THE 5:2 diet is a part of the latest dieting craze — intermittent fasting. The premise is simple: eat as how you normally would for five days, then severely restrict your calories for two days. In the end it will result in your overall weekly calories being decreased.
General, laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon Dr Alfred Dawes said that with this diet there is no restriction on food groups as in low-carb or low-fat diets, and calorie counting is not required during the five days of regular eating.
Further, he said dieters are encouraged to eat whatever they want so as to not miss food as much in the fasting days.
“This is one of the more attractive features of the diet. People feel as if they are not on a diet as they are still able to eat their favourite foods and lose or maintain weight,” he shared.
While positive outcomes of intermittent fasting in weight loss have been proven in some studies, Dr Dawes said there are some issues with the 5:2 diet that have been highlighted.
“People who don't make an effort to eat better foods during the five days of regular eating are prone to weight regain should they come off the diet. It is best to eat healthier on those days so that if the diet becomes too tedious they would at least be able to make better choices when off the diet. Continuing to eat unhealthy foods will not help in the long-term,” he explained.
There are also a few other drawbacks on fasting days, where people on the 5:2 diet may experience fatigue and dizziness.
Dr Dawes said if this happens, they should try to drink as much water as possible to relieve hunger and keep them hydrated. He said some people use coffee as a stimulant and as a suppressant to their appetite.
On the flip side, critics have suggested that the fasting days create a longing for food that could result in the development of eating disorders.
In this regard, Dr Dawes said if a longing for food becomes a psychological dependence, then it will prove extremely difficult to make the lifestyle changes needed for staying at a healthy weight.