Saturday, 19 January 2013

A day in The Englishman's 5:2 Diet

I promised before Christmas to blog about what we eat during our 5:2 fasting days, and since I am still knee-deep in tax returns, The Englishman obliged me with a 'Day in the Life of…' post.

Although I was the one who really needed (and wanted to) lose weight, it was initially The Englishman who spotted the Horizon programme where Dr Mosley experimented with the 5:2 fasting diet. (His book is now out featuring tips from yours truly.)

The Englishman suffers from high cholesterol, even though he's never been overweight. Rather annoyingly, (unlike me) he's always struggled to keep his weight up, but alas, age plays its part and lately he's been complaining about the soft stuff which has suddenly appeared around his middle. (Welcome to my world…).

So here's A Day In The Englishman 5:2 Fasting Diet.

My 5:2 diet day

I wake early at 6; a habit picked up (not that there was much choice) in the Navy.

I always start the day with a slice of lime in hot water, this is supposed to be good for your cholesterol but it is a great way to sluice out your mouth first thing.  I used to be a great tea drinker but now can’t touch the stuff in the morning and really can’t start with coffee.

Sticking to 600 calories in a day is tough so you have to be really careful about what you eat and when. Get it wrong and the day can seem very long.  When I started fasting I went to bed early to try to reduce the amount of time I had to think about my hunger.

So breakfast consists of Scotts Porridge Oats, just 20g carefully measured (this is probably a man thing but to me 20g means 20g). I cook it in a saucepan with water, a pinch of salt if you like.  Oddly, despite the lack of milk, it still tastes a little creamy, but for flavour I add a handful of blueberries.  82 calories of goodness washed down with an Americano, 1 calorie.  The beauty of the traditional rolled oats is that they take longer digest so you stay full longer.

Breakfast 83 calories.

 Lunch consists of a supermarket salad, provided I can see quite clearly how many calories are in the dish, I’m looking for around 170 calories.  M&S king prawns and crunchy citrus salad is top the choice at 135 calories.  Waitrose have started putting calories in large type on the front of the packaging, this is a big help.  You can spend ages turning packets upside down, back to front, to find in tiny print how many calories and then you find it’s calories per 100g.  It’s a ready meal, so why is it so difficult to tell me how many calories, how much salt, fat etc per packet?  Why do I have to do mental arithmetic (although I know one of the benefits of the 5:2 is improved brain function)?

Sometimes I stay in the office and have a Clearspring Miso soup, 28 calories.  I prefer the fact it’s only 28 calories to the taste (there isn’t any).  I tried Miso beetroot soup, I can eat just about anything but this is beyond the pail. I’ve looked for the “not for human consumption” but couldn’t find it on the packet.

Lunch 135 calories.
Total for day so far 218.

Frequent black teas and a second Americano keep me going during the day.

As I cycle to work I need fuel to get me home; it's 7.5 miles uphill.  For this I eat an apple and banana, 170 calories, 30 minutes before setting off.

Total now 388 calories.

In the evening we have something like poached chicken or white fish with salad.  There are lots of really tasty low calorie recipes online (the BBC one is pretty good, and although I feel hungry during the evening, my relationship with hunger has changed.  I used to feel faint with hunger and would grab a snack as quickly as possible.  Now even on non-fasting days I let it pass and stay hungry knowing the feeling will go.

Dinner 212 calories.
Daily Total 600.

I’ve lost 4 kg since starting the intermittent fasting in August, which is great because I’ve lost that paunch I hated around my middle. I’ve had to get my suit trousers altered and buy new jeans a size smaller.  The problem now is that I’m losing too much weight so have switched to 6:1. Just fasting one day per week has helped stabilize my weight.

When I break the following morning I am hungry so I make a Harley Pasternak smoothie who is apparently a celebrity trainer

5 raw almonds
1 red apple
1 banana
3/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup skimmed milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Place all ingredients in a blender. (Depending on how powerful your blender
is,you may need to chop the apple and almonds into small pieces first.)

2. Blend on medium-high for 30 seconds (or until desired consistency).
Makes one 16-ounce serving
I add a handful of blueberries or a slice of ginger for variety.
This gives me a 382 calorie boost from the off and sets me up for the day.
Over Christmas and then straight after, on a week's skiing holiday, I didn’t fast.  By the end of break, my body is now telling me it needs the fasting. I feel lethargic and bloated, so strangely I cannot wait to start the regime again.
I’ve never been on a diet before in my life but this works.  It’s not just about losing weight, it’s about feeling good.
The Englishman with Daughter,
looking lean.

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