We’ve talked about intermittent fasting on the Primal Eye before, and today we’re going to take a closer look at one of the ways you can carry out intermittent fasting – the 5:2 method.
The first step is to choose which days you want to fast on. This may change week to week…
The 5:2 method is based on the principle that for 5 out of 7 days in the week you eat your normal healthy diet, and for the remaining 2 days you restrict your intake to 500 calories (women) or 600 calories (men).
Step 1: Which Days?
The first step is to choose which days you want to fast on. This may change week to week depending on your circumstances and plans. You’re more likely to be successful at sticking to your plan if you choose 2 days each week you’ll be able to repeatedly fast on, with only occasional deviations from the plan. It’s also up to you to decide if you want to choose 2 days next to each other or separated by a ‘normal’ eating day, although many people find it easier to manage when the fasting days are separated by at least one day in between.
Step 2: When Should I Eat?
The next decision to make is how you are going to spread your 500 or 600 calories across your fast day. There are a couple of different ways to do this and from experience it seems men and women tend towards different approaches. NB: There are many more ways to distribute your food, these are just our top 3.
- ‘Bookend’ your meals, so start the day with a 200 or 300 calorie breakfast and end the day with the same.
- Hold off on your first meal until lunchtime; this will increase the amount of time you’ve gone without food (your fasted hours) which is linked to even greater health benefits. You then split your calories between lunch and dinner.
- Split your food evenly throughout the day, giving you 3 small meals.
Step 3: What Should I Eat?
This is where the primal-based diet will really help you out as eating lots of fresh low-density vegetables will provide you with a decent portion size but not excessive carbohydrates (or calories). For example, 40g of wholewheat pasta is 135Kcal and it’s a very small, sad-looking portion. But 700g of raw courgette yields about the same calorie content (126kcal), and is a much larger portion!
Make sure you are getting lean protein, carbohydrates from a variety of vegetables, and a small amount of fat with each of your meals, regardless of how you split them. Having a higher percentage of protein in your meals will make you feel fuller for longer!
Step 4: Keep Note!
Keeping a food diary will allow you to track all the different delicious meals you’ve had and see which ones kept you from wandering towards the cookie jar. Seeing your achievements and pitfalls will help you stick to your plan and achieve your goals. Make sure to keep track of your mental and physical feelings too, so you can see how you are coping with the plan and adapt it accordingly. For example you might notice that you can workout on a fast day and feel energised and fine, but exercising the day after a fast day is exhausting. This kind of insight can help you adapt the way you programme your 5:2 plan.
Fast Day Recipes
Breakfast: Italian Baked Eggs
2 large free-range (pasture-rasied) eggs; 60g fresh chopped kale; 100g chopped courgette; 14 cherry tomatoes; 100g cubed roasted butternut squash. Salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and chilli flakes to taste.
Wash and chop your veg and place into a baking dish. Whisk eggs with seasoning and pour over the top of your vegetables. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes until egg is cooked through.
250kcal, 21g carbs, 17g protein, 10g fat.
Lunch: Spinach Salmon ‘Salad’
100g salmon steak; 2 cups raw washed spinach; 1 medium sweet red pepper, sliced; 1 cup chopped broccoli.
Place the broccoli in a roasting dish with your salmon steak and cook for 20minutes or until fish is cooked through. You can also roast the red pepper if you prefer not to eat it raw. Allow to cool and then mix with spinach and season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste.
270kcal, 21g carb, 25g protein, 11g fat.
Light dinner: Ginger and Parsnip Soup (2 servings)
15g butter; 25g fresh peeled root ginger; ½ bunch spring onions; 250g parsnips; 600ml stock/broth (homemade is the best option!); 40ml full-fat coconut milk; salt and pepper.
Heat the butter in a pan and fry the finely chopped ginger root, add in roughly chopped spring onions and peeled and sliced parsnips, fry gently for 2 minutes. Add the stock/broth and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes, add in coconut milk. Blend the all the food in a food processor or with a handheld immersion blender (NB: you may need to leave it to cool first if using a food processor).
300 kcal, 40g carbs, 11g protein, 12g fat. (Per serving.)
Dinner: Beef Steak Stir-fry
100g sliced beef steak; 100g finely sliced courgette; 1 finely sliced red pepper; 1 cup grated or finely sliced carrots; 30g cherry tomatoes; 1 tbsp. tamari.
Wash and finely chop or grate your vegetables. Heat 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a frying pan and cook steak strips as desired, add vegetables and toss for several minutes until browned but still crunchy. Drizzle tamari over stir-fry and season to taste with pepper and chilli.
305kcal, 22g carb, 26g protein, 10g fat.
Have you followed the 5:2 method of intermittent fasting before? Do you have any other tips? Leave a comment below with your experience!