How does the 5:2 work?

How diets work

Before you begin any diet, it’s important to understand how weight loss actually works. Now this might come as a surprise, but all weight loss diets actually work in the same way, whether it be a low carbohydrate diet, a keto diet, a low fat diet, the intermittent fasting diet or any other diet for that matter. They all work by creating an energy deficit. 

Now by that same token, all diets that fail to produce weight loss also fail for the same reasons. They fail to create and maintain an energy deficit. An energy deficit being a situation where there is less energy being consumed from food and drinks, than is being expended through exercise and general activity. 

As an example, imagine I burn 2000 calories per day, but only consume 1500 calories per day. The body recognises that there are 500 calories missing, an energy deficit. This forces the body to adapt and begin using stored energy (body fat) as a fuel to make up that missing energy. Body fat is essentially a storage container with an endless capacity. So if I were to take 500 calories from it each day, the storage container would obviously get smaller. Significant weight loss requires this energy deficit to be maintained, consistently, for weeks and months. 

Ultimately creating that energy deficit is important, but maintaining it long-term is the crucial part and this is the part that can become challenging, which we will go on to discuss. 

Take a moment to reflect on that, as I appreciate it can be a little confusing and likely very controversial. But it’s a fact and science says so.

Ultimately a ‘diet’ is just a method to produce an energy deficit. A low carbohydrate diet creates an energy deficit by reducing your intake of carbohydrate rich foods such as bread, pasta, cereals etc. A keto diet takes that to the extreme. A low fat diet creates an energy deficit by reducing your intake of high fat foods such as fatty meats, butter and cheese. An intermittent fasting diet creates an energy deficit by simply limiting the time in which you can consume calories. 

Diet struggles

On paper, creating and maintaining an energy deficit is easy. All you have to do is eat less, or move more, or ideally both. But in practice it’s very difficult. The body has been fine tuned to preserve and conserve energy to ensure our survival for thousands of years. So when it recognises a slight drop in energy intake it responds by adjusting metabolic rate, shifting fuel sources, and increasing hunger and appetite signals in an effort to prevent this perceived threat to our existence from continuing. 

This metabolic slow down and increase in hunger, appetite and cravings, makes maintaining an energy deficit long-term so difficult and it’s also why weight loss maintenance can be so challenging. Diets ultimately fail because it becomes impossible to sustain. It becomes a mental battle against the body, how long can you fight it for? 

Now, fortunately it does not need to be that way and in actual fact there are certain ways in which you can make it much easier for yourself, as I will outline in the bullet points below. 

How to make dieting easier

  1. Control calories: this goes without saying. You must control the amount of calories you consume in order to create the energy deficit and progress in weight loss. Now you can do this by counting calories for a period of time to create greater awareness around food, but this is not sustainable and can actually destroy your relationship with food. Improving health through weight loss should not be a complex math puzzle after all.
  2. Increase protein intake: protein can increase metabolic rate, while also reducing hunger and appetite, making dieting much easier and more manageable. A higher protein intake, in combination with resistance training can also help increase or at least maintain muscle mass, which is incredibly important long-term. 
  3. Increase fibre intake: fibre can also help fill you up and reduce appetite. We know from years of research that the fibre content of the diet can predict weight loss success. That means that low fibre diets are almost guaranteed to fail.
  4. Reduce energy density: selecting foods with a lower energy density is also a proven method to lose weight successfully. This will ultimately allow you to eat more food volume, but less calories. That might seem illogical but imagine a big salad bowl with some grilled chicken. That could be around 500 kcal. Now imagine a slice of pizza, which might also be 500 kcal. Unsurprisingly the big salad will fill you up for much longer.
  5. Include foods that you enjoy: this might seem counterintuitive, but it’s important to include foods that you enjoy within your diet to avoid it become a shear test of willpower. If my favourite food is pasta then it’s a stupid idea for me to go on a low carbohydrate diet as I won’t be able to sustain that for very long before breaking on the weekends and eating way too much pasta. It’s better to include that favourite food, in controlled quantities on a couple of days per week to mentally make things easier and dare I say it, more enjoyable. 

Why the 5:2 diet

The B.fresh 5:2 diet works in the same way as any and all other diets, by creating an energy deficit. But it does so on two days per week only. In the scientific realm this is referred to as intermittent energy restriction. That means you only have to struggle a little on two days of the week, rather than every day with most other diets. On the other 5 days you can eat (relatively) normally, but of course follow the above 5 instructions. 

Unlike other 5:2 diets that require an absolute fast, with nothing but water and other non-caloric drinks, on the fasting days, B.fresh provide vitamin, mineral and fibre packed juices to maintain health, hydration and energy to some extent, again making life easier and perhaps more enjoyable. We also provide you with some delicious recommended recipes for the non-fasting days to ensure you continue to progress, enjoy the process and perhaps pick up some new skills along the way.

We know from research that 5:2 diets work, we also know that they can improve metabolic health and blood sugar. We also know from research that providing a small amount of energy on the fasting days, as in the B.fresh plan is likely to be more effective and sustainable

All weight loss diets work and fail for the same reasons. If you are considering beginning a weight loss journey it’s important to consider which method is most suitable for you, your needs, preferences and lifestyle, rather than simply jumping on the latest trend within newspapers. 

It is also important to ensure that the 5 principles outlined earlier are implemented and that you select a plan that is actually somewhat enjoyable. For more information and to begin your B.fresh 5:2 journey check out the link here

Written by Nutritionist Matthew Jones

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