What is the 5:2 diet and how did Michael Mosley popularise intermittent fasting?

The man behind the 5:2 diet frequently subjected himself to tremendous physical strain while conducting studies on health and wellness.

TV doctor, columnist and author Michael Mosley was frequently breaking boundaries in health.

From ingesting tapeworms for six weeks to airing the dying moments of a man, Mosley was prepared to do anything in the name of science.

And he was never afraid of sharing it on TV.

One of the main things he is known for is his 5:2 diet. With simple instructions, studies show it is effective at promoting weight loss.

What is the 5:2 diet?

The diet includes eating what you want five days a week, then twice a week you restrict yourself to just 600 calories.

No food limitations apply, although it is recommended that you adopt a balanced diet. Women who follow the plan should anticipate losing one pound or less each week, while males could expect to lose slightly more.

Any low-calorie diet should focus on making every calorie count, which entails selecting foods high in nutrients. Even if you might believe that calorie-counted prepared meals are the easiest option, you would be better off choosing veggies and lean protein sources like poultry. When adhering to the plan, your non-fast days should be filled with a variety of nutrient-dense meals, such as whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and protein-rich foods like dairy, chicken, fish, and turkey.

Intermittent fasting has a number of health benefits, including increased cognitive function, blood sugar regulation, decreased inflammation, and weight loss.

How did Michael Mosley popularise the 5:2 diet?

The medical journalist was already well-known for his health work and documentaries, and many took him seriously.

He first shared the idea of 5:2 when he presented the BBC Eat, Fast and Live Longer documentary in 2012, where he explored the efficacy of intermittent fasting.

The 5:2 diet was also mentioned in a Telegraph piece that went along with the documentary, referencing the work of knowledgeable nutritionists like Michelle Harvie and Krista Varady.

After noting down the attention and clicks he was getting from the diet, he published his debut book, The Fast Diet, co-written with Mimi Spencer, the following year. It sold over 350,000 copies and went through 13 reprints.

The Telegraph noted his article garnered nearly a million web hits in a short period of time.

Later on, he created the Fast 800 Diet, a low-carb, 800-calorie “Mediterranean" diet that required people to follow it for eight weeks at a time.

Celebrities who reportedly like his diets include Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugh Jackman, and Beyoncé.