Most of my life I’ve been lucky enough to have a metabolism that doesn’t put on excess weight easily. So I was very unhappy when age and hormonal changes led to a gain of 10 pounds over the course of a year. I experimented with the South Beach Diet, as well as the Mediterranean Diet. Both of these diets offered recipes and ways of eating that I liked, but the weight did not come off. Then I learned about the 5:2 Fast Diet and thought it might be for me.
The concept of intermittent fasting hit the United Kingdom by storm with the airing of a BBC television program, “Eat, Fast and Live Longer.” The presenter of that show, Dr. Michael Mosely, developed the Fast Diet, and has since published several books on the subject.
In following the basic plan of the Fast Diet, I keep my calorie intake between 500 and 600 calories for two days per week. The fast days do not need to be consecutive, and I usually fast on Tuesdays and Thursdays. My typical meal plan for these days is:
- Early morning: Herb tea
- Mid-morning: Plain oatmeal with ½ cup almond milk (split between oatmeal and whitening my coffee). Sometimes I’ll add a shake of cinnamon or ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract for flavor.
- Mid-afternoon: Cup low-fat chicken stock, with an egg and leafy greens cooked right in it. I go to town with spices for flavor.
- Dinner: Small portion of lean meat prepared without oil or sauce, and green vegetables. Salt, pepper, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, can all be used freely for flavor.
- Snacks: Black, green, or herb tea as desired.
When I was actively losing, I would double that calorie intake on other weekdays, and aim for 1200 to 1500 calories. This meant adding in some olive oil, a few almonds for a snack, and some bread or a baked potato. Weekends were even more relaxed, and could include wine with dinner, pasta, and other treats.
I have always enjoyed an active, outdoor life. I walk my dog for at least half an hour every day. I also own a horse, and ride at least three times each week. A horse comes with daily barn chores such as shoveling manure and lugging 50 pound bags of feed. In addition, I subscribe to the online Barre3 exercise program, and do one of their 10-minute workouts on a daily basis.
Results and Maintenance
I don’t have weight scales at home, so I use monthly measurements to track my progress. After two months on the 5:2 Fast Diet, my waist measurement had decreased by an inch. A 10-pound weight loss was confirmed by my doctor’s scales.
I have been able to maintain this loss for over five months, despite falling off the wagon during a trip to Paris, and again through the holiday season. Now that I have reached my goal, my maintenance strategy is to return to the 5:2 Fast Diet when necessary to keep from regaining the weight. I still track my measurements on a monthly basis, and am in the happy position of making sure I don’t lose too much weight.
While you might think the fasting is difficult, I have not found it so. Hunger pangs happen, but go away with a cup of herb tea and keeping active. There are other benefits of the Fast Diet in addition to weight loss. I appreciate the extra time during my fast days that I might otherwise spend foraging in the kitchen. The practice has also made me more mindful of the flavors and nutritional value of fresh, healthy foods.