ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. Likewise, I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended.

Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Fast track

It's day 2 of my 5:2 diet today.

Or maybe it's day 4?

Technically, I could argue that it might be day 7.

Confused? Good. But I know perfectly well what the fuck I'm talking about, which makes me feel superior, and being on a diet is all about feelings of superiority, obviously.

Yes, I've succumbed to the latest fad diet doing the rounds. I know - who'd have thought it? But I'm fully bandwagoned-up and ready to go.

Big news, no?

So why the uncharacteristic behaviour? What's so special about this diet to make me want to give it a go?

The principle is simple, as all good principles are: Two days a week are 'fast days' where you eat an ultra-low calorie diet of just 600 calories - about a quarter of the recommended daily amount, which itself always seems quite low to me.

But, crucially, for the remainder of the time, you eat exactly what you would normally.

And that's that. Piece of low-calorie piss.

Mr. Big

Yes, I know I should probably try harder to lose weight. All the cliches apply with a vengeance: I'm not getting any younger, and I'm a big fat cunt with hypertension, diabetes and gout. I drink too much beer and have a penchant for vast portions of hearty food. And I'm too complacent about all of this.

Beer - my five-days-a-week hero!
The thing is, I've tried before, and most diets and 'lifestyle changes' seem to be just too painful for me to contemplate, requiring things like giving up beer, trimming fat off meat or eating smaller portions. I couldn't sustain anything like that without rapidly growing to hate my life.

But this I can accept, because the suffering is only ever temporary, and even when I'm desperately hungry I'll know that the following day I'll be able to eat what I please. Get the fuck in. I can cling to the hope of a battered sausage tomorrow, and that will keep me going. (It's what's kept me going today, in fact!)

The hype around this diet is slightly different from usual dietary hype too. Yes, it's supposed to make you thinner and healthier generally but there's also apparently some evidence that intermittent fasting can actually reverse type 2 diabetes.

If true, that's even bigger news than me going on a diet!

But what's it really like?

While it might be possible to cook 'proper' meals on fast days and stay within the rules, I find it very hard serving myself small helpings and it's difficult trying to figure out exactly how many calories are in things that one makes onesself, so for now at least, I'm sticking with Supermarkets and their ultra-exact labelling.

So... for breakfast today I had a blueberry Benecol drink and four fresh cherries - about 50 calories - and I added another 50 at lunchtime when I ate a small bag of apple slices and grapes.

This evening I ate a relatively low calorie Sainsbury's Chicken and Chorizo sandwich (334 cals) with half a packet of wotsits (about 60) and a few salad leaves that contain hardly any calories. Dessert was half a Kinder Bueno (123), all of which adds up to about 600.

Throughout the day I drank only water.

Monday (when I started the diet) was a pretty similar affair, and while I've felt a bit peckish during the afternoons and last thing at night, it's not been too bad, all things considered.

I'm alright, snack!

I know some people can't function anywhere near 100% without regular food, but I'm singularly unaffected by such things - I had a fairly long and busy day at work today and don't think I made any horrendous mistakes or gave less than my all. This idea that food=energy and it's somehow the same kind of  'energy' required to do stuff seems a complete myth to me as I can get through days without eating anything, and on occasion I've found myself essentially fasting 'by accident' without even noticing.

I've long had a suspicion that all faddy diets are just basically variations on 'eating fewer calories', and just go about achieving this in completely different ways. Maybe the Atkins diet has nothing to do with carbohydrates being bad and fat and protein being good, and everything to do with the fact that one can only eat so much fat and protein at a time (but would still 'have room' for some carbs)?

The principle here might be the same too. Say you normally eat 3000 calories a day. Having two 600 calorie fast days will mean that in a week you take in 4800 less. Even if you ate 500 calories more to compensate on the days immediately following fasting, you'd still be 4000 calories to the good.

So even if the claims about reversing diabetes turn out to be a big floppy cock of lies, the 5:2 diet will still probably do some good in terms of modest weight loss.

Now, bring on tomorrow - a few pints followed that battered sausage will do nicely!


  1. Have you tried eating dogfood?

    It's low in fat, high in protein and it will make you go 'woof'.

  2. Sounds like an interesting diet. Will do you a monthly update to let us know how it works out?


Comments are always welcomed and encouraged, especially interesting, thought-provoking contributions and outrageous suggestions.