While watching an episode of Rachael Ray awhile ago, I learned about a new diet trend that’s currently popular in the UK. It’s called the Fast Diet, which has become popular largely due to a book written by Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer.
Several different types of fasting diets have emerged over the years, but this diet, developed by Dr. Mosley (also called the 5:2 diet), involves drastically reducing caloric intake for two days a week and eating “normally” the rest of the week. During the two days of fasting, which can be any two days of the week and don’t need to be in succession, calories are limited to 500 for women and 600 for men. Dr. Mosley suggests that calories consumed on these days should come from fresh vegetables (especially dark green vegetables) and fruit, as well as protein such as lean meat and eggs.
At this point, you may be asking yourself, “what does eating normally mean”? There is no definite answer to this question, because according to Dr. Mosley, it depends on the individual. Obviously, if someone’s idea of “normal” is a diet filled with cheeseburgers and fried chicken, modifications will need to be made (which would probably be a good idea no matter what the diet!), but for a relatively active person who eats reasonably, they may be able to eat as they usually do.
According to Dr. Mosley, this method in a sense “tricks” our bodies so we lose weight faster, not to mention weight loss is primarily about deficit in calories, and The Fast Diet does that with two days of reduced calories. And, according to Dr. Mosley and some scientific and medical research, intermittent fasting can reduce glycemic index and therefore lower the risk of diabetes, and may also reduce the risk of heart disease and improve memory. Not to mention, some research claims that intermittent fasting may improve overall mood and energy level.
( Check out this article for more information on the science and research of intermittent fasting: The Science Behind the Fast Diet)
Critics of this diet say that reducing caloric intake this drastically is unhealthy and can deprive the body of essential nutrients, and that extreme fasting can cause the body to use stored muscle for nutrients instead of burning fat. According to some health and nutrition experts, the Fast Diet is not sustainable over the long term; restricting one’s caloric intake to 500-600 calories, even if it’s only two days a week, is not a diet people could follow for an extended period of time. Another important point about the Fast Diet is that there has been little to no research on the long term effects of intermittent fasting, so it is unclear if the Fast Diet may have negative health effects long term.
The Fast Diet sounded appealing to me for several reasons. I liked the idea of eating normally for a few days and really cutting back a few days; this would still give me the freedom to eat what I like occasionally and not feel bad about it because I have a specific plan in place. I’m not going to lie…I like to eat good food. I like to try new recipes and occasionally dine out at restaurants. I eat pretty responsibly, but I’m not looking to cut out a majority of the things I love to eat. I’m definitely a firm believer of all things in moderation, but when it comes to losing weight, it takes more than that.
Secondly, the concept of “tricking your body” made sense to me. Long before I had my daughter I worked out with a trainer and had the most successful weight loss and fitness effort I’ve had to date (unfortunately pregnancy changed all that), and my trainer was a big proponent of “tricking my body” by changing up routines and eating plans. It was successful before, so why not again?
I’m not a big fan of diets. To me, the word “diet” implies a short term process to reach a goal, but truthfully, reaching a goal-whether that’s weight loss or improved health-requires a long term, or even better, a lifetime commitment. But for me, simply committing to eating better is not enough; I work best when I make a plan and follow it, and I needed a plan to eat better and hopefully lose a little weight in the process. So I decided to give the Fast Diet a try.
I have been following the Fast Diet plan for about four weeks now. I decided to split up my 500 calorie days to Monday and Wednesday. Dr. Mosley advocates eating a large meal (large means about 250 calories) twice a day, but I prefer eating smaller portions throughout the day, and I typically save a large portion of my calories for the evening because that’s when I tend to be most hungry. I only have 500 calories to spare, so I’m eating a lot of vegetables and fruit since they’re lower in calories, and for protein I eat tuna, boneless skinless chicken breast, or beans and legumes. For my “eating normally” days, I try to stick to 1300-1500 calories, but I am a little more flexible on the weekends.
The 500 calorie days were hard at first, but now that I’ve gotten into the swing of things it really isn’t too bad, and since I split up my days I always know I have higher calorie days the very next day, so that’s motivation to stick to the low calories. Since I’m reducing my calories so much on my low calorie days, 1300-1500 calories feels like a ton of calories so it’s easy to stick to. And I typically give myself a little more freedom on the weekends so I have the flexibility to splurge a little when I want.
The Fast eating plan has been successful for me so far; I’m heating healthier overall and incorporating more fruits and vegetables. Since I need to watch my calories so carefully, I’m very aware of nutritional value in the foods I eat so I’m making better decisions overall. I feel good and I’ve lost 5 pounds in four weeks. It’s not a lot, but I’m not looking to lose weight fast-that type of weight loss tends to be unsuccessful. I’m not sure if it will be sustainable for the long term as critics suggest, but at this point I feel as though this is something I can maintain, and if my eating habits are improving, that is definitely going to help me maintain weight loss in the long run.
Note: According to Dr. Mosley, people with diabetes, individuals under 18 years of age, those with eating disorders and women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not follow this plan. Seek advice from a physician before beginning any diet plan.
[amazon_enhanced asin=”1476734941″ container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /]