Friday, 9 November 2012

Ashdown Forest, The 5:2 Diet and a very BIG PUDDLE!

So last weekend I was at the Ashdown Forest Park Hotel taking some much needed down time with my girlfriend Floss. We have been here before and really enjoyed it so we thought we’d go again. If you like walking then there’s some amazing views in the forest and some cool walks if you like the English countryside.

Here are some of the awesome views from the Forest:

And before you ask, no I wasnt lost on our walk! I was just checking the map? ;-)
So anyway, during our time there, we were asked if we wanted The Times delivered to our room so me trying to sound cool I said yes even though I probably wasn’t  going to read it but I did flick through it and when I did,  I came across yet another article written about the benefits of intermittent fasting.

The article was talking about the popularity of a new diet that involves “intermittent fasting” called The 5:2 approach. Here’s the Times article if you haven’t read it yet.

The 5:2 diet is basically a model of eating where you’re asked to eat normally for 5 days of the week and the other 2 days you fast.

After closer inspection of this diet, there appears to be a lot of confusion surrounding the 2 fasting days as they are not really fasting days at all? They are just days where you’re asked to restrict your calorie intake. Men are allowed 600 calories divided up throughout the day and woman 500.

I have 4 very big concerns with this diet:

1)      They are calling them fasting days when it’s not true fasting?

The true meaning of the word fast means zero nutrients entering the body for a prolonged period of time to simply give the digestive system a break from digesting food all the time.

That’s it. Simple.

There’s nothing bad about fasting (provided your body is already nutrient dense and you do it correctly!)

If you’re always eating food every 2-3 hours then the digestive system never really gets a break from digesting food. Giving your body a break from ALWAYS digesting food will give everything a chance to move along nicely so that nothing gets backed up which in turn will help with fat loss.

I’m not talking about skipping a meal here and there and kidding yourself that you’re fasting, it needs to be between 17-24 hours long ideally to get any positive effects from it.

But the “fasting days” on the 5:2 diet aren’t actually fasting at all?  They are just 2 days of eating less calories, which is very confusing and leads me onto my next concern:

2) They use calorie counting


All calories aren’t created equally. So according to the fasting days (or let’s just call them calorie restricted days coz that’s what they are), you can eat as much junk food as you like. Burgers, chocolate, KFC, provided you stick to 600 calories then you’re ok.

Well let’s give you an example that I’ve used before and that’s 600 calories of sugar vs 600 calories of protein. Each amount will have a very different hormonal response. One positive and one negative.

600 calories of sugar will have a devastating effect on your fat storeage. It will drive insulin up which in turn will make you insulin resistant and this makes your stress hormone cortisol come up and the more cortisol you produce, the faster your cells age which will lead to increased fat storage and diabetes.
600 calories of protein & and veg however has a very little effect on fat storage and the body will actually burn more calories trying to digest this.

This is why I never use calorie counting as its very misleading and doesn’t take into account the different affects that certain calories have on your hormonal responses.

3)      They encourage you to eat “normally.”

Let’s face it, no one knows what normal is? Is it 1 packet of crisps or 2 packets? 1 glass of wine a night or maybe 2? The problem with “normal” is where do you draw the line?

Your “normal” might be completely different to my “normal” so that is why I really hate it when diets, nutritionists and personal trainers give this piece of advice out because if eating normally worked then why are we the fattest and unhealthiest country in Europe and why are we the fattest and sickest that we have been at any other point in our history?

If you know what normal is then let me know coz I sure as hell don’t…

No one can do “normal” unfortunately.

4) The emphasis is not on restoring liver health.

The problem with the 5:2 Diet is that it still allows you to eat toxic food which means your liver will always be stressed out which will make it MUCH harder to drop stubborn from around the hips, waist and thighs. I have written about liver health many times before but if you’d like to know more about this then  read this article .

The bottom line is that if you want to lose weight then you need to restore health because a healthy body cannot carry body fat and I’ve never seen a healthy fat person have you?

Now I’m certainly not questioning the fact that the 5:2 diet works, it clearly gets results as it has lots of testimonials backing it up which is great but as I’ve said before in other posts, I guess, we as individuals have to decide what is true health and what is not?

So the next time a new “diet” comes onto the scene or if you plan to ones that’s been around for a while even, ask yourself 4 questions:

1)      Does it focus on restoring liver health?

2)      Does it allow you to eat toxic food?

3)      Is it calorie counting in disguise?

4)      Does it allow you to eat “normally” or eat in “moderation”?

The key to weight loss is reducing your toxic load.

Ok, that’s my rant over and I’ll leave you with a picture of the biggest puddle that Floss and I had to drive through on our way back from Ashdown Forest!

The picture doesn’t really do it justice but I genuinely thought we were going to sink!


Peace out and any questions then do let me know but you have to ASK first!

Sam :-)

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