5:2 eating plan

There is not a one-size-fits all approach when it comes to making food choices. It is important that people with diabetes, and those at risk, are supported to choose the right foods.

Any websites and apps we suggest should never replace advice from your doctor, nurse or dietician. You must always get medical help and advice for any medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment.

yoghurt with blueberries and pecans + prawn salad + blackberries = 495 cals

About the intermittent fasting eating plan

There are many different eating plans that involve fasting. One you may have heard of is the 5:2 diet. How does it work?  By eating less on 2 days of the week and eating a healthy balanced diet on the remaining 5 days.

This achieves a 25% reduction in calories. This is just one approach, there are other forms of fasting include alternate day fasting and early time-restricted feeding.

  • The 5:2 diet is based on a principle known as intermittent fasting (IF), where you fast for 2 days (600 kcal diet) eat normally for 5 days a week (1200 kcal diets)
  • It’s important to remember that many diet plans involve changing macronutrients (Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), and introducing fasting periods to change your eating pattern.
  • There is not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to making food choices. It is important that people with diabetes, and those at risk, are supported to choose the right foods.

Is the diet safe to follow?

  • People with a history of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, and pregnant or breastfeeding women should not attempt intermittent fasting.
  • If you are on insulin, or medication, such as sulphonylureas or glinides, an intermittent fasting plan could significantly increase the risk of hypos.
  • You should always inform your Diabetes Healthcare team at your GP practice if you are changing your diet plan. They can help you adjust your medication.

The scientists behind The 2-Day Diet tell you what it's all about

Research suggests that the timing of the fast is key

  • A growing body of research suggests that the timing of the fast is key, and can make intermittent fasting a more realistic, sustainable, and effective approach for weight loss, as well as for diabetes prevention
  • A study in America compared a form of intermittent fasting called “early time-restricted feeding,” where all meals were fitted into an early eight-hour period of the day (7 am to 3 pm), or spread out over 12 hours (between 7 am and 7 pm).  So you eat at that set time of the week each day.
  • Both groups maintained their weight (did not gain or lose) but after five weeks, the eight-hours group had dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improved insulin sensitivity, as well as having significantly lower blood pressure.
  • The best part? The eight-hours group also had significantly decreased appetite. They weren’t craving for food or feeling hungry.

British Dietetic Association verdict

  • The 5:2 is a simple way to reduce calorie intake. There are lots of versions of this diet, with some being less safe than others.
  • If you choose to follow this diet, choose an evidence-backed plan based on healthy, balanced eating and written by a dietitian, such as the "2-Day Diet".
  • It's vital for your health to avoid nutritional deficiencies, dehydration and overeating on non-fasting days.
  • Never attempt to delay or skip meals if you're pregnant, have had or are prone to eating disorders, or have diabetes.