We’ve all done it, reduced our calories so low for a few days to shed a couple of extra pounds, put our bodies into starvation mode and then proceed to gain back those lost pounds plus more when we finally, finally, let ourselves eat carbs again.
I am guilty of this. I am also guilty of ‘being good’ and reducing my chocolate intake, only letting myself have alcohol or sweets once a week, going on soup diets and trying to simply exercise the weight away.
Needless to say I have failed at all of this (having no long-term will power) and I have never found the idea of going to a class appealing, despite it being one of the most successful and sustainable methods. The weight I need to lose is that pesky ‘last ten pounds’ that won’t shift no matter what, I needed something different that I could stick to forever – and I hope I have found it in the Fast Diet.
Now I am not writing this post having been on the Fast Diet for weeks or months and am now the svelte figure I always dreamed of being. No. I am two weeks into this thing and I already love it.
I know many people on this diet (also known as the 5:2 Diet or Intermittent Fasting), but thought it impractical and bad for you to spend two days a week severely lacking in calories. Then one of my best friends revealed she had been doing this intermittent fasting since the new year began and had lost over a stone, was feeling healthier and happier than before and found it, the most important word in the dieting dictionary, EASY.
Two weeks in and I have to agree. For those who don’t know the philosophy behind the Fast Diet I highly recommend reading the book by Dr Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer or watching the Horizon film that Mosely made in 2012 called Eat, Fast and Live Longer. I have to say the science really convinced me.
It is based on the principal that humans are designed to fast – we would hunt our prey, gorge then go for weeks without eating again. Today we are so used to having three square meals a day and grazing in-between that when we skip a meal our brains panic. What? No food? We must be dying!
No, you’re not dying. You’re okay.
This diet does not advocate skipping whole days of food. What happens instead is you have a quarter of the calories you normally require (500 for women, 600 for men) split however you want on two, non-consecutive days a week. I have been experimenting with my allowance and had a sandwich for lunch and noodles for dinner the first day, a protein filled late breakfast with nothing else to eat (but lots of tea, Pepsi max and water) the second, and breakfast biscuits for lunch with a small amount of curry and rice for tea on my third.
I have found a Monday/Thursday routine is best because then I get at least two days between each ‘fast’ where I do not count any calories. Plus I don’t start work until 1pm on a Monday and it is quite easy to work through my late break (gaining some time off in lieu in the process).
The first day was pretty hellish for me, because all you can think about is food when you are restricting it. Plus I wasn’t exactly prepared food-wise, so my biggest piece of advice is to stock up on veg/salad so you can gorge yourself on something.
The second day was much better, and the third was almost easy.
The key thing I am loving about this change of eating habits is if I really want some chocolate (or other ‘bad’ thing) I can have it. It might be a day later than my craving but still, it’s not true denial if you can have it at some point. The Full Fat version. An entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s if I so desire.
I mentioned earlier that the science convinced me to pursue this diet (along with my friend’s fantastic results). By consuming low calories on intermittent days I effectively put my body into ‘repair mode’, NOT starvation. My body will begin to use the sugars in my blood to produce energy, moving on to the fat once it has burnt through all the sugars. This lowers my blood sugar levels; cutting the risk of getting diabetes. This is particularly nice to know as my Grandfather had type-two diabetes along with a plethora of other illnesses.
There are other long term benefits they believe will come from this type of diet, including cutting the risk of developing Alzheimer’s at a young age (i.e. before 80) and being healthy much longer into old age.
All pretty convincing stuff.
If anyone out there has an interest in this diet do read the book, it does not cost much and will open your eyes to a new way of living. I am looking forward to seeing my body change and my eating habits develop better patterns, with the odd tub of Ben and Jerry’s thrown in.
PS: another added bonus I only just realised this morning – my skin has started to clear up and my chin, normally my worst nightmare, is clear for the first time in years.