Try the 5:2 fasting diet - meal ideas and more

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Click here to find out more about the 5:2 fasting diet

What can I eat for 500 to 600 calories a day?

The book offers a surprising number of options for your fast days to help keep you on the go.

Cottage cheese, sliced pear and a fresh fig - 142 calories
Porridge with fresh blueberries - 190 calories
Mushroom and spinach frittata, with a bowl of strawberries - 283 calories
Two poached eggs on a slice of wholegrain toast, with a bowl of raspberries - 288 calories

Salmon and tuna sashimi with soy sauce, wasabi, pickled ginger, and a tangerine - 352 calories
Chicken and vegetable stir-fry, and a tangerine - 306 calories
Seared tuna with grilled vegetables - 312 calories
Roasted salmon with cherry tomatoes and green beans - 304 calories

Why should I give it a try?

You get to eat what you want, just not when you want it – though you can have it most of the time. Plus it’s simple and, apart from being careful and sticking to the limits on your two days, there’s minimal faffing with weights or calorie counting.

And the pair stress that although it’s labelled ‘fasting’, you’re not going to starve on any given day.

'Since you are only fasting for two days of your choice each week, and eating normally on the other five days, there is always something new and tasty on the near horizon,' says Spencer. 'In short, it’s easy to comply with a regime that only asks you to restrict your calorie intake occasionally. It recalibrates the diet equation, and stacks the odds in your favour.'

What if I don't lose weight?

While the diet kickstarts most people's metabolisms and sees them start to shed the excess pounds, others can find it more challenging. It's not weight that counts, but the dangerous fat around the stomach which you should be tackling. 'I would always start by measuring your stomach, around the belly button, and see what happens over a period of time,' writes Mosley. 'On a normal diet you will lose a mix of fat and muscle, which is why it is important to up your exercise levels when you diet, to maintain muscle mass.

'Muscle is more metabolically active than fat; it burns calories even when you are asleep. What is unusual about Intermittent Fasting is that studies have consistently shown that people on it tend to lose mostly fat and very little muscle.'

Also he recommends keeping an eye on what you drink on your feeding days, as he says juices, lattes, fizzy drinks and alcohol all contain a large amount of hidden calories which can all add up.

What should I be wary of?

As Spencer writes, 'For people in good health intermittent fasting should be no problem. There are, however, certain groups for whom intermittent fasting is not advised.'

If you are a Type 1 diabetic, you should avoid the Fast Diet, as should anyone suffering from an eating disorder. Plus, if you don't need to lose weight, you shouldn't really consider fasting, she adds. Obviously it's a plan for adults only, and pregnant women should never limit their calorific intake. Those on medication should consult a doctor first.

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