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Thankfully spring is finally here, for which we Calgarians have waited for a very long time. It was supposed to be here beginning of March, but we waited till about the end of April. Even in past winter months, temperatures were much lower than average and the amount of snowfall was much higher than average. Even some people, like my neighbour, who loves snowfall and winter were tired of this year’s winter and said enough is enough. I have a habit of watching the evening news on the television, but this winter I was tired of watching the evening local news because after every five minutes they show the weather report, and it was depressing to watch the temperature in minus double digits (Celsius) for months.
This spring will also bring new leaves and flowers in the trees, birds have already started their conferences on the trees, snow is already melted. Soon we will be sitting in the gardens and enjoying the evening tea and dinner outside. This spring is also bringing some new fruits in the market like watermelon. Now I am already thinking about summer when we will get lots of more fruit, particularly my favourite one like cherries, mangoes and many more.
Last year, in the summer, when we were getting a lot of watermelons, as I was chopping it for everyone to enjoy, my daughter and I were chatting about how we don’t consume the rind of the watermelon and is actually so versatile to use. She informed me that she had once made a curry with watermelon rind, which was very tasty and everybody enjoyed it. I was surprised and couldn’t believe that I had not thought of that before. Soon after that talk, I decided to make something very nice with watermelon rind that is when I made this recipe the very first time, and it turned out fantastic.
  • 500 grams watermelon rind
  • 200 grams red portion (fruit) of watermelon
  • 200 grams sugar
  • 200 grams khoya/mava ( solidified milk)
  • 3 tbs ghee/unsalted butter
  • pinch cardamom powder
  • 2 tbs green pumpkin seeds/any other nuts

  • Slice watermelon rind and watermelon in small pieces and grate the khoya.
  • Heat heavy bottomed pan and add ghee/butter in it, when hot add watermelon rind pieces and let it boil and cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes till they are soft.
  • Add watermelon pieces and sugar, let all the water evaporates, it can take 15-20 minutes then add grated khoya in it.
  • Add pumpkin seed for garnishing and serve hot or cold as desired.

The amazing ways intermittent fasting affects your body and brain

The amazing ways intermittent fasting affects your body and brain

Many people say they experience an energy boost while doing intermittent fasting.

Many people say they experience an energy boost while doing intermittent fasting.
Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

It’s odd to think that depriving yourself of a necessity for life might be one of the most powerful ways to transform your health.

Yet there’s more and more evidence for the idea that fasting could have powerful health benefits for both the body and brain.

There are many different forms of fasting, however, ranging from going extended periods of time without food to consistently eating less (perhaps cutting caloric intake by 20%) to intermittent or periodic fasting.

But of all these different kinds of fasting, intermittent fasting is very likely the most popular and certainly the trendiest one. Celebrity adherents include Hugh Jackman, Tim Ferriss, and Beyonce. In Silicon Valley, whole groups of self-optimization obsessed biohackers meet to collectively break their fast once a week, and executives at companies like Facebook say that fasting has helped them lose weight and have more energy.

The hard part about classifying “intermittent fasting” is that there are a number of different forms of this kind of fast. Intermittent fasting regimens range from only allowing yourself to consume calories within a certain span of the day, likely between six and 12 hours; to eating normally five days a week and dramatically cutting calories on two fasting days; to taking a 36-hour break from food every week.

The different forms these fasts can take mean that much of the research showing benefits might be true for one of these fasts but not necessarily others. But there is good research on several of these fasts indicating that the benefits of intermittent fasting go beyond weight loss. There may be real long-term disease-fighting health improvements.

Here’s what we know so far.

A recent study suggests that intermittent fasting can do more than help people lose weight — it also may improve blood pressure and help the body process fat.


For this small study, researchers had overweight participants either cut calories every day or eat normally five days a week and only consume 600 calories on their two fasting days.

Both groups were able to lose weight successfully, though those on what’s known as the 5:2 diet did so slightly faster (though it’s not clear the diet would always help people lose weight faster).

More significantly, those from the intermittent fasting group cleared fat from their system more quickly after a meal and experienced a 9% drop in systolic blood pressure (the “regular diet” group had a slight increase in blood pressure).

This was a small study and researchers say participants had a hard time following the diet, but these are promising results.

