THE 5:2 diet splashed onto the weight loss scene a couple of years ago, but does it actually work?
The diet works by eating what you normally would five days of the week and then restricting calorie intake on two days.
Women are allowed 500 calories on fast days, and men are allowed 600.
Research has shown cutting the intake of calories by up to 40 per cent can be a successful way to lose weight and improve heart health.
But up to now, there hasn’t been lots of direct research into the 5:2 diet and its benefits.
In fact, much of the research which has been completed showing the benefits of the 5:2 Diet and intermittent fasting has involved animal studies.
But there is one human study which has been done into the popular weight loss plan – and it’s findings confirm the claims of the diet’s proponents.
Researchers at the Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Center at the University Hospital of South Manchester tracked 100 overweight women as they followed the diet.
On their normal days, the women followed a Mediterranean-type diet and then on the other days they fasted. consuming mostly lean protein.
Once the study was completed, the women found they lost much more weight than those who attempted to limit calories for an entire week.
Even better, the diet had improved their insulin resistance – this is a condition which sees cells not responding to insulin as they should.
The researchers concluded that, at least for the short term, intermittent energy restriction does a better job than daily energy restriction in terms of optimised insulin sensitivity and the reduction of body fat.
However, there is a need for long-term studies to examine the safety and effectiveness of intermittent fasting in humans.
The diet also received positive comments from Robert Brennan, fitness, lifestyle and nutrition consultant.
He said: “Many people do the 5:2 approach who do not need to lose weight, as it has many hormonal and cognitive benefits too, making it a simple way to maintain good health of body and mind as well as to achieve weight loss if required.
“It is best not to count calories at all on the five non-fasting days and whilst it is not a requirement of the diet, I have found far greater results when clients, as well as observing the fast days, eat a generally healthy diet, free from processed foods and rich in vegetables and protein with plenty of water.
“I wouldn’t call this a ‘diet’ but rather an ‘eating pattern’, as it doesn’t prescribe what foods to eat.”