Nutritionist Keri Glassman, who regularly shares her expertise on Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, is answering your nutrition, diet and health questions.
Want to know whether the 5:2 diet is right for you? Or, what should you eat before a workout? Ask Keri anything, HERE!
This week’s question…
“What’s with all the buzz on this new 5:2 diet from the UK?” - Sue S., Bellmore, New York
Fasting is part of almost every religion. Muslims have Ramadan, Catholics fast on Good Friday, and Jews fast on Yom Kippur. However, in the nutrition world, we emphasize eating consistent meals… well, most of the time. Eating consistently prevents you from overeating at your next meal and can even help keep you on track with your daily routine. So when it comes to a diet based on the exact opposite, I can’t help but be a little skeptical. Let’s check it out.
The Fasting Rules.
The 5:2 diet is as simple as it gets: eat for 5 days, fast for 2 days. Here are the rules: you eat whatever you want (yep, whatever you want) for 5 days, and for 2 days, you eat a calorie-restricted diet. While, you’re not exactly fasting in the way we think of (stomach screaming “FEED ME!”) you’re fasting in the sense that ladies are allowed only 500 calories while guys can have 600. Some people eat all of their calories in one sitting, while some split it between breakfast and dinner. Simply stated, you’re eating only 1/4 of what you would normally eat, mixed with lots of water, green tea (which may boost metabolism) or black coffee. It doesn’t matter which days you fast, just don’t do it back-to-back. You probably already know that gorging yourself on “feeding” days is a bad idea. You’ll feel icky and won’t have as much success, but studies suggest people who follow this eating style generally don’t have the desire to stuff themselves silly.
Eat Less, Live Longer.
The science guys (and gals) call this “intermittent” or “alternate day” fasting. Some studies suggest that it’s protective of your heart, may reduce your risk of developing cancer, can be effective for weight loss, and may even slow down aging. How can it do all these things? Fasting reprograms your metabolism--when your body isn’t getting energy from food it turns to its other fuel source: stored fat. By breaking down more fat and shrinking the size of fat cells, you end up with fat loss, and as a result, weight loss. Sounds great right? Slow down, girlfriend! Studies since the 1930’s have supported calorie restriction as the secret to longevity; however, the studies done on intermittent fasting are not specific to five days of feasting and two days of fasting. Before you get your fasting face on, consider the following.
The Real World.
There’s a magic wand to the 5:2 diet--compliance. It works, if you can stick to it. Imagine a fasting day; you’re starving and you realize you have your best friend’s birthday dinner (complete with a giant pitcher of Sangria) and you’ve had a really stressful week at work. Or, your best friend asks you to go biking with her, and afterwards, you’re ravenous. You’ve allotted that day to be a fasting day, but you are starving, plain and simple. In this situation (and let’s be honest, most real life scenarios), it would be easier to stick with a nutritious, whole foods diet, and eating consistently throughout the day instead of planning to put your body into starvation mode. We live in the real world and you can live a long, healthy life at a healthy weight by maintaining a balanced diet without having to starve yourself two days a week. Instead of a double bacon cheeseburger one day and starving the next, make healthy choices and cook up nutrient dense meals like salmon and spinach regularly.
-- Terri MacLeod & Keri Glassman