I was listening to the radio this morning, where Kate was talking about her latest diet (she is always on some sort of diet isn’t she?!) the Feast and Famine Diet, also referred to as 5:2 or Intermittent Fasting. Not really anything new, but someone came up with a brand new name for it and got it on to TV and now it is one of the latest Fashion Diets around.
Intermittent Fasting is simply a pattern of eating where you fast for periods, combined with periods of eating. Simple. This can probably be done in a million ways, from not eating for 18 hours a day and then eating all your calories the remaining 6 hour, to only eating 3 meals a day, with absolutely nothing but water in between meals (no snacking peeps!). The latests in Intermittent Fasting is the Feast and Famine Diet where you Fast for two days of the week and then eat whatever you like on the remaining five. Some do two consecutive days, other do for instance Monday and Thursday. The idea behind the model is that your body is forced to burn fat on the two days it isn’t getting enough fuel from your food. It also claims to be good for your health, lower your risk of diabetes and help you lose a bigger percentage of fat rather than muscle, compared to ‘normal’ calorie counting diets.
Ok, so you eat about a quarter of your normal daily intake on your fasting days, about 5-600 calories. You chose what and when yourself (I have heard somewhere this should be salad and fish, but I might have just made that up), but I have read people doing breakfast and dinner only, and skipping lunch. On the other five days of the week, you do whatever you like (apparently). And it works! I got no doubt it works, because it forces your body to burn stored fat, because there is no glucose readily available when you don’t constantly eat. My problem with this is, however, what happens after?
Because it is a diet after all, and all diets starts with Die, which means they will eventually die or stop. It’s not a lifestyle change, it’s just a quick fix. If that is all you want, then fine by me, go ahead and get your quick fix. But if you want to change your body shape and weight long term, is this really the way? What do you learn from starving yourself two days a week and then eating your usual junk for the remaining five? And when you have lost your desired amount of kilos, what do you do then? Do you go back to what you always used to do, the eating habits that made you fat and unhappy in the first place (and I am only saying fat and unhappy, because people that go on diets usually do it for that reason – not because I got a problem with people who are fat AND happy)? What will happen when you go back to what you always did? I am only guessing here, but it might just take you back to where you started (or even further?).
What does the five days of eating whatever you want teach you about healthy lifestyle? Nothing. I haven’t read any of the diet books on Feast and Famine, but I am hoping they provide food plans for the famine days with lots of nutritional value. And I hope they provide the same for the feast days, so the dieters can get some understanding of what sort of food they should be eating and what amounts. I am pretty sure if I were to try the 5:2 principle and eat a chocolate bar on my famine day (100gram of chocolate is about 500 calories) and eating burgers, chips, pizza, ice cream and pasta all day, every day for the feast days, I wouldn’t feel in particularly good. I doubt I would have lots of energy to do all the things I want in life. But I would still be following the principle and (maybe even??) lose weight. But that is not my point.
My point is, this is a diet. Diets will not change your life forever. Only a lifestyle change will do that. With healthy, nutritious food and some form of exercise, because you can’t change your body shape with a diet. Start with small changes, stick with it, add new changes, stick with it, and all the small things will add up to incredibly big changes in your life and your body. Do Something Every Day.