Social media is jam-packed with viral workout and diet trends from people who have tested them out, documented their journeys, and swear by them. One of the more popular eating regimens that's taken TikTok by storm is the "5:2" diet for weight loss. But is it a sustainable lifestyle adaptation in the long term? Losing weight is a unique process for everyone, so we here at Eat This, Not That! spoke with Lisa Young, Ph.D., RDN, the author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, a nutritionist in private practice, and a member of our Medical Expert Board, who shares everything you should know about the 5:2 diet for weight loss and whether it could be a solid choice for you.
Keep reading to learn more, and when you're done, be sure to check out the 10 Best Breakfast Foods for Losing Weight & Gaining Muscle.
What is the 5:2 diet?
According to Young, "The 5:2 diet is a form of intermittent fasting which involves regular eating for five days a week and restricting calorie intake to 500 to 600 calories for the remaining two days. The 5:2 diet focuses on when to eat rather than specific food choices, thus it is more of a lifestyle than a strict eating plan. For some people, this method of eating is easier to maintain compared to conventional calorie-restricted diets."
Is the 5:2 diet beneficial for weight loss?
This diet comes with some benefits. Because the 5:2 diet calls for you to restrict calories for two days per week, you establish a calorie deficit, which can lead to weight loss. "During periods of reduced caloric intake insulin levels decrease, thus the body uses stored fat for fuel," Young explains. "The body shifts to utilizing stored fat as a primary source of energy, and as a result, leading to fat loss over time. The diet may be effective to reduce insulin levels and improve insulin sensitivity."
That being said, Young points out she doesn't think this particular fasting method will be sustainable for everyone in the long term.
People swear by the 5:2 diet for weight loss.
TikToker @lauraleadbeaterl0 revealed she decided to give 5:2 a try and took her viewers on the journey with her. "As long as you stick to your 500 calories on your fast day, it will work," she said in one video. "The benefit of fasting is not just to lose weight; it's also amazing for your health." In another video, she stated, "So I've just weighed myself after doing two fasts this week. I did a fast on Tuesday, and I did a fast on Thursday. I actually woke up not even feeling hungry … and I've lost four and a half pounds! So I'm over the moon, nearly there to my six-pound target, just so I can eat and drink what I like when I go on my holidays … I feel actually really, really good this morning."
Another TikTok user, Tony Drake, a weight loss coach, backed up the 5:2 diet, explaining in his video, "If you're doing the 5:2 method of intermittent fasting, this will definitely work—especially if you're doing the following three things. Number one: During your feeding window, you still wanna make sure that you're nourishing your body with the right amount of macronutrients [and] micronutrients, and you're loading your body up with fiber. Number two: On the weekend, treat your body the same way as you would during your 5:2 fasting Monday through Friday—make sure you're doing the same thing Saturday and Sunday instead of just having a cheat weekend or a cheat meal, because you're literally just gonna go right back into Monday, back at square one. Number three: Stick to staying hydrated. Stick to staying active during the weekend."