Intermittent fasting: the myths of the 5:2 diet

There has been a lot of hype around intermittent fasting, also known as IF. Recently, the 5:2 diet in particular has been receiving lot of attention. But is it the golden solution that so many people seem to be claiming it is?

What is intermittent fasting?

Briefly, intermittent fasting is the latest fad to help you lose weight. As the name implies, this method involves deliberate fasting. This can involve skipping meals and sometimes fasting for whole days. The 5:2 diet has a weekly cycle. You eat ‘normally’ for 5 days, and then for the remaining 2 days you reduce your intake to 500 calories per day (for women; 600 for men). To be clear, 500 calories is 25% less that your recommended dietary intake (RDI).

What’s all the fuss about?

You will hear people proclaiming the wonders of the 5:2 diet. Fans of this intermittent fasting system rave about weight loss, muscle gain, boosted immune systems, and so it goes on. Does it sound too good to be true? Of course it does, because it is.

Busting the myths of intermittent fasting

Myth: IF accelerates weight loss and builds muscle

Truth: A research study in the Netherlands discovered that in fact the exact opposite was true

Myth: IF improves athletic performance

Truth: Many scientific studies have shown that fasting is in fact associated with poorer athletic performance.

Myth: IF improves insulin sensitivity

Truth: If you want to improve your insulin sensitivity and carbohydrate tolerance, then the best option is vigorous exercise. In addition, women tend to not gain these benefits from IF.

Myth: IF boosts your immune system

Truth: There is evidence that intermittent fasting, such as the 5:2 diet, actually increases your susceptibility to illness in the long run.

Myth: The 5:2 diet is easy and sustainable.

Truth: Eating only 500 calories a day for two days a week is no picnic (no pun intended). The changes in blood sugar levels can also lead to dizziness, headaches, nausea, and poor concentration. From mood swings and hunger pangs and depleted energy, the true face of IF is not easy to deal with.

As for exercising whilst on the 5:2 diet, this is extremely problematic. With fewer calories to burn and less energy, you simply won’t be able to get as much out of your workout. If it’s recommended that you consult a doctor before attempting to workout whilst on a particular diet, as is the case with intermittent fasting, then alarm bells should be ringing.

As always, the answer is a healthy balanced diet packed with natural nutritious foods.

Let’s hear your thoughts. What do you think about the 5:2 diet?

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