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Intermittent Fasting Protocols: What is the 5-2?

As you begin doing more research about intermittent fasting, you will notice many

different protocols people try. These include LeanGains (18-16), the 24-hour protocol,

and the Warrior protocol. Another you might want to try is called 5:2, which has you

eating what you want 5 days out of the week, then fasting the other 2 days. Take a look

at what this type of intermittent fasting protocol entails.

What is the 5:2 Protocol?

First of all, here is how the 5:2 intermittent fasting protocol works. You want to eat what

you normally would for 5 days out of the week, then fast for 2 days out of the week. This

is very similar to the Eat-Stop-Diet, except with that diet, many people only fast for 24

hours, and there are often more rules for the fasted days. With the 5:2 protocol, you are

told to eat a small amount on the two fasted days, often 500-600 calories for the day.

You do not want the 2 days to be in a row either; have at least one normal eating day in


The Eating Days

One thing you want to keep in mind when doing the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet, like

most IF protocols, is that during your eating windows, don’t worry too much about what

you eat. It shouldn’t turn into a binge eating session, but instead you should just eat like

you normally would. If you are on a special diet like keto or Paleo, then you should still

stick to that on the eating days. Otherwise, just have average days of eating 5 days out

of the week. Intermittent fasting is meant to simplify everything for you, so don’t worry

about counting calories on the eating days unless you are following a low-calorie diet.

The Fasting Days

When it is time to fast, make sure the two days are not consecutive. You should not be

fasting for more than 24 hours at a time. On these days, they are a little different than

other fasting days, since you aren’t having zero calories. For women, you can have up

to 500 calories, or up to 600 calories for men. This is still very low, but allows you to

have a small amount of nutrients to fuel your body, from broth to fruit or veggies. Make

those calories count with the most nutrient-dense foods you can find.

Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting

While intermittent fasting can be a great tool to help you lose weight, control your

eating, and learn healthier patterns with food and workouts, there are some side effects to consider. Intermittent fasting won’t work for everyone, just like any other healthy eating method you try. Here are some potential side effects to keep in mind.

Becoming Too Full for Eating

One of the potential drawbacks to intermittent fasting has to do with the shorter eating

window. You might be used to spreading your meals out a bit, eating smaller meals but

more often throughout the day. With intermittent fasting, you eat more at a time, and in

a shorter phase during the day. What might happen is that you become too full after

these bigger meals, to where you feel uncomfortable. The trick here is to eat as many

nutrient-dense foods as you can, so that you are getting adequate nutrition without

feeling ill.

Constantly Thinking About the Eating/Fasting Windows

Intermittent fasting should be a simpler way to eat healthy and train your body when you

are hungry and not hungry. It is not meant to become an obsession, which is the

problem with many restricting diets out there. You should develop a healthy relationship

with food, understanding it is only meant to fuel your body, not to become a hobby or

something to help with your emotional health. Therefore, when you first start IF, you

might find that you are constantly staring at the clock and counting down the minutes

until you can eat again. Try to set timers or eat at the same time each day so that you

aren’t obsessing about it quite so much.

Reduced Athletic Ability

When you are fasting, you may notice that you have reduced athletic performance. It is

okay to do fasted workouts, but they should not be high intensity. If you do high-intensity

cardio, HIIT, or Cross Fit, you might want to do your workouts during your eating

periods. Otherwise, moderate activity should be fine while you are fasting.

Hormonal Changes in Women

One of the main side effects for women is having hormonal changes or hormonal

imbalances. You should pay attention to your body, and if you notice things like irregular

periods, cramping, or bleeding, stop intermittent fasting and talk to your doctor. It is

possible you just need a new protocol or that you were not following the IF protocol


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