What should/can I eat and drink on my fasting days?

Technically, the only restriction placed on your fasting days is that you should consume no more than 500 calories (if you’re a woman) or 600 calories (if you’re a man).

I’ve heard of some chaps who fast on a packet of crisps and a pint of beer and others who just eat chocolate or biscuits. This probably isn’t the most sensible of options in terms of filling you up and getting adequate nutrition but it still seemed to work for them!

If you prefer to take a more sensible approach to it and want to feel full and nourished on your fast days I suggest you stick to the mantra of Dr Mosley & Mimi Spencer, which is “mostly plants and protein”. Protein will keep you feeling fuller for longer while the plants (non-starchy veg preferably) will bulk out your meal for very few calories and provide plenty of vitamins and all that sort of planty goodness!

It is recommended that you steer clear of carbohydrates, sugars and fats on your fasting days or at least keep them to a minimum. That said, I haven’t cut out carbs from my fast days (the odd carb free meal here and there) and have still lost weight – and enjoyed my food! Sugars will tend to just make you more hungry so they are best avoided. I love a nice big plate of vegetables with a piece of low calorie protein such as chicken, turkey or lean pork – even Quorn products are great for fasting – with a nice measured out amount of gravy. Sometimes I chuck on a couple of baby potatoes which I’ve boiled but finished off in the oven with a spray of Frylite low cal oil spray. Another good one is a giant salad, most salad veg are so low calorie you can still have your favourite tasty dressing and throw in some chicken, ham or egg for protein. Omelettes are great too as a filling meal and you can throw all sorts of things in or on them. Don’t be too heavy handed with the cheese though, you may be surprised by just how many calories are in a small portion!

In terms of drinks water is the go-to drink, refreshing and hydrating. I used to always drink squash before I started 5:2 but after a day of just water the squash tasted too sweet! Black coffee & black tea are next to no calories so drink as much of them as you like, but if you’re adding milk or sugar be sure to count the calories. There is much debate about diet or 0 calorie fizzy drinks and whether they are a good thing or a bad thing on a fasting day. While most of us can agree that the chemicals and substitutes used in these products aren’t especially desirable or indeed in any way beneficial to the body, if they help to get you through a fast day and it’s not the only thing you ever drink then I don’t see why you shouldn’t enjoy it. Some report that the fizz helps make them feel full – fizzy water could be a good alternative. Squashes and fruit teas are relatively low calorie and apparently Green Tea (an acquired taste, and one I myself have not taken to) is good for the metabolism so enjoyed by many Fast Dieters. When it comes to juices however be advised that these are usually very high in calories and the fruit sugars may just make you more hungry.

Savoury drinks are another option if you want to avoid sweetness on a fast day. Things like stock cubes, bouillon, Bovril and marmite can all be used as a low calorie alternative to the traditional cuppa-soup for a savoury hit which fills you up.

Finally, a real treat for a fast day is a low calorie hot chocolate drink – many report that it helps to get them to sleep at night and they save their calories for it. Cadbury’s Highlights are just 40kcal for a sachet and give you a sweet warm fix ideal for bedtime. Personally I like to use a teacup and just have a half portion for 20kcal. There are others such as Options which are similarly low calorie.

I should note having mentioned low calorie and diet products here that as a general rule of thumb these low fat or diet versions of foods are far from good for us and in some cases may even contribute to weight gain. There’s a fantastic TV documentary series about it which you can catch on YouTube, titled The Men Who Made Us Fat, it’s another eye-opener and I can tell you I’ll never eat margarine again!