Other studies indicate intermittent fasting could reduce risk for forms of cancer, but more research is needed.

Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Other small studies on a similar 5:2 diet and on other intermittent fasting diets have shown that this form of intermittent fasting is associated with physical changes that could lead to reduced cancer risk, particularly for breast cancer.

Much more research on this area is needed, but these are promising results, Mark Mattson, a neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health, previously told Business Insider.

There may be evolutionary reasons why depriving ourselves of food for some time makes us feel energetic and focused.

Neanderthal paintings can be seen in a cave in Pasiega
Thomson Reuters

“Hungry,” from an evolutionary perspective, isn’t lifeless or drained. It’s when our bodies and brains need to function at maximum capacity.

“It makes sense that the brain needs to be functioning very well when an individual is in a fasted state because it’s in that state that they have to figure out how to find food,” Mattson previously told Business Insider. “They also have to be able to expend a lot of energy. Individuals whose brains were not functioning well while fasting would not be able to compete and thrive.”

Periodic fasting may make it easier for us to burn fat and enter ketosis.


Blood samples have shown that people who fast from 12 to 24 hours at a time enter a state called ketosis, when their bodies start to derive more energy from fat, Mattson told Business Insider in another interview.

The more you enter this state, the better your body gets at using fat as fuel. For that reason, some people try to trigger ketosis with “keto” diets that involve consuming a lot of fat. But according to Mattson, fasting is a significantly more effective way of boosting ketone levels.

Intermittent fasting may strengthen neural connections and improve memory and mood.

human brain connectome
Human Connectome Project, Science, March 2012.

Many people who fast intermittently say that at times, they feel more clear and focused while fasting.

There’s real science to back up the idea that being “hungry” gives you a sense of focus. Entering ketosis triggers the release of a molecule called BDNF, which strengthens neurons and brain connections linked to learning and memory.

That’s one of the reasons researchers have suggested that ketogenic diets (both the fasting kind and the fat-heavy kind) could be useful for people fighting degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. That also could explain the clarity or focus some people feel after fasting. It may provide a mood boost as well.

Research indicates that some forms of intermittent fasting may help with diabetes.


Both in mice and in people, there’s evidence that certain forms of intermittent fasting can improve the body’s response to sugar. In mice, researchers have basically been able to reboot the pancreas, which produces insulin, reversing diabetes with periods of fasting like the 5:2 diet.

In people, a form of fasting that involves 25 days of unrestricted eating followed by 5 days of eating a very restricted fasting diet seems to cause big improvements for those with high blood sugar.

Intermittent fasting works at least as well as other forms of dieting for weight loss.

Shutterstock/Siberian Photographer

No form of restricting food is necessarily easy, and people who get started with intermittent fasting for the first time agree that it’s no picnic. On the one hand, it’s nice to eat whatever your want when your diet isn’t restricted – but it’s also very hard to know you are still hours away from food when struck with a craving.

But research does indicate that intermittent fasting is at least as good as other forms of dieting for weight loss. That plus the other health benefits might make it a preferred candidate for many.

Certain forms of fasting are associated with anti-aging health effects, though it’s not clear whether intermittent fasting does this for humans.


Various forms of fasting have been associated with significantly improved lifespan and healthspan – the time an organism is healthy – in several different studies.

This has mostly been demonstrated with caloric restriction in animals, which cuts the amount of calories these animals are provided by 20-30%. There’s limited evidence that this may work for humans too.

But that sort of fast doesn’t sound necessarily safe or pleasant.

Valter Longo, an anti-aging researcher at the University of Southern California, has published research and written a book about a diet he’s developed that he says provides the health and anti-aging benefits of fasting while still letting people eat normally 25 days a month (the other five are pretty rough).

It’s unclear whether intermittent fasting would trigger the same benefits, though it’s possible.

More research is still needed on the different forms of intermittent fasting.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

It’s appealing to think that fasting might be an ancient survival mechanism that triggers healing processes in the body, as many fasting researchers suggest.

But that doesn’t mean all forms of fasting are the same or that they have the same health effects – many will vary from person to person, and you should always consult your doctor before trying any severe dietary changes.

