Is the 5:2 diet a good way to lose weight?

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Several of my friends have lost weight on the 5:2 diet. I have angina and am hoping to lose weight before my heart bypass surgery later this year. Do you think this diet is a good choice for me?

BHF dietitian Victoria Taylor says:

The 5:2 diet is based on a principle known as intermittent fasting. This is where you eat normally at certain times and then fast during other times.

There are different versions, but the 5:2 diet involves eating a normal, healthy diet for five days every week and ‘fasting’ on the remaining two days. On a ‘fast’ day, you would typically consume between 500 and 600 calories.

Some studies have linked this diet to lower rates of coronary heart disease, but more research is needed

There is some evidence to suggest intermittent fasting helps with weight loss, and some studies have linked it to lower rates of coronary heart disease and diabetes, but more research is needed before this can be proven.

We don’t yet know if this diet can be kept up long-term, how it compares with other weight-loss approaches and what pattern of fasting is most effective.

Not everyone can safely fast, so if you are considering it, you should talk to your GP, especially if you have diabetes. In the meantime, eating a balanced diet and being more active will help you lose weight steadily and gradually – a weight loss of 1-2 pounds (0.5-1kg) a week is achievable. This is the safest approach.

Our booklet Fact not fads will help you to get started. You can order it from our BHF publications page.

Victoria Taylor Meet the expert

Victoria Taylor is a registered dietitian with more than ten years’ experience. Her work for the NHS focused on weight management and community programmes for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. At the BHF she advises on diet and nutrition.

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