It’s so simple to get ready for your first fast day… here’s my quick & easy guide to your Fast Day lift off!
First, record your current measurements – then check your BMI here. I know it’s hard to feel positive if your weight or clothes size isn’t what you want, but this is the best way to check progress. Now decide a realistic 5:2 goal – how much do you want to lose? Aim for a weight that puts you just into ‘healthy’ BMI category (so, between 23-25, depending on your ethnic background) You can aim to lose 1-2lbs/1/2 to 1kg per week on 5:2 (PS: you could also take a photograph of how you look now: you never have to show it to anyone else but it can be very motivating as you lose weight.)
5:2 is based on creating a deficit or ‘calorie gap’ between the energy your body uses, and the energy you consume. If you create a gap, your body will burn excess fat as fuel, and you’ll lose weight. The guideline for Fast Days is around 500 calories (or under) on fast days if you’re a woman, or 600 (or under) if you’re a man. But if you’re a lot heavier than the average, you may find it harder at first to cope with consuming only 500-600 calories. Use the TDEE (not the lower BMR) from the calculator to guide you: divide the figure by 4 to get a personalised Fast Day limit..
Look at your diary and choose two days to fast: days when you’re busy, but not under serious work or family pressure. A Fast Day lasts from the last meal the previous day, until breakfast the day after. Separate your Fast Days at first. For example, fast on Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday. It’s easier to stick to your limit when you know that tomorrow you can eat what you like. Once you’re used to fasting, you can do a ‘back to back’ i.e. two days in succession.
Now plan what you’re going to eat, and when. The more organised you are, the less likely you are to go over your limit, or abandon your Fast Day.
You can eat 1-3 small meals on a Fast Day. The health benefits may be greater if you leave longer gaps between eating, or only eat 1 or 2 meals. Many of us find that the later we leave it to eat, the less hungry we feel. Aim for lots of lower calorie green veggies with lean meat, tofu or eggs. I also love soups in winter, and salads in summer (lots of delicious recipe ideas here and here).
Finally, you’re more likely to succeed with support. Try 5:2 with a friend, or explain what you’re doing to someone who cares about you. Our Facebook group is also super-supportive!
Important: it’s always advisable to talk to your doctor before making big changes to your diet. Many GPs are now very supportive of intermittent fasting and 5:2. If you have a chronic health condition, or take medication, you should definitely talk to them before starting.