What Is The 5:2 Fasting Diet Plan?

5:2 Diet Meal Planning Made EasyThe 5:2 diet (also known as the 5/2 diet) is a fasting diet plan that limits the calorie intake for 2 days, and then eating 'normally' for the other 5 days per week. This type of diet is also known as an 'intermittent fasting' diet.

The general idea behind the 5:2 diet is calorie restriction on the two (non-consecutive) given days. That is, for two of the 7 days in each week, you eat very low calorie (but high in nutrition) foods, while the other 5 days you can eat what you would usually eat. This diet isn't a full fast (as in water only), but is a carefully planned eating plan for a couple of days each week.

5:2 Diet Background

The 5:2 diet became popular in August 2012, with a BBC Horizon documentary featuring reporter Michael Mosley. He talked to experts about the benefits of the 5:2 diet, tried the diet himself and shared his results.

Over a 5-week period, he had a loss in weight of approx 15-20lbs. Blood tests showed a dramatic improvement in cholesterol and glucose levels, as well as other improvements.

To watch the full documentary for yourself, click here.

How Do I Do The 5:2 Diet Plan?

5:2 fasting diet plan

How effective is the 5 & 2 diet? Click here for more information.

The two days of fasting requires you to keep your intake below a set number of calories: 500 for women, 600 for men. The normal average calorie intake (at least in North American or European countries) is 2000. This means scaling back the calories to about 1/4 of the 'normal' amount on the two fasting days.

The obvious part of following this fasting diet plan is to plan your meals to ensure you stay below the daily calorie count. For example, a good starting plan may set your calorie limits to something like:

  • 150 calories at breakfast
  • 100 at lunch
  • 200 at dinner, and
  • 50-100 for snacks throughout the day.

To give an example of some 'typical' foods, a hard boiled egg would be approx. 77 calories, one can of Coke is 150 calories, and a medium banana is 105 calories. For a comprehensive list of foods and their calorie counts per portion, click here.

For a lot of people who do the 5:2 diet, they gain a greater awareness of the calories and nutritional value of foods they consume. This awareness is not only for what they eat on fasting days but also the foods they eat on non-fasting days.

This greater awareness leads them to make better decisions in their food choices for themselves and their families every day of the week. This leads to greater weight-loss and improved health generally.

For more information and tips on how to do an intermittent fasting diet, click here.

What Can You Eat For 500 Calories?

When you hear "500 calories", you may be a bit concerned about what you can actually eat on a fasting day. Well, there are many different meals that you can eat. But the key is being prepared so that you are not tempted by non-healthy, high-calorie foods and snacks that you may have in your cupboard.

(For an example 5:2 diet 500 calorie meal plan, click here).

There are many different meals that you can prepare so that you will remain under the 500 calorie limit, including:

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Lean meat
  • Grilled fish
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Coffee
  • Eggs
  • Etc, etc

There are many foods that are ok to eat as snacks and meals, but it’s important not to load them up with high-calorie dressings and sauces. Eating fresh, natural, healthy ingredients is often best.

For more tips and inspiration on what you can eat on your 5:2 fasting days, click here, or see our latest posts below...

What Are The Health Benefits Of This Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan?

One of the ideas behind this type of diet is that it promotes your body’s IGF-1 hormone (normally a growth hormone that causes aging) to go from growth mode to repair. This means it works at making your body heal, rather than just grow.

The other factors to consider with this diet are more concerned with your current weight. Lower calorie intake for most people will equal less fat. This is because, unless you’re a full-time athlete, most people do not need the number of calories they consume each day. They don’t burn that energy away, and as a result, it turns into fat. The 5:2 diet promotes lower calories on a weekly basis and high nutrient foods during the fasting days.

Intermittent Fasting - Not a 'Real' Fast

As a very important note to all the readers, this type of diet is not a true ‘fast’ as the name implies. You don’t go for two days without eating. While true fasts can be a mental and physical cleansing time, they should not be undertaken often. This is especially if you currently have a medical condition or are pregnant.

No-one promoting this fasting diet plan should tell you to not eat anything for two days a week. If the body doesn’t get enough nutrients, it starts building a more durable fat, which is made for long-term safety and is harder to lose. Not eating for two days on a regular basis will build this type of fat and will make it hard to slim down if that is what you desire.

If you wish to do a true fast, please consult a doctor or clinic and do so with their assistance and monitoring.

Improve Your Health & Lose Weight Safely

As with any diet, the 5:2 diet is only a stepping stone to a healthier body. You should also consider:

  • exercise,
  • drinking lots of water,
  • getting a good amount of sleep,
  • cutting out bad habits like smoking, and
  • attempting to eat healthier when on your 5 day ‘eat anything’ segment.

While this diet suggests that you can eat anything you want on those 5 days, it's best to still be mindful of what you consume. The 2 day fast won't negate all the effects of your other 5 days. The less fatty, processed foods that you eat, the better your health will be and the faster progress you will make.

