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What to eat on the 5:2 diet

Woman looking in fridge - Crack the 5:2 diet and beat the bulge - Diet&wellbeing - allaboutyou.com

The simplicity of the 5:2 diet is what makes it effective. You only have to count calories twice a week: you eat normally for five days (your 2,000-calorie ‘feast’ days), then have just 500 calories on the other two days of the week (your ‘fast’ days). In a week, you’ll consume 3,000 fewer calories than normal, sufficient to lose 1lb. It might not sound much, but in a year it adds up to almost 4st! The 5:2 approach works, but hunger pangs on diet days lead many people to give up. Our guide helps you cope with those, as well as providing tasty, simple recipes you can mix and match to make up 500 calories, plus the best low-cal options when you’re out and about.

5:2 diet meal ideas for 50kcals and under, on page 2
5:2 diet meal ideas for 50-100kcals, on page 3

5:2 diet meal ideas for 100-150kcals, on page 4

5:2 diet meal ideas for 150-200kcals, on page 5

5:2 diet meal ideas for 200-250kcals, on page 6

5:2 diet meal ideas for 250-300kcals, on page 7

Tips for fasting days

1. I can’t cope with the hunger
Fast fix:
Discover an eating pattern that suits you. Some people are not bothered by hunger during a busy day and so have one meal in the evening; others prefer three smaller meals throughout the day.

2. I feel tired, low in energy, irritable and headachy
Fast fix:
These symptoms are linked to dehydration and low bloodsugar levels. Drink plenty of water and eat small portions of oats, wholegrain cereal and bread.

3. I binge on non-fasting days
Fast fix:
Stop thinking of non-fasting days as ‘feast’ days and view them as ordinary days. Don’t eat more than you normally would, otherwise you won’t lose weight.

4. I get bored of the same foods
Fast fix:
Get creative! As well as fruit and veg, there’s room to include lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, beans, low-fat dairy products and even small amounts of high-fibre carbs.

5. I think about food all the time
Fast fix:
Keep busy and avoid food-focused situations – now’s not the time to watch Masterchef!

6. I come unstuck and break my diet when I’m not at home
Fast fix:
Plan so you always have something suitable to eat. Take food to work, and pack low-calorie snacks when you’re shopping or travelling.

Your hunger-busting guide

Eat protein and fibre in the same meal
The magic combo for feeling fuller for longer. Try lean meat, chicken or fish with veg; porridge with milk; egg with wholegrain toast; or fruit with yoghurt.

Get your oats
Research shows oats for breakfast staves off hunger for an average of four hours and 21 minutes.

Chew sugar-free gum
Scientists have found that chewing gum suppresses appetite, particularly for sweet foods.

Calorie-free drinks
Water, diet drinks and squashes, herbal and fruit teas and black tea and coffee, stave off hunger for a while. But swap juices and smoothies for whole fruits – our bodies find solids more filling than fluids.

Have soup
Chunky feels more like a satisfying meal than smooth. The more we have to chew, the more we satisfy our appetite, so go for steak over mince, jacket potatoes over mash, and raw carrots over cooked ones.

Crack an egg
They fill us up as they’re rich in protein.

Go to bed earlier
Too little sleep affects hunger hormones making you hungrier and less satisfied after eating. Plus, you’ll sleep through late-night hunger pangs.

Savour every mouthful
People who watch TV or use their computer or phone when they eat feel less full after eating and get hungry sooner than those who pay full attention to their meal.

Your between-meals fasting snack counter

1 raspberry - 1kcal
1 blueberry - 1kcal
1 blackberry - 1kcal
1 mangetout - 1kcal
1 button mushroom - 1kcal
1 cherry - 2kcals
1 stick of celery - 2kcals
1 sugar snap pea - 2kcals
1 grape - 3kcals
1 strawberry - 3kcals
1 cherry tomato - 3kcals
1 olive - 3kcals
¼ cucumber - 10kcals
1 small plum - 11kcals
½ green pepper - 12kcals
1 small satsuma - 18kcals
150g slice of canteloupe melon - 28kcals
1 medium (80g) carrot - 28kcals

Five fasting day rules

1. You could have five 100-calories dishes, or one 200-calorie and one 300-calorie dish.

2. Invest in precise scales – it’s essential to weigh out quantities of food rather than guessing portion sizes.

3. Buy a spray oil – we like Frylight, which comes in sunflower and olive oil varieties plus a butter-flavour spray. Each spray provides just 1 calorie. For our recipes, we’ve assumed using 10 sprays per dish.

4. Stock up on flavour enhancers such as black pepper, spices, herbs, garlic, ginger, chillies and citrus juices.

5. 100g of lettuce provides 15 calories. Prevent leaf boredom by trying different varieties.

More 5:2 meal ideas and recipes...

5:2 diet meal ideas for 50kcals and under, on page 2
5:2 diet meal ideas for 50-100kcals, on page 3

5:2 diet meal ideas for 100-150kcals, on page 4

5:2 diet meal ideas for 150-200kcals, on page 5

5:2 diet meal ideas for 200-250kcals, on page 6

5:2 diet meal ideas for 250-300kcals, on page 7

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