Saturday, 15 June 2013

Snig’s top tips for the 5:2 diet (The Fast Diet)

Him Indoors and I decided to take the plunge and go on the 5:2 diet (also known as The Fast Diet) after a period of wonderful over indulgence. I wrote about our first two weeks on the 5:2 diet recently, which you can find here:

Well, the results are beginning to show. Him Indoors has lost some weight, but he didn't bother to weigh himself before he started. His clothes are all fitting a little more loosely. And there was a pair of trousers he had thought needed to go to the charity shop which fits. He’s between sizes right now, 34” waist is a little tight, and 36” is getting looser each week. 

I found I had lost 2.5kg (5.5lbs) at the start of week 3, weighing myself before fast day 5. Frankly, I can't believe I have lost as much weight as I have through only 4 days of food denial. Normally, I would have to have gone through three weeks, maybe more, of constant and depressing self denial to achieve the same weight loss. My 2 days a week of 'fasting' (I get to eat 500 calories and Him Indoors is allowed 600) are pretty bearable given they are preceded and followed by days of plenty. 

On my second fast day of week 6 (fast day 12 in all), I weighed myself and found I had lost another kilo, so a total of 3.5kg (7.7lbs) over the whole diet period. I am now only 1.5kg off my target weight, which feels amazing! 

I actually FIT INTO skinny jeans in my size! I can hardly believe this. I had gone through a depressing time when I wanted to buy a pair of skinny jeans, but for neither love nor money could find a pair that fit the three areas; bottom, thighs and tummy. And we all know that to look anything approaching OK, the damn jeans have to fit all three! I wore the skinny jeans every day for a week to celebrate. Until Him Indoors suggested they might need a wash!

The most noteworthy thing about this whole experience is that I don’t feel like going back to unlimited eating 7 days a week. I feel I’ve made a lifestyle change I can live with. As a result, I don’t think I’m going to have a big relapse and put all the weight back on. Perhaps when I go on holiday, I’ll indulge myself, but coming back home and back to the 5:2 diet won’t be difficult. After all, I have shown myself I can get through the fast days – I’ve done 15 of them now!

There are a few things which I have learnt over this period of time which anyone thinking about this diet should know. I have learnt these things from experience, and would like to share it with you in the hope it assists.


Think carefully about when you will have your fast days. You need to make it as easy for yourself as you possibly can. If you prefer to fast when you have a busy day, so you can keep busy, then choose accordingly.

If you feel that you want a really quiet day, or one where you don't have to leave the house, then that's fine too. Just think about your patterns, and how well you resist temptation. I love going out over the weekend eating out, so for me, having a diet day in the weekend would be much too painful. However, it works brilliantly for other people.


Whilst you should think about when your fast days should be with care, don't be afraid to change your days if they aren't working. So, you tried to fast in the weekend thinking you would be less tempted by other people eating, but succumbed to the temptation of a Sunday roast? Then change your fast day. And because you only need to have 2 fast days in a week, you can always change them for one week only if you need to change your plans, as long as you then stick to the discipline of 2 fast days a week.

Experiment with your day allocation and meals and feel hunky-dory


Not all fast days are equal. Some are easier than others. Think about the reasons why. 

Was it too difficult to only have one meal in a day? I have gone for this plan, but there are days it is tough. Would you be better having two small meals?

Do you have two small meals and constantly feel hungry? Have you tried just having one larger meal?

What did you eat on the successful fast days – my advice on proteins and carbohydrates below might help.


Fast days, to accommodate the low calorie count, are highly likely to be dry days too, when you don't consume alcohol. A can of lager has about 250 calories and a glass of medium white wine (250ml) has about 188 calories, so that is a big chunk of your 500 or 600 calorie fast day allowance.

Current thinking is that two days a week without alcohol is exactly the rest your liver needs to look after itself. This means that the 5:2 diet is having yet another health benefit which you might not have considered before. How good is that?!


Plan your meals for your fast days in advance, and get the ingredients in before the fast days. Then you know what you will be having, and don't have the hassle of having to buy in your ingredients when required. Also, if you shop when you're hungry, which will happen on the fast days, you are putting yourself in danger of terrible temptation.


Mix up your fast day meals so you have a variety of flavours and textures. Have things you know you are going to like so that fast days aren't a terrible chore.


No, I’m not advocating that you do a partial Atkins diet. I’m suggesting this because firstly, protein takes the body time to break down, so you feel fuller for longer. You will need this on your fast days to keep hunger at bay for as long as possible. Also, you want the body to burn fat and not muscle. So by giving yourself a decent amount of protein in on a fast day, the body has that protein to burn and not your own! 


Low GI means the glycaemic index of the food is low, and that the body has the energy released from the food slowly. Generally, white bread, white rice, peeled potatoes are high GI. Brown rice, wholemeal bread and oddly, Basmati rice are low GI. Wholegrains take time to break down, and have the added benefit of fibre.  

For an explanation of what Glycaemic Index is all about, visit:

It pains me to say have as little carbohydrate as possible on a fast day. I never met a carbohydrate I didn’t like! Processed carbs will give you a quick energy rush, but you will soon feel lacking in energy and hungry again. Not good on a fast day. It is proteins which should be your new fast day friends.

To look up GI levels of foods see:


You don't need to get all your flavours from cream, butter or fatty meats. Spices and fresh herbs are very low calorie, pretty much negligible. So throw caution to the wind! If you'd usually put only half a tablespoon of chopped parsley in a dish, try a whole one! 

Flat leaf parsley, coriander, thyme, dill are your friends! Be liberal with the garam masala. If you love punchy flavours in your feasting dishes, don't make your diet dishes bland, or you will quickly lose interest in the 5:2 diet. 


You will need to drink so much more fluid on your fast days. I realised that we get a lot of our fluids from our food before I started the diet, but didn't appreciate how much it really was. You need to keep yourself hydrated. Monitoring your wee colour is a good indicator, and you want it as pale as possible. 

If you get dehydrated you'll feel bad during a fast day, and you risk getting constipated later. It's just not worth it.

Herbal teas are a great way of ensuring your get lots of fluid. I personally like the Pukka teas collection of herbal infusions, only because I think they have good flavour. Many of the other makes are all aroma and not enough flavour.

Herbal Tea, my saviour on Fast days
Green Tea either with or without Jasmine is another great drink for fast days. No calories and full of antioxidants. Try white tea, too!

If you like regular tea, just put one tablespoon of semi skimmed milk in, and you have only had 15 calories. If you don't mind the taste, try artificial sweeteners.

A lovely cuppa Rosy! Just what you need on fast day!
Often you will find that if you have a drink when you feel hungry, the hunger subsides. It is really easy to confuse feelings of thirst and hunger until you get more used to the fast days. 


Remember; when you wake up on a fast day, you've already been fasting for a number of hours - in other words you wake up having partially achieved that day's goal!

Keep telling yourself: TOMORROW IS A FEAST DAY! Naming them 'feast days' and 'fast days' has helped me. Because the feast is only one day away!


Check packets of pre-prepared food carefully for the calorie count. Many are dishonest. 

One supermarket (who will remain nameless) said in big letters on the front of the packet their naan breads were 135 cal per serving. There were 2 naans in the packet. So you'd assume that's 135 calories per naan bread, right? Wrong. The servings were 55g or half a naan bread. We would have exceeded our allowance had we not scrutinised the back of the packet. 

Don't let it happen to you! 


Do you have any advice, hints, tips or hacks to share? Please comment below!


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