Our easy recipes all under 500 calories, perfect if you're on the 5:2 diet. In fact, most are under 300 calories, so you have an extra 200 calories to play with! Lighter versions of classics, healthy soups and low cal Asian dishes, there's plenty to choose from
Also known as the Fast Diet, the 5:2 diet is a popular weight loss plan that involves eating normally for five days each week, and reducing your calorie intake to 500 calories on the other two. Not sure if you could manage on such a restricted plan? Read on to discover our tastiest and most filling low calorie recipes that are full of flavour, quick and easy to whip up, and high in protein to keep you satisfied on fasting days.
Check out our easy 5:2 diet recipes, all with under 500 calories (most come in at under 300 calories so you have 200 calories left to play with). Thai chicken noodle salad for an easy packed lunch, our Asian lettuce wraps that swap the floury wrap for crunchy, low carb lettuce, and our Paleo diet-friendly chicken piccata. Looking for a low calorie veggie option? Our vegan fajita bowl with cauli rice ticks all the boxes, switching carb-rich rice for blitzed cauliflower.
Here are three easy ways to cut down on calories…
Reduce your oil usage
1 tbsp of oil is 110 calories! So reducing this to 1 tsp reduces this by 1/3, saving you calories from something that has little nutritional benefit. A good tip for greatly reducing your oil intake is to use water instead of oil when roasting or frying. Often when frying you are looking to soften the ingredients, which can be done just as well with water. One of the benefits of roasting with water, is that as this evaporates at the start of cooking, it softens the ingredient, and once fully evaporated can then get nice and crisp.
If you are going to use oil when roasting, try adding the ingredient to a bowl first, before pouring in a little oil and tossing well. You’ll find that a little oil goes a long way when done like this. Putting the ingredient into the tray first, then drizzling with oil often leads to an excess of oil being used.
Cut down on carbs
Keeping your carbohydrate intake down also helps as these are calorie-rich foods. Try swapping carbohydrates for something a little healthier. Most supermarkets now stock butternut squash sheets, which are great in lasagnes. Try swapping pasta and spaghetti for courgetti as it’s lower in calories, or white rice for cauliflower rice. Use more wholewheat pastas and brown rice, these have a much higher nutritional benefit, and are much better for you.
Watch your portion size
Portion sizes are also key when eating healthy. The recommended servings are much smaller than most people think, meaning that your healthy meal soon becomes less so, due to the amount you’re eating. Just 80g of cooked rice is a portion and 70g for lean meat – the size of a deck of cards. Learning these and then bulking a meal out with salad or veg can keep a meal healthy.
Here are our healthy dinner ideas and more for the 5:2 diet…
Try our quick and easy vegan chilli. This quinoa and black bean chilli recipe is high in protein, low calorie and vegan – but still tastes impossibly creamy. Try our vegan one pot, or click here to see our other vegan recipes.
These hot and spicy Chinese-style noodles only take 15 minutes to whip up, so they’d make a super quick and easy midweek meal if you’re stuck for time or craving some healthy, low calorie fast food. Try our other 15 minute meal ideas here.
Our recipe for cheat’s chicken mole uses a clever product to mean it’s ready in less than an hour but still filled with fresh flavour and under 300 calories – perfect for a healthy midweek treat for the 5:2 diet.
Stay on-trend while doing the 5:2 diet with this vegan fajita bowl with cauli rice. It’s quick and easy to make as well as being vegan, low calorie and 5:2-diet friendly, but still delivers on flavour. Check out our vegan recipe ideas here.
A fab brunch recipe under 300 calories. Shakshuka, traditionally a North African dish, is typically comprised of spices, eggs and tomatoes, but here we’ve decided to mix things up a little… make it green and healthy with asparagus tips and broad beans.
Our Moroccan veg and chickpea tagine is vegan, low-fat and really easy to make. This recipe makes enough for four, but the leftovers freeze well – perfect for midweek meals where you’re pressed for time but still want to keep things healthy.
Ideal for vegetarians on the 5:2 diet. This recipe for courgetti, pea and artichoke salad with pistachio pesto is full of green goodness as well as being vegan, low calorie, gluten free and ready in just 20 minutes.
Once you’ve mastered the art of courgetti, branch out and try spiralising different vegetables! This quick and easy tofu steak with beetroot noodles and dukkah is a great vegetarian meal for one, ready in half an hour, and under 500 calories.
Lentils are a great way to make a meal vegetarian. Swap these for your usual meatballs and your family will hardly notice the difference. Plus, they’re low cal and ready in just 40 minutes – perfect for during the week.
A healthy, high protein one-pot, this chicken with cannelloni beans and chorizo is really easy to make and requires minimal hands-on time, making it a great midweek meal. Try one of our healthy one pot ideas here.
These Asian-inspired chicken burgers make a great, healthier alternative to the usual beef. Pickled red cabbage on the side adds an extra kick. Serve on round lettuce leaves instead of buns to keep things low calorie for when you’re on the 5:2 diet.
We love classic comfort food and don’t want to deny ourselves when we’re trying to be healthy. This healthier beef bourguignon is packed full of classic flavours as well as being low calorie. You’ll forget you’re being virtuous.
A simple, speedy tagine made for sharing. It’s full of flavour but doesn’t need hours in the pot. Giant couscous and harissa give it texture and heat and the preserved lemon makes it more authentic. Serve to a crowd at a party or as a dinner-party main course.
A quick and healthy way to serve fish on the barbecue (weather permitting – alternatively you can use a griddle pan). Coat in spices and grill before stuffing into buns and serving with smoky paprika and lime mayo.
Our recipe for pork fillet with pepper stew feeds 4 in less than an hour and comes in at under 200 calories – perfect for the 5:2 diet. Plus, you can freeze any extra – why not make extra at the weekend for easy midweek lunches and dinners?