As with anything, use common sense. You may wish to consult your doctor before starting. If you feel ill when on this fasting diet plan, consult a doctor for bloodwork, or stop the diet for a few weeks to make sure you’re over any sickness.

And of course, don’t be on this diet while pregnant, or have any other major health-related issues without getting a doctor’s permission first.

How Can I Burn Extra Calories When On The 5:2 Diet Plan?

If you’re keen to lose some weight and get in shape, burning extra calories by getting active is one of the best ways. Getting your body moving by going to the gym or going for a run are two great ways to burn off calories.

If these options are not your cup of tea, then there is plenty of exercise and fitness equipment to help. We have put together quite a few reviews so that you can select the best gear so you can exercise in the comfort of your own home. Make sure that you check out this page with many different options to get you started, as well as these exercise posts below...

We understand many people either have no time to hit the gym, or doing 30 minutes on a treadmill isn’t your thing. As such, we’ve put together a few other options to burn those extra calories, and some fat as well.

This can help with your health and vitality whether you are on the 5:2 diet plan or not. So check out these posts on burning some extra calories when on the fasting diet plan...

>> Exercising while on a Fasting Diet

>> Burning Calories by Keeping Cool

>> 5 Ways to Burn Calories (Besides working out!)

How can I get more details on how to do the 5:2 diet plan quickly and easily?

If you’re ready to fast-track your weight loss and reclaim your health, make sure you download our complimentary fasting guide.

This guide outlines the steps I took to lose weight and drastically improve my health. It’s the same guide that has achieved outstanding results for thousands of people worldwide. We are so pleased that we have been able to help so many people achieve great health and weight-loss results. We look forward to being able to help you too.

Click below for more details and to access the guide instantly...

5:2 fasting guide

Good luck on your journey towards improved health and weight-loss. If there is anything that you need help with, then please click here to instantly download our fasting guide. Otherwise, leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

To your health


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  1. Avatar Laura on June 2, 2016 at 10:06 am

    First attempt not successful. Did not maintain my focus or commitment.

    • Sarah Sarah on June 5, 2016 at 7:38 pm

      Hi Laura
      Thanks for your honesty and for sharing why you feel that this attempt was not successful. Why don’t you start the 4 week challenge over again? You see learning how to get the best results does not mean giving up just because on your first attempt it did not work. The biggest battle to losing weight and improving you health is about changing years of habits (both conscious habits and the unconscious habits). That is why your mindset and your commitment to want to lose weight is so important. You must know why you are wanting to lose the weight. What is the real motivation? Is it enough to keep your committed and following through? Also look at the trigger points that caused you to ‘falter’ give up, cave in, quit. This will tell you alot. Perhaps you might be interested in some extra resources. Send me an email if you would like some further help info@thefastingdietplan.com
      To your health

  2. Avatar Salam on June 20, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Thank you very much for the great article. As a Muslim, we are encouraged to fast two days a week (Monday and Thursday)! It is not a must, just preferred. We fast from sunrise to sunset. No food or drink is allowed during this period (no water). As you mentioned a true fast can be a mental and physical cleansing time. From a personal experience, fasting is really great. I strongly believe it has many benefits on the mind and body as well if done correctly.

    • Sarah Sarah on June 28, 2016 at 11:22 pm

      Hi Salam
      Thanks you for your insight.
      Although I do not fast like you do (from sunrise to sunset) I do continue to fast not just to maintain my weight but to free the mind and body or the extra weight and burdens that it must carry. You see when your stomach is not full and your mind is not sluggish from trying to digest a heavy meal you start to have more energy think clearer, sleep better and feel better. When you can have this in your life for free why not take it. Some people spend thousands to have access to these feelings when we can experience a little bit of this each week.
      To your health

  3. Avatar Mona on June 28, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    This is what Muslims are urged to do for a life time plan.
    To fast 2 days a week.

    • Sarah Sarah on June 28, 2016 at 11:14 pm

      Hi Mona
      Thanks for bringing this to our attention, I believe Muslims are urged to fast entirely, whereas the fasting diet plan or 5:2 diet allows people to eat and drink a small amount of food throughout the day. Having said this if this is something you have been doing your entire life perhaps you have some great tips you can share that makes fasting easier?
      To your health

    • Avatar Gary on August 8, 2016 at 7:28 pm

      Yes but no water is not wise

      • Sarah Sarah on August 19, 2016 at 8:42 pm

        Hi Gary
        Thanks for your insight, there are millions of people throughout the world who fast for religious reasons, it is a part of honoring their faith. If someone is fasting to lose weight, improve their health, improve immunity and decrease their insulin sensitivity (or any of the other many health benefits associated with fasting) then yes I agree we promote and encourage you to drink water throughout your fasting days. Why? Drinking water helps keep the body hydrated which is important since we are made up of more than 70% water, it helps you from being dehydrated, which when people feel dehydrated they often feel hungry and want to eat and lastly water helps flush toxins and waste materials from the body. When fasting you will be breaking down waste and other by products so it is important to flush them out of your body; this will also aid your digestion and improve your overall well being.
        To your health

  4. Avatar Lindsey W. on August 22, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Where do I find the 4 week challenge?

