The 5/2 Diet – Bodybuilder style


Happy Easter!!

How many of you are going to indulge in some easter eggs and other chocolate related delights?

All of you  I hope!

Yes, even those of you on comp prep or a week out from your show, I’m going to put it out there that if you can’t find room for a (controlled) bit of ‘naughty’ stuff, then you’re doing it wrong!

A small dose of (high quality, preferably 70%+ cacao) fatty, carby deliciousness could actually be just what your metabolism needs…just saying

For those of you who are lactose intolerant, vegetarian, vegan, choc-phobic, deeply paleo, orthorexic, have religious reasons or simply just hate the stuff, I’m sure you’ll find an alternative that works for you.

In fact I came across a recipe for clean home made ‘easter eggs’ here which I’m definitely going to have to try, and the bonus is, that on this diet that I’m doing right now, it just happens that it will totally fit into the ‘2’ part which is the high carb, medium fat, low protein day!


So whilst I’m on the subject of diet, I thought I’d do a quick update on how I’m going with this latest experiment of mine.

You remember from the last post that I was going to try a bodybuilders version of the 5/2 diet, that has its roots in the type of diets that bodybuilders in the 50’s & 60s used to get big and stay lean all year round.

Essentially it is simply a cyclical ketogenic diet with a 5/2 split in terms of keto days/refeed days with macros of 55-60%F, 30-35%P, 5-8%C (max 30g net i.e minus fibre) during the week and 45-50%C, 35-40% F, 10-15% P on the weekends.

My big issue with it, was that the sample diet plans provided were totally awful and lacking in sooo many essential nutrients. So I was going to healthify it whilst sticking to the underlying premise.

How am I doing?

Well, this has to be the easiest diet experiment I’ve ever done – I am totally the lo-carb queen! I have got my diet so sorted on the keto days that some days I can add in starchy carbs and STILL be in negative net carbs!

30g daily allowance?? phhhh – easy.

I’m still eating my mountains of veggies and of course that is where most of my carbs come from, but the reason I am doing the 30g net (5%) limit so easily is that the types of foods I’m eating often have more fibre than carbs!

Broccoli, Avocado, Asparagus, Almonds, Cucumber, Red Cabbage, Eggs, macadamia nuts, chia seeds, my organic vegan pea/rice/hemp protein…

Then of course, with eating so much fat and protein – no carbs there either, this keto stuff is a piece of cake! or should I say a piece of Fat!

Where I got a bit stumped though was the ‘2’ part of the split – I had no idea how to eat so little protein! Somehow I managed to keep my protein down to 100g which turned out to be 16% so I thought that was pretty good.

That got me thinking – how do people eat so little protein in a day? How do they do it for their whole lives? I’m not sure if I’ve EVER eaten so little protein!

It reminds me of the most frequent question I get when I tell people I’m a coeliac; ‘What on earth do you eat?’

Last weekend I was eating all sorts of stuff – pancakes with banana, berries and maple syrup (no bacon – too much protein) – but because I used quinoa flour and 1 egg it had protein in it. Ham, avocado and lettuce sandwiches on gluten free chia seed bread…again too much protein, gluten free muesli bars  made with nuts, seeds, gluten free grains – 7g protein per bar godammit and I ate 6 of the buggers!

How am I supposed to have a sensible dinner with a nice bit of meat/fish and not blow my protein limit? I eneded up having vegetable soup with buttery bread, but the soup had chicken in it…so did the bread…

Stop with the protein in everything already!!

Low Protein is hard!

The other thing I found was that although I ate about the same amount of calories as my keto days (I think – didn’t track it, I just ate. Constantly!), I was never fully satiated – I felt ‘full’ at times, but I still wanted to eat stuff because I wasn’t feeling satisfied.

I could easily see why the diet book mentioned that it was not unheard of for people to eat 10000 calories/day on the low protein days…lack of protein meant they never felt satiated!