In his new book, “The Longevity Diet,” Longo cautions against using the term “intermittent fasting” too broadly. We know various forms of fasts – only eating during certain hours, restricting eating one or two days a week – are associated with health benefits. But we don’t know that all these health benefits are the same for all fasts.

But even so, many of these intermittent fasting regimens are considered relatively safe for a healthy person. So if they appeal, they could be worth a shot. And they may come with a host of health benefits.

I tried the popular Silicon Valley diet credited with boosting energy and prolonging life — and I can see why people are obsessed

I tried the popular Silicon Valley diet credited with boosting energy and prolonging life — and I can see why people are obsessed

Erin Brodwin / Business Insider

I’ve been ignoring my mother for a week and a half.

For the past 10 days, I’ve stifled the small voice she instilled in the back of my mind to remind me that forgoing breakfast is nutritional doom – all for the sake of a diet known as intermittent fasting.

The diet essentially involves abstaining from food for a set period of time ranging from 16 hours to several days – and surprisingly, it has a lot of scientific backing.

Large studies have found intermittent fasting to be just as reliable for weight loss as traditional diets. And a few studies in animals have suggested it could have other benefits, such as reducing the risk for certain cancers and even prolonging life.

Silicon Valley loves it. A Bay Area group called WeFast meets weekly to collectively break their fasts with a hearty morning meal. The Facebook executive Dan Zigmond confines his eating to a narrow time slot; many other CEOs and tech pioneers are sworn “IF” devotees – some even fast for up to 36 hours at a time.

I opted to try a form of the diet known as the 16:8, in which you fast for 16 hours and eat (or “feed,” as some proponents call it) for eight hours. With this regimen, you can eat whatever you want – as long as it doesn’t fall outside the designated eight-hour window.

Here’s how it went.

Before starting my fast, I checked in with the doctor Krista Varady, one of the first researchers to study intermittent fasting in humans. I also had a standard checkup with my primary-care doctor.

University of Illinois at Chicago

Varady is a nutrition professor at the University of Illinois and wrote a book about fasting called “The Every-Other-Day Diet” in 2013. She told me the most scientifically supported benefit of intermittent fasting was weight loss.

Most of Varady’s IF research has involved obese people. Study subjects have lost a significant amount of weight – roughly the same amount they would have on a traditional diet that involves strict eating and calorie counting.

I told Varady I was trying out the diet not to lose weight but rather to find out how feasible the plan was. She said that while certain people shouldn’t try intermittent fasting – those over 70, people with Type 1 diabetes, and women who are pregnant or lactating – “most people can give it a try.”

Some research suggests that intermittent fasting has a handful of other benefits, from increased focus to a reduced risk of certain diseases. Some studies even suggest it may help prolong life, but most of that research has been in animals, not people.

Melia Robinson

Anecdotally, intermittent fasters report that their diets have helped them become more productive, build muscle faster, and sleep better. Members of a Silicon Valley startup called HVMN skip eating on Tuesdays and claim they get more work done on that day than any other.

Varady said hundreds of people in her studies had reported similar benefits. “But we haven’t studied or quantified any of that yet,” she said.

With the go-ahead from my doctor and Varady, I was ready to find out for myself. Based on advice from other IF fans, I chose to break my daily fast at noon and stop eating at 8 p.m., giving me eight hours to eat or “feed.”

Flickr/Molly Elliott

I wanted the last meal before my first 16-hour fast to be good, so I made one of my favorites: homemade pizza with arugula and chicken breast.

My first day of fasting began with an iced coffee. Intermittent fasters are allowed to drink fluids including tea and coffee during the fast, but no sugar or cream is allowed.

Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

Then I headed to a morning yoga class. I have to admit feeling a little trepidatious about exercising without my typical morning fuel.

My workout went better than I expected. The hunger pangs I felt during the warmup quickly faded. During class, I felt more energized than usual. At work afterward, I didn’t start to feel peckish until 10 a.m., so I poured myself another black coffee.


The coffee helped curb the cravings for a while, but I started to feel ravenous at about 11 a.m. At 11:45, I set a timer on my phone for 15 minutes.

