The following is a recent email newsletter we sent out to subscribers detailing one extremely common misconception – – – daily subtle calorie reduction is not easier than fasting (nor more effective).
The details here are simple and if followed will provide an opportunity for health benefits. If you haven’t heard of the 5:2 diet it is worth looking into. I first heard of this method from an episode of Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show.
He was discussing what had given him the best weight loss results on his journey. This came at a time when I was one year into my “liquid day” + 13 intermittent fasting protocol. I was only having soups and smoothies on Mondays and I was fasting for 13 hours nightly. This was providing me with a bit of a weekly calorie deficit.
The 5:2 sounded interesting and do-able for my schedule. So I gave it a try. Turns out, I like it.
Personally, I do not use this weekly as I am continually trying different techniques. I do, however, use this protocol with certain patients in my naturopathic practice. I find it particularly helpful when the diet is already clean and lean but for some reason other than calorie intake we are having trouble improving the results on the scale. This works.
So what do you do? The basics are this – For 2 days of the week consume only 500 calories/day. The other 5 days of the week – eat as normal.
There are many factors to know before beginning this diet for yourself. Ie. how will this diet impact your quality of life, energy levels, sleep, bowel function, mood, etc. There are medical concerns if you are on medications or have been diagnosed with a chronic condition such as diabetes so consult a medical professional if you want to start.
Fasting has a host of benefits for my patients and I. Although this is not a true fast many of the same benefits can be achieved with the 5:2 (including weight loss).
When this diet is helpful:
- when you are unable to maintain consistent groceries
- when traveling – vacation, work, etc
- when daily carbohydrate restriction is too difficult (eat whatever you like on the 5 “off” days)
- when work and social events are mandatory (take 2 days off from food when you have the time).
How to apply the 5:2:
- Two days per week consume only 500 calories.
- During those two days focus on veggies and clean fats like olive oil.
- Roasted, raw, stir fried or steamed veggies are all good options – cover them with olive oil and make sure the calories do not exceed 500 per day.
- The other five days per week eat as you normally would.
Lets jump into the email. Here is what I think is important to know about this diet.
I bet you didn’t know this about the 5:2 Diet
The 5:2 diet (two days of restricted eating, five days normal eating/week) is more effective than total daily calorie restriction for weight loss.
Have you ever tried to simply reduce your calories? It’s a lot of work.
If you haven’t tried counting your calories you might find it helpful just to be comfortable with the amount of calories in certain foods you eat. Otherwise it isn’t much help.
I would suggest a better tracking measure to become comfortable with would be total carbohydrate content in the foods you love (— say no to doughnuts!). Or simply what we call counting “carbs per day.”
Our viewpoint from the start of DAMYHealth has been that we don’t want to track anything, we simply want to live healthy and lean.
So, if you’re here for that stick around I’ve got some more news for you. Because you’re here reading our newsletter you probably already know that simply restricting calories doesn’t work for most people. You probably tried it and it didn’t work.
Now you’re looking for other answers.
We constantly talk about the holistic approach which is to balance the body in order to improve metabolism. This approach is really effective. But you still need to eat less.
The question becomes once everything is optimized and you’re feeling good, eating well and starting to lose some weight how much less do you need to eat? This is a great question and it’s so individual so it’s a bit difficult to answer. But that’s OK.
Here’s what I bet you didn’t know: for most people dramatic intake restriction for two days per week is more effective than prolonged calorie restriction or simply eating less every day.
What does that mean for you?
This means that if you have your hormones under control, digestion is good, stresses are low, etc. and you’re ready to do some restriction – you will get the most benefit from fasting protocols. I’m serious – going very low-calorie for a few days per week is a lot more effective than simply lowering your calories every single day. It’s easier as well.
A study from last year compared the two diets over six months and the 5:2 group lost more weight than the calorie restriction diet and they found it a lot easier.
In clinical practice we see this as well. With all the discussions about fasting, keto, low-carb, intermittent fasting on, etc. you might be thinking where do I start?
Here’s how to start: Try a day where you simply don’t eat as much as you normally do. Then the next day don’t binge.
Get comfortable with being hungry. This is the restriction that helps boost metabolism and therefore generates weight loss. If you haven’t tried to reduce your intake for a day in a while this might be simply the push you need.
You won’t lose weight on the first day or the first week but your metabolism will be lifted, you’ll be more in fatburning mode and you’ll be ready to lose weight.
The point of this post is to say that short bouts of restriction are more effective than just eating less every single day.
You shouldn’t over eat but you shouldn’t also feel deprived every single day because it leads to more binging.
You shouldn’t feel deprived every single day because it’s very stressful.
You shouldn’t feel deprived every single day because you can negatively impact your sleep.
There are many reasons for not being deprived but there are also many positive reasons for doing short bouts of calorie restriction. Weight-loss is one of them!
Dr. David Duizer is a co-founder of DAMYHealth.com and a Naturopathic Physician practicing in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is a passionate, driven, motivated leader in integrative medicine focused on optimal wellbeing, holistic healing and natural health.
To learn more about Dr. David Duizer Click Here.