I’ve found this week a bit harder on the keto days – last week I sailed through them, but this week on Monday I tanked. I haven’t been sleeping very well (side effect? don’t know) so all day I’m tired and on Monday I just stopped functioning. By 3 o’clock could not keep my eyes open at all – I NEEDED to sleep – what made it worse was the fact that it was my first day at my new job and I was stuck in a meeting with the client – what a disaster! I also had a nasty headache and almost every hour I was getting these intense hot flashes – even at night…hence poor sleep.

Now on Monday I should have been ok  – nicely topped up with carbs from the previous 2 days – but I hit the wall.


On doing some googling, it appears that all this is common when your body is transitioning from using glucose as its energy source to fat as its energy source – the headaches and brain fog are a sign that the brain is short of glucose and struggling to find a quick source of energy. The hot flashes are because the high protein and high fat nature of the diet means my body is having to work extra hard to convert food to energy – you’ve heard of the thermic affect of foods?

yeah – high fat & high protein – hot stuff!!

Tuesday was a little better, I made a point of trying to get a few minutes nap time in the morning and afternoon, although I didn’t have the headache, I was still getting these regular hot flashes.

Wednesday was better again and Thursday I was right as rain.

Hopefully that means I’m now fully keto adapted and I won’t get the same issue next Monday. We’ll see.

The really good part of this is that I have noticeably leaned up, and I’m eating much ore food than I have been, even had a few days above 3000 calories!

Check this out:

20150325_084418 abs3

The left photo is day 2, and the right photo is today – 10 days later….ABS!!!

It appears to be working…those 60’s bodybuilders may not have had the science to back up what they were doing, and butter fried eggs, spam, salami and canned chicken with not a vegetable in sight might not be the healthiest diet in the world, but what they did, got results…

I’m definitely going to stick with this to see what else happens…

Right, I’m off to make up those delicious easter eggs. I’m wondering if I can use almond meal and mashed banana instead of peanut butter? maybe not the almond meal….too much protein! yikes!

will keep you posted!

Happy Easter!



  1. I would expect you to have to keto-adapt every week. One day of higher carb proportions takes your body out of ketosis, and the research says that they expect it to always take at least a few days to adapt to ketosis again afterwards. Some people take several weeks to get into ketosis after a high carb day. You should read The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance. It is targeted toward athletes, and does a great job of explaining the keto-adapting time-frames. You may want to do your high carb days during the week, so that your adapting/low energy days are mostly on the weekend, when you don’t have to pay attention at work. I have recently began experimenting with carb cycling, rather than strict ketosis, and so far it seems to be working fairly well, though my body fat is not as low as yours yet.


    1. Hi Michelle, thank you for the book reference, I’ll be sure to grab a copy! I have also done carb cycling protocols and they are very effective for weight maintenence/fat loss, and whilst this is still very much a work in progress and its worth pointing out that although I have leaned up following this protocol, the underlying premise is not one of fat loss/weight maintenence but of hormone manipulation, specifically Growth Hormone, Insulin, Cortisol and testosterone. The goal is to optimise the GH/T and insulin muscle growth factors by controlling and minimising the cataolic effects of cortisol/insulin.The tools to achive this manipulation are ketosis/not ketosis. Very high level overview:Insulin is a key part of muscle growth, but only when controlled. When it yo-yo’s up and down like it would do on carb based diets you get lesser resutls and more fat storage. When insulin is kept low, GH secretions increase, stimulating an anabolic environment. GH also kicks in to mobilise energy stores (fat) and the stress of heavy exercise also increases GH. Side note: GH is produced in pulseatile phases…hence the regular hot flashes. Insulin usually works to decrease GH secretion (which is why on normal diets most muscle growth happens at night when insulin is low and GH production peaks), but on the weekend the huge increase of carbs and hence insulin is seen by the body as a stressful situation. Guess which hormone is increased to deal with stressful situations? GH!. So the positive effects of GH stimulus are obtained all week.In addition to creating a positive environment for muscle growth, the diet also works to minimise the production and effects of catabolic hormones. Testosterone (growth, anabolic) is positively effected by fat intake and cortisol (muscle breakdwon,catabolic) is also decreased by fat intake. There’s a whole lot more to it than this, esepcially the supplements, but you get the idea


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