5:2 Diet Update and Meal Planning Monday 20/08/2012

I mentioned last week that the geekdaddy and I were trying a new eating plan where for two days a week we “fast”. In this case “fast” does not mean “eat nothing”, rather it means “eat a single meal of 4-500 calories within the 24 hour period” (that’s for women, men get 5-600 calories). For the remaining 5 days each week we just eat normally. Although we’re doing this for health reasons rather than for losing weight, I am seeing this kind of eating plan referred to elsewhere as the 5:2 diet, so that’s what I’m calling it too. Sadly it looks like the Horizon programme on this subject is no longer on iPlayer, which would have been where I would have directed you for more background to this eating plan, and an idea of the health benefits, so for now you’ll just have to take my word for it!

The geekdaddy and I fasted on Monday and Wednesday last week. These days were chosen as they are not next to each other, and are days when the kids eat at nursery so we just cater for ourselves. Unsurprisingly Monday was the hardest of the two days – I got severe munchies later on in the day, and was also extremely tired – so tired in fact that I was in bed before 10pm, which is totally unheard of for me usually! However I think this was more due to staying up late the night before to watch the Olympic closing ceremony than the fast.

Wednesday was much easier; having done it once already I knew my hunger wasn’t going to be unbearable. In fact, over the two days I’ve learnt some interesting things. First of all, hunger isn’t constant – it comes in waves. This means that if I do get sudden hunger pangs on a fast day I know it’s my cue to drink a big glass of water and it will soon pass. Also the hunger doesn’t really get any worse – both days I was expecting to wake up the morning afterwards and dash straight into the kitchen to stuff my face with anything I could find, but actually I’ve found myself eating perfectly normally on non-fast days. I also don’t think I’m snacking as much on non-fast days, and whilst previously I felt a lack of control particularly around cakes and biscuits I think I am more able to eat in moderation now.

I appreciate it’s early days still, but I think this is looking sustainable, and if it delivers the health benefits that were claimed, it will be great.

I recorded a few audio blog entries about the diet and my experiences last week, which you may be interested to listen to:

I weighed myself yesterday morning, and I’ve lost 2 pounds – if that carries on I’ll be extremely happy, although the main purpose of this diet is not to lose weight.

So, on to the meal plan for this week. I’m not using the menus4mums plan this week, as it’s a bit of a funny week with the bank holiday weekend coming up. We’re away visiting friends over the weekend, which cuts down the number of meals I have to plan.

Monday: Nothing (fast day)

Tuesday: Chicken in creamy blue cheese and leek sauce (farmers’ market purchase)

Wednesday: Nothing (second fast day)

Thursday: Nothing planned (we’re taking the geekdaughter out of nursery for the day so both of us can go with her to see Brave, and we may go for a meal out afterwards)

Friday: Tuna with pasta and cheese sauce (a storecupboard special!)

Saturday & Sunday: No plans, as we’re away.

I’ll be linking this post up with the other Meal Planning Monday posts over on the At Home with Mrs M blog – why not head over there and see what other people are eating this week?



  1. says

    Shame the BBC didn’t think to leave the programme on permanently, it would be a great reference tool as a lot of us are excited about the idea and I think it has already given a lot of people a push in the right direction whether directly, after having watched the programme, or indirectly, after people started talking and writing about it.

    I’m compiling nice recipes before starting, to make sure we stay on it.
    Maria @ Feisty Tapas recently posted..Silent SundayMy Profile

  2. says

    Like a lot of bloggers, I’m trying this out too, works really well in principle if you review restaurants (as I do) or cook a lot for your blog.

    I’m a bit suprised your fast days say ‘nothing’ I thought the point was to make sure you ate 400-500 cals as you say earlier? And, the Horizon reporter split that into two meals during the day (breakfast and supper).

    Hope it’s working anyway!
    fiona maclean recently posted..5:2 Diet Menu Planning and Tarragon Chicken ParcelsMy Profile

    • geekmummy says

      My fast days say “nothing” as I am not planning an evening meal. On fast days I eat a lunch in the work canteen, and my husband either eats a large breakfast or sorts his own lunch out.

      I’ve just re-watched the Horizon documentary (found it on YouTube thanks to another commenter) to check my facts, and there is no mention of the reporter splitting his calories across two meals. He quite clearly states that he chooses to take his calories at breakfast, and points out that once he’s eaten his breakfast he won’t eat anything else until breakfast the following day.

