A guide to the Silicon Valley diet craze called 5:2

Photo Lily Lvnatikk on Unsplash

Words by

Digital Reporter

Among the diet plans gaining a momentum in the tech startup scene is intermittent fasting (IF).

According to an article by The Guardian, in Silicon Valley, a growing number of tech startup executives are following the IF pattern called “5:2” claiming that it helps them lose weight, manage mood swings, and improve productivity.

Its proponent, British doctor Michael Mosley recently sat down with SparkUp to talk about the method he popularized. The first thing he clarified is that the plan does not only help people to lose weight—it also has benefits for the human brain.

“There is a science behind it that’s why it is very beneficial to the brain,” Mosley said during the media launch of the new installation of his TV show “Trust Me I’m a Doctor” on March 23 in Makati City.

According to him, it “somehow works the same way as exercise. It’s stressful initially, then the stress leads to the release in the brain of a particular type of hormone called Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which strengthens existing brain cells and encourages them to grow new brain cells.

In the 5:2 plan, you get five days of normal eating (with “little thought to calorie control and a slice of pie for pudding if that’s what you want”). On the other two days, you reduce your calorie intake to 500 calories if you’re a woman, and 600 calories if you’re a man.

The computation is based on the idea that women need 2000 calories and men need 2400 calories per day. Thus, on a fast day, one should eat a quarter of a normal day’s recommended calories.

However, Mosley said people should not depend on 5:2 plan alone but should also complement their routines with regular exercise.

Three simple drills should be in one’s daily exercise, he says: aerobic bike run, muscle-building, and balancing.

“I also encourage people to do short burst of tough exercises as short as 20-second burst because it seems to haver similar benefits, but working by a different mechanism,” he said.


In “Trust Me I’m a Doctor,” Mosley investigates the latest evidence behind health claims and headlines – for instance, whether sugar is really the new tobacco, how much is too much alcohol and whether we should worry about air pollution. He has also set up big experiments looking at the benefits of eating oily fish, whether cooking with turmeric can help prevent cancer and how to increase our levels of vitamin D. It premieres in Asia this April 2018 on BBC Earth. BBC Earth is available  exclusively on Cignal TV.