With as many as a third of Americans classified as obese, it’s no wonder that there’s a huge array of diets out there, each claiming to help you shed the weight for good. If you’ve already tried several diets but haven’t had much luck shifting the weight, why not give the 5:2 diet a go? Not only can it help you lose weight, it can also have positive effects on any muscle-building exercises you might be doing.
Introducing the 5:2
The 5:2 diet works like this: for five days of the week, you eat normally with no restrictions on what you eat, but then for the remaining two days of the week, you’re meant to consume 25% of your regular calorie intake. This would work out at about 500 calories for women and 600 for men. It’s up to you to choose which days of the week you set aside as your ‘fasting’ days, though it’s a good idea not to fast on two consecutive days. Even though the diet is classed as a type of intermittent fasting, you don’t actually do any fasting as you’re still required to eat on the two ‘fasting’ days. On days when you’re eating normally, you’re free to eat whatever type of food you want, though it’s important you don’t overeat, as this goes against the idea of trying to lose weight. Good foods to eat while on your ‘fasting’ days include low-calorie fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, celery, cucumber, grapefruit, apples, lemons and limes, as well as beans, brown rice, lentils and oatmeal.
The 5:2 diet can help with muscle building because, as a form of intermittent fasting, it can help improve insulin sensitivity. Insulin is used by the body for a variety of purposes, including reducing blood sugar levels after carbohydrates have been consumed; it also provides muscles with the amino acids they need for growth and repair, and the glucose they need for fuel. If you eat very regularly, your body has to keep producing insulin to match the carbohydrates you’ve consumed and this can eventually result in cells becoming resistant to insulin; in other words, insulin starts losing its effect.
Intermittent fasting can improve insulin’s effectiveness, i.e. your body’s sensitivity to it, as it gives your body a break from the constant influx of food. Some bodybuilding experts believe that improved insulin sensitivity can allow you to gain increased amounts of muscle, while at the same time enabling you to lose more body fat. If you want to further enhance the effects of the 5:2 diet, you could consider taking a supplement which will help you to preserve your muscle mass and exercise capability.
The key benefit of the 5:2 diet is that it can help with both with muscle building and losing weight. Whatever exercise regime you’re sticking to, you should find it easy to work it in around the 5:2 diet.