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The Beginner’s Guide to 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Diet


The Beginner’s Guide to 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Diet


The premise of intermittent fasting is about when you can eat rather than what you can eat. The 5:2 diet is one of the many intermittent fasting styles people try for weight loss and overall health.

Most restrictive crash diets require calorie restriction around the clock, but the 5:2 diet asks you to restrict for just two days a week. That means you eat normally for the five days of the week, without restriction. Then, for two consecutive days of the week, you eat a quarter of your daily calorie needs.

Many people succeed on the 5:2 diet by eating only 25% of the daily calories for two days. However, the concept of severe calorie restriction or eating just 500 calories a day might not work for all.

5:2 Diet – An Introduction

The 5:2 diet is a part-time dieting approach that allows you to eat what you want five days a week and then dramatically cut the calories for two days. It dictates that men must consume 25% of their regular caloric needs, around 500-600 calories per day, for two consecutive days.

People generally schedule the two fasting days for Mondays and Thursdays, so they’re not back-to-back. Some followers take the extreme 5:2 diet approach by consuming zero calories on their fasting days.

A study shows that the 5:2 diet promotes noticeable weight loss over the first six weeks. However, there was no significant difference at 6 and 12 months.

The HealthifyMe Note

There are no hard-and-fast rules while eating on fasting days. The eating plan depends on the personal choice of those following the 5:2 diet. In other terms, eat whatever you like on the two fasting days as long as it stays within the caloric limits. Moreover, you can eat up to three times a day on a fasting day by keeping track of your caloric intake. 

Foods That You Can Eat on a 5:2 Diet

It can be challenging to plan a diet with only 500-600 calories to work with on the two fasting days. However, you can essentially eat whatever you like during the non-fasting days.

Some people place restrictions on these non-fasting days by following a ketogenic diet. When it comes to days of fasting, you should ensure a continuous supply of nutrients for the body’s vital activities by eating foods rich in nutrients, fibres and proteins.

For example, boiled vegetables and vegetable soup are some options to try. Vegetables are preferred because they are pretty low in calories compared to animal products and cereals, allowing for more veggies in a small calorie-restricted meal.

Salads containing dark, leafy greens can help people feel fuller without adding calories to the diet. Also, soft-boiled eggs, a small portion of white fish and salads made with fresh vegetables are preferred by many. But, again, what to eat is a personal choice.

The HealthifyMe Note

The simplicity of the 5:2 diet is that there are no restrictions on the types of food you can eat. It essentially focuses on eating lower-calorie foods on the fasting days. As with all diets, include vegetables and protein on the two fasting days to help manage and control your appetite. 

What to choose and how to eat is personal and varies from person to person. The shopping list may include:

  • Eggs
  • Vegetables ( non-starchy )
  • Whitefish
  • Dark Berries such as blackberries and blueberries
  • Lean meat
  • Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils
  • Tofu
  • Coffee or tea

Consumers can boil, grill, or roast these dishes instead of frying to avoid adding excessive oil and fats.

Water is essential since it can help extend the time between meals by keeping hunger at bay on fast days. Another option is herbal tea, an excellent way to enhance water intake.

How to Do The 5:2 Diet

The 5:2 diet calls for eating normally five days a week and fasting two days per week. There is no meal timing strategy to allow dietary freedom for its followers. There are different ways to interpret the 5:2 diet. For example, some people fast on two consecutive days each week. 

A sample 5:2 diet looks like this;

  • Monday: fast
  • Tuesday: fast
  • Wednesday: feast
  • Thursday: feast
  • Friday: feast
  • Saturday: feast
  • Sunday: feast

Fast Day Plan 1

  • Breakfast: Banana and low-fat yoghurt: 177 calories
  • Dinner: Edamame & tofu salad: 300 calories
  • Snack: 10g of popcorn: 59 calories
  • Total calorie count: 536 calories

Fast Day Plan 2

  • Breakfast: Oats porridge (40g): 255 calories
  • Dinner: Beetroot and spinach salad: 125 calories
  • Snack: Sliced apple with 1 tbsp of nut butter: 145 calories
  • Total calorie count: 525 calories

Potential Benefits of the 5:2 Diet

Intermittent fasting methods such as the 5:2 diet have satisfactory health benefits only if structured carefully. But unfortunately, many people get influenced by the information on the internet or any social media platform. And most of them are untrue and do not follow safety guidelines. 

A study says the 5:2 diet is an intermittent energy restriction method that can generate modest weight management results. Low energy diet formula during the fasting days can help manage obesity. Moreover, fasting can improve metabolic profile, inflammation, and blood pressure. 

The main benefit of the 5:2 diet is its simplicity. It allows fasting on just two separate days if two consecutive days or every other day seems too difficult. Unlike most dietary approaches to weight loss, 5: 2 allows dieters to stop worrying about food intake five days a week. Moreover, it does not require relentless self-control. The fact that 5:2 is less demanding makes it promising for people with high-stress levels and limited budgets. 

The HealthifyMe Note

Not many studies are available on the benefits of 5:2 intermittent fasting specifically. That said, most evidence is related to the many benefits of general fasting and intermittent fasting. Therefore, it is likely that the 5:2 diet offers most if not all the benefits of other types of intermittent fasting.

5:2 Diet – Is It a Healthy Choice for You?

