It doesn’t really feel like deprivation. My spouse and I agreed to test the claims of the 5:2 Diet. It is touted as an easy, sustainable and healthful way to achieve lasting weight loss. As most Americans, we acknowledge that we should lose pounds, exercise more and take charge of our eating habits in order to attain maximum health and wellness. And the intermittent fast diet plan requires no special foods, no “giving up” of any food favorites, no pills and no supplements. It just requires a dramatic reduction in calorie consumption two days a week.
There are other sensible eating plans and numerous other ways to diet, of course, but we found this one interesting because of new research about the health benefits, including reduced levels of cholesterol and insulin, lower blood pressure, and even possible resistance to disease and a healthier old age. Research is ongoing, but the initial analysis confirms no ill effects.
Settling into a Routine
We agreed on an eating plan limiting intake to 500-600 calories two days each week — fast days. The number is specified as one quarter of the “normal” allowance of 2,000 calories for the average woman and 2,400 for an average man. On non-fast days, according to the “guidebook,” a person is allowed to eat anything desired — and in normal amounts.
The first week wasn’t awful. True, there is little food on fast days. The first one was the easiest. On the second, after two days of “normal” meals when we found ourselves thinking about food more than is normal, we were both hungry. The day after that second fast, we both inexplicably wanted comfort food and ice cream! And so we checked on the calorie count of a serving of Blue Bell. Surprisingly, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
No Dramatic Changes
So, for our first week on the diet, we feel we didn’t do badly. Dr. Michael Mosely and Mimi Spencer, who wrote the original 5-2 Diet book in 2012, don’t claim it is a quick weight-loss diet. We can attest to that. In fact, during the week, the scale varied: both down and up. In the future, we plan to weigh once a week rather than every day.
Actually, being realistic, we expect to see the scale head downward no more than one, or maybe two, pounds each week. The benefits may be simply that we pay more attention to the kinds of foods we eat. We read labels; we are phasing out those foods that are full of empty calories. We have begun stocking the refrigerator with apples and carrots, celery and sugar-snap peas, hummus and cottage cheese, rather than the higher calorie, less nutritious snack foods that used to occupy our pantry shelves.
And we take more care with lunches and dinners. Lunch is usually a salad, or a small bowl of vegetable soup, even on regular days.
Dinner, too, looks a bit different on the plate. There is more of the plate visible, because our portions have become smaller.
Learning Portion Control
We begin the third week today Another fast day! Yes, sticking to the plan is more difficult that it should be. We think more about food than we want to. But we also believe our food choices are healthier than they used to be.
As a quick summary: Most nights we cook at home. We eat a lot of fish and fresh vegetables, but we also have chicken, beef and pasta. One night we indulged in a pizza, topped with a variety of fresh veggies. And, yesterday we had a delightful late lunch on the patio of a great local seafood grill — an Oyster Po’ Boy and Salmon Tacos, along with a pair of “tall cool ones.”
What a treat it was!
As for the score: A “minus 2” and a “minus 3” after two weeks. Do you want to guess who scored what?