5:2 Diet: Everything You Need To Know Plus Recipes

5:2 Diet. It’s been around long enough now for us to know it’s not a crazy fad, but something that really works when you want to lose a few pounds. But what is it and how does it work? How do you do it? And most important what on earth can you eat? We answer all your questions below – and have some pretty tasty under 500 calories recipes to make those two days a little more exciting…

5:2 Diet: What Is It?

It’s one of the simplest diets out there – for two non-consecutive days you must limit what you eat to 500 calories (600 for men) and then the rest of the week you can eat what you like. See? We told you it was simple! But be careful on your ‘off’ days, obviously you can’t have pizza for dinner followed by a punnet of Ben and Jerry’s and still expect to lose weight. The diet does recommend you stick to the daily recommended allowance of 2000 calories a day.

5:2 Diet: How Does It Work?

The whole of the 5:2 Diet is based around something called ‘intermittant fasting.’ It’s said to work because fasting intermittently causes your body to go into ‘repair mode’ rather than ‘starvation mode.’ As when your body is in ‘starvation mode’ it stores fat (as it doesn’t know when it will get food again) whereas in ‘repair mode’ it is hard at work repairing cells which causes your body to burn energy.

5:2 Diet: Does It Work?

The 5:2 Diet is not for everybody. While some people rave about it (Jennifer Aniston is said to be a fan) others are vastly against it. Fans of the 5:2 diet say that they found it easier to stick to than other diets, simply because they knew they were only depriving themselves for a set period of time (the ‘I can have that chocolate bar tomorrow’ attitude) whereas those who hate the 5:2 diet can’t stand feeling hungry, and at times, a little weak. There’s also some concern that the 5:2 Diet could trigger eating disorders in those vulnerable so please consult your doctor if you’re not sure…

5:2 Diet Recipes

Make those two days a little more exciting with these under 500 calorie 5:2 Diet Recipes…

5:2 Diet Breakfasts…

5:2 Diet Recipes Breakfast 5:2 Diet Recipes Breakfast


Calorie Count: 99 calories (serves four)

Ingredients: For the muesli:  ¼ cup heaping rolled oats, 1 tbsp heaping linseed, ¼ cup Greek style plain yogurt, 3 tsp lemon juice, ¼ cup water, 2 tsp poppy seeds, 1 tsp agave

For the topping: 1 cup fresh raspberries, 2 tsp agave, 2 tbsp sliced almonds


Mix all muesli ingredients together in one bowl. Leave in the fridge for an hour or overnight to set.

Blend raspberries and agave on top of Bircher when it has set and sprinle with toasted raspberries

Cuckoo is inspired by the century-old Swiss recipe for Bircher muesli and the wholesome Alpine lifestyle, combining tradition with pioneering flavour combinations and contrasting, complementary textures.

RELATED CONTENT: Spiralizer Recipes To Beat The Bloat

5:2 Diet Lunches:

5:2 Diet Recipes Lunches 5:2 Diet Recipes Lunches

Japanese Miso Style Pea and Tofu Soup with Chives

Calories: 128 calories (recipe serves four)

Ingredients: 450ml boiling water, 3 sachets miso paste, 250 g tofu, diced, 1 tsp grated ginger, 2 spring onions trimmed and thinly sliced, 200g frozen peas, dash seasame seed oil,

Method: Place the boiling water in a saucepan and add the 3 sachets of miso paste. Stir well. Bring to simmering point. Add the tofu and bring back to the boil. Reduce the heat. Add the ginger, spring onions, peas and dash of sesame seed oil (optional). Bring to the boil, simmer for 30 seconds and serve. Garnish with the chopped chives.

5:2 Diet Recipes Lunches 5:2 Diet Recipes Lunches

Clear Pea and Vegetable Soup with Brown Rice

Calories: 105 calories (serves four)

Ingredients: 1tbsp olive oil, 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped, 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced, 1 stick celery, cut into 1cm chunks, 50g brown rice (dried weight), 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped, 1 small bay leaf, 1 sprig fresh thyme, pulled from the stalk (1 tsp of dried), 1 sprig fresh oregano (½ tsp dried), 1 1/2 ltr good vegetable stock. 1/2 leek, cut in half lengthways and chopped into 1cm chunks, 100g savoy cabbage, cut into 2 cm squares, 2 tbsp chopped parsley, 300g frozen peas

Method: Heat the oil in a heavy based pan and fry the chopped onion, carrot, and celery with the rice over a medium heat for one minute. Add the garlic cook for a further one minute. Add the bay leaf, a sprig of fresh thyme pulled off the stalk, or half a teaspoon of dried, one sprig fresh oregano (half tsp dried) Add the stock. Season with the sea salt and black pepper. Bring to the boil and boil for 12 mins. Add the leek and cabbage and bring back to the boil for a further 4 mins until they are nearly tender. Add the parsley and the peas and bring back to the boil. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper and garnish with fresh chives. Serve piping hot.

For more Yes Peas recipes visit their website

5:2 Diet Dinners:

5:2 Recipes Dinner 5:2 Recipes Dinner

Anjula Devi’s Riceless Biryani

Calories: (serves four)

Ingredients: 150g boneless chicken breast, 150g boneless chicken thighs, 1 large swede, 2 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp crushed red chilli flakes, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 2 tsp coriander seeds, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp garam masala, 2 tbsp yogurt, 4 garlic cloves, 1 inch fresh ginger, 3 tbsp fresh coriander, 3 tbsp mint leaves, 1 onion, vegetable oil, 4 green cardamoms, 1 black cardamom, 3 cloves, 1 bay leaf, 4 green chillies, 10 roasted cashew nuts


Wash & cut the chicken into small pieces and set aside in a large bowl

Add the grated swede to another bowl, with 1tsp of lemon juice and leave to one side.

For the Marinade

In a pestle & mortar grind the salt, 1 tsp lemon juice, red chilli flakes, turmeric powder, coriander seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, garam masala, black peppercorns, yogurt, garlic, ginger, 1 tbsp fresh coriander and 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves. If you prefer you can use a grinder.

Place all the marinade (from the pestle and mortar) onto the chicken and mix really well, cover with lid and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours

Take the sliced onion and fry in a little oil until brown and crispy. Place on oil-absorbent kitchen paper.

Heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a non-stick pan and add whole spices – green cardamom, black cardamom, cassia bark, cloves, 1 tsp cumin seeds, bay leaf and curry leaves (curry leaves are optional)

Add chopped onion along with thinly sliced green chillies & salt to taste.

Saute the onions until they are translucent. This should take about 6 minutes.

Add the chicken, stir well and cook on a low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Remove half of the chicken from the pan, and set aside.

Now spread a layer of swede over the chicken in the pan, sprinkle on half of the fried brown onions, chopped coriander, mint leaves and a little oil.

Now add the remaining chicken on top, and spread the remaining swede, brown onions, chopped coriander, mint leaves and a little oil.

Seal the pan with a lid and bring back onto the heat for 8 minutes

Remove from heat, top with roasted cashews & serve

For more of Anjula’s recipes visit her website