The answer to this question is quite controversial as, for many people, intermittent fasting is safe, but it is not the same for everyone. Moreover, intermittent fasting appears to be roughly similar to any other calorie-restricted diet. For some people, the 5:2 diet is simple and far more manageable than staying in a calorie deficit daily.

Some studies reveal that intermittent fasting can increase the chance of kidney stones and gastric reflux. So, people suffering from these should avoid the 5:2 diet. Also, breastfeeding and pregnant women must avoid it as it can impact the infant’s growth.

So, it’s your turn to decide whether to follow or not, depending on your conditions. Furthermore, women might not benefit as much from intermittent fasting as most males.

There are chances of irregular menstruation in underweight women following a 5:2 diet. On the other hand, the 5:2 diet might benefit overweight women suffering menstrual irregularities. As a result, women should exercise caution while beginning intermittent fasting and stop promptly if any adverse effects arise.

The HealthifyMe Note

The 5:2 fasting is not suitable for certain groups, including underweight people, those who struggle with eating disorders, and those experiencing thyroid dysfunction. In addition, women trying to improve their fertility require extra attention because fasting affects women more intensely than it does men. 

Potential Health Risks of the 5:2 Diet

Studies reveal that skipping meals might not be a secure method to lose weight if pregnant or breastfeeding. Consult your doctor before beginning the 5:2 diet if you have kidney stones, gastric reflux, diabetes, or other medical issues. 

The following are possible side effects of the 5:2 diet:

  • Hunger
  • Exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Muscle loss


Intermittent fasting is an alternate calorie restriction regimen for weight loss and overall health. The 5:2 diet includes two days of fasting and five days of regular eating.

The total calorie intake during the fasting day should not exceed 600 calories. What and how to eat is a personal choice and varies from person to person. Moreover, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to diet.

For many, the 5:2 fasting is safe, but it is not the same for everyone. Therefore, exercise caution while beginning intermittent fasting and should stop promptly if any adverse effects arise.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. How much weight do you lose on a 5:2 diet?

A. Weight loss depends on many factors such as the duration of the diet, age of the person, their efficiency, and how strict it is. For example, moderate alternate-day fasting can cause 3–8% weight loss over 3–24 weeks. For women, the 5:2 diet plan targets a weekly weight loss of 1 pound, while males should anticipate losing somewhat more. Losing 1-2 pounds each week is also more maintainable for healthy and safe weight loss.

Q. What are the rules of the 5:2 diet?

A. This method comes under an intermittent fasting regime, and it’s simple to describe the diet. First, you regularly eat five days a week and don’t have to worry about calorie restriction. Then you cut your calorie consumption to a fourth of your daily requirements on the other two days. It equates to about 500 calories per day for women and 600 calories per day for men.

Q. How much should you eat if you are on a 5:2 diet?

A. There are no predefined guidelines to follow during this 5:2 diet plan. It depends on the person’s choice and also eases adherence to this plan. The only thing to keep in mind is that total calorie intake should not exceed 600 calories for men and more than 500 calories for women on diet days. There are no such guidelines regarding the remaining five days as they are average routine days. Also, do not fall for the temptations of junk foods. 

Q. Does the 5:2 fasting diet work?

A. Yes, it is one of the most efficient methods for weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. According to recent results, intermittent fasting is just as effective as calorie restrictions for weight loss and cardioprotection. Furthermore, the diet can successfully boost insulin sensitivity. Moreover, the variable eating windows of the 5:2 diet make it easier to follow.

Q. How long does the 5:2 diet take to work?

A. It depends on what your goal is. What is the aim of following this plan? Is it weight loss or something more such as reducing the risk of diabetes mellitus, increasing insulin sensitivity or anything else? It is a method, not an antibiotic, so it takes time to show the results. Following moderate alternate-day fasting resulted in weight loss of 3–8% over 3–24 weeks. For physiological changes inside the body, you should wait some more. 

Q. Is fasting two days a week healthy?

A. For many people, intermittent fasting is safe, but it is not the same for everyone. People suffering from kidney stones, gastric reflux, severe diabetes, or other medical issues require extra attention. Also, breastfeeding and pregnant women must avoid it as it can hamper the infant’s or foetus’s growth. However, fasting for two days can be helpful for healthy people with no pre-existing chronic disease. In addition, it protects against diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

Q. What is the reset diet two days a week?

A. Fasting diet reset in a 5:2 diet means eating normally on the five days without restricting calories. There are no guidelines for resetting five days as they are average routine days. You eat 25% of your average caloric intake by fasting twice a week (500 calories a day for women and 600 calories daily for men).

Q. Is the 5:2 diet now 800 calories?

A. Yes, the new 5:2 diet claims to reduce calorie intake to 800 calories rather than the previous 500 calories for men and 600 calories for women. On fasting days, the new 5:2 strategy focuses on limiting calories to 800 calories and eating a nutritious lower carb, Mediterranean-style diet for the remaining five days. 

Q. Does the reset diet work?

A. The Body Reset Diet will likely help people lose weight in the short term because this strategy consists of low-calorie smoothies, snacks, and meals. As a result, your body will most likely be in a calorie deficit, and you will lose weight, thus gaining the primary benefit from this diet.

Q. What diet works the fastest?

A. The Atkins diet has been widely researched and proven to be more effective than low-fat diets in weight loss. However, in some other trials, low-carb diets are effective for weight loss. However, the primary goal of all diets is to compel your body to burn more fats for fuel rather than carbs as a primary energy source. Moreover, following crash diets that promise fast results are not sustainable in the long run. 

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