A few months ago I shared how Intermittent Fasting (5:2 or the “Fast Diet”) has worked for me. This way of life involves limiting your diet to under 500 calories (600 if you are male) on two days each week. As promised I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks, along with specific meals I love to enjoy on my fast days. If you are new to fasting or interested in exploring this way of life, I hope these ideas will inspire you.
1. Read the Book
Although you can truly find a lot of information on the internet, nothing can really take the place of reading the FastDiet by Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer from cover to cover. It touches on the scientific, historical and religious aspects of fasting that elevate it from just another fad diet to a remarkably healthy way of living. There are personal stories as well as statistics that will help you understand why it’s a great choice of diets.
2. Try the Buddy System
Almost everyone responds well to camaraderie and dieting is the perfect way to team up with a friend or your spouse. Create a fitness challenge, share meals together, encourage one another and keep up with your goals together. If you are at a weak moment, text your friend about your struggles, it will help you stay strong and succeed!
3. Plan your meals ahead
This doesn’t have to be formal or involve much preparation, but simply writing out your menu for the following day will help you stick to the plan. If you have your calories all counted out, you will be much less likely to deviate or “fall off the wagon.” Even pre-measuring and scheduling down to the hour can help. Planing to drink a cup of tea at 11 a.m. will make getting through the morning much easier.
4. Find online accountability
There are several great online resources for this diet (or just healthy lifestyles in general) that can help. I have joined the Facebook Group 5:2 Fasting in America and it’s a really great group of active and encouraging folks who are eager to share suggestions, motivation and recipe ideas!
5. Add some healthy habits to your non-fast days
This may seem obvious, but every positive change has a domino effect in our bodies. Although fast dieting doesn’t mandate physical activity, challenging yourself with additional exercise will benefit you and may jump-start your success.
6. Share about your new way of life
Even if you have yet to see a change in the mirror, share with a friend or two about your new diet strategy. You will find yourself growing more excited and determined. You’ll want to follow up with a success story which will in turn help you make that story come true!
7. Save your calories for an early dinner
This has been my calorie secret for years. I find it very easy to “procrastinate” eating all morning, saving up my calories for dinner at 4 or 5 PM. If you do so, you can have quite a feast for well under 500 calories!
8. Try these low-calorie meals
Two fried eggs, a piece of toast and some fruit can still land well under 400 calories. Sauerkraut and low calorie sausage in a hefty portion clocks in at under 300 calories. A cup of Trader Joe’s Tomato Soup and a handful of raw veggies can be as low as 150.
9. Try these low-calorie snacks
A whole dill pickle is less than 10 calories and the salty taste helps to satiate hunger. A cup of chicken broth is usually about 40 calories. Try dipping cucumbers into salsa and barely hit the double digits in calories. One of my personal favorites is Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches, at only 150 calories each. Here are some awesome snack ideas that will cost you less than 50 calories each.
10. Don’t give up
The 5:2 diet is a slow and steady process. It can be challenging to get started and you don’t always see a quick weight loss to motivate you. However, thousands of people have proven that it does work if tackled with persistence. Just like any diet, it won’t work if you quit too soon!