Quite a while ago I began doing the 5:2 diet and documented my progress for a little bit. Unfortunately I went on a couple of holidays in close succession last summer and autumn, and never really got back on the 5:2 wagon.
Well today I’m beginning again, and I have to say I don’t think it really needs to be very difficult for me. I’m only going to do it when I’m working from home (I find it so much easier to eat well on it when I’m home, as I’ve noted previously), and that means I can wake up a little later, which shortens the day. I’ve also found that it works best for me when I do it from dinner to dinner (so a 24 hour fasting period). I know that this way doesn’t work best for everybody, because some need the sleep period as an additional few hours of fasting to get a weight loss benefit.
I’ve also discovered two meals/ingredients that I think make fasting kind of a doddle. The first in salad, the second is eggs.
There are many great things about salads. Firstly, the variety you can get is absolutely massive. I think they might be one of the most varied meals out there actually, because there are literally hundreds of fruits, vegetables, meats and meat substitutes you can include, in whatever combination you like the best.
Secondly, vegetables are packed with nutrients, but usually very low in calories. And I mean packed. I thought it might be helpful for me to provide you with a list of the nutritional info of some of the most popular salad ingredients. In a previous post I have also discussed a website which has more in-depth information.
1) Iceberg Lettuce – 100g contains 14 calories, 22% RDA Vitamin K and 7% RDA Vitamin A. It also has 37.4mg omega 3 fatty acids (which your body cannot make itself), and 15.1mg omega 6 fatty acids.
2) Tomatoes – 100g contains 18 calories, 5% RDA dietary fibre, 21% RDA Vitamin C, 17% RDA Vitamin A, 10% RDA Vitamin K, and 80mg omega 6 fatty acids.
3) Cucumber – 100g contains 15 calories, 21% RDA Vitamin K, 5% RDA Vitamin C, and 4% RDA Potassium
4) Avocado – 100g contains 160 calories (don’t be scared by this, it’s all from healthy fats which can actually help you to lose weight!), 23% RDA fat, 27% RDA fibre, 26% RDA Vitamin K, 20% RDA Folate, 17% RDA Vitamin C, 14% RDA Panthothenic Acid, and 14% RDA Potassium. That’s a lot of nutrients!
5) Sweet Onion – 100g contains 32 calories, 8% RDA Vitamin C, 6% RDA Vitamin B6 and 6% RDA Folate.
If you had a salad with just some of these ingredients, you’d be well on your way to an extremely nutritious meal. On top of these, you can also add whatever flavours and textures you like.
Today I had an anchovy and green bean salad, with iceberg lettuce and half a tablespoon of Pizza Express Light Caesar Dressing, and it came to just 101 calories! That included a whole tin of anchovies (drained), 60g iceberg lettuce and 62g green beans, so not only was it low calorie but there was a lot of food so it really felt like I was eating a big meal that would keep me going for ages.
I highly recommend including salads in your 5:2 fasting days repertoire. They are very low in calories, really nutritious, they make big meals, and they can be as varied as you like! I think flavour is the key here – more flavour = satiety.
Eggs are great for a fasting day. I’m sorry if you’re vegan, but I think you’re missing out on a great food source!
1 large (50g) boiled egg contains 77 calories, 8% RDA fat, 6g protein, 15% RDA riboflavin, 22% RDA Selenium and 594mg omega-6 fatty acids.
Many people are put of by the fact that eggs are fairly high in fat, and they are also very high in cholesterol. There is good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol, and eggs do increase cholesterol, but only the good stuff! They don’t actually increase levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, and it turns out the more cholesterol we eat, the less our bodies create. Therefore, it balances out.
Not only are they not as bad for you as everybody thought, but they also reduce how much food you eat in the long run. In a study by Vander Wal et al (2008) published in the prestidgious Nature journal, 152 men and women aged 25 to 60 were asked to eat either an egg or bagel-based breakfast, and the groups were split again into dieters and normal eaters. The egg breakfast consisted of 2 eggs scrambled together, and the bagel breakfast was a bagel matched in energy density and total energy.
After 8 weeks, the egg dieters group showed a massive 61% reduction in BMI compared to the bagel dieters group. They also had 65% greater weight loss, a 34% greater reduction in waist circumference, and a 16% greater reduction in body fat. Furthermore, there was no difference in levels of cholesterol between the two groups. They also both showed a reduction in hunger compared to the non-dieting groups. You can’t really beat those results! The only disappointing result was that there wasn’t a difference between groups when comparing the normal eaters.
The truth of it is that eggs are really great for keeping you full. The calories are very nutrient dense, and because eggs have a lot of protein they can help to keep you full for a lot longer than say, a piece of toast which may have a similar amount of calories. The other thing that’s great about eggs is that, like salads, they are really versatile. Tonight I’m going to have a ham and egg omelette before I go to the gym, but they are also delicious boiled (as a quick snack), scrambled (delicious with a couple of slices of bacon for breakfast), poached (really yummy on a bed of spinach) and even fried (just make sure you use a low-cal spray oil rather than sunflower oil to reduce the calorie hit!).
So there you have it, my two superhero fasting foods! Let me know if you have any foods you think work great for you on a fasting day, and I hope if you incorporate salad or eggs into your diet you see the benefits I have!