The 5:2 fast and how it looks for me

I had a few people ask me yesterday in my post about “fasting” for 2 days and what that means and what that looks like. There is a whole lot of information you can find online about it (just google 5:2 diet) as well as books and recipes and ideas so this is just a very rough version of what I do.

The idea is that 2 days a week you restrict your diet to 25% of your normal calorie/energy intake. So for women that’s 500 calories and 600 calories for men. The rest of the week it’s business as usual, eating and drinking what you like, but on those 2 days it’s these restricted amounts. It’s not for everyone, but I found when I did it last year that it really made a huge difference to me MENTALLY. On the days where I was “fasting” I was very conscious of everything I put in my mouth….those precious calories add up quickly, and you soon learn about all the areas that you may normally waste calories. It changed my mindset, it made me think more about the way I ate on a whole and certainly made me lean towards better choices every day. On the “non fast” days I also found myself not as hungry. Go figure.

So what does it look like for me?

For a start, I made sure Rob was on board with me. It’s much easier to cook for two and to suffer with someone! We chose Monday and Wednesday as the days that we would “fast”. As we generally eat early with the kids (around 5/5.30pm) that would be the start of the fast (Sunday night) and then we would be back to normal the following day. I cannot and will not give up my daily coffee, it’s just not going to happen so I factor that into my calories and switch to skim milk on the “fast days”. I think a skim milk coffee is around 80 or 100 calories and I am willing to take that hit for the day because: COFFEE.

I am easily not eat during the day without any problems. I’m usually running around after the girls, then Maggie and then frantically trying to get work done while she is asleep so before I know it, it’s usually 2.30pm. While Mags has her lunch I might roll a boiled egg and some greens (under 200 calories). Water is my friend. As are herbal teas. By this stage it’s like 3pm and you only have to get through to bed time…almost there! ISH.

The afternoon and evening and cooking the kids dinner is the hardest part for me. And that’s kind of why I save up my main meal for then. A small amount of protein (say 100 grams) is about 100 calories and then greens of any description don’t take much up so that’s usually what we have. Most of the meals in my post earlier in the week are the kind of things that we eat.

Maybe some more eggs (because I love them and some salmon)…

Avocado and salad…

Seafood is your friend as there aren’t that many calories in them. Prawns are especially good, as are mussels. And tinned tomatoes always get a run. If I am desperate and starving, a little onion fried up with a tin of tomatoes (maybe 100 cals) hits the spot.

And you know what? It’s all a little rough and estimating…but it’s ABOUT right and that’s better than nothing.

The first few weeks suck, there’s no denying it, but it does get easier as they pass and you get creative thinking about ways to bring taste into your diet without the calories. In those first weeks I found myself just going to bed because I was hungry, you can’t feel hungry when you are asleep…and then it’s back to normal the next day so it’s really not so bad right?

And if you fail your day, you can choose another one.

Berries are good for a quick hit of sweet, and the Proud and Punch ice blocks are REALLY good at just 35 calories each, making you feel like you are having something sweet. Water. Tea. Water. WATER.

So that’s what it looks like for me. It’s not perfect and it’s probably not how you are “meant” to do it, but it works for us and I am going to be back on board with it. As I said, it’s not for everyone and you should certainly not take my advice on board about changing YOUR diet without speaking to someone professional first that knows YOU. And all that.

So, have you been on the 5:2 fasting business before?
How did it work out for you?
Got any tips you can share with us all?


  1. I LOVE fasting! I keep myself busy on my fast day, and it tends to go really quickly. And then the next day I feel clear, light and full of energy. πŸ™‚

    SO worth it.

  2. I totally LOVE fasting. I do it two days in a row, and feel like a million dollars the day after!

  3. For the first time I started the 5:2 this week. Was proud when I got through my first day. Loved your tips so will incorporate those into my days. Here is to #notafatmolefornyc x

  4. I do intermittent fasting cos I didn’t think I could hack the two days of being so restrictive or I would keep forgetting and just eat and then stuff it up! So EVERY day, I try and finish dinner at 7-ish and then don’t eat till midday the next day. Yes, I’m with you on the water and it’s amazing how you get used to it. It’s 1:30pm and I only just ate! I’m doing it cos it’s supposed to be good at keeping Alzheimers at bay and watching my mum currently in the end stages of that fuck awful disease, I’ll do anything that might make me NOT get it! Lots of research on this too, it’s also not for everyone but I like it and it certainly cuts the sugar cravings out – well not altogether but ALOT.

  5. this all sounds good and looks delicious to me beth!
    I haven’t commented this weeks as I didn’t receive your last 3 posts??!!
    just letting you know hun!
    I thought you were having a break! then had to google you!
    i’m better if it lands in my inbox! … because forget!!!
    enjoy! looked at insta and how cute is button in the mirror! omg!
    she is too adorable!
    much love m:)X

  6. Yum! I’d love this type of menu anyway, especially the way you’ve put it all together. I read a book recently about how women around 40+ have troubles with their weight due to carbs, and having an overall low carb diet, PLUS 2 days of no carbs at all is the best way to deal with it. Ugh! I haven’t followed this method due to it being DEPRESSING and surely mental heath is important too?! But now looking at your creative eating I should give it a go and do it a little at a time to make some kind of a move. Thanks Beth! You’re doing great, keep up the effort!
    Liz xx

    • Liz I notice it makes a HUGE difference to me cutting them out. Well bread at least. I am so less bloated without sad as that makes me.

