Diet Roadtest: A Week On The French 5:2

By Katrina Meynink
3rd Mar 2015

Motivated by the amount of organic veg I bought in January and failed to eat (kale, I’m death staring you) I decided to embrace one of the latest diets: the French 5:2. The basic premise of which is, you eat ‘normally’ five days a week and fast two days per week eating a maximum of only 500 calories, can’t type this is making me feel anxious. It is meant to mimic caveman, result in longer limbs, longer life, and generally all round awesomeness. The French version of this diet includes wine, so of course it seemed the far more logical choice.

Day One:

I’m pumped. I’m ready for my ‘journey’ and am digging the self-love ethic that comes with this kind of dietary focus. Shopping for the ingredients is a novelty and the majority dishes, while healthy, don’t seem ‘diety’. Is that even a word? It is now because I am on a diet. 

Eating highlights: Spicy chickpea salad; Thai duck breast with cellophane noodles. And 2 glasses of wine, which were ‘allowed’. Boom

Hunger levels at bedtime: They were there. There was a pang. A wee beg for a cup of tea and maybe a square or ten of chocolate. But not so much that it would keep me from slumber.

Hunger levels at 2am: Couldn’t tell you. Slept through. Woot.

Day Two: Fast Day

Dear diary, am scared shitless. I usually smash 500 calories at breakfast. Instead it’s a warm water with lemon and off to work I go. I want to email Gwynnie and see if we could be friends and Goop together. I am like professional now when it comes to dieting. Doing ok until 10:am. Some cow in the office is scoffing a hot cross bun and I can smell the spices across the divider. I think she hates me. My body weeps and begs for a calorie. Cal–a-anything. I’m beginning to think my fingers are Tim tams whipping across the keyboard. 

Please somebody get this bitch a hamburger. Or a pie. I’d love a pie.

What I ate: A black rice, peas, asparagus and mint salad. Tasty but small. Waaay too small.

Hunger levels at bed time: Rampant. I kneel next to my bed and pray. I try to convince myself that I am hallucinating some kind of spiritual enlightenment.

Hunger levels at 2am: I hate this ‘journey’. Trying to eat my salty tears.

Day Three:

Eating: Wooppeee food. Hello world. Beef meatballs were pretty good. Ditto the chicken brochettes and lemon grass. 

Hunger levels at bedtime: None. Killing it.

Hunger levels at 2am: Drank 3 glasses of water #goop #cleanliving. Tweeted about it, went back to bed. 

Day Four: Fast Day

What I ate: I change tack and make five x 100 calorie snacks so I can eat through the day. This seems to work better for me.

Hunger levels at bedtime:  Am hangry. There is a reason DIE makes up the majority of the word diet. 

Hunger levels at 2am: My fitbit lit up to remind me I’m alive. I thought it was a Killer Python. I tried to eat it.

Day Five: 

On the plate: Loving the raw salmon and burghul.

Hunger levels at bedtime. None. Snaps to me. 

Hunger levels at 2am: Negligible Am killing it. And am in the zone.


Pros: The recipes are great.  Most of the salads are what I would love to eat five days a week. The book provides menu plans, helpful information on how to structure your diet and they allow wine, which means they have a soul. Rather than a fad, this does seem to try and set people up with the right tools for long-term lifestyle changes. Oh and my clothes seem to fit better, a lot better.

Cons: The fast days are HARD. For this grazer, life was pretty miserable and I think a social life on those days is actually impossible, not only because of the lack of food, but you are so hungry you’re not actually a nice person to be around.

Burghul & Raw Salmon

Serves 1

Ingredients & cals (KJ)

70 g (21⁄2 oz) burghul   
1⁄2 teaspoon cider vinegar    
1 teaspoon olive oil   
1⁄2 cucumber, about 300 g (101⁄2 oz)
Peeled and diced
10 g (1⁄4 oZ) chives, snipped   
90 g (31⁄4 oz) raw salmon, very fresh   
75 g (21⁄2 oz/1 small bunch) sorrel
Washed and coarsely chopped

Total cals, 498 (2084 KJ)

Variation for men

90 g (31⁄4 oz/1⁄2 cup) burghul 
110 g (33⁄4 oz) raw salmon, very fresh 

Total cals, 600 (2511 KJ)


Cook the burghul in two and a half times its volume of boiling salted water, uncovered, over medium heat for 7 minutes. Let it stand off the heat for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Dress the burghul with the vinegar and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Add the cucumber and chives. Set aside in the refrigerator. Clean and cut the salmon into small cubes, season them with salt and pepper, and set aside in the refrigerator. At the last minute, combine the burghul with the sorrel. Serve with the cubes of salmon on top. Variation 1: Replace the salmon with raw cod and add more burghul. Variation 2: replace the sorrel with baby English spinach.

It’s ready!

Recipe and image from 5:2 Lifestyle (Allen & Unwin) by Delphine de Montalier and Charlotte Debeugny

French 5:2 diet

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.