Researchers have suggested that cutting calories two days a week is better than constant dieting for losing weight

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Image: Could longer periods without food actually be good for us?

Karen Booth / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: frenchtart

A 5:2 diet salmon Niçoise salad

We’re constantly being told to eat or avoid certain foods, but could the timing of our meals be just as important as what we eat?

Researchers have suggested that having periods of less food could be good for losing weight, and have said that the modern trend of snacking and eating so often during the day is "abnormal".


Dr Michelle Harvie, a dietitian and one of the researchers, found that eating a low-calorie diet two days a week led to more weight lost compared with constant dieting.  

She said: “Having spells where you are not eating is not a bad thing, but people are constantly grazing.


“While your body is in a fed state, the cells are in growth mode and not in repair mode. It is only in a fasting state that your body goes into repair mode and is protected against disease.”


The diet used in the study was Dr Harvie's own: the 2-Day Diet. This predecessor of the 5:2 diet involves eating just 600 - 1,000 calories on two consecutive days of the week.


Fasting diets aren't for everyone, however. Sioned Quirke from the British Dietetic Association says that regular meals were “more beneficial” than leaving long periods of time between meals or skipping them altogether.


She told Homemade: “Eating regular meals can have several benefits, especially for people who would like to manage or lose weight.


“People who eat regularly tend to have more control over their diets and have a lower calorie intake compared with people who eat irregularly, who tend to end up resorting to high fat or high calorie snacks and have less control over their portion sizes.


“Having regular meals also helps to keep your blood glucose levels stable which is beneficial as it provides your body with an even source of energy, rather than having dips and spikes.”

Are you a 5:2 fan, or a three-meals-a-day regular as clockwork eater? We'd love to hear what you think makes a healthy diet in the comments below ...