The Skin Centre endorses the 5/2 program (not suitable for diabetics).

Every once in a while something comes along that is so simple and so good, you just can't afford to miss out. This program is just such a thing. Don't be put off by the fasting element. We will show you that this program is easy, and gives amazing results.

What will the 5/2 fasting diet achieve?

A significant number of people have tried this method, and it’s been routinely noted that you can expect to see marked weight loss if the program is adhered to.

  • It has been found the fasting element to this program can help us live longer, and even reduce the risk of mental illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

  • Additionally, it has been noted it helps with lowering blood pressure.

  • Arguably the most interesting and significant benefit seen in research, is the effects on the levels of a growth hormone known as IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor). High levels of IGF-1, which is a protein produced by the liver, is believed significantly to increase the risks of colorectal, breast and prostate cancer. Low levels of IGF-1 reduce those risks.

    Studies have shown this diet and others similar in extremity cause IGF-1 levels to drop and to stay down for a period after a return to normal eating. Such a reduction could make a significant difference to an individual's likelihood of developing certain cancers.

How does the 5/2 fasting diet work?

The '5/2' refers to calorie restriction for two days out of a week. These are usually not successive days. About 500 calories from foods that are not high in rapidly digested carbohydrates (no fruit on these days). The 5/2 program lowers the body's insulin-like growth factor (IGF1) and the body’s fat stores. Both lead to a reduction in the risk of cancer. Specifically for melanoma, early development requires IGF1 to establish growth .  Downregulation of the IGF-1R leads to massive apoptosis (the death of cells which occurs as a normal and controlled part of an organism's growth or development) of cancer cells. Also, it can be assumed that a reduction in IGF1 can produce similar results.

Large prospective studies show a significant association with obesity for several cancers, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified the evidence of a causal link as 'sufficient' for cancers of the colon, female breast (post-menopausal), endometrium, kidney (renal cell), and esophagus (adenocarcinoma).

We previously thought the reduction in glucose uptake by melanoma was a result of cell death caused by cancer treatments; we have now found most cells actually die as a result of being starved of glucose. (Professor Rod Hicks: Director, Centre for Cancer Imaging Peter Mac Melbourne)

So how do we reduce available glucose to melanoma cells?

The aim is to reduce the blood glucose levels for a time each week (nominally two separate days a week) however not below 3.3 mmol/l . In order to achieve this, food intake needs to be drastically reduced on these days for most people.

Fasting can elevate cortisol levels. One of cortisol’s effects is that it raises blood sugar. Hepatic glucose production starts during fasting, which is primarily regulated by glucagon. This helps maintain basal blood glucose concentrations within a normal range during the fasting process. When the blood sugar goes too low, mild headaches are common, as well as difficulty with concentration. So it is clear complete fasting is not a good idea. The ideal balance is enough calories to keep you above the headache level. This can be achieved with practise.

There are many different food programs out there to achieve a variety of goals. These goals can be influenced by physical appearance, allergies and more. We understand everyone has different metabolisms, and we all have varying levels of discipline when it comes to curbing our eating.

How do you start the 5/2 fasting diet?

This program involves five days of normal eating. Then, on the other two days, you only eat a quarter of your recommended daily calorie count. This is 500 calories for women and 600 for men.

What can I eat on fasting days?

So now we know how many calories you can eat on a fasting day: 500 for women and 600 for men. But what exactly does that mean? We have some suggestions below for the types of food and drink you may choose for these quarter intake days:

Select a variation of these items to keep your total for the day below the recommended limits.


Boiled egg (89 cals)

1/2 tin Baked Beans (100 cals)

2 egg white omelette (34 cals)

50g Total 0% Greek Yoghurt (48 cals)

12 Almonds (100 cals)


Celery (7 cals)

Miso soup (instant) sachet (44 cals)

90g cauliflower (28 cals)

Tuna salad (175cals)

Mushrooms on wholemeal toast (110 cals)

1 cherry tomato (4 cals)

50g cooked prawns (50 cals)

12 Almonds (100 cals)


Chicken breast (162 cals)

Roasted eggplant (18 cals)

40g peas (40 cals)

50g cooked prawns (40 cals)

10 spears of asparagus (50 cals)

Half fillet of salmon (185 cals)

1 roasted pepper (30 cals)

38g Feta cheese (100 cals)

12 Almonds (100 cals)

Further information on the 5/2 fasting diet

Watch the Michael Mosley video on the program

The science report with Norman Swan