  3. Lucy Gilmartin says

    I’m on my first day…… And to be honest it’s been great!!! For dinner I’m having steamed cod in a parcel of foil with spring onion,chilli,carrot,celery,spinach and coriander with a 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil and soy sauce I’m sure this will taste great and cure the few hunger prangs that I have had and I agree the water works great!!!! Good luck everyone xxxx

  4. Cheryl Boston says

    Good luck GM! I’m doing the 5:2 to lose weight and I’m not doing two meals. I have oatmeal or a couple of eggs for breakfast (200 cals or so) then gather up the remaining food for the day and put it in a lunch box. I nibble as I go but I save the soup for my dinner. Having an apple and a glass of water or a hot fruit tea smashes those hunger pangs! After our first week I have weighed myself and have lost 6 pounds. I am eating very well on the 5 days as I am a strictly amateur middle distance runner and I think the training has caused a greater weight loss than I expected. We fast Monday and Friday. xx

    • Lucy says

      my boyfriend and I are doing this as well – just coming to the end of our second fast. I’ve found it easier to stick to the same meal plan for both of the fast days – although I will vary it in future. Alice you might find this helpful:

      meal 1 – porridge made with water and small amount of milk, with some red berries stirred in for sweetness. by boyfriend has this first thing, but I wait for as long as possible to have this so it ends up being more of a lunch. I’ve found that when I get up my sugar levels are really stable, and I can easily get to lunchtime without eating – this makes the afternoon much easier to get through. I’m between jobs at the moment so this makes it easier, I think it would be harder if I was going to work.

      meal 2 – M&S rainbow stir fry – we have a whole one of these each (only 60 calories – loads of veg more filling), with about a quarter of the sachet of stir fry sauce, around 50g of brown rice, and half of one of the Sainsburys packets of small prawns each (they are only 66 calories for half a packet). boyfriend has a bit more of the rice than me as he is allowed 600 calories. top tip – M&S stir fry veg is only 60 calories for whole packet, whereas Sainsburys equivalent is 170 calories – no idea why such a big difference. also, don’t use oil to fry, just a bit of water.

      this meal is huge – it is very rewarding as the quantity seems so big, but in total is only 333 calories, breakfast only 147 calories, leaving 20 calories to allow for 2 cups of tea with a small amount of milk in them.

      we’re joking that this is my new fad and my boyfriend is going along with it, but we’re both finding it quite easy, psychologically it makes a big difference knowing you can eat normally the other 5 days. my plan is to do this until I get to target weight, and then do it maybe one day a week to maintain my weight.

  5. Alice Ghiloni says

    Just starting the 5:2 Eating Plan and I’m struggling with simply having a “Fasting” day menu plan. I just need a breakfast, lunch and/or dinner plan that I can follow within the 500 calories limit. Happy to drink black coffee, herbal teas and water to satisfy hunger pangs or cravings to snack. No problem. Presume carrot, celery and cucumber sticks are calorie free, so could munch on those if the mid-afternoon munchies kick-in ? Help gratefully received. Thanks.

    • Nicky says

      Hi Lucy, I,m afraid you should really count all the veggies, although celery and cucumber are very low cal. I am on week three, and find the best way to plan is to get a very accurate scales and weigh everything. I found a great little scales in Tesco hardware. Then check the calories per 100 grams of everything you eat online. Keep a record to save checking next time. I found that a good breakfast including protein keeps me going, eg a medium poached egg (90 cals) on dry Hovis Nimble toast (48 cals) and black coffee; packet Miso soup (28 cals) for lunch, then steamed veg (asparagus, shredded cabbage, thinly sliced carrot) with jumbo prawns (100 grams =100 calories) and a very small (1/2 American cup, ) portion of cooked rice (150 cals) dressed with soy sauce. Other days I have had a coffee with 10 mls low fat milk for breakfast, an egg mayonnaise salad for lunch, with only a teaspoon low fat mayo, then grilled chicken breast and steamed veg and small boiled potato for supper. The important thing is to weigh everything, which is a pain, but is the only way to keep under 500 cals. Comfort yourself by remembering you can eat what you like tomorrow. Good luck

  6. Gill G says

    Its great to find others who have started this. I’m into my third week and although I don’t seem to have lost a lot of weight, couple of pounds, I’m more interested in the health benefits. I have been keeping my Fasting Day calories for one evening meal which isn’t too bad hunger-wise but I have noticed that I’m getting headaches on the fasting day and sometimes on the non-fasting days too. I don’t normally get headaches so its definitely linked to the change in eating – I’m drinking lots of fluids, water, herbal teas etc. I wondered if anyone else was experiencing side-effects and if so what they did to relieve them? Thanks

    • Tracey W says

      Yes Gill G I have a lot of headaches every single day I do the 2 days fasting. As I have diabetes in my family I am always careful to spread my 500 cals over 3 meals a day and I weigh everything. I only each protein & veges & fruit & yoghurt all day so no sugar highs or lows I thought but still the headaches are making me think I should give up. I hate them and I can’t function. I usually pop a few ibroprofen but that doesn’t even really help.

