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Our 5:2 diet meal plans are easy to follow and are full of inspiration and delicious dishes to help keep you on track while on the 5:2 diet.
From curry to stir fry, from omelette to soup, our 5:2 diet meal plans below will help guide you through your 500 calorie days with ease. Whether you’re hoping to lose weight fast or just want to manage your food a little better, the 5:2 diet is a part-time diet that has grown in popularity over the past few years.
The 5:2 diet being a part-time diet means that you can eat normally for five days of the week, and fast for just two. As you can imagine, this is one of the diets that work fast (opens in new tab) and it has huge appeal for many people who don’t like the idea of being on a diet full time and not being able to enjoy a good feed from time to time. It’s also a less intense way of intermittent fasting (opens in new tab) compared to the likes of the 16:8 diet.
On your two fasting days, you can only eat 500 calories per day of your recommended 2000 calories. Because of the very low intake of calories on these two days, it’s recommended that you spread them out, rather than do them consecutively.
The diet works by limiting your daily calorie intake (opens in new tab) to just 25 per cent, but only for two days of the week, which still delivers results.
How does the 5:2 diet work?
It’s simple. For two days each week, you eat no more than 500 calories. The other five days, you eat normally. You should lose around 1.5lb a week – more if you have a lot of weight to lose.
The two days of fasting also help you to eat normally on other days. Simply carry on with the plan, using 5:2 diet meal plans, until you’ve achieved the weight you’re happy with. At this point, you can maintain your weight by having a 500-calorie day once a week.
On the days you eat normally, you should be aiming for around 2,000 calories a day, but don’t worry if you have a blowout, such as going out for a meal and/or drinks, a couple of times a week.
Your 500-calorie days will help to stabilise your insulin levels and hunger. You should find your appetite is smaller on normal days, so you won’t have to work so hard to stay around the 2,000 calorie mark.
We spoke to expert and Clinical Nutritionist, Mike Wakeman from the evidence-backed personalised nutrition service Vitamedics (opens in new tab) about how the 5:2 diet works. He told us, "The 5:2 diet is essentially a calorie limiting diet which follows a prescriptive programme based on days of the week. Essentially, the basic rules go something like this: for two days a week, if you are a female, eat just 500 calories, or 600 if you are a man. These foods can be consumed at any time of the day and consist of any food you like. Then, for the remainder of the week, eat and drink as you would normally.
"The concept sounds simple and indeed it is, but over the week your body has typically been denied around 3000 calories. The concept also makes intuitive sense, in that during those days of low-calorie intake, the response of our body is to lower levels of insulin thereby causing stored sources of sugar in our fat cells to be used as energy. Hence, we lose weight if we let our insulin levels go down, and in theory, if we allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough, we burn off our fat. However, compared to eating less every day in a controlled manner, both strategies appear to deliver the same weight loss outcomes."
Is the 5:2 diet healthy?
Fans of the 5:2 diet say that not only will it help you to lose weight but that it can increase life-span and protect against diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. However, fasting can have some nasty side effects, notably, dizziness, lack of energy, irritability, headaches, and trouble sleeping, so make sure you’re prepared for this.
While it’s thought that the 5:2 diet can also help to prevent type 2 diabetes, it is not suitable for people who already have diabetes, who need to regulate their sugar levels.
"There are a number of laboratory studies that demonstrate this approach to calorie restriction can have beneficial effects on blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels, and there is some limited data in humans also confirming these observations.’ says Clinical Nutritionist, Mike Wakeman. "However, the most dramatic effects are seen in overweight individuals, and what contribution the actual weight loss makes to the overall effect is difficult to determine. So, yes, most studies identify it is safe and effective, but how much better it is than any other diet to improve important health parameters is difficult to ascertain."
What and when can I eat on the 5:2 diet?
While the calorie restrictions are strict on the two days spent fasting, the diet is actually very flexible. It’s up to you what you eat on your fast days, as long as it comes in at no more than 500 calories for the whole day. You will need to be committed and pretty strong-willed as you’re cutting your calorie intake by 3/4, but if you keep busy and plan what you’re going to eat – it’s definitely achievable.
We asked Clinical Nutritionist, Mike Wakeman when is the best time to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner (opens in new tab). He says; ’Researchers from the University of Alabama conducted a study (opens in new tab) looking at the effect of time of eating on the benefits of intermittent fasting. In the controlled eating scenario, all meals were fitted into an early eight-hour period of the day (7 am to 3 pm), or spread out over 12 hours (between 7 am and 7 pm).
