Had you asked me 9 years ago what I thought about the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet I’d have said it was a great excuse to scarf down whatever food you felt like on the non-fasting days and to hell with the nutrients.
Over the years I’ve been proven wrong as studies, including my own from participants on our Lighten Up program, have shown that people don’t eat badly on these non-fasting days. Instead, they have the freedom to eat extra foods which, on a 7-day weight loss regime, would otherwise be forbidden. Psychologically this has huge advantages to the (many) people who, when they break a diet, give it up altogether.
POST-MENOPAUSAL WOMAN AND WEIGHT GAIN
Not every woman will have a child, but they will all go through menopause and although some (annoying) women may tell you they breezed through it, most others will share a long list of symptoms, including weight gain, brain fog, hot flushes, insomnia, ……. And on it goes.
Flashback to those days when you spent hours in front of the mirror craning your body around to check whether your backside looked big in your favourite jeans? If it did, it was all thanks to oestrogen, the female hormone responsible for storing fat around your hips and bum.
And here’s the rub; now that the body no longer produces oestrogen, we start to store fat around our abdomen, which is much more serious than a young person’s “big bottom” fat. Abdominal fat is known as visceral fat and it’s stored inside the rib cavity and around the organs. It’s thought to be more metabolically active, and linked to an increase in insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease and inflammatory diseases.
SUCK IT UP AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT
Now while this seems horribly unfair, particularly if you haven’t changed your diet, when the average weight gain during menopause is between 5 to 7 kgs, and when the fat accumulates around our organs increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, we kind of have to suck it up and find the best way to get the weight off. (I’m sorry but it’s best to say it as it is!)
5:2 IS DOABLE
At this stage of life most of us, for some medical reason or other, will have had to fast for a day or two. That colonoscopy which forced us to stick to a low-residue diet for 3 days before fasting completely from everything but clear liquid is enough to prove we can endure anything, when it’s for a short time only.
The 5:2 intermittent diet is much easier than that. With this you get to eat small amounts of good food one day and return to normal eating the next. Do that twice a week and that’s it.
How do you normally eat?
I’ll assume, since you’re reading this, that you eat well and include good amounts of vegetables, some fruit, wholegrains and legumes, maybe some lean meat and chicken, eggs, fish, nuts, seeds and some dairy in your daily diet. What the 5: 2 allows you to do is eat all of that with extra treats to make life more fun.
Have your cake and eat it too.
With the 5:2 you can literally have a piece of cake, or a glass of wine with cheese, or a few pieces of chocolate and still lose weight. You can accept dinner invitations at friends without worrying about what will be on the menu and you can even lose weight while you’re on holiday if you’re prepared to pull the reins in two days a week.
The bottom line
There are many compelling reasons to try the 5:2 intermittent fasting model. To me, most importantly and particularly at this stage of life, it’s the easiest weight loss diet to stick to, compared to 16:8, 7 days a week, or 800 calories 7 days a week.
Studies of intermittent fasting show that not only do people see a reduction in blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, but also in insulin sensitivity. Fat loss from the abdomen reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and reduced inflammation will lead to a reduction in joint pain, digestive disorders and overall an overall improvement in energy and mood. Happy days!
The Lighten Up program was designed around the 5:2 intermittent fasting model, with recipes developed for each season.