  7. Nicky says

    There are great 250 calorie recipes on the Daily telegraph web site- go to the website and search for ‘5:2 fast’. You will also find a text summary by Prof Mosely on the programme

  8. Andrew says

    My wife and I have followed the 5:2 diet for the last three weeks and it really works! I’m 59, and although not overweight I hate the middle-age spread and ‘love handles’ that afflict most men of a certain age. Well in following the diet I’m amazed that I’ve lost seven pounds without any trouble, from 11 st 3 lbs to 10 st 10 lbs. On normal days we eat anything we like, including roast dinners, chips, biscuits and chocolate, though always in moderation. On ‘skinny’ days as we call them it’s a simple breakfast (e.g. bran flakes and orange juice), a very light lunch (soft-boiled egg or half a banana and a small orange) with an evening meal consisting of either a chicken breast or some smoked salmon and lots of salad. As long as you get no more than 600 calories during the day it doesn’t matter how often you eat. By breaking it into three meals we seldom get any hunger pangs and the ease with which the pounds are lost encourages us to stick with the diet. We strongly recommend it!

  9. Clint says

    Yep, its here alright. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pfna7nV7WaM

    I’ve been doing this for 3 weeks. Lost 6.5 lbs in this period max to min but my weight fluctuates up to 4 lbs a day which is twice as much as before. Started off by using the fast days as an excuse for complete indulgent pig-outs on the eating days but realised this was at least as counterproductive as doing nothing (obviously!). I am now eating normally on food days.

    I’m not up for hunger pangs on an indefinite basis so I researched bulky food with minimal calories and now make up a salad with the core ingredient of a whole packet of celery (surprise!) (50 cals) and then adding all sorts of varied fruit and veg, sun dried tomatoes, olive oil etc on the basis that most round fruit and veg of about the size of a tennis ball is about 100 cals or less. Only drinking black coffee or water and my huge bowl of salad contains about 350 cals. Total result – no hunger pangs at all, just a little tiredness at the end of the day.

    I find that I am on quite a noticeable high on the day after fasting and that mentally I am sharper in general but much sharper on the day after but perhaps a little dumber on the evening of the fast day!

    Now I’ve solved the hunger thing, I would continue this just because of the mental alertness thing. I’m concerned about stopping the weight loss as I was BMI 27 at the start and I want to stop at BMI 24 because the squared rule seems skewered for tall people as we are thicker front to back as well as taller and wider I think! I think we may all have to eat huge amounts to make up for the losses on fast days eventually!

    I intend to get LDL cholesterol and BP checked after about 6 weeks as I know they were slightly raised going in.

    Need to be careful on the day after the fast as too rich a diet can cause tummy upsets.

    I am not religious in any way but I understand that the prophet Muhammed fasted on tuesdays and thursdays so this has been going on for a long time. I’m thinking it is fairly new to us because nobody can make any money out of people not eating and therefore it is not promoted. It is the opposite to consumerism!

    I note for guys on 2500 cals a day, if you eat normally on the five days and 600 cals on the fast days your weekly consumption drops from 17500 Kcal to 13700 Kcal so your calorie reduction is 21%. You are getting by on aout 1/5th less calories than you were.

    Once we reach our target weights, if we need 2500 Kcal a day we will need to eat roughly 28% more or 3200 Kcal a day on food days to maintain that equilibrium. These are the numbers for men and I’m not sure if the underlying agenda here doesn’t involve reducing ones ambient Kcal intake?

    Good luck everyone, will be interesting to see the numbers on LDL and BP coming in :-)

  10. says

    Into my 4th week, down 8 pounds and no longer classed as overweight(NHS BMI Calculator).
    Working on Breakfast(Fruit), no lunch, banana if I need a afternoon engery kick and then evening meal. Got some good recipes from the Harry Bikes Diet programme(BBC Food website), and also from a Daily Telegraph piece on Michael Mosley
    Not sure on how long to keep this going after my target 5 weeks?
    Anyone got any medical advice from their GP?

  11. Steve says

    The wife and I are just starting this, as we’ve just returned from our hols. Sounds good to me, and whilst I have no time for faddy diets that are basically ways for others to cash in, this seems different. I tend to trust proven medics like Mosely, and BBC Horizon too for that matter – neither, as far as I can see, are out to make money from publicising this.
    The logic behind it seems good, and it does seem to be an easy way to drop your calorific intake by 20% or so.
    Planning to fast Mondays and Thursdays, so as not to get in the way of weekend entertainment etc.
    I’ll be interested to see the results :-)

  12. Katy says

    I have started this plan this week, however I am not sure how many cals I should have on my non fasting days, I know it says “eat normal” but surely there must be a guide?