"Although this regime had no different effect on weight loss compared to eating at 'normal' times in the 5:2 diet, just changing the timing of meals, by eating earlier in the day and extending the overnight fast, significantly benefited metabolism even in people who didn’t lose any weight at all. Moreover, the eight-hour group also had a significantly decreased appetite and weren’t as hungry."
On your 500 calorie days, you can eat whatever you like, but the below foods are some of the most sensible as they’re low in calories so you can eat more throughout the day than if you eat smaller, high-calorie foods:
- Lots of vegetables
- Small portions of lean meat
You can split your 500 calories as you wish, into just one meal, two, or three, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner – but the healthiest way is to eat little and often throughout the day.
While it’s allowed, filling up on a croissant at breakfast will use up most of your calorie allowance and you’ll be starving for the rest of the day. Experiment a little with what times work well for you on your fasting days. You might find skipping breakfast and having 2 small meals for lunch and dinner works well for you. Or having a larger, more satisfying meal in the evening and a few snacks during the day might be better – it’s really down to personal preference.
"Essentially, eat a plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, legumes such as beans and lentils, along with whole grains, and healthy fats and protein sources. Not only will these be healthier, but they will also probably be more sustainable as well," says Mike. "Try to limit refined grains and sugars and don’t snack between meals. Avoid eating and snacking at night-time, especially on the days when not fasting. Keep active throughout the day, and participate in aerobic and anaerobic exercise programmes, preferably personalised, to enhance your metabolism and optimise the effect of your diet.
"Consider using a multivitamin alongside your dietary regime. There is good evidence that demonstrates being overweight is associated with a lower than optimal micronutrient status and even if the diet is changed to a healthier version, losing weight won’t immediately improve this situation. So, taking a multivitamin will not only help correct this but also probably contribute to higher energy levels, especially if it is rich in B vitamins."
What can I drink on the 5:2 diet?
You can drink as much water as you like on the 5:2 diet, and you should aim to drink as much as possible during your fasting days, it’ll keep you hydrated, and may help you to stave off hunger for a little longer.
You’ll need to watch out for drinks with milk in, as these will use up calories that could be otherwise put towards a meal.
- Black or herbal teas
- Black coffee
- Diet drinks
- Try our hot drinks calories counter if you’re not sure
Can you exercise on 5:2 diet?
You can still exercise on the 5:2 diet meal plan too – and in fact, you should. Exercising on 500 calories a day might sound daunting, but it can speed up weight loss and improve overall health and fitness. Some people even find that exercise alleviates hunger pangs.
Research shows fasting has no negative effects on the ability to do moderate activity. Even so, it’s important to listen to your body. Also, doing cardio can help your body tap into its fat stores, and maximise the benefit of your fasting days.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) could be your best choice (check with your GP if in doubt), as short bursts of intense exercise have been shown to be hugely effective, with the fat burning lasting for hours after the workout is finished. HIIT can be as simple as sprinting in short spurts while jogging. And try saving some calories until after your workout.
Is the 5:2 diet effective for weight loss?
One of the most common reasons for opting for the 5:2 diet is to lose weight. Some people may opt for the 5:2 diet just to eat a little healthier and manage their food better but losing weight on the 5:2 diet is quite common, if you follow it correctly.
We asked Clinical Nutritionist, Mike Wakeman who stated: "‘So, the answer is yes, the 5:2 diet is effective for weight loss but probably no more so than other diets that involve calorie restriction.
"However, any approach needs to follow a plan which delivers a healthy dietary intake of wholesome foods that optimises nutritional content. There is some emerging scientific evidence that suggests fasting around the natural rhythms of our body when combined with both a healthy lifestyle and diet and lifestyle, might deliver an enhanced effect in the approach to weight loss management programmes."
5:2 diet meal plans: What to eat for 500 calorie fast days
Finding inspiration for what to eat on the 5:2 diet can be daunting. The video below includes some quick and easy ways you can whip up recipes to suit 5:2 diet requirements. These 5:2 diet recipes are filling, delicious, and are perfect for including in our 5:2 diet meal plan.
Our 500 calories a day meal plans have inspiration for 27 days worth of meals. Each day we cover breakfast, lunch and dinner. All of our recipes total under 500 calories per day. We’ve also included snacks too, most of which you should easily be able to buy in your local supermarket.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 1
Breakfast: Start your day with 2 Rye Ryvitas and spread with 2tsp Marmite. Calories so far: 90.
