November 26, 2012 // Style

Alternate Day Fasting Will Help You Get Back To Your Pre-Thanksgiving Self

So we’re all about staying healthy, right? Boosting energy, lowering cholesterol, and hey, maybe losing a few pounds — and all without having to sweat it out in the gym? Hell to the yeah and then some. And that’s why we’ve been doing the 5:2 diet. See, it’s really simple. For two (non-consecutive) days a week you eat no more than 500 calories (or 600 if you’re a guy). Those kinds of numbers mean you’re talking vegetables, vegetables and maybe, just maybe, vegetables. Cut the protein, ditch the carbs and go easy on the fruit.

The theory is that our big ol’ protein-packed Western diet is great for when you’re growing, but for adults it’s aging. A bit like driving a car with your foot pressed permanently on the gas — it’s a quick way to wear it out. Two days of vegetables or salads basically gives your system a rest twice a week.

See, we read about Dr Krista Varady at the University of Illinois who says Alternate Day Fasting is the way ahead. It really cuts your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, all the bad stuff to do with aging. But hell, who can fast every other day and still have a social life? Hence the 5:2 diet. And yes, you can eat what you like on your food days (that’s what you like, not as much as you like).

So what’s it actually like? Well, TBN has been doing it for a month (we’re all about scientific rigor round here) and we feel great! We’re sleeping better, we’ve got more energy — working out even feels easier, weirdly, the morning after a fast. The first day was pretty tough, but now (whisper it) we actually look forward to our fasting days. See, you don’t feel guilty on a food day because you know you’ll be hitting the reset button in a day or so. Last weekend, for example, (fasting at the weekend is just too hard) we had booze, pasta, apple cake, chocolate, home-baked bread, full-fat yogurt on granola, the works, without a pang of guilt, because we knew we’d put it all to rights by fasting Monday and Wednesday. And fast days are way less scary because you know you’re going to be eating properly tomorrow.

So, on a fast day we start with an apple and lots of tea. At lunchtime we have a big pile of celery and carrot sticks with 4oz of low fat cottage cheese (the packaging says it’s 110 cals per half tub) or some clear soup. In the afternoon we have another apple, maybe, or a grapefruit, and then at home we have a big bowl of steamed veg and 3oz tuna. We should also mention our tea addiction, which means we have to allow extra calories for milk. There’s NO WAY we’re giving up tea. If you drink your coffee or tea black, that buys you 50-100 more calories than we’ve listed above.

This is all about taking care of your long-term health: reducing all those risk markers, growth hormones and insulin levels in your blood, but yeah, over the month we’ve lost 6lbs. And, since it’s the easiest, unstressiest diet we’ve ever done, we’re gonna keep this up.

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