Finally, it was noon. I ate the lunch I’d prepared: a salad of spinach, chicken breast, cheese, and a banana for dessert. I savored the sweet taste of victory: My first 16-hour fast was over. But I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

Erin Brodwin / Business Insider

About 30 minutes after inhaling my meal, I started to feel dazed. I had trouble focusing. My hands and fingers, which are normally a bit cold, felt like ice. I wasn’t hungry, but I suddenly felt as if I hadn’t eaten in days. On a tip from a practiced intermittent faster, I went for a long walk.

Erin Brodwin / Business Insider

About 20 minutes into my walk, I began to feel slightly better, but I still couldn’t really focus. When I got back to the office, I managed to get a few things done but still didn’t feel like myself.

Later that day, the fog faded and I felt normal again. Soon after that I found myself plowing through work with more energy than usual. Around dinner time, I noticed another change — I didn’t feel as ravenous as I usually do. So I warmed up a couple of pieces of leftover pizza and skipped my usual dessert.


The next day, I woke up determined not to be thwarted by the previous episode of brain fog. For lunch, instead of a container full of lettuce and a bit of chicken, I had a hearty bowl featuring loads of grilled chicken, half an avocado, cheese, veggies, and black beans.

Erin Brodwin / Business Insider

After lunch, I felt great. I was focused, full, and ready for an afternoon of work.

That evening, however, I encountered my first challenge: dinner with friends.


Luckily, the friends who invited me over wanted to eat at about 7, well within my “feeding window.” We planned to order takeout, but, unfortunately, some of us arrived late. By the time we ordered, it was 8 p.m., and the food didn’t arrive until 8:30 (after I was supposed to stop eating for the day).

It felt weird to refrain from eating with everyone, so I decided that the next day I would break my fast an hour later to make up for it.

But delaying my break-fast was a mistake. By 10:30, my stomach was growling. I couldn’t think about anything other than food. I kept drinking coffee and water, hoping I could quell my appetite with liquids and caffeine.

Erin Brodwin / Business Insider

By 11:45 a.m., I was ravenous and shaking from all the coffee. I decided to eat at noon again despite the promise I’d made the night before. The rest of the day went all right, and for dinner I heated up a frozen meal from Trader Joe’s.

The next day I faced my second challenge: traveling while fasting. My office had an overnight work retreat planned, and everyone was ready to pile in the car around noon — the exact time I was supposed to break my fast.

Erin Brodwin / Business Insider

In a rush, I grabbed a Clif bar, a handful of almonds, and some seaweed snacks from my desk. I scarfed it all down as we drove.

When we arrived, we went for a hike in California’s Año Nuevo state park. It was gorgeous and I was feeling energized and happy — despite the fact that I’d also worked out in the morning and had hardly eaten.

Melia Robinson / Business Insider

Some of the intermittent fasters I spoke with told me they preferred to work out in the middle of their fast since exercising in that state gave them more energy during heavy bouts of training.

The science doesn’t necessarily support this, however. In one large recent study, scientists reviewed several studies of Muslim athletes. They had been practicing one of the oldest forms of intermittent fasting – abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset during the holy month of Ramadan.

The reviewers found that as long as the athletes ate the same number of calories and nutrients when they broke their fasts, their athletic performance didn’t suffer or improve during Ramadan.

After the hike, my coworkers and I met up for dinner at a taco joint. When we arrived, I was famished. Instead of being polite, I marched to the front of the line and was first to order.

Melia Robinson / Business Insider

I got two chicken tacos, chips and salsa, and a side of refried beans.

When I took a bite, the flavor of the grilled chicken seemed to dance on my taste buds. The corn tortillas were soft, light, and delicious. The beans were hearty and had a kick of spiciness that I loved.

I realized I was tasting the food more intensely than usual – as if my senses were heightened. Perhaps narrowing my eating to a specific window of time made me pay more attention to my food. It seemed to make the act of eating more enjoyable, too.

After the meal, I was stuffed. My coworkers decided to make s’mores, but by then it was 9:30 p.m. — well past my eating time. I didn’t want to miss out, so I headed over to the campfire and helped other people roast their ‘mallows.


That night, I went to bed feeling great about my self-control. When I arrived at the conference center my office had booked for our retreat, however, I couldn’t help staring at the breakfast spread.

Personal Creations/Flickr (CC)

There was fresh fruit, yogurt, and a plate of whole-grain muffins that looked as if they’d been baked that morning. I was tempted but moved on.

