Watch: What is intermittent fasting and how does it work?
The 5:2 diet is a hugely popular way of losing weight at the moment across the world. Popularised by journalist Michael Mosley, dieters restrict their calories for two days a week, existing of a measly 400 – 600 calories.
While the results are great – from weight loss to preventing diabetes – the major downside is that for those two days, you’re literally existing on very little food.
Registered dietician Dr Sarah Schenker says that the key to the low-calorie days is choosing the right foods that will help you feel full.
“The key to success with something on your fast days is to focus on foods that will make you feel satisfied and keep you feeling fuller for longer,” advises Dr Schenker
She continues: “That would include high protein foods that is very satiating. It tells your body that you've had enough and you can stop eating.”
She also recommends “high liquid foods” such as soup, yogurts and cottage cheese and high fibre foods that make you feel fuller.
As well as choosing your food types carefully, Dr Schenker also says planning is really key when it comes to any fast.
“Don't try to fast on busy days where you've got a lot going on - it might affect your concentration,” she says. “It will definitely affect your energy levels.”
Anyone who’s done an intermittent fast will know that it can be really tough to deal with hunger pains and Dr Schenker says to be successful, you have to find a way of dealing with them.
“It is tough in the beginning - you do have to get used to those hunger pains - be prepared to feel hungry,” she explains.
“You've got to find ways of dealing with that. It could be that you just take a glass of water and allow the feeling to pass.”
You can drink any amount of black tea and coffee, which can help with hunger pains as well, but other options to stave off hunger include chewing gum, distracting yourself and going to bed early!
If the traditional 5:2 diet is too much for your, there are alternative fasting plans you can try out, which will still help improve your health and help you lose weight.
“Another popular one is the 16/8,” explains Dr Schenker. “So, for 16 hours of the day, you fast, which means you're only allowed to eat for the eight hours in between.”
While there is a hunger struggle on this diet, it’s become popular because you can have a little more freedom than most diets on non-fasting days. Dr Schenker also believes some people like the challenges it brings!
“Some people have found it very empowering,” she states. “They like the challenge. They like the thought that this is a fast day and actually makes them feel quite energized and quite on top of things and more focused.
She continues: “I think the best thing about it is that those fast days - where you're eating very, very little - takes the whole drama, and it's a relief not to have to think what can we eat today? Because the answer is you're not going to eat anything!”
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