A personal trainer’s perspective of the “4/5 days good-2/3 days bad” approach
Before we start – this 5:2 method isn’t your conventional 5 days eating what you want-2 days fasting method. It’s a method that lots of people seem to be subconsciously following but what is it and does it work?
Basically a lot people believe that they can eat what they call healthy from Monday to Thursday and sometimes Friday (“I’m going to be good this week”) and then do what they want over the weekend and still achieve their goals (lose weight).
Let’s start with the positives- in my opinion there aren’t many; I’m sure some people will achieve results with this method but some people also achieve results on the Slim Fast diet but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy or maintainable. I suppose you could argue that at least you’re not eating badly all week.
Inconsistent caloric and macronutrient intake:
- <1500kcal for 4/5 days,
- >3000kcal for 3/2 days,
- If you are eating less than you Basal Metabolic Rate then you can’t possibly intake all of you required macronutrients.
Nutritionally poor foods all week:
- Low calorie foods 4/5 days for example Special K cereal, cereal bars, packaged low calorie “healthy range” foods.
- High calorie poor national quality foods and drinks Friday-Sunday.
Below we can see how many calories there are in some typical weekend binge food and drinks:
6 Pints of Stella Artois (1500kcal).
2 bottles of Red wine (1000kcal)
12” Margarita Pizza (1200kcal)
Big Mac burger (560kcal)
Fish and Chips (850Kcal)
Below are some examples of the calories burnt during exercise:
Run for 1 hour at 10kph (70kg) 750kcal
Spinning for 1 hour (70kg) 600kcal
Pilates for 1 hour (70kg) 250kcal
Swimming leisurely for 1 hour (70kg) 450kcal
As you can see 1 hour exercises doesn’t mean you can eat or drink what you want. If you only do 2-3 hours exercise a week then your calories burnt will quickly be cancelled out if you have a weekend blow out.
As you can sees this approach simply doesn’t work for long term healthy weight loss. In my opinion the key is to educate yourself about your ideal caloric intake (BMR plus activity multiplier) and do your best to consume this amount of calories every day. These calories should be where possible nutritionally packed foods irrespective of their calorie content.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying you can’t treat yourself, treats are what make the healthy eating process a life change rather than just being “a diet” and they make it maintainable.
By choosing the above mentioned 5:2 way of eating on a weekly basis most if not all of the calorific deficit you have created through eating well and training hard for 5 days can be very easily undone during the weekend therefore making your efforts during the week a waste. A waste of your valuable time and money, more importantly maybe even your health.
Personal trainers are supposed to be positive so I suppose one could argue that at least with this method you’re “balancing the books” and not putting on weight but I’m sure you didn’t employ the services of your personal trainer to maintain. The goals acronym of SMART says that yours should be realistic and I don’t think a lot of people are being realistic with their current goals-exercise-eating habits ratio.
If this sounds familiar to you then feel free to ask your trainer for advice on any of the topics mentioned above or on any other nutrition topics.