Around 11, I was hungry and decided I’d earned a small cheat, so I added almond milk to my second cup of coffee. It tasted sweet, nutty, and wholesome – and after skipping out on s’mores, I didn’t feel guilty.

The day before, I’d made a mistake in assuming that I’d be able to eat lunch right at noon. This time, I prepared by saving some nuts as an emergency snack.


That turned out to be a good idea. My meetings ran well past noon, but I was able to break my fast with a hearty snack. When lunch arrived, I was still hungry and ate a blackened-salmon burger with salad and some berries. I felt as if I could have kept eating for hours but tried to control myself.

After lunch, someone broke out the rest of the s’mores supplies, and this time I could enjoy the treats.

Melia Robinson / Business Insider

After a couple of raw s’mores, I was feeling a little giddy from all the sugar.

When I got home after my office retreat, I wasn’t super hungry but didn’t want to miss my window for dinner. So I made some scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast.

Erin Brodwin / Business Insider

The next day, I hit the gym in the morning with more energy than usual. I powered through about twice the miles I normally do on the stationary bike, then ran a few errands. I broke my fast at noon with a small plain yogurt, but then oddly forgot to eat for the rest of the day. I had a few bites of chicken breast and veggies at about 5 but wasn’t hungry. It was a mistake I’d pay for later.


My lack of appetite is one of the reasons I think people would be drawn to intermittent fasting. Though the idea of a “fast” – which implies denying yourself food – sounds tough, I did occasionally experience less hunger overall when I did eat.

The next day started out well. I had pizza, my first meal of the day, around 12:15 p.m. But afterward I had a strong and unusual craving for something sweet, so I stopped by a newly opened bakery.


To celebrate the store’s opening, there were plates stacked high with free alfajores – delicious South American cookies sandwiched together with a layer of dulce de leche. I quickly polished off four alfajores, which I later calculated had more calories than one of my normal meals – and way more sugar and refined carbs than I would normally eat in a day. But hey – I didn’t break my diet!

That night after dinner, my sweet tooth had yet to be satiated. Around 11 p.m. — three hours past my eating window — I was overwhelmed by a craving-fueled urge to make s’mores. Armed with the leftover supplies from my work retreat, I fired up the stove.

Erin Brodwin / Business Insider

By midnight, I’d eaten four s’mores and some vanilla ice cream, and felt as if I could keep going. Only my lack of supplies stopped me. I love sweets, but this was abnormal even for me. It was as if my stomach had no bottom. All I wanted was more chocolate.

The next day, I felt guilty and went back to my fasting routine. I skipped breakfast and broke my fast at noon with a healthy-but-hearty lunch: turkey breast, cabbage, spinach, a scoop of egg salad, and some hummus.

Erin Brodwin / Business Insider

Afterward, I felt much better than I had for the previous 24 hours. The problem with sweets (like the ones I’d gorged on) is that they’re high in refined carbs and sugar, neither of which fill you up or fuel your body long term.

My guess is that after I forgot to eat, my body went into starvation mode. Then, when I consumed heavy, rich treats, it went into overdrive and started craving more and more of them.

For the next two days, I ate healthy, filling meals. I made salads full of beans, chickpeas, and lean meats or eggs; whole-grain pasta with chicken breast; and vegetable stir-fry with brown rice and tofu. I also drank a ton of water — sometimes up to 15 glasses a day.


Varady told me that not drinking enough water was a central pitfall of the diet. “Many people who try the diet complain of things like headaches. But the problem is a lot of them aren’t drinking enough water,” she said.

Roughly 20% of our daily fluid intake comes from food, so if you’re fasting, you may need to add a few glasses of water to your day.

Overall, I learned a lot about my body by trying intermittent fasting, but it was one of the hardest things I’ve done.

Flickr/With Wind

When I stick to a fairly healthy diet full of vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats (avocados and nuts), vegetables, and small amounts of lean meat and dairy, I feel good – no matter when I eat.

And when I eat like that, I can enjoy the occasional sweet treat – be it a s’more or an alfajor. But when I get too rigid with my eating by denying myself certain things, or when I forget to eat altogether, it puts me in a danger zone where I crave unhealthy foods that ultimately don’t nourish my body.

