The Fast Diet: perfect for Lent?

By Aisling | February 13 2013 | 32 Comments

So we’re well into February and by now (sadly) now most of us have given up on the diets we started full of enthusiasm and gung-honess in the New Year.

However a fresh start, laden with Catholic guilt, lies sparkling before us.  Pancake Tuesday has passed and this means we’re officially into Lent.  Now people reading from the outside world might not understand the Irish obsession with Lent.  It’s a bonkers Catholic hangover from days of Yore basically, when people would eat up all their eggs and butter on Pancake Tuesday and then go on a miserable auld diet til Easter.

But of course being Irish we can’t last that long without a little break to get wasted and have “the craic” halfway through.  The Lenten fast can be broken on Patricks Day when you can eat and drink all you want – but after that it’s back on the straight and narrow.

Most people nowadays just use Lent as an excuse to give up something that’s not good for them – fags, booze, sweets, chocolate and the like.  And from the chart above it seems that many of us use it as a reason to take a break from gorging on Social Media.  Grown women often use Lent as an excuse for dieting  and The Fast Diet seems like a perfect Lenten diet to me.  It’s full of misery but not TOO much misery which is important.  For two days out of every seven you restrict your diet to 500 calories a day and for the other five you eat what you like.

But what can you eat on your 500 calorie days?  Not much obviously – try a couple of eggs in the morning and half a chicken breast with salad or veg in the evening plus of course all the water and black coffee you want.


Proponents of the diet say it works really well and it’s good for health – studies have shown that fasting and restricting calories is good for long term health and can increase your chances of living longer.

Detractors of the diet say it’s all a load of cack and it just works because if you restrict your calories like this, your overall calorie count for the week goes down – and you lose weight.

So how easy is it to do?  Well I’ve tried and failed on three occasions.  I couldn’t make it past afternoon teatime without having a biscuit.  No lunch made me feel fainty.  In short, like all diets it was all so dreary and I have no willpower.

But have you tried it – how have you gotten on?  And are you giving up anything for Lent?  Do tell!

Diet & Wellbeing , ,

32 Replies to "The Fast Diet: perfect for Lent?"

  • Aine says:

    Giving up wine and going to to extend my weight watchers at home and try to get to my actula target – I got to about 2.5 lbs of it and while I’ve kept most of the weight off I want to do it properly and make some proper changes.

    Think lent is a pretty good time to do it, or as good a time as any because you can get away with saying no to things!

  • *Aisling* says:

    Wine is a good one Aine – the calories in it are shocking! It is SO lovely though, so difficult to give up

  • Shygirl says:

    To be honest this diet doesn’t sound a good idea to me at all. I’d end up stuffing myself on the other five days. Theres a lot of calories in wine and all alcohol. Its just so feckin nice though!

  • Fiona says:

    I gave it a go last year for a (very!) short time – its the same as any diet really – REQUIRES WILLPOWER.

    The trick to the low-food days was to keep very busy – if you are mad busy then you have less time to think about how hungry you are. And when you know you’ll only be hungry for 2 days instead of FOREVER then you can stick with it for a while I did lose a few pounds on it but then kinda drifted away from the whole idea & am back to square one!

    In the original BBC programme about it, the benefits were about more than just weight loss though – there were all kinds of health improvements regarding blood sugars & other things I can’t remember now.

    I would imagine if you have a propensity for an eating disorder it would be a dangerous thing to start though as you are really restricting.

  • Fiona says:

    I’m not Catholic, but as someone I know said yesterday, isn’t lent about denying yourself something in penitence, rather than about giving something up personal gain? I suppose it depends on whether you’re looking at the whole event in religious terms or as a timely excuse to do something/

  • Aine says:

    @Aisling – it’s not so hard when you literally poisioned yourself 2 weekends ago and the thought of it brings you out in the shakes!! I have the good intention and I’m not giving up all booze but it should help shift some lbs!

  • Joanne says:

    I’ve been following this for about 5 weeks now, and I’m nudging a total weight loss of 4kg (or approx 9 lbs).

    The first few days were somewhat tough, as I got used to it. But I’m finding them easier now. On the non-fast days, I just eat as normal, without any concerns. I do think that doing this diet has re-educated me about calorie contents. In the past, I used to pooh-pooh the idea of calorie-counting, but this diet has opened my eyes to the calorie contents of some food. Also, portion sizes have become more important to me.

  • *Aisling* says:

    Fiona – hahah yes that’s what Lent is SUPPOSED to be about alright! But people play fast and loose with the whole concept

  • littlesis says:

    I think it’s an interesting one, healthwise. I don’t think I’d get involved (I’m quite happy with my weight), but it makes sense really!

  • candi says:

    I’m doing this at the moment have found the fast days easy enough really though. If u are clever you can get 3 meals out of 500 cals!

  • ebop! says:

    The fast diet (5:2 Diet) is painful and dangerous! i did this for two weeks and the fast days were hell. Feeling faint/dizzy & cold on fast days! I watched the Horizon documentary on this 5;2 diet and this led me to trying it. These fad diets are a terrible idea, We all know whats good and whats bad. I find women make dieting into a competition and its a bad culture, think its important to be healthy, not trying to beat your friends dress sizes. Avoid this “Diet” like the plague!

  • I always give up sweets and chocolate for Lent. For some reason, it makes me stick to it 100%. I have this thing that if I make a promise to myself to do/not do something then I stick to it no matter what!

  • Gabby says:

    I’ve found this great so long as I have three meals a day instead of just two – lots of veg (not root veg as they’re much higher in calories) will help fill you up. Average 1 or 2 pounds lost a week. No side effects at all, it just gets a bit boring after a while. and their app are fantastic for calorie counting.

  • Macloon says:

    All these diets are a load of bollocks

    If people just focused on cutting out rubbish and eating more fruit and veg they would lose weight. Simple as

    People are making a fortune flogging the latest diet gimmick

    What’s next – the food poisoning diet? Leave some prawns out in the sun, consume, and magically lose 1/2 stone in a week. Voila

  • IceQueen says:

    @Fiona, Yes Lent is about denying yourself something in penitence. Or its supposed to be!

    I’ve given up chocolate and sweets but its not diet-related, its lent-related. I give up something every year.
    Already gave up drink since New Years and going till Paddys Day so that didnt count!

  • Marlie says:

    I’d never be able to go on a crazy fad diet, I wouldn’t last a day. I’ve been doing Slimming World for 7 months now, and it’s working really well for me. I don’t feel like I’m dieting, it was just the right motivation I needed to eat more fruit and veg for a more balanced diet. I’m making all of my meals from scratch these days, they’re just as tasty and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything (although I do miss pizza every now and again).

    As for giving up stuff for Lent – I fell out with that idea the year I decided I was too lazy to give up chocolate (I was about 8 or 9), and I told my parents I’d go to mass with them every day instead. EVERY DAY.

    That’s probably why I’m only a holiday church-goer these days….

  • ams says:

    I’m starting the Paleo diet/lifestyle – have done loads of research and quite excited about it. Won’t be 100% but will do my best (don’t think I could give up wine!)

  • Aine says:

    Watch this space on the wine!! It could all go wrong after a bad week!

  • *Aisling* says:

    ams – will be dying to hear how you get on with that! Will you let me know?

  • *Aisling* says:

    Macloon it’s funny you should say that… you’ve just reminded me of one diet that really DOES work

    And I notice this diet has now made its way into the Urban Dictionary. Did we start a craze? I hope not!

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