A day in the life of an intermittent faster…

OK, I’ve completely been taken in by the hype and jumped on the 5:2 diet bandwagon. After seeing holiday photos in the dreaded bikini I was shocked into actually taking some action to getting back to a previous smaller self. An obsession with food and almost two years of eating the same size portion as my 6’1″ boyfriend (not necessary for a 5’1″ female) has taken its toll and squidge has crept on to my sides. So…. I bought a book, joined a facebook group, asked for advice from Twitter (which there was lots – thank you) and started on my journey to teach my body and mind that I will not die if I don’t eat every five minutes.

There’s a lot of science behind the diet, which I won’t bore you with here but you can read more about it if it helps the motivation on the fast diet website. The benefits for me was that I could still justify treats and meals out now and then if I could focus on eating less than 500 calories on two days of week. Seemed much more feasible than me attempting to reduce all my calories EVERY DAY!!! Plus the thought of normal food the next day should get me through the fast days.

So what can I tell you about the experience should you be considering it… Well firstly, from reading various articles on whether they two days should be consecutive or non-consecutive I have basically come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter. As long as you can fit the two days in somewhere it seems to be OK. I’ve tried out both and although the second day of the consecutive option was tough, the thought of then not thinking about it for the rest of the week powered me through and I would say this was the best choice if it’s feasible around other commitments. I’ve also managed a gym session in the morning and not collapsed halfway through the day.

Planning seems to be essential. You can definitely make a more filling and flavoursome meal for your calorie count than if you get a ready made dinner. If you run out of time for one day though, Boots meal deals are super handy. They have several salad options under 200 calories in the Shapers section and you can choose healthy snacks and drinks to fit in your day.

The spread of calories over the day seems to vary depending on how people can cope without food. I lose concentration very quickly (and can sometimes get a *little* bit ratty) if I don’t eat so I’ve worked out my best option is to have lots of small meals and snacks throughout the day. I don’t necessarily feel that full at any point but at least I never going into starvation mode. You start to learn approx calories for things and I am constantly jotting up my calories throughout the day to see how much I can have for dinner. It’s doable. A typical fasting day for me has been along the lines of the following:

1/2 bottle of Lucozade Sport Lite during my gym session (yep I’ve even started exercising on fast days) – 25 cals. This was a brainwave as the feeling that I have had some sugar really kicked started my day. It’s probably not the most healthy way of doing it but works for me.

1/2 grapefruit – approx 20 cals for breakfast, with black coffee, one sugar – 16 cals for the sugar. I’ve thought about changing to sweetener but  I only have one coffee in the morning so have allowed myself this treat

Lunch consists of a prawn stirfry, made with a teensy bit of oil, light soy sauce (which is low in calories) and red chilli flakes (you need the flavour – approx 150 cals if you are careful about portion size and amount of soy.

Afternoon power snack of miso soup – 30 cals. AMAZING find. I recommend everyone on 5:2 diet heads to a Chinese supermarket
now and stocks up as it really gets you through an afternoon.

Leaving me almost 260 cals for dinner 🙂 Not much I know but you can have things like chicken and salad with fat free salad dressing (another recommended investment) or I’ve also tried having boiled egg with Hovis thins. There’s several recipes on Good Food and the 5:2 diet book under 200 cals which you could use and poss sneak in another tiny snack such as a handfuls of strawberries.

Keep an eye on your drinks to ensure you don’t accidentally rack up calories that eat into your food allowance. I’ve been
living off calorie free green tea on fast days to power me through and guzzling water like we’re about to go into a drought.

In summary, it’s tough (you can feel pretty lethargic and can lose concentration) but it’s a manageable diet, even for a food fanatic like me. If you’re anything like me it will take a bit of research to get your head around the amount of calories in things (I’ve never tried calorie counting before) and you need to plan around your week to make sure you aren’t heading out for dinner on a fast day. It seems to get easier as well. The first week I felt really lethargic, but either my body is getting used to it or I have just discovered the best way to keep my body going on minimal calories, as subsequent weeks I felt a little more awake to get through the day.

Now to watch this space on how much affect it has on the squidge….

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