Monthly Archives: January 2013

The 5:2 Diet – Shiv’s Journey: Hunger and Handstands


Should you be exercising on the days that you fast?

SOON after my colleagues at work discovered that I was doing a “fast” (eyes rolled every time the word was mentioned), there was an office  sweepstake to guess how long before I fell off the wagon. This was followed by even more incredulity when I said that I actually worked out at the gym for about an hour on both of my fast days (technically referred to as training in a fasted state), in addition to a couple of other days in the week.

Logic dictates that on the days you are fasting, with as little as 500/600 calories consumed, the last thing you want to be doing – or more to the point ought to be doing, is working out at the gym, or going for a run or any other form of exercise. Well, the great thing about intermittent fasting is you do what feels right for you, and if doesn’t feel right for you – you don’t. Admittedly, I too was slightly sceptical about the idea about working out on a day when I was mostly going to be hungry, but like with other things related to IF and the 5:2 programme I thought I would try it, and see how I felt.

For the first couple of weeks I worked out at the gym near my office at lunch-time. The  thinking here was that I would keep myself busy at lunch, and therefore not feel too wretched watching my colleagues eat, or make plans about what they were going to eat, and then after lunch discuss what they did eat! When the lunch-time workout proved more time consuming than I thought, I switched going to the gym to the end of the day, and knew I had hit on a winner.

My little secret, even after all these months of intermittent fasting is that I still sometimes struggle with the last couple of hours in the day with a combination of hunger and boredom before I sit down to eat dinner at 7.30 pm. I found that going to the gym at the end of the day and before dinner did a couple of things for me: one, it gave me something to do; second, and rather miraculously, instead of feeling hungry as I would otherwise at about 5 in the evening, the work out gave me a renewed burst of energy and I felt a lot less hungry even as I sat down to dinner. Result!

On the more general point of exercising, the motivation I got from losing a few lbs. from IF spurred me on to the gym, and I am currently working out between three and four times a week. I could probably do more, but that would be really dull!

Finally, and on an unrelated point, I invested in a rather clever piece of kit, which is a weighing scale that also measures BMI, fat, water and other stuff. Rather unhelpfully, the scales came with the wrong set of instructions, and I am still trying to figure up how to set it up. That said, I would be very pleased to hear from anyone who has recently switched from the scales that only measured weight, to one of these new-fangled scales. Is all this additional information helpful? Has it spurred you on to lose even more weight, or like with lots of other things are you staring down at more information than you know what to do with. Let me know.

Till next time.

Cheers, Shiv

P.S. Did any of you catch the Horizon programme, produced and presented by Michael Moseley (of 5:2 fame) on exercising on Wednesday night on BBC2? Fascinating, as we have come to expect from him. I am very new to the ideas of high intensity training, but if any of you have any thoughts, do send them my way.

© Shiv Taneja 2013


5:2 Diet Recipe Ideas



I’ve searched high and low so that you don’t have to (you’re welcome). There are loads and loads of delicious 5:2 recipe ideas out there. Women are supposed to eat 500 calories or less on a fast day, and men 600 calories or less.

You can of course snack on a handful of 100 calorie things throughout the day, or you can save yourself for one main meal. This post details recipes for meals that are 500 calories or less.

This Thai Carrot Salad recipe over at the BBC Good Food website looks amazing and is only 192 calories per serving!

Their Steamed Fish with Lemon, Ginger & Chilli recipe is just 153 calories per serving.

Love pizza and can’t even resist it on a fast day? Why not try this 316 calorie Smoky Corn and Black Bean Pizza over at Eating Well! Or how about these Turkey and Lettuce Wraps at just 285 calories. Amazing!

This site called Real Simple has created a calendar of 31 under 400 calorie meals – one for every day of the month! My favourite is the Spiced Pork Chops with Red Cabbage and Raisins. Delish! also have some great-looking ideas, such as this Maple-Glazed Salmon with Pickled Cucumber.

If you’re in a rush or just aren’t a fan of cooking your grub from fresh, why not try a low-calorie ready meal? Marks & Spencer have a low-calorie range called count on us…™. They’re a selection of ready meals all under 400 calories and less than 3% fat.

