Surviving the 5:2 diet: ten more tips
One of the many reasons I began the 5:2 this year was to fit into my ski trousers. Nothing like an impending holiday deadline to motivate weight loss, is there? And the difference between the zip easily sliding to the top button and, well, not, was five important little pounds.
A few weeks into the diet, and world, I can declare, success is mine. Gone are those pesky pounds, the ski holiday is saved and there’s not one zipper stuck in its tracks to be found in my suitcase.
So what worked? When I blogged at the start of my 5:2 journey, having had a stab at intermittent fasting a couple of years ago, I wanted to make sure I heeded some of my own tips for not falling off the wagon. Since then, I’ve been strictly following the rules and have happily managed to shed a few of my wobbly bits.
It’s also been a journey of acceptance. If you’re considering the 5:2, the easiest way to get through it is to be ok with hunger. Accept that it’s ok to experience a rumbling tummy. It’s natural. And personally, even on the ‘5’ days, it’s wonderful to satisfy a growling tum rather than eat for the sake of it, or just because it’s the socially recognised time for a meal when you’re not actually hungry.
The ‘2’ days have given me mental tools to be sensible with food on the ‘5’ days, and I’ve found that I have been listening to my body more. This is one heck of a valuable lesson to a girl whose appetite is far too easily swayed by visual stimuli. That saying about eyes being bigger than the belly? Well, that’s me to a T.
So, do I have any more tips for 5:2 survival? Yes, I surely do.
- Treat yourself if you need to. Don’t get me wrong, 500 calories doesn’t allow for a ‘treat’ in the way we’d all love it to. But if you’re anything like me, and your mood is affected by food, then try to incorporate a little pick-me-up. Mine is a big takeaway latte – good dose of protein and calcium, it takes forever to drink, and that much liquid takes up a decent amount of space in your tummy.
- Load the cals. If you can, make your fasting period a bit longer, as it will make the diet more effective. I tend to try and have my latte for breakfast, eat 300-ish calories at lunch (I need my energy at work) and have a 70-ish calorie snack in the evening, and then go to bed early.
- Write it all down. Calculate the calories and plan your meals, especially if you do need to eat little and often. Writing it all down also helps if you want to replicate your day a few weeks later (it’s dull, but having a few failsafe meal plans is really useful).
- Have some go-to favourites. For example:
- Always have a full glass of water to hand and drink lots of herbal tea.
- Miso soup sachets are great on their own or as flavour boosters for quick veg broths (I sometimes take a pack of pre-prepared veg bags, pop them in the microwave at work and add a miso sachet and hot water to create a soup… add rice noodles to bulk it out).
- Fish is low in calories and just as filling as meat.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have time to cook – pre-prepared salads, soups and meals make life easy with calories on the packets.
These are rough calculations, but here are some of my typical ‘2’ days:
- Medium skim latte (131 cal); 75g smoked mackerel with spinach, green beans and a poached egg (300 cal); apple (50 cal)
- Medium skim latte (131 cal); M&S yakitori chicken skewers (127 cal) followed by M&S super green soup (120 cal); small banana (90 cal)
- Skim flat white (67 cal); Innocent smoothie (54 cal); 100g smoked salmon, 80g plum tomatoes, 200g cottage cheese (390 cal)
- Medium skim latte (131 cal); Haddock fillet, spoonful of cottage cheese, 50g rice, handful of spinach and a chopped spring onion (240 cal); Nakd bar (135 cal)
The BBC Food website has some good recipe suggestions as does the original Mimi Spencer recipe book.
Here’s hoping the zip on my ski trousers can withstand all the cheese and wine I’m planning to consume on holiday!