Miracles don’t exist…

Why miracles don’t exist… but 5:2 is the key to success

apples-634572_1920We all love the idea of a weight loss miracle – a food, supplement or milk-shake that will burn fat or undo all the damage caused by days, months or even years of poor decisions.

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Just lately, the 5:2 Facebook group was busy with a discussion about ‘apple detoxes’ – and in the past, we’ve had similar discussions where people get excited about similar ‘miracle’ plans, from maple syrup and cayenne concoctions, to that old favourite, the cabbage soup diet.

My heart always sinks when these posts appear because I completely understand why people want to believe in a kickstart. But I also feel most of these are doomed to failure. savoy-cabbage-959094_1920And here’s why:

  1. Restricting your diet to a single food can work short-term… whether it’s apples or soup, it’s relatively easy to stick to one or two food groups for a short period of time, and most miracle diets suggest a low-calorie food. So if you eat only apples, or asparagus, or soup, or eggs for a few days, you will lose weight, but not because of any magical properties in that ingredient. You’ll also likely feel more in control if you stick to it – and if the diet is veg or fruit-based, the fibre will also get your digestion moving, so the result will be feeling pretty good, short-term.
  2. But boredom means you’re almost certain to rebound.. and that’s the essential problem. However much you love the ingredient suggested, we crave variety in our food, and your body will make you want something different: for good reason, as we can’t survive long-term on one type of food as it will miss out different nutrients. The danger is we may fall off the wagon in spectacular style, binging or rewarding ourselves for our ‘good’ behaviour by eating a lot and cancelling out calorie deficits from those ‘good’ days.mixed produce
  3. Plus anything called a ‘detox’ is based on dubious science: our bodies are designed to detoxify themselves, and if we’re in good health, our kidneys and liver are working hard to rid out bodies of anything that isn’t good for us. Anything labelled a detox instantly rings alarm bells for me. Especially if it involves expensive supplements, shakes or other retail products…

So what’s the alternative?

One of the reasons intermittent fasting helps us lose weight – and keep it off – is that it encourages variety, and bans nothing.

That does mean you can handle your fast days anyway you like – so if doing a fast based on a single ingredient appeals, you could try it. But go in with your eyes open: it’s a kick-start, nothing more, nothing less, and it’s not a long-term solution.

In my opinion, a better option is to focus on a variety of minimally processed foods on both fast and non-fast days. For much more information, take a look at my strategies for reaching and staying at your healthy weight.

Or for a more thorough look at how to make 5:2 work for you, take a look at the 5:2 Books – 5:2 Your Life is about strategies to improve your whole life, while Good Food Kitchen and the Ultimate 5:2 Recipe Book offer delicious recipes and inspiring case studies to help you make intermittent fasting work for you.

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