5:2 Diet: Operation, Menus & Notice

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

The 5:2 diet offers you a fairly varied weekly menu. It’s not too rigid because it combines 5 days of normal meals and two days of calorie restriction. Let’s see what exactly it is and what the experts say about this lighter version of intermittent fasting.

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

What is the 5:2 diet?

The principle of this diet is very simple: eat normally for five days and restrict your food intake for two days. Yes, for five days a week you can eat whatever you want (even desserts!). But during the other two days, you will have to reduce your diet as if you were fasting.

Diet 5:2
The 5:2 diet is a type of intermittent fasting. During the week, you choose to consume less than 500 calories (600 calories for men) on 2 days spaced apart (not in a row). For example Friday and Tuesday. The other 5 days, you will eat normally, ingesting up to 2000 calories (2200 calories for men).

Rules to respect

The 5:2 diet has a few rules that you must follow. During the five days of free eating, the person must ensure that their food does not exceed 2000 calories for women or 2200 for men. During the two days of fasting, calorie consumption should not exceed 500 calories for women and 600 for men each day (or 25% of the intake for the other five days).

Two non-consecutive days of fasting

Another thing to keep in mind is that fasting days should not be continuous. For example, the person will choose Monday and Wednesday to limit their food to 500 calories per day, while on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday they can eat up to 2000 calories, including their favorite foods.

Nutrient-rich yet low-calorie fasting

Additionally, to avoid negative health consequences, care must be taken to ensure that fasting days are low in calories but not in nutrients. It’s not about going all day without eating. What you need to do is choose foods with less calorie intake, but rich in vitamins, proteins and minerals (such as fruits, vegetables, grains and lean meats). You should also be very careful about the amount of fluids you drink to avoid dehydration.

How does the 5:2 diet work?

Followers of the 5:2 diet should understand that it is necessary to try to maintain a healthy diet on days without calorie restrictions.

Do not exceed the defined number of calories and opt for natural products

First, you should not exceed the number of calories imposed on fasting days. It is also best to choose natural products and avoid processed and industrial products. It is therefore important to include plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts in the menu.

Ok for fish but watch out for fats, red meat, bread, pasta and soft drinks

In addition, you should try to avoid animal fats by favoring extra virgin olive oil as a condiment and favor low-fat dairy products. As for meat, white meat is the right choice while for fish there are no particular restrictions. It is also possible to eat red meat but not in large quantities. You should prefer the leanest pieces. Likewise, it is very important to avoid significant consumption of pasta, bread and alcoholic beverages.c

Watch out for dinner

One might think that it is natural to eat abundantly on non-fasting days to reward yourself for the previous day’s sacrifice. In reality this is not the case. In a short time, fasting days will educate you to a more correct diet, making it clear when you are really hungry and how much food is really necessary for the complete sustenance of the body.

Just two days of calorie reduction

Additionally, it is essential that calorie reduction only takes place two days per week. Therefore, if you really want to lose weight, these fasting days must not be immediately compensated for by the free days, otherwise you will not see any results. A good solution is to schedule all meals on a daily schedule to make sure you don’t exceed the limit of fasting days.

White meat
Consuming white meat is a great tip to not feel hungry. It is a low-calorie food but rich in protein.

How to curb the feeling of hunger?

There are simple but effective tips to quell hunger. One of them is to drink plenty of water to keep your stomach full. Additionally, by choosing the right foods, appetite can be controlled more easily. For example, products rich in protein but not too high in calories stimulate the brain’s production of the hormone PYY. This promotes the feeling of satiety. Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, contain plenty of water, air and fiber which stimulate the intestines to produce satiety signals and thus help control hunger. Apples, for example, contain 25% air and another satiety hormone, GLP-1.

The best way to benefit from these properties is to start the meal with a hearty food like a salad, and then eat a dish rich in protein. This way you will finish eating sooner and be completely satisfied. For example, eggs (which are high in protein) are a great choice for breakfast because they ensure you get breakfast without the need for mid-morning snacks. And in the evening, for those who can’t sleep without putting something in their stomach, the best choice remains nuts, always very rich in protein and fiber.

What to eat on the 5:2 diet?

It’s essential to keep your body full on fasting days by eating foods rich in nourishing nutrients, such as fiber and protein.

Vegetables and fiber

For people who are just starting the 5:2 diet, eating more vegetables can help them feel fuller. Vegetables are very low in calories compared to animal products and grains, which means a small meal can contain more vegetables. Dark leafy vegetables and salads can be a great way to add bulk to a meal and help people feel full without eating too many calories. Another example is using a spiralizer to turn zucchini or carrots into noodles, creating a low-calorie base for a side sauce.


Protein is essential for staying full on fasting days. They act like powerful appetite suppressants. People should focus on lean protein sources without too much fat. Add small portions of lean protein on fasting days, including white fish, eggs, beans, peas, lentils or tofu. It’s important to note that people can avoid excess oil and fat by boiling, grilling, or roasting these foods instead of frying them.


