who say “Oh I just forget to eat sometimes”. Really? I am as likely to forget to eat as forget to go to sleep at night. I am also a picker. And a stay at home Mum, which gives you plenty of opportunities to pick (kid’s crusts anyone?).
However, having two children within 19 months of each other has taken its toll on my once reasonable figure and the twenty or so extra pounds I am carrying is undoubtedly affecting my energy levels. For the first six months after my second son was born I was so sleep deprived and exhausted I could not think of anything other than where my next sugar hit was coming from to get me through the day. But after he started sleeping through most nights I was able to start doing a bit of exercise and bringing my sugar consumption under control. But the thing is, baby weight really is hard to shift. Especially after the second baby.
My husband suggested the 5:2 diet to me after it helped him lose the stubborn 10 pounds he had gained over the past two years. Up until this point I had resisted trying it as I was convinced it was just another fad. However, I read the book, watched the Horizon documentary and it seems to make sense so I am giving it a go. And guess what? I have lost 5 pounds in three weeks. I finally feel like I am getting somewhere and I am able to wear my pre- baby jeans again without feeling like they are slicing me in half at the end of the day.
I have tried pushing myself and doing a 3 day on 4 days off week but I find I eat an awful lot more on the “feed” days than if I stick to 5:2 so the weight loss is the same overall.
Skipping dinner works best for me. I did try delaying breakfast until 10am then eating something around 5pm but running around after two small boys meant I became very hungry after 3pm. For some reason my body responds well to eating a small breakfast and lunch and then fasting completely until the next day. Don’t get me wrong, I am still hungry but not ravenous.
I do feel very proud of myself at the end of a fast day. Let’s be honest, five hundred calories is not a lot of food. I can wolf that down in one pudding! But once you see the results self motivation really kicks in and you want to keep going. I am treating myself to a shopping day in London in a few weeks and I am looking forward to buying clothes that are not hidden away in the maternity section of the store. Buying maternity clothes is only fun when you are actually pregnant.
But believe me I cannot wait for breakfast tomorrow!
Corinne McKenna is a freelance copywriter and blogger. Follow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CorinneMcKenna