I don’t think intermittent fasting is the right eating plan for me, but I see how it could work wonders for some. It reduced my opportunities to snack, curbed my appetite (at least on the days when I followed it properly), and pushed me to focus on and enjoy my food when I did eat.

Erin Brodwin

Intermittent fasting also appeared to eliminate my late-night snacking habit and seemed to give me more energy throughout the day. I’m glad I gave it a shot, but for now, I’m back to three meals a day – plus the occasional sweet treat.

What to eat when you’re on the 5:2 diet

What to eat when you’re on the 5:2 diet

I have decided to embark upon the 5:2 diet because it is easier for me than going on the ketogenic diet. But I am struggling with the two days in which I am required to eat 500 to 600 calories a day. I learned that even one plate of wantan mee is 450 calories! Do I have to skip two meals for those two days that I am doing intermittent fasting then?

You are right. One plate of wantan mee is around 450 calories!

You can imagine that one plate of nasi lemak, which people usually eat for breakfast in Malaysia, together with sambal and one piece of fried chicken, as well as one egg, will be around 850 to 1,100 calories!

Actually, you don’t have to skip any meal at all for those two days in which you are required to take in less.

How do I do this?

Okay, this is what you can do in a typical day to get below 500 calories.

Remember, if you are a man, you can eat up to 600 calories. If you are a woman, you have to do 500 calories.

In general:

5:2 diet, intermittent fasting, fasting diet, diet, losing weight, sample menu, corn on the cob, Star2.com

Corn on the cob, as seen in the above filepic, can be part of a dinner during this diet.

• Eat a lot of vegetables.

Green leafy vegetables are bulky and make you feel full. Also eat vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli because those give your stomach a sense of bulk.

• Eat small portions of lean meat, fish or eggs.

Protein will make you feel full. Remember to choose lean meats, rather than fatty ones, because fat contains a lot of calories.

Unlike the ketogenic diet, you are trying to restrict calories and not take too much fat.

• Bake and roast something, rather than fry.

We advocate that you prepare your own meals so that you can control your calories better, instead of eating out for these two days.

• Drink a lot of soups.

They will make you feel full.

• Do not eat a lot of carbohydrates like bread, pasta or rice.

You certainly cannot have cakes on fast days! If you must eat something sweet, try fruits.

• Drink plenty of water.

5:2 diet, intermittent fasting, fasting diet, diet, losing weight, sample menu, turkey sandwich, Star2.com

Paired with corn on the cob for dinner would be a turkey sandwich, which would come up to about 328 calories in total. — Visualhunt.com

You can also drink black coffee or tea without any added sugar or milk.

You should also avoid artificial sweeteners as these will spike your insulin.

Remember, you are trying to get your insulin levels to go down – the main reason why you are even doing intermittent fasting!

• Yes, you can skip a meal.

Some people advocate skipping breakfast entirely in order to get more hours of fasting in, and only start eating lunch at 2pm.

If you do that, you can add those calories back to lunch or dinner.

Give me an example of a diet on a fast day together with the amount of calories per meal.

Okay, this is an example of a one-day meal plan:

Breakfast – 1 sachet of mixed oats (255 calories)

Lunch – skip

Dinner – Beetroot, spinach and feta cheese salad (125 calories)

Supper – 1 apple with some butter (145 calories)

Total calorie count: 525 calories

Here is another:

Breakfast – skip

Lunch – 1 soft boiled egg and asparagus (90 calories)


Snack – A few grapes (60 calories)

Dinner – Turkey sandwich (172 calories) with corn on the cob (156 calories)

Total calorie count: 478 calories

Wow! You can hardly eat anything at all! I tried this, and I was so hungry that I could not focus at work during fast days.

When you start this for the very first time, it is normal to feel hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar) or unwell, with a lack of concentration.

You should also not plan to exercise during fast days unless you are already comfortable with the diet. (No, you cannot add calories to your food based on how many calories you think you burned during exercise! You must stick to the calorie restriction!)

But if you keep busy, such as being hard at work, you will be surprised that time passes quickly and you won’t realise that you are hungry anymore.

Some people also feel cold or have headaches. Again, this is common with any new diet, and it will pass.

If you really cannot take the hunger, just keep one small snack available with you at all times. I recommend half a large banana, which is around 60 calories.

