Traditional low-calorie diets are an exercise in futility for most people.
Few dieters manage to lose weight. Even fewer keep it off.
Research shows that only 1-5% of dieters get thinner and stay that way. One major study found that half of all people on diets actually gain weight instead of losing it.1 2
Researchers at University of Surrey in England decided to test the success of a conventional calorie-restricting diet against another method of weight loss.
They found that the alternative program not only let dieters reach their goal weight quicker, but also lowered their blood pressure and markers for diabetes and blood fats.
The researchers gathered 27 overweight men and women. Their average age was 46. All the dieters had a modest goal: lose 5% of their weight. That means a dieter weighing 200 pounds would try to lose 10 pounds.
Researchers randomly split the subjects into two groups. One group went on a traditional low-calorie diet. These people consumed 600 calories less per day than they normally did. Men ate about 1,900 calories per day, and women ate about 1,400.3
The other group went on an intermittent fasting eating plan called the 5:2 diet. These subjects ate normally five days a week. But on two days, they ate only a quarter of their normal calories.4
- The 5:2 dieters lost weight faster. They achieved their 5% weight loss goal in 59 days. It took the traditional dieters 73.
- The 5:2 dieters reduced their systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 9%. The blood pressure of traditional dieters actually went up. They had a 2% increase.
- Those on the 5:2 diet showed healthier lipid profiles in their blood than the traditional dieters. Their triglycerides and bad cholesterol were lower.
- The 5:2 dieters had healthier c-peptide levels. This is a marker of blood sugar metabolism.
The study was recently published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Intermittent Fasting: Easier and More Effective
Other research shows that intermittent fasting eating plans like the 5:2 diet may prevent inflammation, Type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.6
The 5:2 diet is not more difficult than conventional dieting. In the study group, 20% of both traditional and 5:2 dieters dropped out of the program before achieving their weight loss goal.
And the 5:2 diet is simple. No complicated recipes. No expensive frozen meals. No banned foods.
You restrict your calories to 25% of your normal intake for two days each week. These are called “fast days.” The other five days you eat your normal diet.
You can choose any two days as fast days – either consecutive or spaced out during the week.
The calorie count on fast days is usually about 600 calories for men and 500 for women. Small meals up to three times per day are recommended.
On fast days, you can eat whatever you like—so long as it stays under the calorie limit. Filling foods without too many calories are best.
Suggested foods include:7
- Vegetables, especially leafy greens.
- Smaller portions of meats, fish, or eggs. Bake, roast, or grill rather than fry.
- Soups–they can be filling and low calorie.
- Plenty of water. You can also drink black coffee or tea.
Avoid processed carbohydrates like white bread, potatoes, pasta, and rice. Cut out sugary foods. Berries are the best bet if you want something sweet.
Study subjects reported that after the first one or two fast days they found it much easier to restrict calories.
And let’s face it—two days of dieting a week should be easier than dieting every day.
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