The 5:2 Diet – who’s with me?

Michael Mosley

I love Michael Mosley – I’ve got a bit of a crush to be honest – I love his programmes and how he puts himself forward as a human guinea pig so often. One of his programmes however did slip past my attention and that was the one about intermittent fasting and calorie restriction.

A friend of mine told me about it recently and said it was available to watch on BBC iPlayer – she also gave me the book that he published after the show was aired. I was very intrigued how someone could lose weight simply by restricting their calorie intake two days a week and eat normally the rest of the time.

But after I watched the programme and read the book I found there were far many more benefits to following a 5:2 diet than just the weight loss and I decided to give it a go. I’ve never dieted in my life as I’ve always been happy with my weight, but after going upto 13stone during pregnancy and even though I lost a lot after my son was born, I’ve never got back to the ‘normal’ me – mostly due to my reluctant attitude to excercise and also the fact that I do over eat a lot of the time.

With the 5:2 Diet you don’t stop eating entirely on the fasting days, you simply reduce your calorie intake on those days – for women it’s 500 calories and for men it 600 – basically a quarter of your recommended calorie intake.

“If you stick to this plan then you should lose around 1lb (0.46kg) a week if you are a woman, slightly more for a man. Success also depends on not over-eating on your normal days. You should not only lose weight but also enjoy a wide range of health benefits. Studies of intermittent fasting show that not only do people see improvements in blood pressure and their cholesterol levels, but also in their insulin sensitivity. As one of the medical experts I interviewed put it: ‘There is nothing else you can do to your body that is as powerful as fasting.’ “

I wasn’t sure if I’d have the willpower on my fasting days, but planned to do the calorie restriction on the days I was in the studio – Mondays and Fridays – i.e. without my son around and all that tempting toddler tasty tit bits I always feel compelled to consume so as not to waste food!

So I weighed myself recently for the fist time in ages and found I was 11stone. My goal weight is around 9stone, so as I read the book, I did start thinking about the amount of food I consumed everyday. I don’t know the calorific value of anything as I’ve never counted calories before and I started seeing food in a totally new light.

What I thought of as low calorie foods, turned out to be quite high in calories – my homemade Friday night pizzas for instance – who’d have thought that 500g of Strong Bread Flour would amount to just under 2000 calories – 500g makes 4 pizzas, but just the base without any topping would be near to my 500 calorie limit for the day, so I decided to switch my second fasting day to Wednesday – my weekly commute into Edinburgh for web work where I spend all day in an office on my own coding.

I was intruiged to find out if anyone else was following the diet and wrote about it on Instagram two weeks ago and instantly got some great feedback from other people who were either doing the diet or had done it and how it had worked for them.

Anyone else doing the 5:2? I’m reading the book at the moment and keen to give it a go. #fastdiet

A photo posted by Evie Milo ( on

After finishing the book, I decided to start the diet on Monday the 4th May, mostly because I found a link on the fast diet website to a study being carried out and decided to get involved in that – nothing like a bit of accountability to help you stick at something – and this required filling out a food diary for 7 days prior to starting the 5:2 Diet. I weighed myself on the morning of the 4th May and found that I was around 10.5stone.

So I’ve done two fast days so far, last week, and I’m currently embarking on my third today and you know, it’s not so bad. It’s not as hard as I thought it’d be.

I get up early on a Monday and a Wednesady either to get Milo ready for nursery or to get ready for work, but instead of sitting down at 8am to eat breakfast, I eat my breakfast when I actually feel hungry which is around 11-12am. I then don’t eat anything else until my evening meal which is between 6-7pm and then nothing for the rest of the evening.

I have gone to bed hungry, but it’s never stopped me from falling asleep and I don’t wake up famished and craving a full cooked breakfast either. The study I’ve signed up for runs for 4 weeks and even though I can drop out at any time, I hope I can stick to it and after 4 weeks carry on until I reach my desired weight. I am planning to get some excercise into my day to day life too, so that should help as well.

But even after reaching my desired weight I’ll probably still do the diet but I’ve heard a lot of people reduce their calorir restriction to just one day a week, which sounds totally do-able.

If you are following the 5:2 diet I’d love to hear how you’re getting on with it – why not comment below and share your experience.