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The Two-Day Diet: How to Lose Weight & Improve Your Health With Mini-Fasting

Are you willing to eat less just two days a week so you can eat whatever you want the other five?

Are you looking for a fast and efficient way to lose weight without having to stress every single day about calories and carbs?


Do you want a new system for managing your meals that doesn’t take a lot of time but keeps you healthy and your weight under control?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, the 5:2 “diet” could make a lot of sense for you.

Actually, it’s not a diet so much as a new approach: not to what you eat, or even how much you eat, but how often you eat.

The idea couldn’t be simpler. Two days a week, you eat very few calories – 500 for women, 600 for men. Ideally, you fast like this two days in a row (though I’ve had friends do it on say, a Monday and a Thursday, and they’ve still gotten great results). On the other five days, you eat as you normally would. Over time, you’ll lose weight, but possibly increase other health benefits as well.

The 5:2 approach has been championed by a British physician named Michael Mosley, whose book The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Health, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting, has been a New York Times bestseller. It follows on research conducted by the National Institute of Aging, which found that when animals go without food, their bodies use up the stored glucose it uses for fuel, then start burning fat. I say “animals” because this phenomenon was first documented in laboratory animals, especially mice. But researchers at the University of Manchester in England found that when overweight women followed a 5:2 approach, noted NPR, they lost more weight and body fat compared to women who limited calories seven days per week.

Dietitians are intrigued because the system works so well for weight loss. But scientists who study immunity and the health of the brain are interested, too. It turns out, that, during a fast, fat can convert to ketones, compounds that make neurons more resistant to injury and disease, boosting immunity. Studies have also suggested mini-fasting may even help reduce heart disease risk.

Regardless of these other benefits, it does seem like the 5:2 approach helps people lose weight. Apart from just burning calories during the two fast days, the result of the fast seems to diminish appetite on the other five. Though I haven’t tried this diet myself yet, one of my best friends easily lost 30 pounds over several months; his step son and his wife have also each lost significant amounts of weight doing the 5:2.

Note: you might find it hard to sleep at night on an empty stomach, though friends who have tried the diet say that they got over this feeling pretty quickly. Remember, when you feel hungry, that means your body is making those ketones that are good for you!

Want to give it a try?

  • Talk with your doctor, especially if you suffer from obesity or diabetes. If you already have low blood pressure or a blood sugar imbalance, this diet might not be for you.
  • Buddy up. Do it with a friend or family member. Like anything that involves behavior change, it’s easier if you do it with a buddy.
  • Eat protein. On the fast days, choose high-protein high-fiber foods, rather than refined carbs and sugar so you don’t spike your blood sugar levels and get hungry late in the day.
  • Avoid kitchens and restaurants. On fast days, stay away from restaurants, grocery stores and your kitchen! Make it easier to avoid what you’ll want to eat the first days you’re getting started on this.
  • Try it every week for a month. If you can stick with it for a month, your chances will improve that it will become a habit that will benefit you throughout your life.
  • Keep a journal. When you feel hungry, write it down rather than take a snack. Take stock of how you feel day to day, as well as your weight.

The 5:2 sounds like a sensible way to enjoy food but stay health. Let us know if you try it!

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