Lunch: Make soup your choice of lunch with a can of Weight Watchers’ filling Chicken, Potato & Leek soup (96 cals). As lunch is low cal, you have room for another snack, and a Sun-Maid Mini-Box (42 cals) is a great choice. Calories so far: 228
Dinner: You still have quite a few calories for today, so tuck into our tasty healthy chicken tikka (opens in new tab) (136 cals), two Jaffa Cakes for pud (90cals).
Total intake for the whole day without snacks = 454 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 2
Breakfast: Top 25g of low-fat Greek yogurt with two chopped apricots. Calories so far: 68.
Lunch: Tesco’s Broccoli and Stilton soup (140 cals) is a great option as you can still get a cheese fix. Calories so far: 228.
Dinner: Chicken and rice makes this lemon and chicken stir fry rice (opens in new tab) (204 cals) super filling.
Total intake for the whole day = 500 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 3
Breakfast: Give a slice of white bread a kick – toast it and top with half a teaspoon of cinnamon. Calories so far: 91.
Lunch: Mushroom soup keeps lunch healthy and Knorr’s version (106 cals) means you’ll have more calories to use up for snacks. For a sweet afternoon treat, have two Jaffa cakes (90 cals). Calories so far: 287.
Dinner: One all the family will enjoy, a serving of this spicy pepper pulled pork (opens in new tab) comes in at just 290 calories.
Total intake for the whole day = 491 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 4
Breakfast: Start the day off with a Muller Light Strawberry yogurt (89cals). Calories so far = 89.
Lunch: Heinz Weight Watchers Tomato Soup is just 76cals, and if you need a bit more filling up try munching on two rice cakes (70cals). Calories so far = 255.
Dinner: Low calorie doesn’t mean tasteless. We love these cornflake chicken dippers that are just 257 calories per portion.
Total intake for the whole day = 492 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 5
Breakfast: A medley of a banana (90cals), 25 blueberries (20cals), and a kiwi (46cals) Calories so far = 156
Lunch: Young’s Cod Steak in Parsley Sauce (101cals) is perfect. Eat it on a bed of 60grams of lettuce (8cals). Calories so far = 261
Dinner: Try our hunger-busting veggie balti (opens in new tab) to fight off the fasting blues (131cals) and two and a half rice cakes (100cals).
Total intake for the whole day = 496 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 6
Breakfast: Kickstart the morning with a mini bagel – halve and toast, spread each side with 2tsp of low-fat cream cheese. Calories so far: 96 cals
Lunch: Chunky soups are a great way to fill you up at lunch, whilst still keeping the calorie count low. We love a bowl of Weight Watchers from Heinz Tuscan Minestrone soup (129 cals). Calories so far: 225.
Dinner: Creamy chicken kormas (opens in new tab) aren’t off the menu, as our version is low cal at (240cals) with 25 blueberries for dessert (20cals).
Total intake for the whole day = 485 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 7
Breakfast: A banana (90cals) is ideal for breakfast on the go and will give you plenty of energy for the rest of the day. Calories so far = 9
Lunch: Low-calorie foods don’t have to be boring. Pop to Prêt and grab a Simple Tuna Salad (170cals) and two rice cakes (70cals). Calories so far = 240.
Dinner: Try whipping up a low cal mushroom ragu with courgetti (opens in new tab) (125cals) and 25 blueberries for dessert (20cals).
Total intake for the whole day= 470 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 8
Breakfast: Make a fruity concoction with a strawberry and almond yogurt, using 25g low-fat Greek Style yogurt, 50g strawberries, and 4g ground almonds. Calories so far: 56.
Lunch: For lunch, rustle up our crushed new potatoes and shoots (opens in new tab) (170 calories). Calories so far: 226
Dinner: For dinner, it’s a roast cod and parma ham (opens in new tab) (270 calories).
Total intake for the whole day minus snacks = 496 calories
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 9
Breakfast: Start off the day with an omelette with two eggs, 50grams of red pepper, and 50grams of onion (156cals). Calories so far = 156.
Lunch: A sachet of miso soup (14cals) will warm you up, and try snacking on two carrot sticks (50cals). Calories so far = 220.
Dinner: Whip up this flavor-packed king prawn stir fry (opens in new tab) in just 20 minutes. This tasty meal is only 265 calories.
