When Euan was out here at New Year he told me about the 5:2 diet. Euan’s the sort of person who loves fad diets (he once lost a few stone on the lemon detox) so I wasn’t paying much attention. But then after he left, I decided to Google it and see for myself.
Basically the idea is that you eat normally for five days a week, then for two days you restrict yourself to 500 calories like some kind of monk or something.
Those of you who know me personally will know that I have no willpower whatsoever. I tried the four hour body diet once, with disastrous consequences. Who in their right mind wants to eat nothing but pulses, meat, and vegetables for six days a week?
The thought of calorie counting all the time makes me a sad panda, so I figured this way I could have my cake and eat it and not have to throw it up in order to fit into a pair of size 10 Baxters **
**eating disorders are no laughing matter, kids!
I decided to try the diet for four weeks and see what all the fuss is about. Because I’m too lazy to count calories and come up with my own 5:2 diet recipes, I decided to look online. I’ve written this blog post to catalogue the 5:2 diet recipes I’ve tried during the first four weeks of eating like a supermodel for two days a week.
It’s mostly just a resource for me to look back on, as well as giving some great recipes a wee bit of love.
Jac’s Spicy Tomato and Lentil Soup – 123 calories
I love Tinned Tomatoes! I’m not a big fan of soup, usually, so I only whipped up a batch because it’s 123 calories a portion, it looked easy, and James was nagging me to make him lunch. I made a couple of changes; I put two cloves of garlic in because we love it, I ommited the turmeric because we don’t have any, I used green lentils instead of red ones, and I used chicken instead of veggie stock cubes.
Verdict? 10/10! It’s quite a watery soup but I actually quite like that. It’s refreshing, warming, filling, and very easy to eat. I would even eat this on a ‘feast’ day
Karen’s French Tarragon Chicken – 227 calories
I don’t like chicken breast. This has resulted in some comedy moments, for example my best friend’s mum thinking I’m vegetarian and then looking very confused as I stuffed my face with bacon rolls. Instead of buying a big pack of chicken breasts I just bought a normal chicken and took the breasts off it myself. This meant we had one breast each, and two legs and wings to marinade in piri piri sauce for the next day’s barbeque. Yummers.
Anyway, back to this recipe: I didn’t have fresh tarragon so I just used jar stuff, but it tasted fine. I also substituted cottage cheese for creme fraiche, and forgot to put the lemon in (d’oh!). Served with a garden salad.
Verdict? 9/10! The chicken was tender and moist, the sauce was light and zingy. Only complaint would be that the portion is rather small but what do you expect for 227 calories?
BBC Good Food’s Healthy Egg ‘n’ Chips – 218 calories
See what I mean about having your cake and eating it? This lovely brekkie for dinner boasts 218 calories, and is packed full of flavour. I added some grilled tomatoes and roast garlic cloves, and James got an extra egg because
he’s a fat toad I love him. And he’s allowed 100 more calories than me, the sod. I parboiled the potatoes for around 5 minutes first because I was a bit cynical about putting raw tatties in the oven and only cooking them for 30 mins.
Verdict? 9/10! Super yummy and filling for a rainy grim day
Karen’s cheese & tomato omelette – 170 calories
I’m so chuffed that some of my favourite food bloggers are doing the 5:2 diet. Otherwise I might never have thought to put a sprinkling of parmesan on an omelette. Parmesan is so strong that for a wee 22 calorie sprinkling you get a big hit of cheesy flavour. Unfortunately we only had three eggs in the house, so ended up only having a 1.5 egg omelette each. I also added a sprinkle of oregano.
Verdict? 7/10. I’m not a big fan of ommelettes, but this was pretty tasty.
BBC Good Food’s Squash and Chorizo stew – 264 calories
I used potimarron ( the seasonal squash here) but it’s a bit more like pumpkin than butternut. I also only had about 400 grams of squash, so I made up the other 100g with mushrooms after quickly googling a calorie counter to make sure mushrooms aren’t some kind of devil food.
For some reason I thought this would be nice, but I hate eating meals that don’t have any carbs in them. For that reason, I didn’t eat all of it and ended up only eating about 250 calories for the day in total, including my omellete. This made me go very quiet all night, and I had a bugger of a headache the next day, making it difficult to work. For some reason I didn’t think to take an ibuprofen until about 5pm.
Verdict? 1/10. Big fat NOPE.
Jemma’s Garlic & Mushroom Chicken - 272 Calories
I said I was too lazy to come up with my own recipe, and then I went and blindsided y’all with this low calorie chicken recipe! Oh yeah, I’m good.
This was inspired a bit by the aforementioned Lavender and Lovage tarragon chicken recipe. Basically we had a whole chicken sitting in the fridge, and a pot of cottage cheese. I wondered if I could do something a bit different from the tarragon chicken and decided to use garlic instead and pad the dish out with mushrooms.
Verdict? 10/10 if I do say so myself! The chicken was moist and tender, there was plenty of sauce, and the garlicky mushrooms gave the dish a wee bit of oomph.
Mumsnet’s cumin and lemon roast cauliflower -51 calories
When I made my garlic mushroom chicken I’d had a big bowl of Jac’s 123 calorie tomato soup for lunch, meaning I could have a wee helping of cauliflower with my dinner. Because cumin, pepper, and lemon juice basically have no calories, you can have a whopping 200g of this for only 51 calories.
Verdict? 9/10. Remember I said that I don’t like eating a meal without any carbs? Well, this tricked me into believing I was tucking into a plate of roast potatoes. My only comment would be that I couldn’t really taste the cumin or lemon juice.
So does the diet work?
I did the 5:2 diet for four weeks and although I quite enjoyed the feeling of zen that I was getting on the fast days, and although I felt like my size 12 jeans were falling down a bit, the warm and fuzzies abruptly stopped when I jumped on the scales and saw that I hadn’t really lost any weight, half a kilo at most. I don’t know why I was expecting miracles, since on my feast days I was stuffing my face with baguettes and gooey cheese, but there you go.
Everyone else seems to be having awesome results, so don’t let me stand in your way! Go forth and eat low cal.