Ten Weeks of 5:2 Fasting Diet

When I’m anxious or stressed my habitual response is to turn to destructive behaviors in an attempt to self-soothe. For years this meant binging on alcohol but after giving up on that particular madness my attention turned to food. Now instead of hitting a bar when life gets rocky I raid the fridge. Neither of these solutions would be described as ideal, but I prefer being an occasional fatty than a habitual drunk. As soon as the stressful period ends I do return to healthier eating patterns, but it is my goal to eliminate this behavior completely. I wouldn’t mind so much if comfort eating actually did help me during difficult times, but it just makes me feel worse.

Today's healthy food :)

Readers of the blog will have heard about my most recent stressful period. My regular visits to the fridge has seen me put on 5kg (about 11 pounds) in just over a month – I’ve hit 80kg. My belly is once again flabby and my energy levels are well below what they should be. I’ve also been struggling to shake off a cold, and I’m sure my poor diet has been the main reason for this. I’ve eaten so much junk food over the last few weeks that I feel bad just thinking about it. Now that things are returning to normal in my life the priority is to get back in good physical shape. I’ve had success in the past with mindful eating, but my mindfulness goes out the window when I’m stressed. I want to try something different this time.

Fasting for Health

I first became interested in fasting back in the 1980s after reading Dan Milman’s book ‘The Peaceful Warrior’. Back then I was skinny and I saw fasting as more of a spiritual practice. I did try it a few times but never lasted longer than a day. During the last years of my drinking I’d regularly go days without food, but I wouldn’t call that fasting and it wasn’t something that was done out of choice. I’ve always believed that fasting is good for mental and physical health, but I’ve kept away from it because it seems like a drastic solution except as part of a spiritual retreat.

My interest in fasting has been rekindled after watching a Horizon documentary from the BBC called ‘Eat, fast, and live longer’. It seems that science is confirming what spiritual seekers have known for centuries – fasting is good for you. There is now good evidence that intermittent fasting helps people live longer. It also greatly reduces their risk of developing things like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and prostate cancer. I’m not obsessed with trying to stay alive for as long as possible, but I am interested in anything that can help me stay healthier for longer. Fasting does seem to offer a means to increase the number of years that we will be healthy and active.

Ten Weeks of 5:2 Fasting Diet

They looked at a number of different fasting options in the Horizon Documentary, but the one that interests me most is the 5:2 fasting diet. This involves fasting for two days of the week and then eating more or less what you like for the other five days. With this diet we still get to eat on the fasting days, but we limit ourselves to 600 calories for men or 500 calories for women. It doesn’t seem like that tough a regime to me so I’m fairly confident that it could work for me.

I’m going to give the 5:2 fasting diet a try over the next 10 weeks. If it proves to be successful I will try to maintain it indefinitely. Today is my first fasting day and so far so good. It is now noon and I’m going to eat my only meal of the day soon – I’ll also allow myself an apple later on. I will add updates here on the blog so people can follow my progress.

My Other Posts on 5:2 Intermittent Fasting

Second Week of 5:2 Fasting Diet
Changes to My 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Plan
Week Three of the 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Diet
Intermittent Fasting as a Spiritual Exercise
5:2 Fasting Diet Update Week 6

Update:I recently came across Eat, Fast, Slim: The Life-Changing Fasting Diet for Amazing Weight Loss and Optimum Health. This book is packed with useful information about all the different types of fast – it would have been a great help to me if I’d read this before taking on this challenge.

Update September 2013
I am repeating the 10 weeks of 5:2 intermittent fasting – this time I’m going all the way to the end.

Latest posts by Paul Garrigan (see all)

33 thoughts on “Ten Weeks of 5:2 Fasting Diet

  1. Used to fast all the time when hooked on nicotine and booze 😉 However I’ve been clean from smoking since Feb and currently I’m 3 weeks no alcohol (20 years, everyday habit). Also been exercising but twisted my knee so now laid up. To concur, food appears to be the new enemy.

    Good luck and look forward to hearing how you get on

  2. Please update your results. I am also trying the 5-2 diet. Today will be my first day. I plan to break it down into two 300 calorie meals. How was your first week?

  3. Hi
    I am also starting out on this diet, mainly for health benefits and weight loss.
    I have joined a group on FB called:
    5:2 intermittent fasting diet
    There are about 100 of us now 🙂

  4. Hi,I am also starting the 5:2 diet,unsure of when to start my fast,today I’ve started after breakfast,had 400 cal dinner and not going to eat till after 10am Tom,is this correct?
    Also,can’t find the FB page???

  5. Hi, my husband & I are just about to try this diet & wondered if anyone had any food ideas for eating on the ‘fast’ days to make up to the required 600 calories

    1. Hi Nadine,

      I’ve been doing the diet for three weeks (just finished the second fast of this week in fact, I can eat anything guilt-free until Monday!) and from my experience the trick is basically about eating things with nutrients but not many calories. Check out the calorie content of fruits, vegetables and protein-y food like meat and eggs, it’s amazingly low (150 calories for a large chicken breast, 225 or so for an entire medium melon etc.). By contrast sugar, fats and carbs are surprisingly high (I was shocked to find a slice of bread is often over 100 calories!).