Total intake for the whole day = 485 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 10
Breakfast: Enjoy a medley of 100g hulled sliced strawberries, 100g cubed watermelon and 50g halved seedless grapes. Calories so far: 88.
Lunch: Tuck into Sainsbury’s Be Good to Yourself Cous Cous & Chargrilled Vegetable pot (127 cals) and 25 blueberries (20cals) Calories so far: 235.
Dinner: Filling and delicious, make this butternut squash and spinach tortilla (opens in new tab) by Weight Watchers (196 cals) for dinner. As a final treat to end the day, grab your spoon and enjoy a serving of Hartley’s Sugar-Free Raspberry Jelly (10 cals).
Total intake for the whole day: 441.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 11
Breakfast: Get fruity with a 75g low-fat peach yogurt and top with 30g raspberries. Calories so far: 100.
Lunch: Make our flavorsome Spanish-style sizzling prawns (opens in new tab) (169 cals) the night before and heat up for lunch. Calories so far: 271.
Dinner: Make fish the dish of the day with our Chinese vegetable chow mein (opens in new tab) (195 cals).
You’ve still got 25 calories to use on low-cal drinks and snacks.
Total intake for the whole day without snacks: 464.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 12
Breakfast: Grab a banana and give it a sweet kick with ½ tsp of honey. Calories so far: 95.
Lunch: For lunch, enjoy our prawn and pickled cucumber salad (opens in new tab) which is one salad that guarantees to fill you up (117 cals). Calories so far: 195
Dinner: In the evening, enjoy our spring chicken traybake (opens in new tab) (270 calories).
Total intake for the whole day = 482 calories
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 13
Breakfast: Begin your day with a bowl of porridge with a sweet maple syrup topping. Put 20g porridge oats in a bowl with 2tbsp water and 2tbsp skimmed milk. Microwave on high for 1 min 20 secs until the oats are tender and then stir in 1tsp maple syrup. Calories so far: 100
Lunch: For lunch on the go, opt for Tesco’s Healthy Living Chicken Noodle Soup in a Mug (44 cals) and one Salt & Vinegar Snack a Jacks Rice Cake (41 cals). Calories so far: 185.
Dinner: Our delicious Thai curried noodles (opens in new tab) are a great dinner option (297 cals).
Total intake for the whole day = 482 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 14
Breakfast: Using egg whites for an omelette is a great way to cut calories. Use 3 egg whites, 80g mushrooms, and 80g spinach. Calories so far: 58.
Lunch: You can afford to treat yourself, as Sainsbury’s tabbouleh salad (140 cals) is indulgent but still low-cal. Calories so far = 198.
Dinner: This Moroccan root tagine with couscous (opens in new tab) (300 cals) beats a takeaway.
Total intake for whole day: 498 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 15
Breakfast: Start the day with a fruit medley of 1 kiwi, 1 medium satsuma and 25g low-fat Greek yogurt. Calories so far: 101.
Lunch: Go veg heavy with this roasted veg ratatouille (opens in new tab) (170 cals) Calories so far: 271
Dinner: Speedy and super low in calories, this baked aubergine (opens in new tab) dish is only 90 cals per portion. Calories for the day are just 361 calories leaving you 139 to use on low-calorie snacks.
Total intake for the whole day = 361 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 16
Breakfast: Kickstart your day with a banana at 90 calories. Calories so far = 90
Lunch: Pick up a Beetroot and Cheese Salad from Waitrose for the ultimate crispy and chunky fix at 172 calories. Calories so far = 262.
Dinner: Our super-easy sweet potato pasta (opens in new tab) is also surprisingly good for you at 198 calories a portion. You've got 40 calories left for dessert.
Total intake for the whole day = 460 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 17
Breakfast: Start off the day with a hard-boiled egg (78 calories) and a satsuma (25 calories) as an elevenses snack. Calories so far = 103.
Lunch: Take half of Weight Watcher’s Mediterranean Veg Quiche (156 calories), and a Tesco side salad (12 calories) for a midday meal to give you a real energy boost. Calories so far = 178
Dinner: This hearty vegetable stew (opens in new tab) is packed full of veg including carrot, parsnips, celery, and swede (172 calls)
Total intake for the whole day = 453 calories
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 18
Breakfast: Hard-boiled egg (78cals) and 25 blueberries (20cals) Calories so far = 98.
Lunch: Half of Sainsbury’s Creamy Vegetable Soup is a super healthy option at only 53 calories. Calories so far = 151.