  13. Jeff says

    Was pretty impressed with Mosely’s Horizon programme and have decided to now embark on this new eating regime.
    Just a couple of questions if someone can help me out on this: Is a fast day exactly 24 hours? Can a ‘day’ begin, for example, at 8pm and end the same time the following day? I was thinking that this way I might be able to avoid going to bed hungry. Or should a day be simply begin when I awake on a fasting day and end the same time on the day following?

  14. John says

    My wife And I started this diet 3 weeks ago;she gave up after 1 day complaining of headaches and dizziness but I’m still going strong.
    I think she should have given it a bit longer,but who am I to argue.
    I’m 68 years years old, and overweight ,and have so far lost around 6lbs all though this fluctuates as someone else mentioned.
    I feel healthier and find eating a light lunch(John West Tuna salad pots) and a light evening meal seem to work for me.
    Thanks to those who gave the Youtube link,I’m just off now for another drink of water

  15. says

    ‘Re: ‘eat normally’
    Remember this is not a diet as such, the principle(if still to be scientifically proved) is that when faced with Starvation, your brain switches into survival mode, repairing cells rather than replacing them. The evidence suggest that over time this will reduce brain disease, cancer etc., improve muscle power and hence this is a lifestyle change that you commit to long term.
    By entering starvation mode on two non-consecutive days, your body burns stored energy, hence you loose weight, and you should find a reduced appetite on the non-starvation days. Fortunately I’m not now overweight, but I’m doing this for health reasons. What I have found is that my appetite is lower, and I actually enjoy food more.
    Hope that helps.
    Chris recently posted..Social Fitness and DiabetesMy Profile

  16. Marta Young says

    @Katy – eat normally for women is about 2000 calories per day, but the general rule for this eating plan is to eat what you want ‘within reason’ on your non-fasting days. Eat STOP Eat even suggests that you can fast for 18 – 24 hours, rather than a full waking day (eg. dinner Tuesday until breakfast Thursday) and gain the same benefits. I have been fasting dinner to dinner for 3 weeks, lost 5 pounds, and feel so much better on my non fasting days

  17. Janzer says

    Hi all

    Thank you for posting such great insights. I started my first fasting day today and found it easier to wait to eat my 500 kcals until dinner. Main reason is I cook for hubby and kids around 6 and it is easier to cook all at the same time. I’ll admit though that it is hard not to keep tasting as I cook!

    Today I made pasta bolognaise which I made from scratch. I used half the pasta I normally do and added a small side salad instead.

    My next fasting day is Thursday which is normally a ‘glass of wine in the evening’ day. It’s something I’ve wanted to stop doing so I think Thursday is going to be the best day for me.

    Can anyone tell me if you are allowed wine while on this plan?

    Thanks, J

  18. Tracey W says

    I really am considering giving this up after only two short weeks because of the horrid headaches I get on fast days. I spread my 500 cals over 3 meals so my blood sugar remains stable, I focus on protein, veg, fruit & sometimes a little greek yoghurt. Still by evening my head is splitting and I don’t know why. Any ideas people?

    • says

      One of my work colleagues gave it up within a week because she was getting bad headaches on fast days. I wonder if it’s a withdrawal symptom, but if you’re in any doubt I would recommend you talk to your doctor – it’s possible this diet may not suit everyone.

    • Drew says

      Tracey, I have some experience with juice fasting (up to 18 days+) so am interested in this 5:2 regime. I find that I get headaches on the first day or so and I am not a headache person normally. The reading I have done indicates it is a detox headache. When you allow cells to be accessed – which is what is happening when you fast as what is stored is moved out to fuel the body – then the stored toxins will also start circulating. Sugar withdrawal will also give you a headache. I suspect that if your diet is and has been high in sugars and processed foods then the headaches could continue every fast day for a while as the body clears out the toxins. It may be worth doing a detox type diet first and come back to this one. Just my thoughts. Cheers Drew

  19. cqs says

    splitting headaches may also come from tension, dehydration, low salt levels (at least for me), caffeine withdrawal, and other sources. experiment.

  20. Natasha says

    I started this diet 3 weeks ago. Don’t want to go on the scale as I am scared it will show me what I don’t want to see. I start the fast from 8 pm Sunday evening to 8 pm Monday evening.. Water intake has def increased but happy to have it. I feel a lot healthier and in control of my eating now than before and plan and continuing this diet for a while ….I got tired of all the fast ways of losing weight and wanted something that actually works slow but sure and that would stay off ..I get really bloated on the days I am supposed to eat and then look Forward to my fasting days.

    Will keep u posted


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