Pregnant women, teenagers and children should not fast.

If unsure, you should consult your doctor before trying this, or any, diet.

How much weight can I lose on this diet?

It depends on how long you keep at it. A lot of people have reported losing anything from a few kg to 40kg.

You will usually lose more weight at the start of the diet than in the middle of it.

Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health, computers and entertainment. For further information, e-mail starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
The 5:2 Diet: Eat whatever you want… but for 5 days only

The 5:2 Diet: Eat whatever you want… but for 5 days only

I was recently made aware of something called a 5:2 diet. People like Jimmy Kimmel from The Tonight Show follow it and claim that it is incredibly effective. What is it all about?

The 5:2 diet involves intermittent fasting. It is also known as the Fast Diet. It was popularised by a British doctor and journalist called Michael Mosley. It became really popular some time around 2012 to 2013. In this diet, you “fast” for two days and eat normally for five days in one week.

In the days that you “fast”, you have to restrict your calorie intake to about 500 to 600 calories per day. Most people find this diet a lot easier to follow and stick to than the ketogenic diet, especially when you eat out a lot and you’re eating Asian foods.

Wait. I only eat less for two days? Can I eat anything I want for the other five days?

Yes. For the five days that you don’t fast, you can eat anything you like from carbs to cakes to pasta. The 5:2 diet does not restrict you from eating certain types of foods, unlike the ketogenic diet or the Atkins diet. It only restricts WHEN you can eat them.

The tough part is the two days when you are restricting your calories. Those two days can be very tough, and many people feel as though they are starving. In those two days, if you are a woman, you have to restrict your calories to 500 a day. If you are a man, this will be 600 a day.

OK, let’s talk about the fun five days first. Can I eat however much I want?

Well, if you are planning on losing weight, it isn’t a good idea for you to eat 10 bags of potato chips and a whole cake every day for those five days! You should be eating normally, meaning breakfast, lunch and dinner – what you eat on a normal work day or what you usually cook for yourself.

You will find that because you are trying to lose weight, you end up watching what you eat during those five days as well because you don’t want to undo the good work you put in for those two restriction days.

I want to give this a try. What days should I restrict calories?

You can choose any two days in a week, but most people find two consecutive days of restricting calories really difficult. So most people choose Monday and Thursday as their calorie restriction days, and eat normally for the rest of the week.

And you should eat “normally” for yourself, not copy what other people are doing because everyone has different metabolism and caloric requirements.

Let’s talk about those calorie restriction days. Is it easy to eat around 600 calories a day?

It is very difficult actually. It requires you to have an in-depth knowledge of how many calories different foods contain so that you can plan your meals accordingly. During those “fasting” days, you should be eating two or three small meals.

But most foods we normally eat contain a lot of calories that are going to add up. For example, if you choose to eat one plate of wonton noodles, that would be around 480 calories. That would mean you can only eat 20 more calories for that day if you are a woman and 120 more for a man!

So you have to really make very difficult food choices. You have to be careful about eating your salads as well. Salads can contain quite a lot of calories, especially if you load up on cheese shavings/cubes, nuts and protein.

Think about halving your food portions – including your salads. A Caesar salad can contain up to 600 calories, especially if you pile on the cheese shavings and grilled chicken or smoked salmon. Drink lots of water! Water fills you up, if only temporarily.

Is this diet medically safe?

Yes. So far. There hasn’t been a lot of research done in the medical world for the 5:2 diet compared with, say, the ketogenic diet. But intermittent fasting has been shown to have many health benefits. This is because there are lower insulin levels, and insulin is a hormone that you want to avoid a spike of because it stores glucose and fat.

Studies have shown that the sweet spot for intermittent fasting comes between 18 and 24 hours of fasting. This is the spot that sees the greatest drop of insulin and the greatest increase in fat burning.

Achieving 16 to 18 hours of fasting is easier than you think! The hours that you are asleep also count, so it can actually be achieved by skipping breakfast and not having lunch until late afternoon. Fasting is extremely good for diabetics!

Of course, there are side effects. Most people report not being able to function or focus well on the job, and on those fasting days, you are probably too weak to exercise hard.

Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health, computers and entertainment. For further information, e-mail starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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