Low Calorie Drinks for The 5:2 Diet

Latte Machiatto

Latte Machiatto (Photo credit: 5.0OG)

Yesterday I had a ‘Skinny’ Vanilla Spiced Latte. Considering it was marketed as a low fat beverage, it was high in calories…269 in fact! If you’re on a fast day and are trying to cut down, don’t waste your calories on drinks (unless, for some crazy reason, you really don’t want to eat).Here are some really high-calorie drinks you may want to avoid:

  • Starbucks‘ large White Chocolate Mocha with Whipped Cream (whole milk) = 612 calories
  • Starbucks’ Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream = 690 calories
  • Starbucks’ Caramel Frappuccino with Whipped Cream (whole milk) = 1903 calories
  • Pina Colada has approximately 644 calories per drink
  • Long Island Ice Tea typically contains over 700 calories per serving

I love going for coffee and Starbucks isn’t all bad. If you’re fasting and want to check out the calories in their drinks, click here.

Instead, why not opt for some low or zero calorie drinks…it’s only for two days each week, after all!

  • Water, water, water! There are practically NO calories in water – and if you’re lucky enough to have drinkable tap water, then it’s also free!
  • Many teas have no calories. Try green tea, lemon and ginger tea or peppermint tea. There’s a flavour out there for everyone.
  • There are only a couple of calories in a mug of black coffee. Compared to a can of Red Bull (over 100 calories), this is a great way to still get your caffeine boost without compromising the diet.
  • Diet Coke has 0 calories. Sure, it might not have the health benefits of water or green tea, but if you usually drink non-diet coke you’ll be saving around 100 calories per 8 fl oz.

Do you just drink water on a fast day? Have you ever forgotten to ‘count’ a beverage, soon realising that it’s doubled your calorie intake for the day? Let me know!

The 5:2 Diet: Shiv’s Journey – All Change


Same me, different me

Hello, if you are reading this it means you are already on 5:2, are thinking about it, or have just stumbled on to We Eat Things and are wondering what all the fuss is about. Well, six months ago, I was all of the above, with the “only” difference being I was 30 lbs. heavier than I am today. I am still 46 years old, am still 5’7″, still doing much the same sort of stuff that I was doing in the past – and yet something feels very different.

In future blogs I will share with you some of my experiences of this remarkable period in my life, and how I hope it is going to fundamentally change the way I feel about myself, the control I now have over what I eat, and when, and how I have been able to do things that I just didn’t think I was able to do.

Sounds a little evangelical and with the zeal of a convert? Yes, and you’d be absolutely right, and hopefully for those of you about to start 5:2, or intermittent fasting (IF) more generally, my relatively short experience with 5:2 may echo with your own experiences, or maybe it will not. I am certainly not trying to compete with the mighty Michael Moseley (who got many of us started down this path), but one of the great things about IF is that there are very few rules (there are some basic ones) and the experiences of other guest bloggers on We Eat Things over the past several months (Heather, thanks for reinstating the blog!) was a source of inspiration and ideas for me. Hopefully my experiences will give some of you the impetus to give it a go.

So where shall we start? While the now seminal Horizon programme on BBC was what got me interested in the idea of giving the 5:2 a go, what really got me off the blocks was some research I read on conquering your fear about fasting. One piece of research (more details can be found here – suggests that before starting any version of IF, you need to try fasting for a 24 hour period, just to get the hang of the experience of what it is like to feel hunger; let’s face it, going hungry for long periods of time isn’t fun, and not something many of us have experienced in our everyday lives. Also be sure, fasting is not for everyone and doing a trail fast is a great way to decide if this is something that is for you – or not.

So I did it. I came home one Friday evening in the dog days of summer last year, and decided on the spur of the moment that the next day was going to be my trial fast day. I had dinner at about 8 pm, went to bed per usual, and spent a lot of the following day watching the Olympics on telly (a very pleasant distraction, as many will testify to). During the day, I pretty much did all the things I would do on a Saturday (walk the dog etc), with one exception: I didn’t eat anything. Sure, I drank lots of water, lots of green tea, and some black coffee but not a morsel of food passed my very surprised lips till 8 pm on Saturday, and what an astonishing 24 hours it was!

Sure I felt hungry, but I learnt that hunger comes in waves rather than building incessantly. I learnt that hunger is more about dealing with it in your head than in your stomach, and most of all I realised that at the end of 24 hours I wasn’t going to pass out, or worse, die! In fact, I felt rather good, and better still dinner that night Saturday night tasted the best ever. Yet, best of all the confidence I now had in my ability to start on IF was remarkably strong.

In future iterations of this blog, I will talk about why exercising on the fast days is a real bonus for me, why weighing yourself incessantly is not a good idea (but when to, if you must!), how I learnt to count calories from not knowing the difference between proteins and carbohydrates (really, no exaggeration!), and anything else you would like to chat about. As I said above, this blog is about my experiences. I hope you will share yours with me, and we can get something of a conversation started to our collective benefit.

