The wonderful benefit which comes with the 5:2 diet is that in theory you will not be fasting on the fasting days. Indeed, you could actually have a large burger and endless cups of black coffee on a calorie restricted day and still be within your calorie allowance. Clearly this would not be good for you and instead should be looking at using common sense regarding foods you are consuming on your fasting day to make balanced and healthy choices.
Water is the perfect slim line filler, either drank on its own to temporarily take the edge off a hunger pang or, more particularly, incorporated within food to increase satiety (the feeling of fullness which is gained from eating food). Chunky soups plus lots of fruit and veg can work particularly well on a fast day because they’ll help to make your stomach feel full. Foods such as fruit and veg as these foods are bulky and low in calories, take up plenty of room on your plate (a psychological boost).
Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, watercress, rocket, broccoli and cabbage are particularly low in calories, as are berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants. Tomatoes, peppers, orange-fleshed melons and butternut squash join the low-calorie corner. Foods containing protein is also advisable as when protein is released into the gut, a hormone known as PYY is produced, which is believed to decrease hunger. So upping the amount of protein in the diet will increase the body’s own supply of PYY, helping to reduce hunger and perhaps aiding in weight loss, foods such as soy beans, chicken, tuna, squash and pumpkin seeds are all high sources of this nutrient.
Airy foods take up more space on our plate (psychologically, it feels like you’re being presented with more food). For example, if you really must have a desert, why not try a small pot of whipped mousse which can have fewer than 80 calories.
Protein-rich foods are particularly good at inducing that full feeling. It is possible that they stimulate the release of hunger-controlling hormones in the gut. The protein in eggs is a good food source for filling you up. Porridge is a great choice for keeping you full for several hours as they are a wholegrain which is now proven to keeping you fuller for longer. To keep calories down make porridge with water or skimmed milk.
Wholegrain versions of breakfast cereals, breads, pasta, rice and noodles take longer to chew and are more satisfying, as the fibre they contain provides bulk but no calories. Fibre also has a slowing effect on the passage of food through the gut, which has the effect of keeping you fuller for longer. The portion size of bread or pasta you can have on a fast day is to be small, but choosing a brown, not white version can help to make it more filling. Altering rice/pasta for salad leaves is a good alternative to save calories.
Focus on whole foods. On average, foods that aren’t highly processed, pre-packaged or high in sugar will tend to be lower GI and keep your blood sugar levels on a more even keel.
Building up an accurate picture of what actually constitutes 500 or 600 calories is one of the most educational and interesting aspects of the 5:2 diet. It can help you understand what constitutes a healthy portion and might also give a clue as to why you ended up needing to lose a few pounds in the first place.
It is important on the fast day not to second guess portion sizes as this shall almost certainly calculate incorrectly and jeopardise weight loss. By serving slightly larger amounts of food could add over 100 calories to the recommended amount which could destroy the benefits of the fasting day.
Two Typical Fast Day Meal Planners
• Breakfast: 1 poached egg on half a slice of wholemeal toast spread with 1 teaspoon of low-fat spread and 1 medium tomato grilled (163 calories)
• Lunch/Snack: 1 rounded tablespoon (30g) of tzatziki with 100g cucumber and red pepper sticks (60 calories)
• Dinner: Thai Noodles with Tofu (276 calories)
TOTAL 499 CALORIES
• Breakfast: Red Fruit Salad with 50g Greek yoghurt ( 132 calories)
• Lunch/Snack: 2 clementines (44 calories)
• Dinner: Grilled Sea Bass with Cherry Tomatoes with steamed broccoli and spinach and 70g boiled new potatoes in their skins (330 calories)
TOTAL 506 calories
Snacks That are 100 Calories or Less:
1. 1 slice of parma ham wrapped around a breadstick – 58 calories
2. 1 medium apple – 53 calories
3. 1 round tablespoon of tzatziki with 100g cucumber and red pepper sticks – 60 calories
4. 1 rye crispbread with 30 g light soft cheese – 82 calories
5. 2 clementines and 1 kiwifruit – 73 calories
6. 300g shop bought fresh carrot and coriander soup – 89 calories
7. 1 small glass (150ml) low fat strawberry milkshake – 90 calories
8. 1 slice of fruit loaf – 98 calories
9. 1 hard- boiled egg: 84 calories
10. 15g salted popcorn: 83 calories
Snacks That are 50 Calories or Less:
1. 1 slice of cantaloupe melon – 23 calories
2. 80g apple and grape snack pack – 45 calories
3. 50g cooked jumbo prawns with a squeeze of lemon – 42 calories
4. 1 ginger nut biscuit – 47 calories
5. 3 seafood sticks – 50 calories
6. ½ cup (80g) mango cubes – 46 calories
7. 2 slices of wafer-thin ham wrapped round a celery stick – 43 calories
8. 100g cherry tomatoes – 20 calories
9. 2 Melba toasts spread with 1 level teaspoon of reduced-sugar jam – 34 calories
10. 1 mini pork salami sausage – 38 calories
10 Guilt-Free Treats
1. 6 medium strawberries with 12.5g serving of aerosol cream – 85 calories
2. 50g gradvalax with sauce – 90 calories
3. 175g pot ready-to-eat sugar-free cranberry and raspberry jelly with 80g raspberries – 33 calories
4. 15g cocoa-dusted almonds – 84 calories
5. 1 slice of Parma ham with 3 watermelon balls – 48 calories
6. 10g (around 2 lumps) crystallized ginger – 37 calories
7. 1 small juicy nectarine topped with 2 rounded tablespoons (60g/21/2 oz) of 0% Greek yoghurt with honey – 95 calories
8. 2 mini spring rolls – 90 calories
9. 2 poppadoms – 100 calories
10. 250g (8oz) shop-bought shell-on mussels in garlic butter sauce – 75 calories