We have all heard of many different types of diets. Probably hundreds if not thousands of them. We have all even been on a few of them ourselves. Some of us may have been on more than one or two over the years. What all of them have in common is that pretty much all of them promise something. Some promise extreme fat loss, some the ability to sleep better and others allow you to believe that you will become a superhuman sports machine.
I don’t normally advocate “diets” as such and believe that your health should be treated more holistically. However, I’m not against having a go at something to give it a chance, document what I went through and let people know about it. I mean it’s better that I make all the mistakes so you don’t have to, right?
The 5:2 Diet
I was doing some research about different diets when I came across the 5:2 Diet. For most of you, the 5:2 is nothing new and for those of you that haven’t heard about it before, this is what it entails.
Five days of the week your diet would consist of the calories that you should be eating, depending on your sex, age etc…
For two days (non-consecutive) you would eat no more than around 500 calories. This would normally consist of fasting during the day and then having an evening meal.
The benefits include, eating less calories overall leading to fat loss, cell repair, and allowing the body to detox. All this sounds pretty good.
I looked a little further, including researching fasting diets when I chanced upon the Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD).
The Fasting Mimicking Diet
The FMD consists of five days of calorie restriction. On the first day you would eat around 5 calories per pound of body weight and then four days of around 3.5 calories per pound of body weight.
So, if you weigh 150 pounds you would eat 750 calories on the first day and then 525 every day after. The diet is fairly high in healthy fats, around 10% protein and the rest in carbohydrates.
The FMD was invented by Dr Valter Longo out of the Longevity Institute of the University of Southern California after years of research. He believes that although the body is eating a small amount of food, it is tricked into thinking that it is actually fasting.
Unlike the 5:2 Diet that really only focuses on fat loss, the FMD causes the bodies cells to begin a process called autophagy. This is where the cells start to essentially clean themselves up, including our stem cells.
Your body also can enter a state of ketosis and the body starts to burn fat reserves for energy.
This is something that you could repeat several times a year.
All in all, a miracle diet. If you believe all the hype.
So, I rolled up my sleeves, worked out my calories for the five days I would be doing and went to the supermarket and bought, very little food.
The marketing for the FMD suggests that you should be looking at a loss of around half a stone which is seven pounds over the five days. I’m not naïve enough to think that this would all be fat loss as I know a lot will be fluid loss as I cut down my carbohydrate intake.
Weight: 13st 2.8lbs
Food consisted of 2 x scrambled eggs and 50g of smoked salmon for lunch, a whole heap of green vegetables and cauliflower rice for dinner and 6 x walnut halves and a couple of teaspoons of peanut butter for snacks.
Not a whole lot but I didn’t feel hungry once and was under the number of calories a needed for the day. I also managed to take part in a bootcamp without too much a drop off in energy. All, in all, I didn’t feel bad.
Weight: 13st 0.2lbs
This was the first day of severely restricted calories. So, I cut down on the snacks and also didn’t use any fat when cooking the two meals that I ate. Both were exactly the same as the first day. Sorry to disappoint but I like to make things easy.
Again, I didn’t feel hungry at all, though I think about food a lot and this week was no exception.
Weight 12st 13lbs
I was starting to have some really vivid dreams at this point which would carry on for the rest of the FMD. This is as the body starts to enter ketosis and living off fat, the brain can become super alert.
Food was the same as the day before. If it ain’t broke! I did however, add an egg to the cauliflower rice this time as I was getting a little bored.
I also experienced a few headaches during the day. This was likely due to the fact I hadn’t eaten any processed sugar and I was starting to withdraw.
Again, I managed to take part in a bootcamp session and I didn’t feel any noticeable drop off in energy.
Weight 12st 11lbs
No hunger again today but I was getting super bored of the whole thing. I had also started to unconsciously self-regulate the amount of exercise I was doing throughout the day. My body was receiving fewer calories and as such I found myself sitting down more than usual and not wanting to move. The body knew it had to save calories from somewhere.
I found the food really naff at this point and was starting to dream about sausage and mash. As a substitute I discovered the meaty goodness that is Bovril. Relatively cheap in calorie terms it made me feel like I was eating meat.
Weight 12st 10.2lbs
Boy was I glad this was nearly over.
At this point I realised that I had messed up slightly as I was going out on the evening and would be eating normally but I had lost 6.8 pounds already.
I was really looking forward to eating later but found that my stomach had shrunk and could only eat a couple of slices of pizza before I felt sick.
I also ran 4 miles to pick up my car from the garage. This felt a bit harder than it would normally so I think my energy at this point was starting to drop.
Although I was unable to complete the whole five days, I feel that I gave it a good go. At no point did I feel hungry but I did think about food a lot. That probably says more about me than the FMD though.
I also didn’t see a massive drop off in energy levels during the five days but as I said earlier, I did start to unconsciously start to regulate my activity levels. This would have definitely saved me from using up much needed energy, needlessly.
In regards to the claims that the diet actually has anti-aging properties, I can’t really say. I am always sceptical of claims such as these as I have seen so many over the years and none of them can ever be backed up with fact.
What cannot be denied is that I did indeed lose almost half a stone. But whether that weight will remain off as I go back to regular eating remains to be seen.
I think that this is perfect for those of us that need a kickstart. A little boost that will lead us into a much healthy period of eating. During the FMD you definitely have a sugar detox and will have that withdrawal leading to headaches and feeling generally rubbish.
If you ensure that your carbohydrate is kept lo during the FMD you will also go into ketosis. This is great for fat loss as your body starts to burn off fat rather than carbohydrate.
I have come out of the other side without all of the cravings for sugar that I had when I started a week ago. So that can only be seen as a positive.
To sum it up, I know that the biggest drive for fat loss is a calorie deficit and this diet is no different to thousands of others. It gives you that calorie deficit by the spade load.
But so do many other diets out there.
Be all you can be
If you have any thoughts on this, then please let me know in the comment section below.
(Please don’t try the FMD unless you are sure that your body can handle it. If you are unsure, please speak to your Doctor first.)