Finally, I don’t want you all think of me as some miserable git who is all about weight loss and nothing else, so if you happen to be in the Holborn area in London, pop into the Holborn Whippet, my local boozer near work – they really have some fabulous beers on tap and not a shabby selection of wines either. Slightly further afield, having just returned from a business trip to Switzerland, I cannot recommend the Le Relais de l’Entrecote in Geneva highly enough. No bookings, no menus, just the best steaks in the business – and best of all you get two helpings, which I exactly what the doctor  ordered after you have been on 5:2 – because you can afford to!

Till next time.


Shiv – Guest Blogger

© Shiv Taneja

The 5:2 Diet – New Guest Blogger!


Thanks to all of you who applied to be guest blogger on We Eat Things for the 5:2 diet. I am happy to announce that Shiv has been chosen to record his ‘diet’ journey for the foreseeable future.

Shiv says: “I’ve been on this programme since last August, and stumbled on it quite by accident after watching the Horizon programme on iplayer! It really spoke to me, and after doing a little more reading on Intermittent Fasting (IF), decided to have a go. Well, that was 6 months ago, and in that time I have lost over 30 lbs, discovered the importance what I eat, and most importantly have started exercising as often as four times a week.I don’t want to bandy words like “life-changing”, etc, but this experience has really changed a lot of things for me – not least of all the need for a new wardrobe!”

 Even with a hectic lifestyle, the 5:2 way of eating can still work – “I work full-time in a job which requires me to travel quite a lot (I’m writing this from Zurich), but have tried to ensure that the 5:2 programme works around my schedule, rather than the other way around. I have (sort of) made my own rules about 5:2 such that it works for me in a manner that I will want to sustain this on a medium- to long-term basis rather than see this as something I will do for a finite period.”
Can’t wait to hear more exciting news from Shiv over the next few months!

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on The 5:2 Diet

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TV Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has this week written an article for The Guardian, about his recent experience on the 5:2 diet. He explains that fasting for two days out of seven has resulted in him losing an impressive eight pounds since the new year.

Hugh refers to it as The Fast Diet (I see it as more like The Eat Diet as you can eat more most of the time rather than less most of the time) and says, “…The Fast Diet says I can continue to butter my bread, cheese my butter, and raise my glass – at least for five days a week. It also promises much more than mere weight loss. It will reduce my bad cholestrol, protect me against cancer and even sharpen my mind. It pretty much promises that I will live longer, and healthier. As my half century approaches, that’s quite a punchy proposition.”

He then goes on to say, “could this diet, and the knowledge that underpins it, be harnessed to make a genuine impact on global health and the obesity epidemic? In principle, the answer would seem to be yes. (Though it wouldn’t be popular with the supermarkets, would it? Imagine if we all started shopping for a five-day eating week. That’d be more than 25% of Tesco’s turnover down the pan.)”

“So I believe in this fasting thing, I really do. With my strictly non-snacking version, I’ve lost eight pounds already, and I find the whole thing rather exhilarating. I feel I might just be part of a health revolution. But is it really sustainable, for me or for significant numbers of others?”

His article refers to a book written by Michael Moseley and Mimi Spencer. Michael was the guy in the original BBC Horizon documentary about the diet and Mimi Spencer is a columnist for YOU Magazine.  The book is currently a UK bestseller on Amazon, so this whole thing is obviously catching on.

…if only I’d written that book! 🙂

We Eat Things Blog of the Month: January 2013


Blog of the month is back! And this month I’ve gone for what I always love: simplicity, good photography and great recipes.

The winner this month is a blog called Simple Food, written by Margaret who lives with her family in Brisbane, Australia.

Margaret says, “Ever since I was a young girl I have loved cooking and making up recipes. I started cooking in the 1970s, when complexity was king – think prawn cocktails, chocolate orange mousse cups, beef Wellington etc. etc. As an adult I have traversed pretty much all the cooking trends – nouvelle cuisine, Asian fusion, weird things on pizza, and more –  but all the while, what I cooked day to day at home was a much pared back, simpler style that better suited me and my family – food that concentrated on flavour, local ingredients in season, and was easy to prepare and cook. This is the type of food that is most like me, and what I want to share.”

One of my favourite posts on the site is this Zucchini and Mint Salad which looks utterly delicious, healthy and so SIMPLE!

Go take a look at her other stuff – it’s worth a look!