While most fruits are high in natural sugars, dark berries, like blackberries and blueberries, can satisfy sweet cravings without adding many calories.


There soup is a great tool for fasting days because the water and spices added by the broth can help you feel fuller without eating too many calories.


Water is vital every day, but on fasting days it can help lengthen the time between meals and keep you from feeling hungry.

Coffee or tea

Plain, unsweetened coffee and tea are acceptable during fasting days. However, some people find that coffee or tea stimulates their digestive system, making them hungry. Herbal tea is another option and is a great way to increase water intake.

Advantages: the advantages of the 5:2 diet

The diet is very flexible and you choose the fasting days and how you want to distribute your calorie intake. The diet is not restrictive and there are no prohibited foods. The two-day fast encourages you to plan your meals so that you eat the right amount of calories. You are not deprived of anything because you will be able to eat your favorite foods five days a week. The 5:2 diet is therefore relatively easy to follow.

Disadvantages: minuses

Sticking to a low calorie limit doesn’t allow for a lot of food throughout the day. You may find that you eat on non-fasting days to make up for the lack of food on fasting days, making fasting days useless. Eating normally for five days may not be effective if your diet is already quite poor. It will be difficult to exercise on fasting days because your body only runs on 500 calories.

severely felt fatigue
On fasting days you may feel tired.

Is the 5:2 diet safe for everyone?

The 5:2 diet may be a useful alternative for some people looking for a less restrictive diet. But it is not suitable for everyone. People prone to hypoglycemia and those who feel easily dizzy or tired when hungry should avoid this diet. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also avoid fasting. Children and adolescents should avoid fasting unless done under the direct supervision of a physician.

Anyone with a chronic illness like diabetes should consult a doctor before trying a diet that includes fasting. It will take you some time to get used to fasting days. Feeling hungry or feeling faint may be more common when starting a 5:2 diet.

Effectiveness of the 5:2 diet

The 5:2 diet is an intermittent energy restriction. It is as effective as daily or continuous energy restrictions (conventional diets) with respect to weight loss, insulin sensitivity and other health biomarkers. The 5:2 diet is therefore an equivalent alternative to traditional diets for weight loss and reducing the risk of disease. At least that’s what a scientific studies led by Dr. Michelle N. Harvie.


The 5:2 diet or 2-day diet lasts until you reach your ideal weight. After which, you move on to the 1 day diet. The latter consists of observing one day of fasting in conjunction with two. Weight loss is then not significant, the objective being to maintain the ideal weight.

Special menus and recipes for the 5:2 diet

Typical DayBreakfastLunchTo tasteDinner
500 Kcal
Cooked ham roll + 1 pear + 1 peachInfusion with steviaVegetable soupChicken skewer with lemon + Cucumber sauce + 1 yogurt
2000 Kcal
Milk coffee with bay leaf biscuitPolenta with nest + sauce + cheese + apple sauceScrambled eggs with milkFish with arugula salad + 1 pear + handful of walnuts
Wednesday 2000KcalYogurt sandwich + bread + cheese + 1 tomato + 1 eggNoodles with compote sauce + 1 peachMilk tea + 2 bran biscuits + 100 g cheese + 50 g ground seedsBaked chicken + stuffed potatoes + 2 eggs + cheese
Thursday 500KcalEggs stuffed with tuna + 1 bananaFruit compote juiceLemon waterEggplant pie with cheese and tomato
2000 Kcal
Homemade sliced ​​cereal barSoy burger + beet salad + pineappleBanana smoothie with honey and a handful of nutsPork stuffed with ham + carrot + hard-boiled egg
2000 Kcal
Muesli and fruit yogurtZucchini tart + Caprese salad + 1 orangeVanilla Greek YogurtHomemade Milanesa + oat flakes + mixed puree + flan
2000 Kcal
Popcorn ChocolatePumpkin gnocchi + white sauce + kiwiBanana compote with honey cerealsFish pudding with chard + fruit salad

What do nutritionists think about the 5:2 diet?

The 5:2 diet is an easy way to improve your metabolic health and effective way to lose weight. Intermittent fasting acts as a effective fat burner. The new weight obtained is significantly easier to maintain than during conventional calorie restriction. If you’re looking to lose weight or improve your health, the 5:2 diet is definitely a reasonable choice.

As with other diets, diabetics, pregnant and breastfeeding women should seek medical advice before adopting a restrictive diet. In addition, this type of diet can present a number of dangers for children and adolescents. The latter risk, in fact, having nutritional deficiencies which can harm their growth. They may also develop poor eating habits.

Consumer reviews

The 5:2 diet and related diets are easier to follow than traditional diets based on simple calorie restriction. One of the benefits of this diet is that no food groups are excluded. Although the feeling of hunger discourages many people, fasting effectively promotes weight loss.

Many people see this diet as a lifestyle that can help them stay in shape in the long term. Intermittent fasting may improve brain function and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. It may also improve cholesterol levels and blood sugar control.