  7. Ingrid McCarthy says

    Yep! Been doing 16:8 for a few months now and 8 week blood sugar diet (Michael Moseley) last year and the first four weeks of this year. I’ve been reading lots more about fasting and how it resets your hormones (Jason Fung if anyone is interested) and have just done my first 24 hours fast with only black coffee, water with lemon and a bonox in the afternoon. Got through it OK and will try to do it more frequently.

    • Well done – that’s a great effort for a whole day. I might try and just eat nothing…I sometimes find a little bit makes it worse!

      • I’ve definitely found that not eating on days is easier. Just black coffee, lemon wedges in water and for dinner, half a teaspoon of Vegeta stock powder in hot water. I did the 500 cal days for a few weeks then decided that as close to zero is best for me.

    • Love Jason Fung, his book The Obesity Code is really good. I went LCHF last April and have lost 25 lbs after YEARS of trying every diet, boot camp, pill….it works. His chapter on fasting is excellent.

      No need to cut fat while fasting though….put a tablespoon of butter in that black coffee, or have a mug of bone broth with some butter in it. Delicious and filling.

  8. I quite often revert to 5:2 diet when I can feel myself starting to chub up a bit. I find it really successful. The first time I did it I was losing 1kg a week, and that’s without exercising. Very helpful if you have really young kids and just don’t have time to exercise. I do Mon & Wed too and have no brekky as such, just very strong long black! Soup for lunch and tuna salad for dinner. I spend the day dreaming about what I will be scoffing on non fast day! Hardest part is no wine… It is surprising how after awhile you just eat quite normally on non-fast days.

  9. So is this something you are supposed to stick with forever? I have to say I’m always a bit skeptical with ‘those’ kinds of plans or diets. Everyone around me seems to be on and off doing similar things when they are on a motivation high, feel amazing and basically enlightened while they’re still on track and then eventually go back to ugly carb-land, falling back into easy habits before motivation hits again once they’re (literally) fed up enough.

    Sorry I’m being a total Grinch here, I’ve been through the above process ca. 27 million times myself…until I found something that I verrrry slowly warmed up to, that has changed my relationship with food gradually, via tiny baby steps, but in a way that’s actually long term. It’s been over 5 years since I made the change and I would never say that I’ve “stuck with it”, because it’s simply my new normal. Have to admit though that the change was also ethically/environmentally motivated, so that obviously made it ‘easier’. Anyway, that’s why I loved the article you linked to in your last post, so so true πŸ™‚

    (and again disclaimer: whatever works for whoever etc, really not trying to say there’s wrong ways to do this as long as you’re happy etc)

    • PS: ca. 75% of my diet are carbs, just so no one misinterprets my ugly carbland expression…was purely referring to refined shitty carbs πŸ˜‰ Other than that carbs are my very best friend haha (part of my whole spiel on finding something that you love, rather than something that just works…).

    • Glad that you found something that has worked for you…may I ask what it is?…love to hear!

      • I would love to hear too. I have a feeling it might be vegetarianism.

        I did Weight Watchers for a year and am now on maintenance for a year. I feel I have learned a permanent way to eat that doesn’t leave me hungry and still affords alcohol, sweets, protein… everything. It’s just a case of balance. I love to cook, and there are blogs galore with fabulous WW-friendly recipes.

        I tried the 16-hour fast routine where you only eat during an eight-hour span every day, but that left me overeating during the eight hours. I tried the 5/2 and feel that works better. If I know I am going to be going to a shindig or on a trip where I can’t easily control the food choices, I use the 5/2. Otherwise I’m quite happy with the Weight Watchers maintenance plan. Like someone said, whatever works for you!

        • Pretty close guess Cyndy, it’s veganism πŸ™‚ Sorry for the very late reply.

          I’ve found that I can stuff my face with carbs on this lifestyle, a basic need I just was not able to shed long-term on any of my fad diets haha. I love eating large quantities and would always choose a large bowl of roasted potatoes and veg over a small high calorie/fat serving. But I absolutely know it’s all personal preference, and I understand that for many people being vegan is absolutely un-imaginable (like it used to be for me, I used to be a bacon & cheese enthusiast) or just not a lifestyle they can identify with. For me, it’s made my relationship with food so so good (and improved my health tremendously), no guilt, no restriction ever.

          I guess we each have to find what works, just always like to remind people there are healthy lifestyles out there that don’t force you to consider carbs the devil πŸ˜‰

  10. I do this as well( fasting today actually). I haven’t lost much weight on the scales,but I’ve lost inches round my waist. I think it’s so easy to sustain, when you know tomorrow is back to normal. I also like it because I limit my alcohol intake( no wine on fast days)and that is a good thing. The flexibility is great too. It’s definitely a Way Of Life (aka WOL) rather than a diet as such. Comes with lots of science behind it as well.

  11. Cate Lawrence says

    i cant do 5:2 ( I have a history of bulimia so wouldn’t dream of it) but I find the whole 30 works very well for me. I’m looking at long term sustainable changes as I have an obesity problem and also get debilitating migraines. I find it much less stressful to not eat bread than have just one piece and crave it all the time. I know a lot of people can have one biscuit, one bread roll or whatever, but i’ve always struggled and now my mental space is clearer, I sleep better etc. The hardest thing is that so much socialising is about food and alcohol, though the incentive to not wake with a migraine makes it easier to stay off the booze right now.

    • Good on you Cate – good luck with it. I’m with you on the bread. I can’t have a little. It has to be all or nothing. So for me right now, it’s nothing!

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