The 5:2 Diet
By Anne Laing:
Here’s the thing: something like the 5:2 diet may be popular for the average Joe Blob, but if you are eating a poorly balanced diet (and from observing hundreds and hundreds of food logs, 95% of people do), then going from a lot of rubbish down to only 600 calories of the same rubbish is not going to make much difference to your long term health or weight prospects. Something has to change about the composition of your intake.
Several studies have focused on employee productivity and the attention patterns of children in relation to their morning eating habits.
They’ve concluded that the energy and mental focus benefits of a low GL and GI high-protein breakfast aren’t only felt in the morning, but extend through the day as well.[i]
The average adult turns over 300grams of protein a day. Eighty per cent of that is recycled, broken down and reused; a bit like Lego bricks, but after a certain period of time these proteins become worn out and are lost to the body.
What we cannot salvage, we need to replace, and once you start skipping meals you will compromise your ability to uptake enough. For the serious trainer (that’s you) this is physique suicide as the body starts breaking down muscle.
“Normally active” men and women require a minimum of 1.5g protein per Kg of lean bodyweight – just over 0.7g per pound. (Lean bodyweight is your total weight on the scales, less the amount of your weight made up of fat. So if you weigh 60kg at 25% bodyfat (that’s 15kg), your lean weight is 45kg. Multiply that by 1.5 and your protein intake per day should be more than 67.5gm). For those actively exercising or training, the requirement goes up to a minimum of 2gm per Kg lean bodyweight.
The main problem is your body can only effectively absorb and utilise 20-30gm of protein at one sitting, so to get enough protein into your day, it will need to be spread out over at least 4 meals.
It is important to have a wide and varied food intake and to vary eating times to keep calorie burning up, but the scary thing is that there is so little research into the 5:2 way of dieting, and any of the other potential side effects of intermittent fasting, or even yo-yo dieting.
Protein is non-negotiable (even your bones are 50% protein), and unlike other essential micronutrients, you need it every single day. The ordinary sedentary male may have a higher reserve of muscle they can call on for protein during the fasting days. But this approach is dangerous if you are working out hard (Is there any other way???).
Human studies have been limited on this type of dieting and so far they have all lacked control groups and have used short trial lengths. A handful of smaller, well-controlled studies on fasting reveal that women may actually miss out on the much-touted improvements in glucose tolerance and insulin responses because of their lower muscle mass, and this could increase their risk of developing osteoporosis, diabetes, hormone imbalances and weight gain as they age.
When it comes to finding the truth about fad diets – follow the money!
Food allergies are often born from repeated consumption of the same food source.
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[i] Micha R., Rogers P. J., Nelson M. (2011). Glycaemic index and glycaemic load of breakfast predict cognitive function and mood in school children: a randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition. 106, 1552–1561 10.1017/S0007114511002303