      I tend to have one meal which is fairly normal but without any carb (no rice/pasta/potatoes) and a reasonable portion and some fruit like half a melon on the fast days, but other combinations work as well; I had a big bowl of tomato sauce with roasted vegetables instead of pasta a few days back, it’s incredible how much veg you can eat in 300 calories. Just be careful to include the oil you cook with in the calculations, a tablespoon has almost 100cal in it.

      Hope that helps,

  6. Thank you Quincel some useful tips. We are both starting tomorrow! Mondays & Wednesdays.

    Thank you too Paul for responding to my email

  7. Hello all,

    Would love to hear of your goals and experiences. I’ve just started my 3rd week of 5:2, one variation being that I’m havíng fewer calries thatn the 600 “permitted”, typically 200 – 400.
    Also, I’m fasting on consectutive days, but is anyone else doing non-consectutive? Would be interesting to compare goals and results.

    1. Hi Phil, I’m doing non-consecutive days at the moment so I’ll be interested to hear how you get on. I plan to do this for at least 10 weeks, and if I might consider changing to consecutive days after five weeks – I’ll see how I get on.

  8. Hi Paul, my wife and i have yo yo dieted for years, my wife now has thyroid problems and is piling on the pounds and we are thinking or trying 5:2. Read your blog, but is it easy. Normally any diet is easy for me, but wife struggles.


    1. Hi Barry, I’m finding it easy so far, but fasting for two days a week long term might be a different story. I think that when I get my weight down to where I want it I’ll move to one fasting day per week – that’s sustainable.

  9. Hi all, I started the 5-2 on the 7th sept. I am finding it really easy and I feel amazing. So far I have had 3 fasting days and have lost 4lb. But I am fasting from one evening meal to the next with only fluids during the fasting hours. I think it would be too hard for me to control my hunger if I introduced 500 cals during my fast.

  10. Hi All, my wife and I have started, just calorie counting for one week, as we are due to go on hols this weekend. just by cutting down to around 1200 cals a day my wife Sue has lost 1 stone in just one week and I just cut down but do not count cals and i have lost 7lbs. We will start to fast after hols, mainly to improve health.

  11. Hiya evr1, I started the 5:2 last Monday and I’ve just had my 3rd fast day. I’ve weighed myself this morning and I’ve lost 5lbs in a WEEK!!! I honestly cannot believe it, I’ve tried all kinds of diets before and I just end up depressed thinking that I can never eat a chicken vindaloo again, but with this I went out to the local Indian on Friday night had my fave meal with a couple of cheeky drinks and I still got that result this morning…will be really intresting to see how everybody else gets on, will be following with great intrest xx

  12. Hi, I started the 5:2 lifestyle change about 4 weeks ago. I fast on Tuesdays and Thursdays. My wife is also on the the program. We have both lost weight, although I am finding that I am at my lightest on saturday mornings. I gradually seem to be putting on weight as I approach the new fasting week but the trend is definately towards losing weight gradually. We have both shed equal amounts of weight, apprx 1 stone, since starting 4 weeks ago and I have also found that my own management of food intake on the no fasting days has improved.

    1. Hi Glenn, I’ve noticed that I’m heaviest on Saturday mornings for some reason – the day after my second fast of the week. It must be nice to be doing this fast with your wife. My Mrs is a little woman with a big appetite so I doubt she would survive a fast.

  13. Hi, my weight is still fluctuating all over the place but I put this down to playing catch up on the days after the fasting days. The trend tough, is definately down. The reason I say this is because on during the week my weight rises from the lows of Saturday mornings but that rise is definately coming down. For instance, 2 weeks ago, on Wednesday, I was 17st 8 but this week I was 17 5. Last Saturday, my weight was 17st 2 and my weighing scales are accurate.

    I am hoping that this Satuurday morning I will have reached my first milestone of 17 st though know that if I don’t manage it this week then I will there or there abouts next week.

    My hunger management has improved and if I eat at lunchtime on NON FASTING days, I find that I am disinterested in eating again that day.

    All pretty good and positive. I will soon be needing to purchase new trousers as I am running out of room to punch holes.

    1. Hi Glenn, it is good to hear that overall your weight is moving in the right direction. I sort full of feel stuck at 77kg. It is the afternoon of my 14th fast day, and this is the hungriest I’ve felt so far.

    1. Hi Jan, there seems to be many couples who are choosing this diet. It is probably a real help to share this experience with somebody else – I suppose there might also be a bit of healthy competition?

  14. Hi Paul, my husband and I are starting for real with week. Last week, I tried doing two consequtive days, but we decided we would do Mondays and Wednesdays. I hope that’s ok.

    So far, I’ve had two soft-boiled eggs and 2 strips of bacon at 7 a.m. Lunch was a dozen large strawberries. For dinner, I’m having water and a handful of pistaschios.

    I have clothes in my closet that still had the tags on them waiting for me to get to my target weight again. I brought 2 pints of water with me while in class during the day.

    I know this will work for me. Here’s a funny one, I’m in the culinary arts program and am surrounded by food daily. I’m so NOT interested in it. I thought it would be a problem, but I guess if you’re around it all of the time, you lose interest.

    Thank God!

    1. Hi Linda, it sounds like you are enjoying this diet so far, and I think that’s the most important thing. I hope you reach your target weight and maintain it. I’ve heard from a number of people who’ve had real succes with this fast so fingers crossed for you.

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