    • Sarah Sarah on December 4, 2016 at 5:10 pm

      Hi Lindsey
      This is where you can take up the 4-week challenge, start with downloading the quick start guide… click here.
      Hope this helps you on your way to intermittent fasting and the 5.2 diet.
      To your health

  5. Avatar Karen on August 27, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    I have followed this diet for 16 weeks and up to two weeks ago was successful. Lost 21 lbs. For the last two weeks no loss. Does the diet “plateau”.?

    • Sarah Sarah on December 4, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      Hi Karen Congratulations on your success. Yes you may find that you have hit a plateau of some sort. Most people experience this earlier on not after 16 weeks. Just because you have hit a plateau of sorts does not mean that you give up. Many people write in and tell me they thought they had plateaued and then 3 weeks later they get back on the scale and have lost weight again or rather they measure themselves and have lost more inches even through it is not reflected back as a lower number on the scale. You have achieved great results and I would hope this has now become part of your everyday routine so just like any form of diet, weight loss program or exercise your body will hit levels. If your goal is to continue to keep losing weight and inches then keep it up but try incorporating some other changes, such as being more mindful of what you are doing on your non fasting days, incorporating more exercise and looking at your overall nutrition. In addition ask yourself have you hit a plateau because of a change to your lifestyle or environment? Are you sleeping less, more stressed or not being as active?

      The diet plan forms a good basis to reduce your calories 2 days each week but it may require to look at other factors – just like a body builder building muscle sometimes you need to change things up, your challenge that muscle harder to get even more results.
      I hope this has provided you with some food for thought

      To your health


  6. Avatar Alice Rodriguez on September 28, 2016 at 6:42 am

    Isn’t it interesting that we in the Western world think going for 12 hours w/o water is harmful? Millions do this and it seems w/o much harm. As a person with an autoimmune, this has been really helpful in tracking down the food which really bothers me. The list of have-not is endless and really bums me out BUT at least I know what I can put in my mouth w/o too much harm. 1 out of 3 suffer from some kind of skin issue, most all being traced back to what you put in your mouth. If one doesn’t stop putting stuff in their mouths how would one EVER know?

    • Sarah Sarah on December 4, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      Hi Alice Thanks for your comments and interesting insight. Have you been following the fasting diet plan and has it helped you determine which foods are triggers for your autoimmune disease? Did it also help you loose weight or help ease some of the effects. I would be curious to know more if you would like to share?
      In terms of your comment regarding water yes millions of people may do this and as you say it has little impact and harm. I however prefer to drink water on a regular basis; it is what the body is primarily made up of and what the cells need for repair and regeneration. That and because many of us often think we are hungry when in fact we are dehydrated and the body is wanting more water – wanting more fluids this is why I encourage people to drink more water during fasting days than do a total fast.
      To your health

  7. Avatar William Morgan on May 31, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Dumb question here. How do you get the benefit of fasting without actually fasting i.e. Eating 600 calories in fasting days ?

    • Sarah Sarah on June 11, 2017 at 9:30 pm

      Hi William,

      Fasting benefits people in many ways. The 5:2 diet is called a fasting diet because you dramatically lower your calorie intake; just consuming approx 25% of a normal days intake. That is why we call it a fast – it is not starvation or complete denial of fodd for the body.

      Fasting greatly helps overweight people the most, but it also attracts many people who may only have a few pounds to lose or those who are looking for simple ways they can make some improvements for even greater health benefits.
      Yes! The fastingdiet is not a true fast; the 5:2 diet is actually more of an eating pattern than a diet. There are no requirements about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them.
      Many people find this way of eating to be easier to stick to than a traditional calorie-restricted diet. Many studies have shown that different types of intermittent fasting may significantly reduce insulin levels, lower cholesterol etc.

      One study showed that the 5:2 diet caused weight loss similar to regular calorie restriction. Additionally, the diet was very effective at reducing insulin levels and improving insulin sensitivity.

      Several studies have looked into the health effects of modified alternate-day fasting, which is very similar to the 5:2 diet. See more here: https://authoritynutrition.com/the-5-2-diet-guide/

      Intermittent fasting has been most extensively studied in volunteers who are obese or overweight. Those who restricted their calories to 2 days a week lost more fat. The benefits in people who are not overweight are less clear because there have been fewer studies. In one experiment, a number of fit young men were asked to practice intermittent fasting without losing weight for a few weeks. During that time they saw improved insulin sensitivity, a marker for reduced diabetes risk.
      Does this help you better understand how this version of fasting or calorie restriction helps you to lose weight?

      To your health

  8. Avatar Barbara on January 18, 2019 at 8:02 am

    How expensive is it to get the materials to follow the plan?

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