Review of the 5:2 Diet Book by Kate Harrison

The 5:2 Diet Book by Kate Harrison

I have a preview copy of this book.

I have had a long-term layman’s interest in food and nutrition, weight loss and exercise, and used to work in a gym. As part of that work I was measuring body composition and helping people to eat healthily and lose weight, and I was practising what I preached because I have had a life-long struggle with weight. I know from personal experience, and from working in the gym, how hard it is for people to lose weight even when doing all the right things.

I was very interested in a new approach to weight loss and health, that is, intermittent fasting. This basically means a severe restriction in calorie intake on some days and ad lib eating on others. This approach flies in the face of the received wisdom of eating little-and-often and not restricting your calorie intake too low or your metabolic rate will drop to compensate. Both these pieces of received wisdom have a scientific basis behind them. Eating induces thermogenesis, which boosts the metabolism. Long term calorie restriction results in a measurable drop in metabolic rate as measured by carbon dioxide emission. So the advice to eat little and often when trying to lose weight is reasonable, but…

But it’s not the whole story. It’s natural for the body to have an ebb and flow of nutrients, and the hormonal and enzyme state of the body will adapt to this. I had the sneaking unease that one reason why people often fail to lose weight is that, on the ‘little and often, don’t dare skip breakfast’ regime, the body never gets into the ebb situation. At the same time the low calorie intake might induce starvation mode. Each mini-meal is an opportunity to overeat. So I was really interested in the intermittent fasting concept because it seems to answer some of these questions.

One major problem with nutrition and diets is that it’s a massive industry and a lot of people are making a lot of money from it, yet the developed nations are getting fatter. Every week, it seems to me, there’s a new miracle diet, be it restricting carbs, eating certain foods, drinking herbal teas, taking supplements, spending a lot of money on things which, in the long term, don’t seem to be working. A lot of the information bandied about is from companies with a financial interest in you buying into their theories. Some of the nutritional lore is quackery and bunkum.

I have read diet books before. This book is different in that it doesn’t promise miracles, doesn’t sell the reader expensive supplements, nor does it over-complicate matters; it basically brings together various strands of evidence in an easy to understand way, with helpful links to view the evidence at source, and discusses how we can apply this at a practical level. It keeps the concept simple, straight forward, easy to apply, and flexible. Just like the dietary approach.

It’s well written with an easy-to-read style. I found it quite inspiring. I think everyone should read it, even those who are not overweight, because the intermittent fasting approach may well provide other important health benefits.

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One response to “Review of the 5:2 Diet Book by Kate Harrison

  1. Pingback: What Is The 5:2 | Tales Of A Diet

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