The Fast or 5:2 Diet is a popular diet fad that allows you to eat a normal diet 5 days of the week, with a fast on the other 2 days.

On these fasting days you will have to significantly lower your usual calorie intake, with only 500 calories allowed if you are female and 600 if you are male.

The fasting days do not have to be on consecutive days nor is there any restriction on what type of foods you can eat to reach this calorie limit, although it is recommended that you eat as little fat or carbs as possible on these fasting days.

What foods are recommended?

While undergoing the fast you should be consuming protein-rich foods like chicken, fish and other lean meats. You could also consume salad, low fat yoghurt or non starchy vegetables.

The reason for eating protein-rich foods is that they are slow to digest so will not release their energy too fast. Not only will this help to keep your energy levels high, but will also help to ward off those cravings that are caused by the sugar highs and inevitable crashes you will experience when eating those foods full of sugar.

For drinks water or tea is recommended, though if you add milk or sugar then this will have to be counted towards your calorie intake.

Why use the Fast Diet?

Apart from its ability to increase your metabolism there is further research that has shown the advantages of intermittent fasting.

For example in 2011 at the annual scientific session of the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans it was shown that fasting helped to trigger the production of HGH (human growth hormone), with a 1300% rise in women and a 2000% rise in men.

HGH is important for maintaining health, fitness and longevity as it can help to promote muscle growth.

Other benefits of the Fast Diet include:

Normalised insulin and leptin levels.

Prevention against disease.

Improved cognitive function.

Should you give Fasting a try?

Although the popularity of the Fast Diet is growing daily, with an ever increasing number of celebrities making claims about its effectiveness there are still doubts surrounding this diet.

For a start there is very little research on this diet, though the studies that have been performed are certainly promising.

One major issue with this diet however is that people fail to understand that you are unlikely to lose weight if you go overboard with your calorie consumption on the feast days.

For 5 days you should be eating a normal healthy diet, which should involve the consumption of protein rich foods, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable.

Unfortunately if you choose to eat a lot of junk food on these days then any benefits of the fast will be lost.

Finally as with any weight loss attempt you should always do a little exercise. Thirty minutes of exercise 2-3 times a week will do wonders for your waistline.

You dont even have to pay for an expensive gym membership if you dont want as there are plenty of home workouts or activities that can be performed for free.