Keen to try 5:2 intermittent fasting? Here’s a dietitian-approved meal plan to get you started

Our dietitian helps you put your best foot forward on the 5:2 diet.

Keen to try intermittent fasting, but not sure where to start?

I’m here to give you a helping hand with five dietitian-approved intermittent fasting meal plans. But, buyer beware: intermittent fasting is not for everyone, and in fact, can be dangerous for certain groups of people – so if you’re thinking of taking it up, you should speak to your doctor and dietitian, first.

In case didn’t know, intermittent fasting is a way of eating that restricts when (not what) you eat. There are a couple of different methods, but today, I’m focusing on the 5:2 method.

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The protocol goes like this: for two days a week, you get by on just 500 calories a day. It is seriously tough – but the saving grace is that you eat ‘normally’ the other five days of the week.

While it’s no more effective than a run-of-the-mill calorie controlled diet, it works for some people because it doesn’t make you feel like you’re *always* on a diet. Read: you’re not trying to cut down your calories 24/7 – just two days a week.

Plus, intermittent fasting has been linked to other health benefits, too, like improved metabolism and brain health – and while the research is still relatively new, it seems rather promising, so watch this space.

If intermittent fasting is right for you, I think the best tactic to focus on during fasting days is volume eating. That is, try to fill up on large volumes of low calorie foods, rather than banking in a huge chunk of calories on a few mouthfuls.

In practicality, that means fruit, vegetables and super lean proteins are in, while fats (think: oils, avocado and peanut butter) and treats are out on fasting days. That way, you still get to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, rather than skipping entire meals.

So, if you’re wondering what a day of intermittent fasting on the 5:2 diet looks like in terms of real food, here are five 500 calorie meal plans you might like to incorporate into your intermittent fasting routine.

Intermittent fasting meal plans

Example one = 506 calories

  • Breakfast: regular skim flat white
  • Lunch: two cups each pumpkin and cauliflower, roasted in one teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Dinner: tomato soup made of five roma tomatoes, one clove of garlic and half an onion roasted in one teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, blitzed with reduced-salt stock and fresh basil

Example two = 512 calories

  • Breakfast: regular skim flat white, half a punnet of blueberries and one passionfruit
  • Lunch: one slice of wholegrain toast topped with a quarter of a cup of reduced-fat ricotta cheese, one sliced tomato and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • Snack: one cucumber
  • Dinner: 400 gram can pumpkin soup

Example three = 500 calories

  • Breakfast: homemade smoothie made of one cup of skim milk and one cup of frozen mixed berries
  • Lunch: one hard-boiled egg and two cups garden salad (no dressing)
  • Dinner: 100 grams of prawns and ‘zoodles’ made from one zucchini, tossed in one cup of tomato-based pasta sauce

Example four = 517 calories

  • Breakfast: one banana
  • Lunch: four wholegrain crispbreads topped with two tablespoons reduced-fat cottage cheese and one sliced cucumber
  • Dinner: 100 grams of extra lean grilled rump steak served with four florets of steamed broccolini and one steamed carrot

Example five = 508 calories

  • Breakfast: 170 gram tub of reduced-fat Greek yoghurt and a 125 gram punnet of raspberries
  • Lunch: three thin corn thins and three teaspoons baba ghanoush
  • Dinner: 100 grams of skinless chicken breast served with two cups baby spinach and 10 cherry tomatoes, dressed in balsamic vinegar

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.