Thursday, 3 January 2013

The intermittent fasting diet (5:2 diet)

Like the rest of the world, it seems, I'm following the 5:2 diet. I won't go into the detail as there's already plenty of that around, here and here, but for the uninitiated, you eat normally for 5 days a week, and then fast for 2. Although on the fasting days, you are allowed up to 500 calories as a woman, 600 for a man.

Sound easy? Well, on the positive side:

1. You can eat normally most of the time, so you don't need to feel guilty if you go out for dinner one evening, or fancy a glass of wine.
2. As well as weight loss, there are additional health benefits (such as living longer) that the diet brings.
3. 500 calories is a surprisingly large amount of vegetables.

As always however, there are some negatives:

1. Settling into a routine of only eating 500 calories is hard, and the hunger pangs are difficult to deal with at first.
2. It won't work if you spend your 'off' days downing wine and eating chocolate fondants, so self control is still required.
3. 500 calories pretty much means no alcohol, no sweet things, no bread and no butter.

What are my thoughts so far? Well, right now I'm pretty hungry (I had 70g of broccoli for dinner, along with a little garlic, red chilli and soy sauce. Approx 50kcal), but I do feel 'light' and 'cleansed'. Plus, knowing that I only have to fast until mid afternoon tomorrow, is good motivation to keep going. You can split the 500 kcal any way you want, I think I'm going to use mine on breakfast, to make the magical breakfast cream from French Women Don't Get Fat.

Anyway, here is a quick recipe for something I had last night, not on a fast day, but something that would probably be suitable, especially if you switched the salmon for a white fish.

As usual, my picture is less than appetising, but here's what it is:

Chilli Salmon with cous cous stuffed pepper

1 small salmon fillet
1/2 pepper
4 mushrooms, sliced
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
1/4 chilli, diced
25g cous cous
1 clove garlic, diced
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chopped parsley
Lemon juice

Heat the oven to 200 degrees and put the pepper in a baking dish. Do not add any oil. Put in to bake for 15 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, make a little foil parcel containing the salmon fillet, and top with the chopped chilli and a garlic clove. Seal, and add to the oven.

Fry the onions, mushrooms and tomatoes in a pan with low-cal spray (I use flora, which is only 5kcal per spray. 2 sprays is enough in a non-stick pan). While they are cooking, make the cous cous according to packet instructions but with water only (no stock, butter etc).

When the cous cous is ready, add to the pan and lightly fry. Add the spices, followed by the parsley and mix. Take the pepper out of the oven and add the mixture to the middle of the pepper. 

Place the stuffed pepper back in the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes. Serve!

As you can see I had a lot of filling but I served that on the side of the plate and it was delicious. I'm not entirely sure about the calorie content, but I estimate it to be around 350kcal (170 for the small portion of salmon, 90 for the cous cous, and the rest for veggies). If I made it again for a fast day, I would probably skip the cous cous altogether.

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