Yorkshire's Independent Restaurant Guide

The 5:2 Diet

‘What a great job. Let me know if you need any help’. It’s the most common response when you say you review restaurants for a living.

It is indeed a great job. Imagine being paid to eat out every week. The downside though is piling on the pounds. Restaurant critics are always moaning about it. Jay Rayner has told us about his latest boxing regime. Giles Coren banned himself from eating puddings and Jonathan Meades, restaurant critic for The Times packed in the job when he reached 19 stone and became morbidly obese. He lost six stones under the supervision of his Harley Street doctor.

I’m not morbidly obese…yet.  But like everyone I know, I’d happily lose a stone or two since eating out for a living means that diets are sabotaged every time you walk into a restaurant. That’s why I’m trying the diet everyone is talking about: intermittent fasting.

It came to prominence in August when Michael Mosley presented a Horizon programme On BBC2: Eat, Fast and Live Longer. Dr Mosley claims that, contrary to the usual dietary advice, fasting is a natural state for humans and after his own three and a half day fast, he lost weight and reduced his blood glucose to a safe level. He told us too that a restrictive diet helps prevent diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

But three day fasts and alternate day fasting he found too demanding for any length of time and eventually he settled on a 5:2 diet in which he ate whatever he liked for five days and on two, non-consecutive days restricted his calories to just 600.

In two months Mosley had lost a stone in weight. Since then his Twitter feed has taken off like a rocket with people asking for advice. He’s set up a website and with lifestyle author Mimi Spencer, has written a book The Fast Diet, published today (10 Jan).

The book explains the science behind the diet, gives recipes and a useful calorie chart. But as Mosley admits, you hardly need a book, (though it’s only £5.19), simply eat frugally for two days a week, (500 calories for women, 600 calories for men) and eat normally the rest of the time, it’s as simple as that.

Well no diet is simple. My first fast day before Christmas was tough, but far from impossible: no breakfast, a bowl of soup at lunch and another for supper. I was hungry but not ravenous and knowing that the next day I could eat three good meals of whatever I wanted: pasta, bread, wine, helped me get through it. For goodness sake, I could manage being a bit hungry for a day and the pay-back was two pounds less on the scales which I managed to keep off over Christmas.

Now I’ve started again in earnest. I’ll report back on the results and if you are doing the diet, do leave a comment below and let us know how you are getting along.

Here’s a review of the Fast Diet  by Fiona Beckett and for tips on how to start 5:2 read her Frugal Cook pages. For 5:2 recipes go to Yorkshire based food writer Karen Burns-Booth’s pages: www.lavenderandlovage.com