How to successfully make the 5:2 diet a habit you won't shake
PUBLISHED: 12:11 29 May 2018
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Sue Davis from Lifehouse Spa & Hotel in Thorpe le Soken explains how intermittent fasting has positive effects for weight loss as well as longevity
Many of us first became aware of the groundbreaking 5:2 concept back in 2012 as featured on BBC’s Horizon programme Eat, Fast & Live Longer.
It was here that Dr Michael Mosley explored the principles of intermittent fasting leading him to coin the term 5:2. Unlike many fad diets, the 5:2 is backed up by sound scientific research.
Since then it has gone from strength to strength with benefits ranging from weight management to protection against dementia and cancer.
I first came across calorie restriction when studying for my Human Health Science degree. I learnt that telomeres, the protective caps at the end of chromosomes, shorten with age.
Shortened telomeres are associated with a whole host of health problems spanning across diabetes, heart disease and dementia, even to premature death. Calorie restriction is one way to extend the length of telomeres and ultimately the lifespan of a human.
Later in my career, when working at an overseas health resort, I encountered this principle in action. The European anti-ageing doctor prescribed dinner cancellation twice a week. This simply meant missing dinner on two non-consecutive days of the week.
Since the bulk of calories often feature in the evening meal, this significantly reduces the overall calories eaten in a day and provides an easy way to gain health benefits.
Originally, Dr Mosley recommended we reduce our calorie intake to 25% of our normal intake twice a week equating to 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men.
Since then however he has revised his thinking and has increased this allowance to 800 calories across the board making it easier to sustain, but with equally beneficial results.
Most importantly, studies have shown that calorie reduction triggers some very beneficial health mechanisms in the body.
• Fat reduction around organs, otherwise known as visceral fat. This fat has a tendency to accumulate around the middle and is considered the most dangerous type of fat.
• A switch in DNA and cellular activity from continual growth mode to repair mode. This re-programs the lifespan of an individual cell to live for longer. Research also shows this can offer protection against cancer.
• Reduction of Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). Good supplies are needed to create a full-size adult, but once a human has stopped growing, it would appear high levels of IGF-1 can be responsible for accelerated ageing.
You can experience the benefits of intermittent calorie restriction at Lifehouse Spa & Hotel’s new wellness break, Fast and Lean. This four-night retreat includes a full board structured menu alternating between a protein style menu and lighter 700-800 calorie days.
Professional body measurements are taken at the beginning and end of your stay to demonstrate the positive benefits of this programme.
Guests booked on a wellness break can enjoy full use of the spa facilities, gym and unlimited access to more than 50 fitness classes a week, all complimentary as part of their stay.
Find out more
Sue Davis is the resident naturopath at Lifehouse Spa & Hotel in Thorpe le Soken.
To find out more about the Fast and Lean wellness break at Lifehouse, or other treatments and fitness programmes, call 01255 860050 or visit www.lifehouse.co.uk
Key points for Intermittent Calories Restriction
• Calories are reduced to 800 for two days a week.
• Ideally, the fasting days should be non-consecutive (such as Monday and Thursday).
• Aim for a 10-14 hour fasting window to trigger the health benefits. The easiest way to do this is to have an early dinner by 7pm the night before, naturally fast throughout the night, and then eat breakfast at around 9.00am or later.
• The weekly fasting days can be changed to suit your social life.
• Keep busy when fasting to take your mind away from food. A structured work schedule is ideal.
• It is perfectly OK to exercise on fasting days unless otherwise advised by your doctor.
• Be savvy with your calories and portion sizes. Keep track of calories with a free app.
• Nip hunger pangs in the bud with plain or sparkling water or green tea. No milk to avoid extra calories.
• Include protein in your fasting meals to stave off hunger and curb carbohydrate cravings.
• Relax and avoid calorie counting on your non-fasting days.
• Log your weight and waist size before embarking on the programme.
• Weigh and measure yourself once a week and log your progress.
• Switch to a 6:1 maintenance mode once your target weight is achieved.