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 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 veggie option? Our vegan fajita bowl with cauli rice ticks all the boxes, switching carb-rich rice for blitzed cauliflower.
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 cal fast food
This 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 midweek treat
Stay on-trend 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
This recipe for Tuscan pork steaks ticks all the boxes. It’s low calorie, low fat, low sugar, low salt and high in protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer
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
Ready in just 20 minutes, this crab, chilli and herb omelette is low calorie, gluten free and high in protein – perfect for a midweek meal or lighter weekend brunch
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
This recipe for paleo chicken piccata is fast, healthy and easy to freeze. Serve with a green salad or cauliflower rice to keep things paleo diet-friendly and low calorie
This recipe for za’atar aubergine steaks with sesame dressing and pomegranate makes for a quick, easy and delicious veggie dinner, perfect for meat-free Monday. Plus, it’s low calorie and gluten free
Try this squash toast with feta, sumac and poached egg for a healthy vegetarian brunch for one under 300 calories. Ready in less than half an hour and packed with interesting flavour, what better way to start your weekend?
This crispy chickpea and kale caesar salad is a great healthy twist on a classic. The crispy chickpeas also make a great low calorie snack!
One for those early risers with a savoury tooth, this quick and easy breakfast idea is full of flavour and high in protein to keep you feeling satisfied throughout the morning
This recipe for tandoori lamb steaks with chilli-spiked slaw ticks all the boxes as it’s low cal, low fat, low sugar, low salt and high in protein. Plus, it’s really easy to make
Our super quick and easy prawn and mushroom miso soup means you can have a healthy but comforting meal on the table in just 15 minutes – perfect for a light midweek supper
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
On the table in 20 minutes, this fast and easy spicy soup is made with chickpeas. This vegetarian recipe gets its heat from harissa, the hot chilli pepper paste from Morocco
Super easy to put together, lamb koftas make the best weeknight supper. Here we’re serving them with a healthy Brussels sprouts and kale salad for a delicious low-carb dinner
Low calorie doesn’t mean denying yourself delicious flavours. This chicken noodle salad is full of the vibrant tastes of Thailand, as well as being healthy and quick and easy to make
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
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
We love classic comfort food and don’t want to deny ourselves when we’re trying to be healthy. This skinny beef bourguignon is packed full of classic flavours and 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 healthy take on an Asian classic – just substitute the floury wrap for carb-free lettuce. Packed with protein and flavour, this recipe comes from olive reader Sophie Hyam
This delicious and healthy breakfast or lunch couldn’t be easier to put together. Ripe tomatoes, avocado and salad leaves on toast are a great vegetarian combination, with the cayenne pepper adding a slight kick
This easy recipe pairs prawns with orzo pasta and rocket to create a healthy and tasty dish. It’s ready in just 20 minutes too, which makes it ideal for during the week
This easy pizza is made with bought flatbreads, which are topped with mozzarella and ribbons of courgette for the perfect, quick assembly midweek meal
Steak always feels like a treat to us! This steak salad with asparagus and earthy beetroot is perfect for a lighter dinner, and is ready in under 30 minutes
Our ginger lemon sole with greens is a quick and easy Chinese recipe full of nutrients. In China, fish celebrates prosperity and greens symbolise longevity
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
Agrodolce means sweet and sour in Italian. This dish cooks thin escalopes of chicken in a tomato, onion and red wine vinegar sauce for a punchy super low cal and low fat dish
This butternut and sage risotto feels indulgent, but is easy enough for weeknights and low in calories. Ready in just half an hour, it definitely hits the spot when you need Italian comfort food!
The Asian-inspired flavours of these Thai coconut fish parcels ensure that you can eat inspiring food even when you’re short of time or watching your weight. They’re ready in under 30 minutes, too
This simple and speedy mushroom and tarragon stroganoff makes for a great, healthy midweek meal, ready in just 15 minutes and low in calories as well as being vegetarian
This quick recipe for tuna makes for an easy and healthy midweek meal, with oily fish packed with vitamins and omega 3. Serve with a green olive salad and new potatoes on the side
A fast, easy and healthy vegetarian stir-fry. Baby aubergines cook in minutes and soak up the flavour of mirin to make a fast and filling midweek meal
This broccoli and roasted red pepper frittata makes for a quick, healthy and delicious midweek meal. It’s on the table in just 20 minutes, plus it’s low cal and 5:2 diet-friendly
Simple but packed with flavour from the garlic, chilli and cinnamon, this colourful recipe for grilled cod with salsa rossa is quick and easy to make as well as being low in calories
Duck is easy to get right in this Asian stir fry with punchy ginger and pak choi. It’s easy to make and super healthy – and only takes 15 minutes to rustle up!
This recipe for chicken madras is a really easy way to feed the family. Lower in calories and fat than creamy alternatives, this classic chicken curry packs a flavour punch and is full of satisfying protein
Eating healthily doesn’t have to mean compromising on good food and flavours. This miso-glazed sea bass with ginger greens is quick and easy to make as well as being low cal
This 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?
Need more healthy inspiration? Take a look at our favourite courgetti recipes now…
Compiled by Rachel Dinsdale