11 . 2019
For weight loss to be maintained long-term, one needs to implement sustainable practices into their lifestyle. For example, you can consume nothing but 2 litre of coca-cola per day (approximately 800 calories) and lose weight, but this isn’t sustainable and such extreme calorie deficits usually result in what is called the”yo-yo effect” whereby the person ends up weighing more than they did before the diet. On the contrary, one can adopt healthy lifestyle changes, such as consuming all or most of their calories from nutrient-dense low-calorie whole plant foods while reducing the consumption of calorie-dense animal and processed foods, and achieve a healthy body weight long term. There is an abundance of scientific data to support this, including the recent Broad Study, whereby subjects adopted a whole food plant-based diet and lost more weight than any other clinical trial that has also looked at unrestricted eating patterns and weight loss.
Photograph sourced from offset.com
So it’s quite clear that in order to promote healthy long-term weight loss we want to be eating less calorie-dense foods and instead eat foods like legumes, whole grains, fruits & vegetables that are nutrient-dense and incredibly filling. Aside from food, another strategy that can help us achieve a calorie deficit is having periods where we do not eat, or severely restrict our calorie intake – this is known as fasting. So how exactly does fasting promote weight loss? Does it affect our hormones? Is it magic? No, not really. Periods of fasting simply make it harder for people to consume as many calories, and thus they are more likely to achieve a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit simply means that you are consuming less energy than you are burning. Two of the most common forms of fasting are the 16:8 style fasting whereby people only eat food during an 8-hour window (for example Midday to 8pm) and the 5:2 diet. The 5:2 diet involves eating normal calories for 5 days and then dramatically dropping your calories for 2 days (ideally not back-to-back) of the week to around 500-600. Again, whatever method you choose, what’s important is the calorie deficit. The reason the 5:2 diet is useful is because the two days where you consume significantly fewer calories helps create a much lower total calorie intake for the week.
To help show you this I have created a theoretical example below for someone that consumes a baseline of 2,000 calories per day. For the purposes of this example, let’s assume we are talking about the same exact person in each scenario and that their level of exercise is the same in each. In this example there are 3 scenarios:
As you can see, by adopting a 5:2 style fasting practice, in this example you will be consuming 3,000 less calories per week, than making no changes to your diet. However, it’s important to note that there is nothing miraculous in this and that you can also consume the same weekly calories by slightly reducing your daily caloric intake in an even manner (the third scenario shown below). Now that’s not to say there is no point in trying a 5:2 diet out, or no additional benefits to fasting beyond weight loss. There is promising science emerging to suggest that periods of fasting also help promote cellular regeneration, slow down ageing, reduce inflammation, reduce disease risk and may therefore be a helpful strategy to living a longer healthier life. So for those that find the 5:2 style diet something they can easily implement, it is a good strategy.
Photographed by Sarah Macdonald
If you are going to try the 5:2 diet I definitely recommend consuming the Eimele porridges and/or soups (approx 200 calories per serve) on all days, especially the 2 days where you are consuming only 500-600 calories to ensure that you are getting all of the necessary nutrients your body requires. For example on these days a day of eating could look like this:
1 – Eimele Porridge (206 calories)
2 – Eimele Cacao Snack Bar (87 calories)
3 – Eimele Tomato Soup (211 calories)
Total = 505 calories
Best of luck.