Opinion article* published in The Conversation written by Associate Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Newcastle, Surinder Baines.

The “new” weight-loss strategy known as the 5:2 diet has been receiving much attention in the media since the book The Fast Diet: The Secret of Intermittent Fasting – Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, Live Longer was launched late last year.

The 5:2 diet allows you to eat as usual for five days and to fast for two days. On fasting days, the dieters need to restrict intake of food to approximately 2000 kilojoules (500 calories) a day for women or 2400 kilojoules (600 calories) for men.

Many people who have tried the 5:2 diet report that they have been successful in losing weight but this is the case for most weight-loss diets in the short term. The issue of long-term compliance with the two days of energy restriction remains unresolved, as does long-term weight maintenance because people usually are not able to keep to their new weight.

What’s more, we still need to investigate whether intermittent fasting is a safe weight-loss strategy, especially for people with diseases such as diabetes. Starvation-type diets have side-effects such as dehydration, anxiety, irritability, tiredness and lethargy and whether we should be looking out for these in the 5:2 diet remains to be determined.

Read the full article in The Conversation.

* Opinion pieces represent the author’s views.