My sister is getting married in a few weeks time and the usual panic that most brides-to-be experience has started to set in. If there is any day you want to look your best it has to be your wedding day, knowing that all eyes will be on you. My trainers and I always talk about if only it was possible to bottle up the level of motivation people have before their wedding, getting lean would be easy. 

My sister eats well and exercises regularly, but feels she still wants to shift a few kilos before the big day. So she did a bit of her own research and asked me what I thought about the increasingly popular 5:2 Diet? 

What is the 5:2 diet? 

The 5:2 Diet is a diet plan where you eat 500 calories for 2 days of the week and 1500 calories for the other 5. It is based on the premise that we are designed to feast and famine. This principle is also known as intermittent fasting. Some people have adapted this to eating whatever they want on the 5 days and completely starving themselves on 2 days. 

Does it Help with Weight-loss? 

If your goal is to lose weight there are plenty of ways to do that – dehydration, starvation or even amputation. Intermittent fasting has proven to be effective in helping some people achieve this. However the key is finding a way of eating that is sustainable and encourages a positive relationship with food. There is nothing worse for your health than being on a yoyo diet. 

Is it Good for Other Aspects of Health? 

People often say they do the 5:2 Diet not for the weight-loss purposes, as some studies have shown that intermittent fasting might help extend life, control blood lipids, increase cognitive function and memory. 

However most of the research proving these changes has been conducted on animal studies. Many of the human based studies compare Intermittent fasting to the normal highly processed western diet. Not a nutrient rich, unprocessed diet. So maybe it’s not the fasting that is having the benefit, maybe it is eating less of the processed stuff? 

Fasting will cause drops in your blood sugar levels and raise your cortisol levels. Although we may feel more alert short term it is only because we are in flight or fight mode. Our body thrives when our blood sugar levels are stable not on an up and down rollercoaster all day long. People often complain about feeling tired, lethargic and foggy when fasting. It is often difficult to complete day-to-day tasks let alone contemplate training. 

Would I ever recommend intermittent fasting? 

There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to any part of our health, let alone our nutrition. Perhaps if a client was in desperate need to drop a few kilos in a short period of time and was already following our 4 Principles of Healthy Eating, using intermittent fasting to speed up the process on a very short-term basis is a possibility. However when it comes to nutrition and good health, you must first and foremost focus on the quality of your food and generally the rest will take care of itself.