Summer is in full swing, which means there are many new (not to mention slightly extravagant) diet plans that claim a quick fix to weight loss. However, the 5:2 diet is still going strong, trusted with an increasing amount of research that continues to suggest the easiest way to incorporate fasting into your lifestyle, whilst achieving health benefits, is to restrict your food intake to 500 calories (600 for men) only twice a week! Not convinced 500 will stretch that far? You might be surprised. In fact, you can eat two delicious meals on a fasting day without feeling the slightest bit restricted. Sound good? Use the following meal plans to follow the diet for three weeks:

Week 1:

FAST DAY ONE

Breakfast: A tangerine. Porridge (40g oats) and blueberries (145g).

Dinner: Chicken stir-fry (one chicken fillet, handful sugar snap peas, 100g cabbage, 2 carrots, ginger, coriander, garlic, soy sauce)

FAST DAY TWO

Breakfast: Yoghurt (small pot natural fat-free), blueberries (70g) and ham (40g)

Dinner: Feta Niçoise salad (1 egg, handful lettuce, handful green beans, 100g chopped cucumber, 90g feta cheese, 6 black olives)

Week 2:

FAST DAY THREE

Breakfast: 1 Boiled egg and half a grapefruit

Dinner: Veggie chili (1 large mushroom, half tin chopped tomatoes, half tin of kidney beans, garlic, half a chopped red chili) with brown rice (80g cooked)

FAST DAY FOUR

Breakfast: Smoked salmon, a cracker and light cream cheese

Dinner: Thai prawn salad (handful of cooked prawns, grated cucumber and carrot, sesame seeds)

Week 3:

FAST DAY FIVE

Breakfast: Smoked salmon (50g) and 2 scrambled eggs

Dinner: Roasted vegetable salad (10 cherry tomatoes, ½ cougette, ½ aubergine, 1 red pepper. Two tangerines

FAST DAY SIX

Breakfast: Strawberry smoothie (1 banana 100g, pot fat-free natural yoghurt 150g, large handful strawberries 50g)

Dinner: Oven-baked smoked haddock (fillet smoked haddock (200g), 1 poached egg, 100g steamed broccoli)

If you’re loving the 5:2 diet, keep reading to find out some of our favourite low-calorie meals from The Fast Diet Cookbook, by Mimi Spencer and Dr Sarah Schenker (£14.99, Short Books).

BREAKFASTS:

Soft boiled egg (1) with asparagus spears = 90 calories

Watermelon with a quartered fig and parma ham = 185 calories

Yoghurt, plums (2, quartered), flaked almonds (1tbsp) and 2 tsps agave nectar = 264 calories

Grilled portobello mushroom, cherry tomotoes, spinach and a paoched egg = 124 calories

Prawn omelette (2 eggs, 30g prawns, 1/2 courgette) = 207 calories

LUNCHES:

Ratatouille with rye bread toast = 173 calories

Beetroot soup with a spoon of creme fraiche = 116 calories

White crab and artichoke salad = 226 calories

Tuna Fagioli (tinned tuna, tinned beans, red onion, lemon juice, tomatoes, parsley) = 286 calories

Mushrooms stuffed with mozzarella, pecorino and spinach = 159 calories

DINNERS:

Smoked haddock with wilted spinach and a poached egg = 211 calories 

Salmon fillet with pesto and ribbon vegetables = 327 calories 

Turkey burgers with tomato salsa and corn on the cob = 333 calories

Lean pork meatballs in tomato sauce with steamed kale = 264 calories

2 egg omelette with emmental cheese, tomato and rocket = 300 calories

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