Fat loss strategies have been around forever. Whether its fad diets, detoxes, shakes or points systems, people have been trying to make weight loss (or fat loss, as I prefer) easier to achieve and easier to understand. Some of these ideas and techniques are a flash in the plan, while others have stood the test of time. One of the latest fat loss ideas doing the rounds is intermittent fasting. Here I will explain what is, if you should do it and how people tend to do it wrong.

Intermittent fasting is fairly self-explanatory, you go through short periods of not eating, or eating very little, throughout the week. The idea is that by fasting, you are reducing you calorie intake and thus losing weight. Fasting in itself is nothing new, going back to the days of the caveman. Man and woman could go for days on very little food, such as nuts & berries, before being able to secure a big meal through hunting. Many religious groups also fast, so it’s nothing new to the human body.

The 5 – 2 Diet

5 – 2 is probably the most well-known intermittent fasting program. The concept is that for 5 days a week you eat a normal diet, and for 2 non consecutive days you limit yourself to 500 calories, often consisting of 2 small meals either end of the day.

Pros

  • Easy to follow
  • Flexible
  • Great results for those will high body fat percentage

Cons

  • Hunger
  • Tiredness
  • Hard to stay motivated

Where People Get Unstuck

If you live a fairly sedentary lifestyle, need to lose more than 2 stone & have a decent amount of willpower, this strategy can be very effective. However there are many points where people can get unstuck.

Missing Your Fast Day

Cutback on Foods

Naughty But Nice: Fods to Avoid

You’ve woken up with every intension of today being you 500 calories day; you’ve had a small breakfast then off to work. But, it’s a stressful day, it’s someone’s birthday in the office and they’ve bought cake in, you’ve had to work late then traffics gridlock. You cave. Chinese Take away and a bottle of wine on the way home followed by ice-cream and you end up eating more than you should on a non-fast day.

Top tip: Take you fast days early e.g. Monday and Wednesday, or Tuesday and Thursday. This way if the unexpected happens there’s still plenty of time to fit in a fast day later in the week.

Pre Fast Binge

This strategy only works if you non fasting days still fall within the guideline daily allowance (GDA) for fats carbs calories etc. Often when you know it’s a fast day tomorrow, you may end up treating yourself to something you shouldn’t. Conversely the day after a fast day you might pig out the day after a fast as your feeling hungry from the day before.

Drink More Water

Drinking more water will massively reduce your cravings and feeling of hunger. Aim for 2 litres a day, throughout the day to keep your cravings at bay.

Keep Busy

By keeping busy, you often distract yourself from how hungry you are. Do something with the kids, read a book, do some extra work, anything that keeps you mind busy. Sitting in front of the tv for 5 hours will just keep reminding you of how hungry you are.

The Verdict

5 – 2 is a great way to kick-start someone into healthy eating action. You do need some willpower (like anything in life) and you do need to be consistent with it (4 – 6 weeks) but you can achieve great results with this strategy. I wouldn’t recommend this for people who are trying to go from an average body fat percentage to looking 6 pack lean, or to those who are going to the gym 4 -5 times a week. For that, I believe the 16 – 8 intermittent fasting strategy is much better, & one which 5 -2er’s should look to move onto if they feel they’ve reached a plateau, or are looking to move onto the next level. You can see what 16 -8 is, pros, cons and sticking points in my follow on blog post.

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