There’s no doubt that the 5:2, or intermittent fasting, diet works for a lot of people, and it seems to have positive health benefits.
But if you’ve tried it and found you wanted to gnaw your arm off and just could’t operate on 500 calories (can’t concentrate, nausea, driven to distraction by hunger), then there is an alternative.
We’ve called it the 6:1 diet. This is where you stick to a healthy eating programme (we recommend the low GI approach) for 6 days a week, and then relax a bit on the seventh day. Apart from unintentional biblical references (but if the idea has been around for thousands of years there must be something in it!), there’s a mathematical reason why it works.
Let’s say for example that you follow a 1500 calorie a day diet for 6 days, and your daily calories expenditure is 2000. In 6 days you’ll create a deficit of 3000 calories (6 x 500 calories). So to undo all that on day 7 would mean consuming 5000 calories in one day, which actually takes some doing!
Now let’s look at what happens when you follow your diet for 5 out of 7 days. Using the same maths, you’ll create a 2500 calorie deficit. To undo that in 2 days is much easier – you’ll only need to consume 3250 calories a day, which isn’t difficult, especially when there’s alcohol involved.
As a general rule of thumb, if you stick to your diet 6 days a week, you’ll lose weight over time. 5 days a week, you’ll stay the same and 4 days or less a week, you’ll likely put weight on.
So let’s hear it for the 6:1 diet!