Dinner: Warming, chunky, delicious, and easy. This super-filling vegetarian pie (opens in new tab) is just 303 calories per portion.
Total intake for the whole day = 454 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 19
Breakfast: Perfect to grab on the go, an Alpen Fruit and Nut Bar starts your day off at 109 calories. Calories so far = 109
Lunch: Make your midday meal a filling one with a slice of toasted rye bread with a small can of reduced sugar and salt baked beans at 195 calories. Calories so far = 304.
Dinner: Forget a Thai takeaway and try this green miso noodle bowl (opens in new tab) instead. At just 198cals it’s your better option by a mile.
Total intake for the whole day = 502 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 20
Breakfast: Chocolate for brekkie isn’t as awful as it sounds. A Tesco white chocolate and strawberry cereal bar come in at just 85 calories.
Lunch: Pack a fiery punch at lunchtime with Tesco’s Chilli Chicken Noodles at 195 calories. Calories so far = 280.
Dinner: Opt for a refreshing, filling salad for dinner. Our bean and pepper salad (opens in new tab) (137cals) is perfects served with two rice cakes (70cals).
Total intake for the whole day = 487 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 21
Breakfast: Start the day off to a warming start with a sachet of Tesco’s Micro Oats. It’s speedy and healthy at 105 calories. If you fancy a mid-morning snack, opt for a fruity Weight Watchers citrus yogurt at 60 calories. Calories so far =165.
Lunch: You can’t beat a classic tomato soup, and Heinz’s Cream of Tomato Reduced Salt comes in at a light 115 calories. Calories so far = 280.
Dinner: Our delicious, filling masala omelette (opens in new tab) is a great choice at 118 calories, you would even have enough calories to treat yourself to a small glass of wine (120mls) for 80 calories.
Total intake for the whole day = 478 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 22
Breakfast: Melba toast is great when you’re on a diet. Try having two pieces of Melba toast each covered in one tablespoon of Philadelphia Light & Healthy Cream Cheese (48cals each). Calories so far = 98 calories.
Lunch: One mini Quorn Sausage Roll (48cals) will stop you from missing comfort foods. Serve with a salad made up of 30grams of spinach (7cals), 4 cherry tomatoes (16 calls), and a medium cucumber (24cals). Calories so far = 193.
Dinner: This Vietnamese prawn curry (opens in new tab) (192cals) will only take 15 minutes to make, add a Weight Watchers mini naan (103cals) for an extra kick of carbs.
Total intake for the whole day = 488 calories
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 23
Breakfast: Boiled egg (78cals) and a pear (100cals). Calories so far = 178
Lunch: Home-made tomato and lentil soup (123cals) is super easy to make. Simply use 150grams of red lentils, vegetable stock, garlic, ginger and spices, and one can of tinned tomatoes. This will make four servings so you don’t need to worry about lunch on fasting days for a while! Calories so far = 301
Dinner: A quick and easy Mediterranean veg chilli (opens in new tab) (190cals) is perfect after a long day.
Total intake for the whole day = 491 calories
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 24
Breakfast: Try starting off the day with a hard-boiled egg (78cals). If you’re after a mid-morning snack, have a satsuma (21cals). Calories so far = 99.
Lunch: If you’re craving carbs, have a small jacket potato topped with 50grams of cottage cheese (198cals). Calories so far = 297.
Dinner: This bun-less fish burger (opens in new tab) (141cals) will fill you up in the evening, and gives you enough spare calories for a sweet treat! Try swapping pudding for one Walls Mini Milk (30cals).
Total intake for the whole day = 468 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 25
Breakfast: a 100gram serving of Onken’s fat-free raspberry and honey yogurt (79cals) will give you a sweet start to the day. Calories so far = 79.
Snack: A serving of Saitaku Miso Soup (14cals) will leave you enough calories for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. If you’re missing crisps, try snacking on a packet of Walkers salt and vinegar French Fries (97cals). Calories so far = 190.
Dinner: Pork pittas and mango salsa (opens in new tab) (222cals) and a small (120ml) glass of wine (80cals) will make dinner time a little more exciting!
Total intake for the whole day = 492 calories.
Recipes for 5.2 meal plan - Day 26
Breakfast: for a sweet fix try having one crumpet with a teaspoon of honey (100cals) and 20 raspberries (20cals). Calories so far = 120
Lunch: Enjoy a Love Life You Count Tamarind Duck Lettuce Wrap from Waitrose (86cals). Calories so far = 206.