It’s all about the 5 and 2 diet right now. Oh, and high intensity interval work. I have had plenty of clients rock up to sessions full of excitement that they have found this new, scientifically-proven diet that means they only have to be mindful of what they eat 2 days per week!
There is certainly some credible evidence accumulating that supports intermittent fasting for different measures of health. As far as I been able to find the research has been conducted over pretty short study periods (often 8-weeks) so we still require some evidence for its long term effects. But again, the short-term results are pretty good. On top of this, forget your 30 minutes of exercise per day, 20 seconds at a time is all I need baby!
The same goes for high intensity cardio. There are tremendous metabolic benefits to be had from doing short bouts of maximal intensity cardio; insulin sensitivity, cholesterol and VO2 max can all be improved by doing it. Great!
As an Exercise Physiologist, I should be pumped about these new discoveries. We know that for the best chance at a long and healthy life we should eat a healthy balanced diet, and exercise to a moderate intensity 30 minutes per day. We also know that the vast majority of the Australian population don’t live anything like this (evidenced by Australia’s ever-expanding waist-line). Eventually our public (poor)health is going to cripple our economy, so it’s quite urgent that we find practical solutions.
So if intermittent fasting and short bouts of high intensity cardio are proven to be great in the long-term, get on it!
But here’s the catch: If the 5 and 2 is so great, and you are convinced by it, you actually have to do it to get the benefits!
The following is a typical 5 and 2 conversation, an experience I’m sure my colleagues can relate to:
Client: Hey have you heard about the 5 and 2 diet? It’s awesome, I’m on it and it’s soooo easy!
Trainer: That’s great, best of luck and we’ll have to keep track of……… (weight, waist, cell-health etc).
Trainer: So how is the 5 and 2 been going?
Client: Yeah really good, but on the 500 calorie days I was feeling quite stressed so I had a couple of glasses of wine, then a bit of cheese after that…
That makes it a 7 and 0 diet, and I am yet to see a study showing that to be effective.
The same type of scenario occurs with high-intensity training (it is often substituted for wine and cheese!).
The results from studies investigating intermittent fasting diets and high intensity cardio were garnered because the study groups actually did the intervention, not because they read a book about it. You should not expect similar results if you do not apply the same diligence to the program.
If people are inspired to make changes, I am fully supportive of that. We can make ourselves feel all warm and fuzzy by stating that we are doing, or are going to do this, that or the other. But results are achieved through actions rather than intentions.