Our guide to the 5:2 diet

The eating plan that allows you to eat what you want five days a week

Reasons for embracing a new diet are often valid; to get healthier, lose weight and feel good. But often a change in eating habits is approached with haste. Why? Because of the restrictions. We all need a treat, whether that’s a slice of the office birthday cake, a handful of your favourite crisps and dip or a rich meal at the end of a stressful day. So what if you could (more or less) eat as you please? Well with the 5:2, that’s possible:

What is the 5:2?

A phenomenally popular weight-loss diet, functioning on the premise that if you restrict the number of calories you consume for two non-consecutive days (typically around 500 for women and 600 for men), you can eat as you wish – within reason – the rest of the week.

What am I allowed to eat?

Despite having the option to eat what you like, it’s important (as with any other diet) to fill your plate with nutritious, wholesome food – 300 calories of chocolate cake does not have the same nutritional value as the equivalent amount of fruit and vegetables. However, those opting for this way of eating shouldn’t exclude any food groups – part of its success is having the choice to consume your favourites.

What should my fridge look like?

Most importantly, make sure that every calorie counts on the days that you are restricting your meals. Foods that will keep you feeling fuller for longer will help you deal with the deficit in calories. Vegetables, lean proteins and wholegrains are the most effective way to keep the count low while still getting a substantial meal. Ensure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water; if you’re a fan of hot beverages, opt for herbal teas.

Some recipes to try

Garlic, soy and honey roast salmon with sesame stir-fried veg
Pineapple and ginger iced tea
Simple rocket and cucumber salad
Chicken, grapefruit and lime super food salad
Spicy lentil, vegetable and harissa soup
Steak and mushroom pie with roasted vegetable mash
Crab, chilli, lemon and asparagus wholewheat spaghetti
Pear, ginger and dark chocolate hazelnut crumble
Cherry and almond pudding
Plums with cinnamon, almond butter, honey and labneh