Five 5:2 watch outs

I recently wrote about why I will happily fast, two days a week, for the rest of my life here.

In this post I wanted to share 5 top tips for making fasting a pleasurable experience that helps you reap its full benefits.

1. Get your diet totally in check before you attempt intermittent fasting

5:2 has unfortunately become some mass marketed quick fat loss fix. It’s about so much more than competitively declaring quite how much you can get for your 500 calorie allowance and shedding a few pounds for your bikini. If you’re not eating clean already then committing to eating real, whole foods 7 days a week is far better than 2 days a week laced with diet carbonated drinks, low fat processed foods and chewing gum to curb your appetite.

Eat clean round the clock

Eat clean round the clock


2. Draw up proper meal plans

You want to keep real, whole foods in your diet, even on fasting days. You want to ensure you’re doing breakfast, lunch and or dinner proper. But, if you’re not used to counting calories you’re going to quickly plough through them – especially if like me you start every day with a teaspoon of almond butter before breakfast and your lunch invariably includes half an avocado. White fish, chicken breast, tonnes of greens are your friends! Perhaps consider a helping hand from some egg whites or green juices. Plan your meals (and their associated calorie content with a counter) and stick to it!

3. Listen to the advice issued on exercise…

When you’re an exercise junkie (guilty as charged…) it’s really hard to take two days a week out of training when you enjoy it so much. I started my fasting by totally ignoring the suggestion that you don’t really want to be exercising on fast days. Instead, I attempted to sandwich a work out between the two meals I had allocated myself at breakfast and lunch. Huge mistake! By late afternoon I was staggering around like a zombie. I quickly came to realise that the two fasting days where I wasn’t exercising were actually helping me throw the kitchen sink at my work out the day following a fast and I have started to see some impressive gains in my training. Personally, I think you’d be foolish to attempt a CrossFit WOD, in particular, on 500 calories.

Go hard post fast day

Go hard post fast day


4. Do all you can to help out your will power

My will power is acknowledged by many but even I struggle on a fasting day if any temptations are placed in my way. Clear your diary, keep your mind as active as possible – and distracted from food!


  • Read through cookbooks that have just arrived in an Amazon delivery
  • Use your final 100 odd cals for a glass of wine with girl friends – and sit on a train for two hours with a tin of Reese’s Pieces in your bag that one of the girls brought you back as a treat from NYC… It won’t end well
  • Think for one minute that one oat cake will suffice with a teaspoon of houmous. There will always be more…

Not that of course I have any experience in the above… *cough*

Say 'no' to Reese's, say 'yes' to this angelic plateful

Say ‘no’ to Reese’s, say ‘yes’ to this angelic plateful


5. Use your common sense…

…and don’t sweat the small stuff. Glen Matten kick started this intermittent fasting journey for me and I often check in with him to discuss feedback and results. He’s all about making me his guinea pig y’know! The next couple of weeks will involve a fair bit of socialising, a trip to France (as if I’d IF during that trip!) and only two consecutive days of fasting (which aren’t advised) would fit with my calendar.

Glen the guru’s advice?

“I think two consecutive days is OK, although Friday, Sunday, Monday (e.g. 3 days out of 4) sounds a bit OTT (when does a ‘mild’ good stress, become a bad stress?). Personally, I would drop the Sunday – there’s nothing magic about 5:2 as we know, rather it is just the general principle of periodic calorie restriction that matters, not slavishly following a ‘format’…”

Think longer term and remind yourself of exactly why you’re getting involved in an IF protocol.

What are your top IF tips?